John Cowan's baskets are all handmade by John in his small workshop in Lanark using UK-grown willows and occasionally Hazel. Most of the willow John uses is unstripped so the natural and varied colours of willow bark, as well as its ephemeral fragrance are features of his baskets.
John makes many old basket designs that were once commonn agriculture and the UK fishing industry, but now can be used domestically as sturdy log baskets or attractive quality storage baskets. Besides making traditional basket designs, when available John can undertake commissions of made-to-measure & bespoke pieces.
John Cowan began making baskets aged 25 years. John has spent a considerable amount of time learning traditional basket making skills with Colin Manthorpe in Norfolk and Virgilijus Bauzys in West Kilbride after attaining a grounding in the craft from Geoff Forrest. John has had many inspirational basket encounters with basket maker and artist Lise Bech and Lise has contributed greatly to John’s understanding of willow and making a living from basketry. Many of the designs John makes are based on those recorded in Colin Manthorpe's notebooks. John is grateful to Colin for inviting him to his home in Norfolk to learn the traditional method of making the Quarter Cran and for so generously sharing his vast skill & knowledge of basket making. John continued to spend time each year training with Colin up until Colin's death in 2019
--John & Colin Manthorpe--
-- Quarter Cran Herring Basket (made here in buff willow, oak, hazel and rattan cane) --
-- John making 'Market Shopper' baskets --
John was made a Yeoman Member of the Worshipful Company of Basketmakers in 2021