Originally developed by shepherds sitting next to the fire at night, the tradition of stick dressing as a craft has been kept alive by Morebattle Stick Dressers’ Association and this year the group is celebrating its 30th anniversary.
The club, formerly known as Morebattle Stickmakers, formed in 1986 when a small number of enthusiasts began teaching the traditional craft to a few people. It was traditionally developed when shepherds would use readily-made materials to design sticks which aided their daily working life.
Currently, the membership is rounded to 20 with three remaining founding members.
Group chairman Iain McGillivray has been a member for 15 years. He said: “It’s a bit of good fun for a Tuesday night with some banter.
“We have all walks of life taking part, including school teachers and doctors. People come as they enjoy making them for themselves, some do sell them and some give them away as nice gifts.”
The group, located on the outskirts of Morebattle, exhibits completed sticks at shows across the Borders. Elliot Sheriff, Willy Bell, Gordon Leitch, Ken Headly, Oliver Simpson and Mick Cockburn have been tutors over the years.
Through grants from the European Fund for Arts and Crafts, Kelso’s Charity Begins at Home and Kelso Community Council Grants Scheme funded by Sainsbury’s, a well-resourced workshop has been established where people can learn how to create designs.
Mr McGillivray said: “We do need around 20 members to sustain ourselves and cover our costs, but we are always getting new members. The youngest is currently aged 17 years and the eldest celebrated their 90th birthday last year.”
Mr McGillivray added: “I do feel a need to keep up the tradition and I think it’s important to keep the spirit alive”.
The group is looking forward to exhibiting again at shows next summer.
For further information about the association, Iain McGillivray can be contacted on 01573 430213.