History of basketry in the region of Nowy Tomyśl
Willow cultivation was well established in Nowy Tomyśl and its surrounding grounds long before the partitions of Poland. At the beginning, only wild growing purple willow was used by craftsmen in basketry. It began to be cultivated systematically in the Napoleon times. Willow growing became more popular around Nowy Tomyśl due to the owners of Trzciel, and in the first place to Ernest Hoedt, a basketry master, who in 1885 brought from the North America different varieties of willow. According to the story, he made a basket out of fresh wicker, since in the America it was forbidden to export willow. All the way home he kept it moisture and in this way he brought this fragile plant secretly to Poland. One of the willow varieties, which were brought at that time, was called "American of Trzciel". Due to its features: great flexibility and very low brittleness, it revolutionized basketry.
Willow cultivation and choice of proper willow varieties gave a great material for basketry and made basketry items from the area of Nowy Tomysl famous and desired in Poland and abroad.
Formerly, Nowy Tomyśl and its surroundings were merely a supplier of wicker, but gradually these areas began to develop and change into the artist and design centre of basketry. One of the reasons of such rapid development are "Basketry Workshops", organized annually since 1970. Many guests and basket-makers from Poland and from abroad come to Nowy Tomyśl to take part in this event.
Wicker grown in this area is used by local companies and basket - makers for making of basketry items such as e.g. very original furniture, which are mainly being exported. In the year 2000 wicker was used to weave in the city centre the biggest basket in the world, was entered into the Guinness Book of World Records. A couple dozens of craftsmen worked on this project. The effects of following "Basketry Workshops" are among others the outdoor concert shell made of wicker and many other wicker forms, which are placed in different places of the town.