climb every mountain

About 6 months ago I got my ears pierced for the first time. I know, I waited long enough right? This hadn't stopped me from buying, collecting an receiving earrings mind you and I have to admit I am enjoying wearing my treasure rather than just looking at them in the box. When I did finally take the plunge (or in this case the gun) I joked that at least now I can buy me some Peaches and Keen earrings, and to be honest it wasn't really a joke. I had long coveted their simple, playful modern style.

Beck and I could not be more excited about the launch of their new range Golden Peaks tomorrow night. Nothing more glam than swanning into a product launch and buying some baubles. Limited one-off pieces are enough of a shiny carrot to dangle in front of us to cross the river on a chilly Thursday night.

Congratulations to the lovely Lucy and Lily who are Peaches and Keen, we are as ever, huge fans and now avid collectors and wearers. RAMONA



knot drowning waving

As regular readers will know, the ladies of HML have gone workshop mad this year. We have to say that the latest was the greatest. We were quite cynical about the Topknot Macramé workshop. Could we really learn how to make something beautiful out of rope in under three hours (well under as we were the annoying LATE LADIES - urgh)?  Our hats go off to teachers Kashia Kennedy and Katie Dello - they were indeed a dynamic duo!

They were well organised, informative and super friendly and patient (despite many a dodgy square knot at the start). In the end we were so chuffed with out finished pieces. These are the HML hanging baskets. Mine a sort of jaunty nautical blue, Beck a retro orange complete with chunky brown and blond beads.

I think a sign of a successful workshop is when you rush home and make another one. Beck's second attempt is even better than the first and I sense a whole heap of hanging baskets in the backyard in time for spring.

Thom and I spent some time making a fake terrarium with little peeps and plastic moss (and lentils - let's face it my family won't eat them). He thought it was hilarious fun and we'll be doing more this together for sure.

Mine is going to end up in the bathroom but we are yet to find a strong enough hook so a backyard shot is all you'll get for now. Macrame, something we remember our mums doing in the 70's (and let's face it well into the 80's!). It's simple, it's useful, it's cheap, it's fun, and we think it rocks! RAMONA



markit in the diary

This Sunday sees the return of Markit at the atrium at Fed Square. We've grown quite fond of this one as for us it strikes a nice balance between the old and new, craft and design, shopping and socializing.

plants...so hot right now
I'm looking forward to seeing these screen printed planter boxes by Bengamin (weird spelling I know). I actually really appreciate the level of detail in these so I'm keen to get a closer look at one.

the jewellery version of smart casual
I really really like these copper and enamel bangles by Melanie Rice. They are easy to wear, and kinda spacey without being too youthful, does that make sense? She also has the best website we've seen for a while.

why buy Finnish when you can buy Australian?

We absolutely love the work of Sandra Bowkett. This Tallarook based maker travels up to the big smoke to deliver her gorgeous handmade pieces. How amazing is this 'stitched' cup and plate?

divine new work from the Queen of Craft
Our gorgeous friend Pen of Cottage Industry has started producing these incredible 'Ammo' bags that we can't wait to see. Made from actual canvas ammunition bags and gorgeous antique finish leather, they're a beacon of quality is a sea of dodgy screen printing and cheap clasps. I'm very tempted by one of them that has my this year age on it (wish I could say it was 36).

like a lolly necklace only cooler and inedible
And how sweet is this colour wheel necklace by Adelaide based label Days of August? Perfect for my soon to be 19 year old daughter. Traditionally we have always bought her presents at Markit as her birthday is in July and looks like this year will be no different. See you there people. RAMONA



Mikyoung Jung

I really struggle with glass. Beck has a fine collection of glass pieces and I know from talking to her and other glass collectors that when you love glass work you REALLY love it. But I have to admit I am completely besotted with these pieces by Mikyoung Jung at Kirra Gallery.

Something about the narrative nature of the work really appeals to me. The technical aspect of course its extraordinary. Glass by it's very nature requires a high level of skill. I was lucky enough to visit Canberra Glassworks a couple of years ago and I was struck by how physical a medium it is.

Here is the thing. I often think that with these very complex crafts something can get lost in terms of the finished work. I don't find its enough for me just to marvel at the skill involved in creation. I want some sort of energy or surprise in the work too. Is that too demanding if me as a collector or commentator? Probably. A big part of appreciating craft is about acknowledging skill. But for me that is only part of it.

This work satisfies me on all levels - it's brilliantly executed, it has narrative, it is thoughtful and the finished pieces are begging to be collected. Jung, originally from South Korea is finishing a PHD at Sydney College of the arts. You can see more of her work at her website here and at Kirra Galleries here. Well worth a look. RAMONA



dream weavers

So you know we did ourselves a tapestry workshop a couple of weekends ago. What you may not know (unless you follow us on Instagram in which case you'll already be all over this) is that we have both found it virtually impossible to stop ourselves from weaving since. Aside from the fact that we're both nuts for fibre art and yes i'm calling it fibre art because Sheila Hicks is one of my textile idols and I grew up reading loads of books like these ones here...

...but also because i've totally rediscovered why I spent three years at uni sitting in an attic alongside a wall of yarn doing the most 'uncool' specialist degree of anyone I knew and now my body memory just wants me to sit, thread heddles and push shuttles.

Ramona has discovered that weaving is incredibly south paw friendly, and has been giving her Martha stewart weaving kit a mega workout, she's even started making woven brooches and has gone and got herself a rigid heddle cricket loom from the states. I'm ordering myself a brand spanking four shaft... and upping the scale to move off the kitchen table and back onto the floor. We've also re-purposed a number of old picture frames into new tapestry looms so we can have multiple projects on the go at once.  Watch out world we may be about to give up our day jobs.  BECK



under my umbrella

Literally Ai Ai Gasa translates as 'Sharing an umbrella' in Japanese, however given a heady combination of pronunciation glitch and super kawaii it's also linguistic, diagramatic and symbolic teen crush code for sweethearts, so we really REALLY love the fact dynamic duo cat rabbit and the seven seas have titled their new at No Vacancy Ai Ai Gasa in direct reference. It would appear that after a two week winter stay in Tokyo the pair have been so stricken by the Japanese love bug that they've been hard pressed to stop thinking about it. 

We're both big fans of cat rabbit and the seven seas and this new collection of collaborative and individual works includes the soft sculpture, embroidery, needle-felting, plush, painting and installation we know and love them for. Beautifully realised, gorgeously crafted and seriously so perfectly pitched it's like a how to for aspiring contemporary indie artists. Social media and hipsters everywhere have been ALL over this show, and with good reason, it's an absolute delight, and yes the rumours are true there IS a wall of plush alpacas. Get in quick people, there's only one week left. BECK

check out the show at no vacancy gallery until May 19.
or get a sneak a peek behind the scenes here  on the super awesome opening hours.



listen up

I will be talking it up with the lovely ladies of the Grapevine this morning at around 10:20 am. So get a smile on your dial and tune in to 102.7

Eddy Carroll

I'll be talking about the latest shows at Craft Victoria, the up coming Markit at Federation Square and sharing some of our insights as we continue our quest to go to every workshop in Melbourne.

We haven't been on for a while so there will be lots to catch up on! RAMONA



looming marvellous

On the weekend Ramona and I were lucky enough to attend Sydney Styling Superstar Megan Morten's Melbourne School Roadshow. To say that this was the fanciest workshop environment we've ever found ourselves in is probably one of the greatest understatements we've made to date on HML. 

Seriously people this was weekend workshops at another level - aside from all the linen and blooming peonies everywhere, we were delivered a DIY chocolate pavlova bar for morning tea  YES PEOPLE, SERIOUSLY... A DIY PAVLOVA BAR.

As part of our 'research' we'd decided to take a workshop in tapestry weaving with Melbourne's own Maryanne Moodie given that she's been all over the interwebs with her new take on wall weaving, and we are nothing if not children of 70's fibre craft.

Maryanne talked about her almost accidental discovery of weaving via a chance loom find during a school supply clean up (she's a former art teacher) around 8 months ago -  and how she's now built it into a burgeoning commission business via Instagram and social media. An increasingly common 'new school' craft career trajectory amongst new mothers and part time crafters. 

This particular workshop had been so popular they'd had to put an extra class on over the weekend, proving again that Melbourne is indeed the craft workshop capital of the world (well except for Portland but you all know we contend that Melbourne and Portland are actually interchangeable so...) What was super cool was the level of enthusiasm in the room from the participants - its always inspiring to see that you're not the only person in the room going ga-ga over gold lurex thread. As an old weave major it was interesting to look at the process of tapestry from a beginners perspective again, and to return to an incredibly simple loom to see what I could produce and for Ramona it was a chance to explore a new process (one she's had to listen to me banging on about for years) for the first time. So the workshop presented an interesting challenge to both of us for completely different reasons. 

As you all know lately we've been elbow deep in very different making materials and techniques (me Shibori and Ramona air dry clay) so it took us a while to get into the groove of yarn again, but groove again we did. Ramona pulled out some awesomely festive mexican coolness and I for some reason went down a very tonal blue green path. But we were both ok with what we were doing.

By yesterday we'd both finished off our original pieces and Ramona had taken it one step further by re-warping and trying out new experiments using a range of her favourite materials - string. 

These new pieces are particularly cool because instantly the work is recognisable as Ramona's, and we think trying new stuff and pushing yourself to find your 'signature style' within it is big part of what making is all about.  I'm still obsessed with basket making and dying but the workshop has reminded me to pull out the big loom again and see where my new fascinations will intersect. And you can't ask for more than that. BECK

Read more about The School or make a booking for a class here
Read more about Maryanne on The Design Files here



Mood Indigo

Well given that it's now May I really should report back on the fabulous experimental dye workshop at Harvest last month. The extremely lovely, supremely talented and incredibly generous Joanna Fowles was our dye master over the three workshop, and honestly we could not have been in better hands. Regular readers will know of my dark past in the textile arts, but while I'm an absolute sucker for anything indigo, dye is something I've not explored in any great depth ... besides of course some shocking attempts at bleach tie-dye in the early 90's and clearly we won't be discussing that. 

On day one we quickly became acquainted with the 'alive and stinky' indigo vat (I likened it to sourdough) and were immediately intoxicated  - dunking anything and everything into it, including garments, haberdashery, yarn and bed linen!  Joanna showed us a number of resist techniques using pegs, clamps, thread and tubes, for use in the dye vat, as well as taking us through the process of mixing up and using reactive Procyon dyes for hand painting, immersion dyeing, and screen printing. We certainly got our moneys worth on the information front!

For years i've seen dyeing as some kind of weird science for chemically inclined artists alone. Imagine my surprise and amazement to find that while aspects of it at the highest level do involve a fair amount of scientific empathy it actually is really accessible to us mere mortals Weird how sometimes you set things up as being far more difficult in your mind than they are in reality... but there you go - demystification has to be one of the best and often unrecognised rewards of workshopping. I should also add that I love the experience of working within a group and discovering the background stories and hidden talents of other participants. The social aspect of working collectively and sharing our successes and failures over the three days enriched our understanding of both the technical and aesthetic possibilities of the processes and materials.

Obviously I became completely besotted by indigo and spent the first two days happily elbow deep in dye. I tried out some clamp resists which played to my love of geometric shapes and current fascination with brutalist concrete - and was really pleased with the results. In addition I  found the magic 'ta-dah' moment of unveiling the dyed pieces just as satisfying as watching photos develop before your eyes in a dark room... its a special kind of alchemy I pretty sure I'll never get sick of.

After dabbling with the screen printing, and becoming increasingly frustrated by the faffing about involved, I decided crack at working directly onto the fabricwith the Procyon dyes in the dyeing (geddit) minutes of the workshop. BOOM! instant result. Turns out I'm not so much a printer after all and have discovered I'm much more comfortable with a paint brush and dye vat than a screen and squeegee. Maybe its the instant gratification, maybe its the directness and 'structured' freedom, but I think I've finally found my calling. BECK

Read more about Jo Fowles here and see/buy more of her work here 
If you're in Sydney snap up a seat at this weekends workshop with Jo here. 
And if you want to have a crack at this in the comfort of your own homw you can buy one of Jo's Shibori scarf kits at the Harvest shop or online here