Heather

Ling heather, Isle of Great BerneraBaskets, brushes and mats are made from heather on across Scotland, especially in the Highlands, Orkney, Shetland and in the Western Isles. To gather heather, it must be 'pulled' from sites on the moor where it grows long. This means that areas where it has been burned or there have been sheep grazing are not very suitable, because heather on these sites is rather close and dense. On a recent workshop with Skye artist and basket-maker Caroline Dear, we looked for sites near burns or bogs where the heather overhung, and long straight stems which included roots growing near the surface could be pulled. We tried to manage the heather as we worked, cropping selected areas within heather patches while leaving spaces where the heather could grow back.              

Using Heather

Ling heather, Isle of Great Bernera

Ling heather, Isle of Great Bernera Soaking heather doesn’t bring back its flexibility once it is too dry. Traditionally heather was harvested by pulling in September after flowering when it is at its most flexible and then stored outside. It …Continue reading “Using Heather”

A Caithness creel

Heather creel, Castlehill Heritage Centre, Caithness.

This creel was made around a hundred years ago(1910?) in Caithness and used by Sinclair MacDonald. He is believed to have made it. It was donated to the Castlehill Heritage Centre by Sheila Moir who lives in Scarfskerry as did Sinclair and he …Continue reading “A Caithness creel”

Heather gallery

Shetland Museum FIS 2008.111 heather and flos bait kuddi

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Notes on heather use in basket making

Heather cassie, Orkney. National Museum of Scotland, Baxter-Rintoul Collection

Surrounded by heather I have been researching how this material has been used in the past for making baskets and other useful items around the croft. My findings are piecemeal, snippets picked up here and there, supported by working with …Continue reading “Notes on heather use in basket making”