We know it's not of interest to many but the ladies of HML are united in our love of Halloween. Having small boys helps, they love the chance to dress up, say boo to the neighbours and eating chocolate after bedtime. Thom loved supervising me carve up mr spooky pumpkin and stuff the trick or treat bags. We plan to watch ghostbusters tonight to celebrate. Ramona



a tisket a tasket

my first attempt stuffed full of harvest scraps

So the basket making workshop on the weekend was a heady combination of awesome components including free harvest printed scraps, Maryann's great laugh and skills, a lovely spread of baked goods and discussions of craft, family, materials, food, The Rock and mutually agreed nu-soul hottie Maxwell. (yeah I just said 'hottie')

close up inside view of my very first basket, pretty chuffed with the results

One of the best things about this kind of workshop is getting to know people through making, the walls come down pretty easily when you have a common topic in your hands, and as Maryann noted the tradition of weaving stories and people together in this practice is time old. It was a great luxury to spend a whole day making, and a timely reminder that as with so many hand crafts the sharing of skills and lives during the process is easily as important an the end product - something so often overlooked in the rush to make  'product' for sale. The coiling technique we learnt is completely addictive, the perfect pick up and put down craft for busy mothers and a great way to use up old fabric scraps and upcycle old clothes into useful vessels - pretty much a perfect fit for an old greenie anarcho-feminist like me. 

I'm already stocking up on binding supplies, going through the rag bag, working through ideas for new material options and well into my next project above. It's turning out a treat and definately destined for the Christmas present pile although i'm keeping mum about the recipient for now - in case I love it so much I can't bear to part with it.  So thanks Maryann BUT NOW I'M COMPLETELY ADDICTED! BECK



minx meet

When the Kelly Doust book The Crafty Minx came out last year I must admit I kind of got my nose outa joint. Who was this woman with pretensions for being the queen of craft? I'd never even heard of her and yet here she was with this lusciously styled book and her name on the cover. So I chose to ignore it, just giving it a cursory glance in the bookstore.  But then kindle was having a special on the ebook version and I thought, well why not just down load it for 10 bucks and see what it's like? Much to my irritation loved it. So I snapped up The Crafty Kid this week at the library and checked it out, again lovely. annoying. I may be buying this one.
the book version on the left, mine on the right.
 Turns out this Kelly Doust is actually a lovely person with a great 'make do and mend' attitude that comes through in her warm writing style. I'm not sure why the plastic bag holder above was in the crafty kid book (Kelly suggested letting small ones crumple up the bags and put them in - turns out Thom LOVED this idea so there you go, small things amuse small boys).

my dodgy one on the left and the good book one on the right
 There are lots of nice simple projects that aren't really up to gift giving status but a certainly sweet enough for your own abode. My oilcloth lunch bag is decidedly dodgy and may end up as a catch all for my washi tape collection instead of a personal picnic bag as intended. So if you see the Crafty Minx or the Crafty Kid books out there, don't dismiss them out of hand like silly old me. They aren't for the highly skilled, it's purely simple and domestic. Have a peek, she seems nice, not royal, but nice. RAMONA



Dream weaver

This Saturday i'm off to learn the art of fabric basket weaving at Harvest with the incredibly awesome Maryann Talia Pau. To say that i'm pretty excited is probably a HUGE understatement. We're long time fans of her work in all it's forms here at HML, and I've secretly coveted her fibre manipulating finger skills for just as long.  Sophisticated, urban, contemporary renderings of traditional techniques that are fresh and irresistable. Her confident combining of pattern, colour and form are gasp inducing aesthetic signatures that we keep coming back to. Seriously people, we cannot talk her up enough.

Now I might be the textile 'professional' here at HML, but unlike Ramona  - who has had a crack at pretty much everything, the mysterious art of basket weaving has so far eluded me. However now that my fibre fetishism has really taken flight I figure it's time to stop buying up other peoples work and start making my own. If only for the sake of the household bank balance. So time to raffia up and get busy.

A little birdy (or three) have mentioned that there are still a couple of seats free at the workbenches - so if you too have a hankering (apologies bad pun) to create your own modern tribal objet de jour then make a beeline for the harvest website and book yourself in. I'm so excited I've already ordered myself some lime green, natural and hot pink raffia to keep me going once the workshop is over. I expect there's going to be a lot of family members with sideboards like the one above post Christmas this year! BECK

Read more about Maryann here and here, check out her website here, or book in to the workshop here  and apologies to Lucy over at the design files for pinching some of her photos!



climb every mountain

The ladies of HML have been talking about contemporary ceramics this past month. We've a been a bit overexcited about the state of things. We are seeing lots of boundary pushing, investigation and originality. No more so than in the work of ceramicist and artist Robyn Phelan.

Robyn has been exploring the notion of mountains as metaphor for a while now, and combining that with research into little know histories of women climbers her new show 'ain't no mountain high enough' at MAILBOX 141 is set to blow our minds.

We are hoping to make the opening party this Sunday as apparently icecream will be served 330 -430. the show is already up an running so if you take a walk down flinders lane this week make sure you pop in to see this magical show. Congrats to Robyn whose career is going from strength to strength, what a talent. RAMONA



modern times

After my adventures with the kids version of this book I borrowed the grown up book that preceded it. Todd Oldham and his army of stylists and DIYers don't do things by halves that's for sure. I'm not sure if I'd be up to making my own plywood entertainment unit but I did like a little printing project and had good results with it.

Using a paper cup as a printing tool was pretty neat. Mid you it does tend to splash if you don't lift the cup with care. I didn't mind the little splashy bits so I soldiered on. I have a lovely couple of friends (Mr A And Mrs J) and I think the pillowcases will make a nice little Christmas gift for them. Joint gifts are great I think.

Of course I accidentally printed on the wrong side (I always do that, it's like a craft tick with me) so had to do a double sided design, which to be honest I liked more in the end. Maybe I should just use these two as a practice run? They go so well on our bed!

If I had to do it again I'd use more contrasting blues. I'd also plan the design on paper first, yeah that would be smart. I have this 'just wing it' attitude to craft sometimes with mixed results I admit. Still, with the countdown on I have to be strategic so I'll wash and iron these ones and wrap them ASAP. Ramona



hello? Can you hear me?

We'll be on air this morning for our monthly visit to RRR 102.7  We've been doing this for nearly three years now, and we love it! Nothing beats getting the word out on all the crafty goodness on offer around our home town. The Grapevine is a great show, so listen in will you? We are on around 1030 - morning tea time!

We'll be filling you in on all the important info about this weekends big crafty event the Finders Keepers market. Yes it's starting to rev up to Christmas market season and we'll all be expected to trot around to each and every one. This one is on at the Royal Exhibition Buildings which is so very beautiful it makes everything look lovely and it's just a hop step and jump to Gertrude Street
Three fantastic new jewellery shows open this week at Craft Victoria. These are our favourite shows to see in that space, and to have all three galleries full of wearable wonder is very exciting.

Beck will be learning the at of weaving with the multi talented Maryann Talia Pau at Harvest Textiles workroom this weekend. There are still a couple of spots available so get in quick.

We'll be talking all these things up on air and giving you more info as the week unfolds. With all this spring weather it seems like a wonderful time to learn things, see things, make things. Happy Days! RAMONA




We really wish we could head north and catch Shannon Garson’s new show Gleanings in the flesh, and not just because we’re long overdue for a road trip and/or holiday! I spent a large part of my childhood holidaying on the NSW South Coast and have quite the soft spot for both Tathra and Bermagui, so yeah i'm doubly dissappointed I cant make a beeline for the beach to see this one. Shannon has long been one of our favorite ceramicists, her delicate porcelain pieces have always resonated with both of us - no easy task given how different our taste often is!

Her latest exhibition features the trademark elements we have come to know and love in her work – beautifully crafted forms, restrained, thoughtful use of color, and brilliantly executed illustrative detailing. Getting botanical illustrations to work on paper is hard enough but getting them to flow across three dimensional ceramic forms is another thing altoghether, and Shannon's work is always bang on in this regard.

Referencing the shorelines, plant life and fauna of local ‘at risk’ habitats, Gleanings showcases Shannon’s mastery of graphic surface decoration and highlights her ongoing commitment to environmental concerns with sensitivity, sincerity and a lightness of touch. Those of you lucky enough to be in striking distance should do yourselves the proverbial, thankfully for those of us stuck here in freezing melbourne tucked up in woolies you'll have to head here to see more. BECK

28 September to 12 November
Narek Galleries

Tathra Bermagui Rd,
Tanja, NSW



Beady Eyes

From the pile of books at HML hq (ie kitchen table) there is no hiding what we have been researching this past week or two. There is nothing like submerging yourself in a previously little known craft topic and getting 'the knowledge'. With such a big topic it was hard to know where to begin and definitely not possible to know where to end. In our constant pursuit of upskilling I was more than a little intimidated!

I have found that the very best place to start is with the simplest, even dumbest book you can find so you are guaranteed of success right out of the gate. I've made the mistake of aiming too high too soon with many crafts and I know the importance of starting slooooow. There is a reason skills can take a lifetime to perfect. So young Juju Vail who put together the terribly twee 'I Love Beading' came to my rescue.

It took me a good couple of hours to thread on the blue beads with a knot between each one - starting with 5 metres of satin cord meant it was a exhausting process. The tassel was more straightforward as I'd made these before but the little beading, well that nearly killed me. I couldn't get it the right length or work out how to get it round the top without a lumpy knot and the instructions were not much help. I think the result is actually kind of great and looks pretty much like the picture. I think this will be a Christmas gift for my friend Miss S - so I killed two beads with one stone! RAMONA




Well it's Melbourne International Festival time, and let us just say this is not really a festivus for the rest of us. Prices for shows can be pretty steep, or sold out in record time. We are lucky enough to have a few friends on the inside who may be able to get us us some bleacher seats to a few things, which make us count our lucky stars! What we do like is FREE events and there are a few good visual art options that will leave you with your tram and coffee money in tact (and your rent).

Santiago Sierra
 We are going to take the kids to see the destruction of a giant letter on the forecourt of ACCA by Spanish artist Santiago Sierra. He's been destroying helpless members of the alphabet all over the world and Melbourne is his last stop. maybe you have to tear something down to rebuild it? The boys will love it anyway! Destruction beigns at 8.15 this Wednesday

Gregory Crewdson
 We are so very very excited to see the work of American photographer Gregory Crewdson at CCP. His set ups are said to cost anywhere up to a million dollars, such is his sucess, excess and eye for detail. They could be film stills they so beautifully capture a narrative. Very inspiring! So great that this show is on at the Centre for Contemporary Photography too, such a wonderful and underused space.

Liu Zhouquan
We'll also be curious and repulsed to see the epic work of Chinese artist Liu Zhouquan who has mastered the art of bottling -and we mean bottling everything from ephemera to organs (and we don't mean the musical kind). This work comes direct from the Sydney Art Biennial where is caused quite a stir. We love collections of any kind so we'll be heading to the festival hub which can be found under the Princes Bridge on the banks of the muddy Yarra. RAMONA



glass, grace and good design.

exploring glass

Interesting talk on tonight at Loop on the use of glass in art, craft,design and architecture. Each month loop sponsors the optimistically titled  Victorian Young Architects and Graduates Group (awww) who present a variety of mainly architecture focussed discussions  Tonight jeweller Blanche Tilden will be speaking so this is a nice entry point for craft practioners and those interested to have a bit of mind expansion.

Emma Grace
 The prodigious jeweller Emma Grace has teamed up with the Northcity 4 studio to create a crowdfunded residency that will allow her to explore ways of creating 'sustainable' and 'ethical' jewellery. We not sure but we think this goes much further that just blood diamonds and caustic chemicals. She'll be giving talks, offering up consultations and if you hand over enough cash your very own workshop. We absolutely love crowdfunding craft projects - why not donate? Easy way to support makers.

Fringe Furniture
Beck was one of the esteemed judges of this years Fringe Furniture Awards. We are so pleased that they've moved from the Melbourne Museum foyer to the fantastic space at Abbotsford Convent. It feels so much more like a show now and less of an afterthought. You still have a couple of weeks to catch up with this one and it is well worth it. Just to restore your faith in design if nothing else! You can read Beck's fantastic post on the Craft Victoria blog here. RAMONA.