Making a Sheep out of Willow

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Part of the Frugaldom Project involves the growing and harvesting of willow and one of its intended uses is for sculpture to display in the Ecoarts garden.

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Having worked mostly in driftwood for the past year, I decided that it was time to try working with willow. The process is different from using driftwood in that the willow can be bent and shaped.

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The sculpture still needs a solid frame on which to work, so I cut some of the thicker stems of the willow and began making the shape of the animal, just as I would in driftwood. Much of the work will be using the thinner, more pliable pieces, so I only need to do enough to suggest the shape of the sheep.

You can find useful video instructions on the process but I prefer to use my own methods and see how the sculpture develops. I hope that the willow will enable me to put more density into the body of the animal. At the end of day 1 I have created a fairly sturdy frame and it is almost ready to start weaving in the smaller pieces of willow.

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The willow strips are applied on the legs, at least a dozen on each to begin with. I’ve used wire to hold them in place while I bend them into shape across the frame of the sculpture.

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There are no rules as to how you should approach this part of the process but I chose to do one side, then did the same on the legs on the other side. This gives a fairly even spread across the body.

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The head of the sheep can be tackled in a similar way. Once you have started weaving the willow across the sculpture it becomes easier to thread pieces more securely.

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The Willow sheep at the end of day 2.

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As you weave  more willow into the sculpture, you gradually see the form of the animal around the original frame. The ears are created by bending and folding the willow and then treading the ends back into the original framework.

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I also added further material to the tail and around the legs so that the original framework is largely obscured. How much (or how little) willow you apply is entirely up to you.

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The sheep ready to join his friends in the Ecoarts garden/animal park!

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