At the beginning of 2022, I was invited to Priory Farm Estate to learn more about their vision for the Woodland Fairy Walk, a new area within the Bluebell woods that form part of their Discovery Land in South Nutfield. I was commissioned to weave Cocoons from Willow around steel armatures created to form the structures.
The team were keen to be involved and before starting work on the large Cocoons I first spent an enjoyable sunny day in January with these talented individuals teaching them how to weave smaller versions that would hang in the woodlands Fairy Nursery!
As this was the first time I had created a large Cocoon I wasn’t quite sure how long each would take to weave and how much Willow would be needed to complete the project. The name of the Willow used was Black Maul, it was between 6ft and 8ft in length. This is a cultivated Willow from my supplier in Somerset and as it is a brown (dried) Willow it needed re-hydrating before use (24 hours per foot), a novel idea was to use the bucket of the tractor filled with water to soak the Willow, this was the perfect length!
In early February I began work on the smaller Cocoon and when satisfied with the progress made I moved on to the medium one, the largest Cocoon I left to the team to work on and they really did do a great job. Weaving with Willow is a very mindful activity and once you get into the rhythm of weaving the time passes quite quickly and the work was completed in the estimated time expected and the Cocoons were ready for transportation to their final resting place in the woods.
On 3rd April together with my Grandchildren, I was so excited to visit the Woodland Fairy Walk for myself, as we entered the portal we followed the instructions, knocking and turning three times before magically shrinking to the size of a fairy! I was so proud to see the Cocoons in place, what a lovely experience from start to end!