Maker's Story

Esme is a basket maker based in Drente, in an area with a history of basket making. She developed her interest, skills and mastery of various basket making relevant techniques and material over time, culminating in a four-year vocational training course in Lichtenfels, Germany. Since then she has focused on “fijnscheenwerk” an extremely labour-intensive technique that was in danger of dying out. By using her own designs and collaborating with other designers, Esme has shaken up the old and dusty image of this craft.

As a contemporary basket maker, I am versatile and can experiment with free forms because today's maker is no longer bound by functionality. Techniques are explored and mixed but what remains is the need to master the craft and high quality. This is how I hope to preserve the craft of basket weaving for the future.

The Process

Esmé is a specialist in “fijnscheenwerk”, an extremely labour-intensive and fine braiding technique using prepared shingles made of split willow twigs. The material for fine shingling is obtained by splitting long white willow twigs of about 2.50 m in three or four with a special cleaver. The long strips of willow are planed by hand to millimetre thickness and width on a special planing machine. After this, the bark remains are polished away. Each fine willow object is woven around its own wooden mould, like shoes around a last. Making a fine shingled object is very labour-intensive. Besides willow, various other flexible materials are worked with.



What motivates you to make?

Making is in my blood as a child I was always making and crafting too. My hands have to do something. When I am not braiding I am always doing something else with my hands knitting, cooking, embroidering, making clothes etc.

What and/or who are you most inspired or influenced by?

During my training days, my teacher Wilfried Popp was my great inspiration his craftsmanship still influences my work today. I am also inspired by the Arts&Crafts movement, Bauhaus and the Bloomsbury Group. But fellow makers are also a great influence.

What is your unique approach to your craft and how have you honed your skills?

As a craftswoman, I am versatile and flexible. I like to look beyond the boundaries of the old craft to create new and innovative work using the techniques of the past. As a maker, you sharpen your skills by making and experimenting.

What is your defining or proudest moment as a maker so far?

I am very proud of the award I received in Japan in 2017. Getting recognition as a maker in a country where craft and its makers are so valued is a huge honour.

What is your dream project?

That's a difficult one. I would love to make a beautiful, big extravagant lamp. But also so many other things.