Oxford Summer School

Introduction to Straw Work

Thursday 3rd August 2023 for 2 days — Cost: £104

Tutor: Penny Maltby

This course has now ended

Learn about the humble material of straw and how it can be used to make decorative and functional objects. Straw skills have been practiced for hundreds of years in farming and folk crafts around the world. Straw work and Corn Dolly making are both Red Listed Endangered Crafts after falling out of mainstream practice due to the mechanisation of crop harvesting. Today, there has been a resurgence in interest as people appreciate the pleasure of working with a natural and sustainable material and the mindful aspect of working with straw. This course is suitable for beginners and those with some previous experience who would like to revisit or improve their skill set.

Day 1

This course will introduce you to the basics of straw and corn dolly work so you can gain a good understanding of the materials and master a variety of straw work skills. Working with heritage wheat and oat straw, you will learn how to prepare and grade it for different uses, experiment with different plaiting techniques and make basic shapes. Your tutor will bring a range of examples for you to browse for inspiration.

Day 2

Under the guidance of your tutor, you will be encouraged to design your own piece using your newly learnt skills. This could range from a simple heart wall hanging, a Corn Dolly or a more complex object. Ribbons, natural fibres, plant materials or other embellishments such as buttons can be incorporated to add interest to your design.

Equipment & Materials Requirements

  • Apron (straw can be dusty)
  • An old tea towel or small towel to keep straw damp whilst working
  • A water spray bottle
  • Scissors for cutting straw and thread (but not your best embroidery ones)
  • Strong thread in a natural colour
  • A cork mat (such as placemat) or flat piece polystyrene packaging for pinning and setting your pieces (some available to borrow)
  • Large headed pins for pinning the straw to the mat
  • Any special ribbons, natural fibres, plant materials or other embellishments you wish to use

Additional Materials charge - £15 per person

For more information contact pennymaltbymaker@gmail.com