Maker

Felicity Irons

Felicity Irons has given new life to the ancient craft of rush weaving. Working at Grange Farm, Bedfordshire, she harvests her own bulrushes from the Great Ouse river, the Nene and the river Ivel. British fresh water rushes are softer, slimmer and more vivid in colour than rushes grown elsewhere, and the items she hand weaves from them have much more life and variation than imported equivalents. Carrying on a tradition that goes back many centuries, the bulrush is cut from 17ft long punts using rush knives, slim scythe-shaped blades 3ft long fixed to 6ft handles. The cut rush is transported back to her farm and stood against a 500m hedge to allow the sun and wind to dry it over a few days. Up to 2 tonnes of rush can be cut per day but the drying process reduces the weight by a fifth. By harvesting the rush using this traditional method the rush beds grow fully back within two years so the craft is environmentally kind. The variation in weather during the drying process naturally produces the extraordinary and beautiful shades of colour. Prolonged sun gently bleaches to warm honey tones. During windy weather the colours have a more vivid green/blue hue.