If you want to decorate your dining room table, floor and sideboard, then there can be no finer way, surely, than investing in some Felicity Irons rush works. Commissioned internationally by very discerning customers (including the National Trust), Felicity is one of the most accomplished British artisans working in the field of rush weaving and basketry, and also teaches and exhibits her craft as well as selling it via her website at www.rushmatters.co.uk.
In June, July and August she is to be found knee deep in the rivers Great Ouse, Avon and Nene, cutting long thin bulrushes with her scythe. They are then transported to be dried by wind and sun on dry land, and stored in a 13th centruy timber barn. There, surrounded by the pungent smell of dried, tied bolts of rushes, she sets to work choosing and dividing the various grades of rushes that are going to be made into different artisanal wares. The colours vary enormously depending upon atmospheric conditions, and can range from deep yellows, to dark greens, mellow golds or fawn browns.
The bulrushes that were originally harvested take only two years to grow back, so the whole system is ecologically sustainable and environmentally friendly.
Rugs and wall to wall rush matting are charged by the metre, but for an oval table mat you should be prepared to pay, depending upon the size, anywhere between £32 and £45, for a round one £12- £32, for a napkin ring £8.50 and for a beautiful trug with leather handles, £95. The latter would be so useful for carrying produce to and from the garden, or for carrying fruit and vegetables from the farmers’ market. You can also buy her wares from David Mellor, at www.davidmellordesign.com.
Rush matting is very hard wearing, strong and aesthetically pleasing, in a timeless and very classical way. Its presence in your home is bound to draw some very admiring and interested glances.
Bedfordshire MK44 3DP
Telephone: 01234 376419
Mobile: 07778 266386
Jane Parker cannot, will not, does not and never shall cook. Yet she enjoys entertaining, shopping for food, artisanal wares and plants, as well as dining out, reading cook books and food blogs, and watching her husband cook for her. She has worked for the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art in New York, at Christie’s and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and collects beautiful, hand made objects that stand the test of time and fashion.
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An oval rush table mat by Felicity Irons (between £32 and £45, depending on size) Also available from David Mellor Designs.
A round rush table mat.
What a wonderful dining room rug this would make!
Rush napkin rings, £8.50, for the smaller budget.
A close up showing the intricacy of the weaving.
Felicity Irons harvesting bulrushes. Photography Copyright Tim Johnson.
Felicity in her 13th Century timber barn. Photograph Copyright Tim Johnson.