Mar 8, 2017

Esmé Hofman
The fineness of basketry

Mathilde Clément
Esmé Hofman

Photo Credit : Esmé Hofman - Hat for Asha Swillens

Basket weaving is one of the oldest crafts in the world, and yet Esmé Hofman is one of the rare artisans to master and perpetuate the art of braiding plant fibers together to make objects, furniture, or even accessories more refined than the next.

Established in an old farm in Wapse, Netherlands, Esmé discovered basket weaving in 1994 in a wicker-weaving course. She then learned the trade at the Ecole de la Vannerie Allemande from 1997 to 2001. “I increased my knowledge and repertoire over the years  by learning with other crafts and fellow craftsman.”

Photo Credit : Haye Bijlstra

“I work with peeled willow which is especially grown for basketmaking purposes. The specific species of willow I like to work with is Salix Americana. A strong, long willow with a nice shine. Willow rods from 2.50m are devided into three or four with a special willow cleave. The long strips are then shaven, by hand, on a special bench made in Germany by my old master Herr Popp. Every skein is cleaned over a knife before it can be used. Every object has it’s own unique wooden mould. The result is a fragile looking object that when touched is surprisingly strong. ”

Not wanting to be bound by tradition, Esmé Hofman collaborates with designers, artists, and laymen alike, and provides counsel for museums and institutions to create ever-surprising pieces. “This gives me freedom to explore creative possibilities, and generates other ways of making. My techniques and materials now vary from the traditional to the contemporary using natural stems, leaves, bark, wire, plastics, vellum, paper and lots of colour.”

Photo Credit : Haye Bijlstra

Esme concentrates her work mainly on the meticulous weaving of wicker skeins, an endangered technique, in order to make containers, bags, jewelry boxes, hats and other objects with a remarkable finesse. “The fineness of this technique makes it possible to create fine objects with a textile like appearance. Visitors are always surprised by the possibilities of this technique.”

Esmé Hofman hosts workshops and one-on-one classes to share her know-how and her unique approach, which is both traditional and innovative.

Photo Credit : Esmé Hofman - Lampe pour ANNY&

Photo Credit : Haye Bijlstra

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Mathilde Clément

Mathilde Clément

Made in Clamart. Passionate about art history, Mathilde thrives in creative environments, with a special affinity for the worlds of textile and object design. She puts her pen at the service of the valorization of crafts and materials, in order to bring to the attention of the general public the meaning and the work of artisans and designers from all around the world.

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