gilding the lily

the goods from Blank
I have been dreaming of these little stacking houses since they first came out late last year. I finally succumbed and, combined with my new obsession of gilding everything, made for one very happy craft session at the dining table.

I had to stretch out the project over three days to let everything dry properly (paint, gilding, glazing) but I am so pleased with how they turned out. I know they should be a gift for someone (right Beck?) but I'll be hard pressed to part with them!

Beck has also inspired me to play with polymer (her latest/oldest obsession) and I of course had to add gold leaf to it. The beads turned out quite well for a first time go, I think they need some lovely red linen cord to finish them off. As I was gilding (bits of gold foil flying through the living room still!) I thought "wouldn't this be great on Easter eggs"...? RAMONA

Houses are $22 +post from blankgoods.com.au
Oven dry clay and gold leaf is from overtherainbow.com.au



nice workroom if you can get it

Sometimes I get lucky at work and get to do something I secretly want to do off duty while on duty. A week ago today was just such a day. The lovely ladies of Harvest Textiles currently have provided Craft with a stack of hand printed tea towels  (as modelled in situ by Craft Retail Co-ordinator Anita Cummins below) which come gratis as part of the welcome pack to new peeps joining up as members of Craft. 

They are a incredibly generous trio, and clever too - they came up with a canny plan to enlist the staff at Craft to print the new batch at their Brunswick studio... a brilliant win win for everyone! 

We know we go on about this space, but really to use a Castle-ism "it's the vibe" - a gorgeous space to work in, loads of natural light, pot plants, prints, relaxed atmosphere and great, GREAT people. Everywhere you look you find little tableaux of awesome eye candy.

Seriously each time I'm there I just want to quit my job and start making stuff full time. So it was great to be able to spend the day printing up their beautiful design in neon pink and orange, while chatting about kids, art, food and life and imagining that this was my real job (insert wistful sigh). Unfortunately it was all over too soon, leaving me no other choice but to sign up for more time in the studio as soon as possible.

As per usual this year they have an amazing list of workshops and classes to join up for, and a fantastic list of up coming artists in residence. I've booked myself into a three day experimental dye intensive with Jo Fowles in April which I've been promising myself for an age but never managed to get around to. Let's see how hard it is to get back into the office after that's finished! BECK



busy beader 

Back in the dark ages of my high school years I had a neat little business in fimo jewellery which I would flog to my schoolmates over lunchtime - it was great fun, and provided me with much needed pocket money to pay for my illicit but completely pre-requisite 'winnie blues' which I believed would keep me in the in-crowd despite my red hair and acne. Thankfully my nicotine addiction, belief in social props and (mostly)  pimples  have now long disappeared. What has remained however is my love of polymer mediums and bead stringing, and let's face it - beads are so hot right now - and i'm nothing if not a bandwagoneer. So along with my current basket obsession I confess I have also become a something of a midnight beader.

Once the kids are asleep out comes the Sculpey and away I go. Not every night, but at least once a week, and I'm loving it. It's incredibly therapeutic (adult play-doh anyone) and as the results are virtually instantaneous it totally satisfies my short term craft cravings. 

I've accumulated quite a stash of ready mades so I can quickly whip up a last minute birthday present at the drop of a hat, however I will confess that while I've handed over quite a few to family and friends the two above I've decided to hang on to! 

I'm now also adding in found bits and pieces and wooden and glass beads from online sources, which is allowing me to make pieces which I think have more interesting textural and colour variety. And of course any excuse to buy craft supplies online i'm totally up for. I'm pretty happy with the way their going (please excuse bad selfie modelling below) and am now starting to seriously build up my own accessory collection.

But I think i'm ready to ratchet production up a little and start working my way to a much bigger project... Next stop bead curtain. BECK



the wind beneath our wings

Just in case you haven't seen it we thought you would all enjoy these images snatched of Ghostpatrol's website. He was Invited to paint a wind turbine at Hepburn Wind Farm as part of the Sustainable  Living Festival. This is now one of the loveliest pieces of public art and a real feat of  stamina and style.

We were talking about how much we respect and admire Ghostpatrol. His career trajectory has been based on a series of choices grounded in authenticity. What do we mean by that? 

I guess it's that old school concept of not selling out, not saying yes to everything, working with great people and not marketing yourself as a brand or a concept. The work does the work. RAMONA



play it again sam

North City 4 continues to shine like a chip of diamond in the sun this month as they host the travelling exhibition Once More with Love. Curators Suse Scholem and Simon Cottrell (both amazing makers themselves) passed on a humble group of discarded jewellery from a 30 kg mountain of donated baubles to see what some of the best jewellers in Australia would come up with.

Mel Young got a sea of blue hues to play with

What we like about this show apart from the neat ideas of upcycling, ethics and sustainability (buzzword anyone) is the curatorial edge. Cottrel1 and Scholem haven't just handed over random bits and bobs. They seemed to have paid close attention to the makers themselves. Giving them a palette, materials that they are sympathetic to.

Zoe Brand was given reds and green with some fun thrown in

We want more of this strong curatorial input  If you are going to get a great group of makers together then create something rich, get people talking. I must admit to having a craft crush on Simon Cottrell. His jewellery always feels so robust and confident and is great to wear when you yourself need those attributes! 

How didVicki Mason deal with the already existing botanicals?
This is a great opportunity to visit North City 4 and we applaud them for hosting such an interesting show. I wish they would send us a little grab bag of jewellery to play with! RAMONA

North City 4 is at 
61 Weston Street Brunswick
Once More with Love runs
Until March 2 Wed -Sat 11-6



I got the blues

I have been wanting to experiment with cyanotypes for years. I saw some beautiful framed prints of botanical images in a magazine many moons ago (remember when we all still read mags?) and I loved the deep blue colour. Up upon til now I've had trouble finding the paper but having to think laterally about supplies has led me to teachers supply online stores, a treasure trove of craft and art kits and unusual project supplies (in this case Mad About Science).

Let me say on a bright sunny afternoon this is a brilliant activity with kids. Thom now think I have magic powers as he watched with amazement as the paper developed. Our first forays were fairly amateurish but I have pressed some flowers to next weeks botanical print run.

My mum has been growing herbs and flowers so that sorts out Mothers Day gifting ideas. I can frame a print, cover a notebook, make a bookmark for a new gardening book, decoupage a wooden magazine box for her Gardening Australia subscription, gift wrap, tag, stand back and take a bow. RAMONA



on air supply

Today we'll be back in our hot seats with the lovely ladies of RRR's Grapevine for the first time this year... 10.30 am. And we're excited! As usual we'll be bringing you our pick of the exhibitions happening around town, talking up our craft resolutions, our weekend Crafternoon with some of the inner north's finest and officially dubbing 2013 the of Skill-sharing. 

Exhibitions include the previously reviewed Louise Bourgeois Late Works retrospective at Heide, Julie Blyfield's Second Nature at Funaki and Magic Mountain at Craft, but in true jam it all in fashion we'll also be giving you a head's up about Ro Noonan's explorations in timber and plastic in Pretty, ordinary constructions (top) at the Rooftop Art Space in Curtain House and Tributary a free association collaborative drawing exhibition from Skye Williams and Jeannie Brown (bottom) at Kings Ari.

And with the Sustainable Living Festival almost upon us we'll also be reminding you about the amazing travelling Once More with Love travelling exhibition and seminar soon to hit Melbourne at North City 4 and Emma Grace's Look. Stop. Swap refashioning jewellery workshop at Craft. Whew...plenty on offer in our humble 15 minute slot. This year we're also thinking of trying something a little different and looking at discussing a contentious craft topic each month - opening up the proverbial Pandora's sewing box if you will. we'd love to know what you think... AND your topics for public discussion!  BECK



SIMply stunning

The ladies of HML are really big fans of Sim Luttin. Apart from being a totally ace lady and champion of other artists and makers, she is a talented jeweller that is becoming a really important part of the Melbourne maker scene.

Like so many Australian artists Sim takes inspiration in nature but gives her own spin on it, reducing organic shapes and lines giving them a graphic quality.

Sim is swinging open her studio doors tomorrow from 530-6730 and if you are in the area we encourage you to go down, peak behind the curtain and see where there magic happens. Given Valentines Day is around the corner maybe some of you (hint hint) will be inspired to make a purchase! RAMONA



inspiration point

Calling Beci Orpin's  Find and Keep a craft book is a bit of a misnomer. Yes there are projects, yes there is a paper garland, washi tape, and even a touch of macrame. But it is so much more than that. The projects are sweet, but they are not the real substance of the book. Orpin gives us a unique and personable insight into her life and work and the whole thing is rich with colour and generosity of spirit.

There is also a deep kindness too. Every step of the way she tells us to do it our way, to choose our colours, our inspiration, objects that make us happy. Orpin is not telling us how to live, she is just inviting us into her space which is purely inspiration rather than aspiration.

There were several projects I did find really appealing. The cross stitched pegboard was a winner. instead of the plain white I sprayed mine 'Julia Child Blue' (my food hero had a giant blue pegboard in her kitchen). I also doubled up projects and put white paper underneath when I was spraying to create polka dotted wrapping paper.

This is a great gift book, and I confess I have gifted it to myself. I've also seen it at wildly different prices around town and online. It's not a craft book, it's a book about a young, innovative and much loved designer who celebrates the domestic handmade with her signature style, and in this instance, lovely openness.  RAMONA



nature calls

So this is Craft with a capital 'C' now. Metalsmith Julie Blyfield has a phenomenal new show Second Nature at the very fancypants Gallery Funaki. Blyfield continues her ongoing observation of the natural world using the perfect organic shapes to create elegant wearable pieces and hollowware.

The ladies of HML have a bit of a thing for hollowware. Steeped in a long tradition of metalsmithing, when you see it done beautifully (as in the work of Vito Bila, Marion Hosking and Alison Jackson) it seems an almost impossible craft to master and as such completely seduces the viewer. Blyfield has created such delicate shimmering pieces the negative space within the vessels seems to glow.

That coupled with Blyfield's sensitive interpretation of native fauna make this a really gorgeous, quiet and contained show.

Second Nature runs from now til March 2
Gallery Funaki 4 Crossley Street, Melbourne
Gallery opening hours: 11am – 5pm Tuesday to Friday, 11am – 4pm Saturday