Archive for July, 2010

Willow Crab Pots – Portscatho Grid Ref 875347

July 1, 2010

After many months waiting, Allan and I had the opportunity to visit John Hurrell in Port Looe. He had agreed to demonstrate to us how to make crab pots from green willow, but would not cut the willow until the leaves fell from it. Growing and coppicing willow to make crab pots is an art in itself so maybe there will be a blog post about this soon; for now I’ll go through how to make the pot itself from freshly cut willow wands.

It took a day to make the pot and John had donated his time and expertise for free, so many many thanks to him.

The following are notes and photos and miscellaneous drawings to guide anyone who may want to try to make a pot themselves, but also an experiment in preserving the knowledge. Much can be gained from communicating the method of crab pot manufacture in this way but really you have to learn directly and practically from someone who knows how to do it. Like so many of these dying skills it is a case of learning through doing. Of making mistakes, being corrected and refining your skills.

Traditionally in Cornwall the crab pots (200+) would be made during the cold and stormy Winter months to be used the following Spring and Summer.

The starting point for each pot is a stand secured firmly into the ground with an 8″ disk fixed horizontally on its top at waist or mid chest height. This disk would then have 12 holes drilled through it around the circumference. Into these holes you place your thicker sticks as “ribs”. Thinner willow sticks are then used to “ring” the crab pot (i.e. they are woven to create a spiral around the pot securing the ribs and giving the pot shape).

In the following notes, taken directly from my sketchbook, some of the drawings are stylized aerial views from above, and some are shown from the side. Hopefully, you should be able to tell which is which even if you can’t read my writing! Good luck!

Portloe Willow Crab Pots

Ringing the pot - 1

Ringing the pot - Close up

Ringing down the pot

Inserted forcing rod

Forcing rods tied into existing ribs

Ringing to base - almost ready to be lifted off stand

Ringing technique - 1

Ringing Technique - 2

Ringing Technique - 3

Ringing Technique - 4

Lifting Off

Preparing for bottom of pot

Tying off centre

Putting in "chine" - rim for bottom

Bending ribs in to form bottom of pot

Weaving in the bottom

Weaving in the bottom - 2

Finishing off

Weaving the tail

The tail

The finished pot