Founded in 1994 and based in Northumberland, Sylvan Skills creates customised willow and greenwood sculptures and garden structures. Botanist, horticulturist and founder Ruth Thompson is a knowledgeable, experienced heritage artisan and artist with a love for natural materials and the outdoors. She grows and cuts coppice locally while developing sculptures and structures for sites and projects all over the country.

Sylvan Skills’ creations are sustainable, environmentally friendly and weather-resistant. Their sturdy construction and charming appearance make them an eye-catcher for parks and gardens and a fun addition to school yards and playgrounds. Children and grown-ups can even get involved in their creation process through workshops and community projects.

Sylvan Skills collaborates with local artists like blacksmiths and glass artisans to enhance the durability and uniqueness of the structures. The resulting willow sculptures animate nature reserves, public parks and private properties where they represent wildlife, express personal passions, embody history and bring joy to people of various age groups. Be it the character of a children’s book, a favourite animal or a figure from local history – the sculptures provide eye-catching talking pieces for any landscape and make exceptional gifts.

Fences, hurdles and living willow structures create safe, enchanting outdoor spaces for garden lovers and their families to relax or play in. They serve as a wind break or sun shelter, are locally sourced, wildlife-friendly and beautiful to look at. Sylvan Skills’ unique pure hazel coppice woodland generates materials for traditional hazel hurdles and bean poles which bring joy to vegetable enthusiasts.

Through teaching basketry and willowing workshops for communities, special interest groups and young people Ruth also helps others to be creative. Everyone can benefit from the relaxing yet focussed activity of willow weaving. Sylvan Skills’ workshops and basketry courses are for those who want to learn about heritage craft techniques, take their mind away from normal modes of thinking, reduce stress or connect with nature, friends or colleagues. They improve self-esteem through a hands-on approach and provide simple school projects to take home.

Eco coffins are the latest addition to Sylvan Skills’ product range. They craftfully combine wooden elements with a willow case, sisal handles and a calico lining. These coffins are eco-friendly and both suitable for traditional as well as woodland burials. Please get in touch if you want to find out more.

  • Arts & Crafts
  • Artisan
  • Craftspeople
  • Environmental Art
  • Heritage Crafts
  • Willow Artist
  • Willow Work
  • Coppice Crafts
  • Coppice Worker
  • Willow Sculpture
  • Basket Maker
  • Willow Coffin Maker
  • Traditional Hazel Hurdles
  • Living Willow Structures
  • Greenwood Artist
  • Art Therapy
  • Community Workshops
  • Basketry Courses
  • Insitu Commissions


Trade Memberships / Awards / Qualifications

The Basket Makers’ Association

Heritage Crafts Association

National Coppice Federation

Coppice Association North West



BSC Botany

PGCE (Post 16)


Social Media

If you’d like to know more about Sylvan Skills willow and Greenwood sculptures please contact me.