The other day we visited our friend Martina, an accomplished basket-maker who lives only a few minutes drive from La Borne.
Martina's workshop is at the end of the farmhouse where she lives with her husband Robert. The door was open to let in the lovely spring sunshine.
In the garden there are amusing decorative figures wherever you look, reflecting the happy atmosphere of the Bärfuss household.
Martina was busy in the atelier, sitting at her special table. It has much shorter legs at the work end and the longer legs have casters so that she can move it around as she needs.
The room is filled with finished orders and materials. There are examples of her baskets on the walls made for all sorts of uses: carrying, storing and display.
Having made the base for an oval basket, Martina had just started on the construction of the sides.
Her tools are close at hand on a little side shelf attached to the bench. A magnetic strip keeps knives with curved blades safely in place.
An old 5-kilo weight prevents the basket slipping as she works. Sometimes she uses a tool to push through the base to anchor the piece to a hole in the table - but Martina prefers the weight system.
We sat and talked about her work and the different coloured willow stems she uses. These are sourced in the Haute Marne and in the Touraine region (where there is a village of basket makers not unlike our village of potters). Conditions are good there for growing willow trees.
Martina's besom is propped ready to sweep up the willow cuttings.
On the opposite side of the courtyard we could hear sounds of Robert working in his own atelier. He is a very busy metal worker, renowned for his log-burning stoves which fit especially well into the houses in our area. They look just right in our pottery workshops, studios and farmhouses.
Robert used to be a full time cheese-maker in the Swiss mountains and he still spends time there in summer overseeing cows in the high pastures. Everyone knows his good cheeses and his lovely steady approach to life.
It must be very nice to listen to the special music of one another's occupation as they work.
Robert and Martina have a friendly collie (too busy with a bone to pose for me) and two cats. We sat in the garden to drink apple juice and enjoy the sudden good weather.
I am looking forward to seeing the finished basket with an open zigzag design next time.
I love the Martina basket which I have at home. It is beautifully made. I'm going to take a short course at the vannerie soon and I'll be posting more pictures from Les Girardins.