We have moved!

Well it has been a long time coming people! We feel like we've come to  both the end and the beginning of something.  We've loved being here at blogspot. It has been an amazing nine years of sharing makers and making with you! 

With the launch of our new book just weeks away, we felt it was time to take it up a notch. So we treated ourselves to a shiny new website that better reflects just how busy we are and all the different ways you can join us on our craft adventure. This is not goodbye, it's a 'we've moved' to bigger shinier premises

you can find us at www.handmadelife.com.au

Beck and Ramona xxx




So once again we've been off the radar for a few weeks, but this month we've actually been out and about learning more about making ceramics, seeing new exhibitions, launching new creative endevours and putting the finishing touches (at last) on the Craft Companion. We hope you're all looking forward to August which as usual promises to be THE BIG ONE for the Craft community in Melbourne with the launch of Craft Victoria's annual Craft Cubed festival. We're on The Grapevine RRR again this morning around 10:15 and we'll be bringing you a choice selection of what's happening in the craftiverse.


Theres a new school in town. Shane Kent, one of Melbourne's premier ceramicists is quickly becoming the poster boy (man) for modern artisans - regularly collaborating with chefs on large commercial commissions, maintaing a vibrant personal artistic practice and encouraging and inspiring aspiring clay mavens through both formal educational settings and short courses in specialist clay centres and continually showcasing the kind of life that can be sustained through creative endeavour. The latest string to his bow is the new School of Clay and Art which is offering up a unique mix of wheel thrown and hand building classes as well as career advice and perceptual skill building. We're excited and we will be signing up.


One of Melbourne's finest (the lovely Ms Meredith Turnbull) has curated a new show called Form and Flex which we are really looking forward to. Makers who create interactive wearables that examine the physical connection of body, ornament and environment really push our buttons, often literally, playing with notions of performance, functionality and adornment. In this exhibition the spotlight will be on the conceptual artistry and manual skill of Bridie Lunney, Sanne Mestom, Anna Varendorff and Benjamin Woods as they take centre stage. We can't wait.
Opens Tuesday July 28, 6-8pm
Pieces of Eight Gallery


This August will see the second iteration of this wonderfully curated temporary retail space that focuses on a select range of works that skilfully embody the skill and inherent beauty of purpose built functional objects. Baskets, ceramics, metal, wood and textiles come to life as hand dyed, hand sewn and hand wrought tableware, napery, aprons and utensils. This year sees the original collective of Sophie Moran, Bridget Bodenham, Sandra Bowkett, Adriana Christianson and Vic Pemberton expand to include a new list of makers joining the team presenting a selection of modern classics that will be seriously hard to resist. We highly recommend getting in early.

Opening night Wed August 5 6-8pm
466 Smith St. Collingwood
Runs from 5-16 August, Wednesday to Sunay 11-6pm.

Northsiders with a liking for fibre arts and baking can combine their activities for a good cause this month. Pop Craft are hosting a cake sale to both raise money for their Craft Cubed chunky weaving public access project. The results from which will be auctioned off once complete to raise money for both The Lighthouse Foundation and the ASRC. Sign up your support here and get your apron on! We should also mention that the fabulous monthly feast has a Caribbean flavour this month and takes place THIS FRIDAY the 31st of July. We'll be there enjoying the festivities and no doubt drooling stoop idly at the deliciousness NOM NOM NOM.


CRAFT CUBED (the festivus for the restofus)

Make no mistake this festival is a big deal for anyone involved in the craft sector. This is sixth year Craft Victoria has presented Craft Cubed and it will bring together over 150 events all over Victoria during an extended 7 week schedule that starts on August 1 and finishes up on September 22. For a small arts organisation that literally runs on the smell of an oily rag, the scope of the festival is enormous and its impact profound. All media, all skill levels and all makers are celebrated and encouraged to participate in a program rich with exhibitions, open studios, public events, skill sharing, markets, open access activities, a curated window walk, Koori Showcase at Fed Square, collaborations with Radiant Pavilion and the inaugural Victorian Craft Award.

This year the festival finally has its own mobile friendly website making it even easier to work out your own program of must sees, which we advise doing in advance because the program is HUGE. It has been incredible to see the development of this event into one that is completely unique and that attracts an audience of over 150,000 visitors! It would be even more fantastic to see it receive a whopping great lump of cash (are you listening Mr. Brandis) to take it Australia wide in the future. But enough of our grandstanding… whats on!

What can we say - this will be amazing. A selection of over 100 of Victoria's top craft works running at 4 different venues and featuring some of the most skilled craftspeople across all media. This is a unique event showcasing the best craft our state has to offer and is the first of what will become a biennial event. The prizes are big and the stakes are high. Unmissable. More information on the craft website here 1-15 August


Fellow window shoppers rejoice! This years festival will feature a series of collaborations between leading artists and retailers to present site specific exhibitions and in-store events that showcase some of our favourite makers in some of our favourite spaces. Like The Golden Opportunity Shop (pictured above) which includes live gilding of op shop finds at Alpha 60, Volcanic Landscapes by the incredible Megan Nicholson at Print City (pictured below) and Dear Plastic's Peace Bunnies Victory Land  at new docklands book hub Library at the Dock.

The list is long and pretty much everyone in the community has something on or is opening their doors. If you've ever had even the slightest interest in finding out more about anything about local craft nows your chance.

Some of our top pics include Wild Weaving at Pop Craft and Twilight Textiles at the Handspinners and Weavers Guild and the welcome-home weaving project at Home Work in brunswick.

Newcomers Handmakers Factory  are putting on some Mini Workshops  that have us hooked as well as the Upcycling jewellery class with the Ethical Makers Movement at Radiant Pavillion.

For clay lovers the best known learning centres Northcote Potters, Carlton Ceramics and Slow Clay Centre but a raft of smaller studios as well as the new School of Clay and Art in Brunswick are also opening up for public viewing.


Too many to mention. Just go on the website and look - we're not kidding we couldn't possibly fit them all in. Collage, books, photography, jewellery, ornaments, glass, ceramics, jewellery, wood, mixed media, jewellery, ceramics and textiles, textiles textiles. Emerging makers to the most revered masters of their craft offer up works showing the diversity of concerns and skills present in todays contemporary craft landscape.

Our short list already includes ElectricElise Sheehan, Anna Varendorf and Meredith Turnbull, Roseanne BartleySurface and Structure, Illuminate, Multiple Signatures and Hothouse. The list is sure to grow as our families become festival orphans once again.


As part of the festival there is also a flurry of discussion groups from small highly specific round tables to key note day long seminars (our top pick - Craft and Design as a Career), and Craft The Australian Story presented by the World Crafts Council at which our very own Ramona will be speaking. Scan the festival guide and find your topic or people and get on board. Nothing like being among like minded people discussing the intricacies of your favourite hobby or profession. There is also the super expensive and highly contentious Parallells gab fest at NGV timed to coincide with Craft Cubed but presented by the NGV and the National Craft Initiative that is causing conversation ripples (make that tidal waves) of its own... But that's a whole other story we'll get to next month!

Don't take our word for it though, head over to the website and see for yourself.



long time no see!

What must you think of us dear readers? We say we are back when clearly we are not. We seem to be popping in here only to coincide with radio appearances (this morning 10:30am on RRR FM!). Truth is even though we said the book is finished, it's never really finished. There is the painstaking and painful editing and proofing, the publicity planning, all at the same time as trying to get things on an even keel on the home front - which for us is quite the challenge! That said we have started leaving the house/studio/writing bunker more and more we've found some fantastic things out there in the world to see


Hello Play!

We admit to being a little biased when it comes to artist/designer/coolguy Spencer Harrison. He designed our book and let us tell you a little secret - it looks beautiful! Somewhere between wrangling our craft tome, creating the Rhythm and Repeat Project, painting epic murals and hosting one of the best Instagram accounts ever, Spencer has created an amazing new body of work. 

No Vacancy Gallery has never been more fun, with a magical selfie wall complete with props, painting, sculptures, ceramics,  works on paper and super cool merch (we love our squiggle socks!). Better get in quick, five more days of delight to go.

No Vacancy Gallery 
Until June 21


Portuguese artist Patrícia Correia Domingues and Polish artist Sara Gackowska were joint winners of the 2014 Gallery Funaki Emerging Artist award. This combined exhibition showcases both old and new work from both makers and is both gutsy and austere, earthy and futuristic. Like sci fi props from Prometheus (we loved that crazy film).  It's a treat to see international work in such an intimate scale. Gallery Funaki remains one of the most important fine art jewellery galleries in the world, lucky for us it's only a tram ride away.

Until June 20

Field Libraries

Yes you may have to brush your hair and shine your shoes to feel comfortable going into the Anna Schwartz gallery but don't let their retro snobbery put you off. We've told you how much we love Emily Floyd before, especially following her epic show at Heide last year. An injection of colour into this dreary Melbourne winter is just what we need, so we'll take our chances with this Slaves of New York style of gallery. 

until 11 July

Group Exchange

When you can't go the mountain its great when the mountain can come to you. When it comes to local textiles the Tamworth show is the biggest in the business, and while we've been waiting to see one for years now but never managed to pull it off. How fabulous to find a collection of the best in the business in Hawthorn at the Town Hall Gallery.

 22 Australian artists were invited to explore the theme of collaboration. This of course mean many different things to different artists and we think in this case the word 'dialogue' is most appropriate. We'll be doing a full review of this show next  Monday, one not to be missed

Until July 26

Hold Me Tight

Brunswick's home of workshops, studios and hand made retail, Home-Work, is now adding an exhibition program to their bow. The inaugural show Hold Me Tight  features a fabulous collection of vessels from vases to modular shelving made by a great collection of artists, artisans and makers. One of the most refreshing things we've noticed so far this year is the number of new spaces that have opened their doors to  new and emerging makers. Closing this weekend so get in quick!

Until June 21


Clay Social

There's a new kid on the block in North Melbourne and its a cracker! Guild of Objects is the brainchild of three small batch potters - Brooke thorn, Chela Edmunds and tao Oudomvilay. Think super cool ceramic, metal and textile objects made by small scale independent artist as well as a workshop and exhibition space, Guild of Objects is dedicated to presenting the work of emerging artists, fostering neighbourhood interaction, presenting fun and accessible classes, artist experimentation and a love of the handmade. Winning combination if you ask us, and they're conveniently located right next door to one of the best cake shops in town Beatrix! Their first workshop - a ceramic cup building workshop with Chela sold out in hours, but we've managed to snaffle a class in their second session next week YAY. 

690 Queensbury Street
North Melbourne

Thinking in Three Dimensions with Felt

On June 27, authors, artists and felt wranglers Cat Rabbit and Isobel Knowles have an uncanny knack of turning two dimensional ideas into three dimensional wonders. Pop Craft is presenting a brilliant opportunity to learn some key tricks of the trade with these two magical makers. Basic sewing knowledge is essential but everything else is provided. Learn Pattern making, planning, cutting, stuffing and sewing in this hands on workshop. More details here

Shaping and Texture for Woven Tapestry with Sara Lindsay

This July Pop Craft is presenting a very exciting opportunity for weavers to work with one of one of the masters of the craft. Sara Lindsay, a founder of the Australian Tapestry Workshop, knows more about tapestry than the rest of us combined and then some. Simply put, her knowledge and teaching skills are legendary. This extraordinary pair of classes will see you learn some seriously impressive skills to build your textile repertoire over two consecutive weekends. One not to miss out on. More details here Pop Craft




After another long month in the writing, editing and finally photo shoot bunker we are now officially climbing out of the publication abyss and hitting the gallery, workshop, workbench circuit again.
Ramona's been off in Adelaide opening jeweller Sim Luttin's fab new show (which we'll more about) while I've been recovering in bed from the post photo shoot flu (which we shall never speak of again). But enough about us. What you really want is to hear all about the incredible adventures happening in the craftiverse's during the next month.


Anna Davern's new exhibition of contemporary jewellery is one worth making time for. Continuting her own practice of riffing on royalty, politicians, colonialism and the 'cultured' elite this new exhibition of works references the traditions of portrait miniatures skewered brilliantly with wit and design nous. Davern manually manipulates the highly regulated imagery of the British monarchy and upper classes by slicing and dicing in a way that distorts and dissects the traditional depictions of empire and social position. Clever clever collage.

May 11- 23 at E.g.etal
opens Friday 15th May from 5-7pm.

Exquisite Threads

Seriously important for anyone interested in needlework, feminism, history and culture (isn't that all of us!) This collection of english pieces from the 1600's to 1900's is a testament to the skill of the domestic crafter throughout English history. Over 60 works are displayed, each representing the integral place handwork held as both an educational tool and creative outlet.  Ramona hit this one up on the weekend and tells me its gobsmacking. Recommendation enough I think!

NGV International ground level, until July 15.


Somewhere between Old Gregg and Aphrodite lies the under sea neo-psychedelia of local jeweller Milly Savage. Her approach is unique, raw and mystical, simultaneously reverent of the culturally attributed 'magic' attached to precious metals and stones as well as playfully recontextualising their traditional vaulted placement into new bubblegum-hued underworlds complete with magic foam and iridescent foil. Her use of lost wax casting adds weight in both physical and metaphysical ways, adding an alchemical touch to works already brimming with vitality. Seriously cool stuff we can't get enough of. 

24/7 in the Craft Victoria window until June 2.


Tea x Zen and Chawan Fetish

Its fair to say that melbourne has developed a strong taste for all things Japanese and craft related, and while our reputation says 'coffee drinkers' we're also pretty serious about our tea. Slow Clay has come up with the goods again, marrying all three together in a pair of unique events presented by 'globe trotting contemporary tea master' and interventionist Adam Wojcinski. Tea x Zen is an authentic, hands on experiential workshop option while Chawan Festish will allow the enthusiastic and knowledgable Wojinski to regale you with rare and fascinating insights into the ancient art of the Japanese Tea ceremony. Interested? Find out more here 

Slow Clay
May 24 and Friday June 12

Clay for Nepal
Vipoo Srivalasa and Lynda Draper
This brilliant fundraising idea has been conceived and orchestrated Vipoo Srivalasa with assistance from Vicki Grima and Adriana Christiansen. All money generated will go to Oxfam Australia's Earthquake relief appeal.  This is an incredibly important event for the huge group of makers who have donated their works, but more importantly for the people of Nepal who's lives have been devastated by this tragic event.
vessel by wingnut and co
There is a strong connection between ceramicists the world over and in particular there are a number of local potters who have spent time working with their Nepalese counterparts. The list of participating artists is long and includes the creme of contemporary ceramics. Having both an Auction and buy now online shop, has allowed them to showcase works at all price points, so there is really no reason not to get on board.

The auction kicks off May 15 and closes on May 17. The works are amazing and the cause incredibly important so please support them in any way you can. See a complete selection and find out more about it here . Tell your friends, tell your family and let's make this a cracking success.

There's loads more to see make and do this month - listen up to Ramona talking all about it with Kulja and Dylan on the RRR's this morning at around 10am.  Happy Crafting people! Beck.



still breathing

We have officially become bad bloggers and we have no one else to blame but ourselves and one giganto manuscript that is so close to being finished we can almost start to breath normally again. We unchained ourselves from the computers on Friday night to attend a wonderful feast at the newly minted Popcraft Studio in Northcote. We'll be talking about that and other craft delights this morning on The Grapevine on RRR with the lovely Dylan and Kulja.

Unfolding: New Indian Textiles is another great reason to abandon work! Writer and curator Maggie Baxter has had the enviable task of exploring the textile traditions and contemporary style of India, with and extensive exhibition hosted by RMIT Gallery to coincide with her new book on the subject. Surface embellishment, colour, block printing, beading certainly make our pulse race and as we are on the precipice of booking plane tickets as our reward for a year of slog this may just be the inspiration we need in choosing our destination.

We cannot believe that this year marks the 21st anniversary of the Fresh exhibition at Craft. It has been such a pleasure to be involved with this show over the years. Both of us have served on the selection panel at different times and we've watched with interest as some of our favourites from these best of the best graduates shows have gone on to have extraordinary careers in professional craft. Still such an important exhibition on the craft calendar.

We urge you all to make a trip south side to see the new group show Fertile Ground at the Australian Tapestry Workshop . Their Artist in Residence program has grown from strength to strength and last year was a stellar line up. You can see the fruits of their collaborative labour, explore the workshop, and pick up some delicious tapestry yarn while your at it. their 2015 calendar is just as exciting. We are looking forward to hearing one of our craft favourites  Phil Ferguson aka ChiliPhilly discuss his residency on the 7th of April.

For those of you looking for a road trip we highly recommend heading north (if you are based in Melbourne) to Ararat Regional Gallery for an embroidery group show (yes embroidery!) This is a kind of craft blockbuster that is well worth getting in the car for.  Slipstitch features recent work from Mae Finlayson, David Green, Lucas Grogan, Alice Kettle, Tim Moore, Silke Raetze, Demelza Sherwood, Matt Siwerski, Jane Theau, Sera Waters, Elyse Watkins and Ilka White. It's rare to get a discipline specific textiles show so this is a must see. 

If we have time we'll also talk up Easter and school holiday craft. We'll be doing a lot of making over the next two weeks in preparation for our book photo shoot - wish us luck! 
Well be on air around 10.15 1027 on your dial or streaming at RRR.