On a spring day in May 75km south of Copenhagen in the forest south of Køge, the windy road takes me down a small track, which eventually takes me to a beautiful house in the forest (this is the place and studio of Mai Hvid Jørgensen, who is a professional willow maker).
From France to Denmark
François Deplanches is from Southern France and arrived by plane to Copenhagen where Mai picked him up before he taught two courses at her place and afterwards he headed to Jutland in Denmark to teach in some other techniques another place. I will mainly write about the baskets and work he did at Mai’s Studio, where there were two teams (each two days).
The teacher – François Deplanches
As François said himself, he only does a little bit of teaching but he does live from this profession though and has been a maker for around 20 years. He was very kind and seemed to explain and show how to make the baskets in such a manner that everyone understood and with good patience – and no doubt his English was great and easy to understand.
Top left: François showing how to make the handle I (credit: Mathilde Bach Stougaard)
Top right: François showing how to make the handle II (credit: Mathilde Bach Stougaard)
Bottom left: The very start of the basket I (credit: Annette Stougaard)
Bottom right: François showing the very start of the basket II (credit: Annette Stougaard)
As we talked, he showed me some of his work on Instagram and he highlighted some amazing photos of some lamps that he has made in collaboration with some other people for a bank in Paris with some very tall ceilings. You can follow him here as well as seeing some of the pictures from that project by clicking here.
Baskodenn, what did you say?
The focus on “Baskodenn” is a niche of François’ . It’s basically a focus on a specific technique used for making sardine baskets back in the days in France – it was a type of measurement. Beside this, the handle and the bottom are very unique and something that François masters eminently.
Here you see some pictures from the first course and the baskets in the makings and as I will mention later, you can also see the jig on some of these pictures.
Top left: Everybody gathers to learn the technique about the handle (credit: Mathilde Bach Stougaard)
Top middle: Basket in the making process (credit: Mathilde Bach Stougaard)
Top right: The very start of the basket one the custom-made jig (credit: Mathilde Bach Stougaard)
Bottom left: Participants are concentrating in the studio indoor (credit: Mathilde Bach Stougaard)
Bottom right: The details of the bottom part of the basket, demo basket (credit: Mathilde Bach Stougaard)
A very nice tone, environment and food
Not only was it a course with focus on basketry but the vibe was nice and everybody seemed to have a good time – also, here are some good photos from the lunch (everybody brought something for everyone to share).
Image: Lunch (credit: Annette Stougaard)
Course Material and the Importance of the Craft
The participants received a short presentation about the history and how to make the baskets including the measures on a piece of paper to be able to keep making the Baskodenn afterwards and a way of having notes for learning the new technique (not showcased of respect to François’ work material).
Image: All the participants with their own baskets made over two days – the first cohort (credit: Mai Hvid Jørgensen)
This course also highlighted the importance of over delivering a basket tradition and story that may otherwise be lost. If you are interested in researching more about this technique yourself, you can start by searching online for “Robert Loussouarn”.
If you would like to try making this type of basket, it’s worthwhile remembering that you need a special type of tool for this purpose, which you could see above. These are all made after instructions by François (thank you Palle Filbert for creating 8 of these jigs) and they can be made to fit each individually with height and flexibility to adjust details – however, these are made after average standards.
It is also worth mentioning that the basket can be made in three different sizes – small, medium and large. On the course, they all made one size, the large one.
A big thanks to François and Mai for having me visiting and thanks to all the ladies* on the day who were very nice having conversations with me about anything related to this field. And of course my mum, who was a participant and who has been kind to answer my questions about this work.
* Birte Sivertsen, Annette Stougaard, Lis Mona (Klara Pil), Drude Isene, Else Nielsen, Birgit Østergaard and Mai Hvid Jørgensen.
And let’s also remember to thank Mai for making this happen and if anyone would like to know more about this I’m sure Mai or François would be happy to answer any questions about the course.
Mathilde Bach Stougaard is the Founder of Weavers around the World with a passion for the arts and her mother is a willow maker on a hobby basis.
Mai Hvid Jørgensen