Jo Hammond is one of East Anglia’s best willow workers. She grew up in Suffolk and Essex and still lives nearby, close to the Stour Estuary.
Jo began basket-making when living in a cottage in the middle of the woods- the gift of a book opened her eyes to the weaving materials that were all around her home. A degree in Fine Art and more recently completed a Certificate in Countryside and Heritage Interpretation have supplemented her creative flair.
Jo has worked as a basket-maker and willow sculptor for more than twenty years, passing on her skills through teaching many classes and courses. Her book, ‘Willow Basketry and Sculpture’ was published in 2014.
Influences for Jo’s craft ultimately derive from the beauty of natural materials and the discipline to work as locally and sustainably as possible. This includes incorporating foraged stems, climbers or leaves, which she describes as a process of connecting with the approaches of our hunter-gatherer ancestors.
Lately, Jo has been reviving local ancient and ‘extinct’ designs made of elm- important parts of East Anglian heritage. Jo has had success with the Oyster Tendle and is now working towards the Yarmouth Herring Swill.
All of Jo’s willow is English, some of it grown in Suffolk and Essex. Willow is such an amazing material, with its lovely textures and bark colours, so Jo tries to create designs that let it ‘sing’. With Jo’s folk art decorations - small pieces like hares, hearts and dancers, she tries to evoke the essence of a shape as simply and elegantly as possible- leaning into the springiness of her material.