The ‘Art’ of Well Dressing

I have, at the beginning of this blog, alluded to a strange local tradition called Well Dressing.

2014 Finished Well Dressing

2014 Finished Well Dressing

It is I’m told native to Derbyshire and the small village of Barlow has been dressing its wells for a very long time, we have been able to trace it back to 1800’s.  It is believed to be a pagan tradition to thank the gods for water.

Currently a group of us get together at the beginning of August and put flowers in clay to depict a picture often based on a religious theme. Most of us have been doing this for many years (My uncle is currently in his 52nd year of ‘dressing’), I have only notched up 22 years so far.

So once again this year I put the sewing to one side and joined in.

In its basic terms a wooden structure is constructed around the well, clay (that we have had for years and soften every year by walking around in it in our wellington boots) is thrown onto the boards (very good messy fun) and troweled flat, then a picture drawn on it that we then ‘colour in’ with flowers.

We do that by putting large pieces of paper with a pencil drawn picture onto the clay then the lines are ‘drawn’ by cutting through the paper with a knife and then putting in pieces of bark before flowers are added to form the picture.

Here’s a few pictures for you to see

2014-08-08 19.06.48 2014-08-08 19.06.59 2014-08-08 19.29.47 2014-08-08 19.29.53 2014-08-09 09.46.00 2014-08-09 14.20.33 2014-08-10 10.36.40 2014-08-11 15.59.15

Its not all hard work though

Its not all hard work though

Should you wish to widen your knowledge of this odd tradition we have our own website where you can learn more

Cath. x


Kusudama Flower Ball

This week I was given some books, a neighbour asked if I wanted some books he was throwing out so not being one to turn things down I said yes. Five large bags were waiting for me. The book stall at the local Autumn fair will now be benefitting, but was there anything else I could do with the ones that were not in good condition?…..

This is one thing I made, a Japanese kusudama flower ball it looked pretty,


Here’s how I did it…

Start by cutting squares from the book pages. Mine were 12cm. Then fold them corner to corner to make a triangle.

Lots of squares

Lots of squares

One triangle

One triangle

With the fold at the bottom, fold the outer corner of the triangle up to the top point to make a square.
Kusadama 034

Now open the flaps you just made and fold them half way back on themselves to make two kite shapes, press the sides down.
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Fold down the top triangle of the kite shape, in line with the edge of the square, then fold the rest of the kite shape in half making the shape look like a square again.
Kusadama 036
Kusadama 037

simple so far…?

Now to make the pieces look like petals. You need to run a line of glue down the folded sides of the triangle and glue both folded sides together creating a cone, this may need to be held with a peg until the glue dries. The tip of the square becomes the petal and the folded pieces look like the stamen.

Kusadama 040

Ok got that, good. Now just 59 more to go! The flowers have 5 petals, the ball has 12 flowers.

Once you have enough petals you need to glue five together to make the flower. I found it useful to press the glued edges of the petal together so they were flat and easier to push together, it was also easier to do one petal at a time than try to glue five at once.



One flower looks pretty on its own, but once you have glued all twelve and the glue has dried (again you may need to pin the petals together to hold them while they dry) it looks even better.

So with glue ready, start with 3 flowers and glue one petal to the back of another one and then add the third flower and glue this to the other two and build up from there.

and there we go, I’m sure now I’ve done one and got the hang of it the next one will be quicker.

Off to Pinterest now for more inspiration as to what else I can do with all those books.