I am Chaz Friend, an ex-primary teacher of 24 years experience, who began to learn willow techniques from one of the top willow artists in the country 8 years ago. Four years ago I left school and established, Wayside Willow.
I work with groups and whole classes in school, leading pupils to create willow items. There are different activities and techniques that can be employed to match age, ability and time available. Generally these are conducted in discrete sessions lasting about an hour and a quarter / half per class or group.
I have created themed projects, like my Easter project, where 6 classes create a different willow item, and together tell the Easter story.
I also work on sculptural structures from set items that the school asks for, bending and welding the metal armature, before taking it to school, where the children help build willow into it. Often, children become engaged in the designing process at school and I work from this to create the metal frame for them to complete with willow.
In the spring I work with living willow, creating domes, tunnels and special spaces, that continue to grow and impact the school environment with function and beauty.
“The quality and value of the service from Wayside Willow is excellent. Chaz worked with the whole school (4 – 11 year olds) on a bespoke project to develop a ‘tired’ area on the school grounds. The outcome was amazing and exceeded our expectations! the project also involved our parents, where Chaz provided training and briefing sessions beforehand. Everyone really enjoyed the three days when Chaz was in school and I would not hesitate to recommend Wayside Willow to anyone. We are hoping to have Chaz back in the very near future.” – Mrs Dawes, Allsaints Coventry