The World Wicker and Basketry Festival takes place every four years in Nowy Tomsyl, a small village about an hour’s traveling time from Poznań, Poland. This year, the festival was held on August 22-25 and I was very excited about participating for the first time. This highlight of this festival is a weaving competition for about 100 artists from many different countries, who spend two days producing their contest entries: Baskets or other woven decorative items.
I attended the competition together with Israeli basket weaver Raya Reich. We both weave with date stems and took along a suitcase full of our own materials.
Raya and me
On Tuesday, August 20, we boarded a direct flight to Poznań, where we rented an apartment until Thursday night, when the Festival opening ceremonies were scheduled, leaving us two days to tour Poznań—an exquisite and pleasant city—and still have some time left over for shopping.
On Wednesday afternoon, we visited the festival site to begin soaking our date stems, that require some 36 hours in water before they can be used for weaving.
We returned to the site on Thursday afternoon for the opening ceremonies, that consisted of several speeches and a few musical interludes to enhance the festival’s ambience.
This Swiss group is playing traditional Alpenhorns:
And here is the Swiss Forest Guard Wind Ensemble:
There was a Polish folk group as well:
All these ensembles played nightly throughout the festival, imparting a light, entertaining atmosphere to the entire event.
The basket weaving competition extended over two days, during which we were given 15 hours to produce and submit our creations. I wove a chess queen (see picture and click here for further details):
Artists could also submit their works by post up to the end of March. I took advantage of this option and sent in a Star of David woven of date stems (see picture and click here for further details):
Several weaving workshops were held on Sunday, the third day of the festival, at which I gained experience with various techniques and materials that I do not ordinarily use during the course of my work. It was truly a fascinating and enlightening day that helped alleviate tension over the impending announcement of this year’s winners.
On Sunday, we assembled for the closing ceremonies, at which the competition winners would be named. As I mentioned earlier, there was palpable tension in the air. We were all excited as we awaited the results. I received a special award for my work, that did not fit into any of the conventional categories.
We returned to Israel on Tuesday after a week of intense experiences and pressure (after all, it was a contest, not just a conference). I met many fellow basket weavers from all over the world and found their creations most impressive. Each of them uses different materials and different styles. It was a captivating and enriching encounter that paved the way towards several new ideas that will take root and yield results in due time.
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One of the most wonderful weaving materials in the world is bamboo. The uniqueness of bamboo is that it allows you to create huge and strong baskets, and on the other hand to weave very delicate and miniature pieces
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