Dyeing to meet you

Well the weekend workshopping continues unabated here at HML. After our successful outing with rope craft we dived headfirst into a vat of indigo out Pascoe Vale way, picking up some serious shibori skills along the way at Bind and Fold's Victoria Pemberton first Shibori workshop. We've all been following each other on Instagram -the home of all good creatives ;) - but hadn't met in the real world, so this was a great way of covering multiple bases at once.

As it turns out Gemma Patford our rope wrangler from the weekend before has recently collaborated on a series of indigo dyed rope vessels with Victoria, which have now graced the pages of virtually all the local interior mags. Well done ladies, way to work a collab! 

Victoria started out working with procion dyes but was quickly seduced by natural/eco dying methodology and outcome and is now a bit of a natural 'vat specialist' having spent the past 12 months or so daily reading, researching and testing out the many vagaries of vat dying. For our workshop she'd made up four different strenth vats for us to sample with as well as bringing back an old vat from 'the dead' right before our eyes which was pretty impressive. Especially as it was the one that turned out to be everyones favourite.

We worked through a range of traditional shibori processes like arashi and itajime as well as had time to play around with dip dying and more random bound resist methods. It was great to have so much space and time to go through the processes in such a small and focused group as well as getting very cool insider tips from a daily dyer. After a good few hours of solid experimentation we were soon finding our feet and selecting our favourite techniques and vat strengths.

Thankfully Vic provided us with some fresh fruit and cheese platters to keep us going, as most of us were barely stopping long enough to breathe let alone eat, and soon we'd not only filled the clothes line but the clothes racks as well with our output.

After lunch - yes we did all eventually have to sit down for a few minutes - we moved from our cotton samples to silk scarves. In keeping with Ramona and I playing the part of over enthusiastic mature age students we'd remembered to not only bring along some extra fabric for dying but a bunch of big raw wooden beads to dye. I decided to combine the two extras and was pretty happy with the results.

And the beads turned out a treat as well. Bonus!

Followers of Ramona's instagram feed will know that blue is pretty much colour de jour both within Ramona's wardrobe and here at HML HQ, so she was all for getting as much indigo on everything as possible. She even came to the workshop wearing white plimsoles with the sole purpose of 'accidentally' dyeing them during the day. 

Regular readers know that my dye course with the inimitable Joanna Fowles at harvest last year was pretty much a game changer for me professionally and creatively, and as it turns out this session and the alchemical magic of indigo has had a similar effect on Ramona. Team HML has most definitely got the blues. BECK




Illawarra ceramic artist Lynda Draper has developed a loyal following of people in the know about contemporary ceramics. So much so that her new exhibition Summon, currently showing at North Melbourne's Gallerysmith has been one of the most hotly anticipated events of 2014 so far. Draper has an international reputation as an object maker working primarily with ceramics, has been collected by both national and international galleries and collectors, and is an elected member of the International Academy of Ceramics. Yes people she is the real deal, in spades. 

Drapers work in Summon is hilariously adroit. The 'portraits' in this collection remind us of a brilliant ceramic mind meld between the Mudmen of the Banana Splits Adventure Island and the Candy shop from the original Willy Wonka. But we might be alone in that particular pop culture observation.  

Draper is probably better known for her fine monochromatic porcelain sculptural works...

... but this earthenware and glaze work has kind of broken our brains with its greatness. We, like most of the 'ceramiphiles' of Melbourne have gone completely gaga over it. Seriously brilliant stuff and well worth checking out, and seeing as you're in North Melbourne you can always bookend the visit with a stop at Beatrix cakes for some peanut butter whoopie pies, red velvet cake or creme brulee tarts... see everybody wins. BECK 

until March 15.
170-174 Abbotsford St
North Melbourne. 




Today I'll be flying solo today on the RRR airwaves around 10.15 in the am on the first HML radio spot for 2014, courtesy of the lovely Kulja Coulston which will of course be a bonus but I will be without my super-star sparring partner Ramona which of course will be a bummer. However whether we're both on air or not there's no stopping the mother load of stuff on at the moment so expect to hear me racing through the multitude of craft related activities, festivals and events on in our town over the next month, possibly without taking a breath.

Our show of the week is Summon by Illawarra artist Lynda Draper and currently on display at North Melbourne's Gallerysmith until March 15 and is well worth a look. This collection of 'portrait' ceramic works is both masterful and hilarious, and everyone's going gaga for it. We'll be featuring more about this show tomorrow on HML.

WhiteNight also takes place this week on February 22 thats saturday night folks and this year loads of craft/design practitioners are involved in what we've dubbed version 2.0. Hopefully the temperature wont be quite as hot as last year, but the art will be – go early or late to get better views! Music, Art, performance, food, fashion and design in the mix – the website lets you make up and print out your own custom program which is unbelievably cool – or you can just head out and wing it land let the good stuff find you.

Virgin Melbourne Fashion Festival launches today, so expect to see lots and lots of garment and textile related craft on show as part of both the runway shows and cultural program. Always worth scouring the program to pick out your favourites – lots for free, lots at low cost – or splurge on good seats to the top runway shows or expert panels. Films. Window shows, off runway shows, talks, workshops, pop ups, exhibitions. We like to think of this festival as frequently exhausting, often amazing and always interesting. Check the website or our own annual must see list this week on hml.

Always on trend (yes I just did that) Craft Victoria will be opening three new shows as part of the fashion festival cultural program -  Solutions – a new exhibition by Melbourne based designers John Gosper, Hannah Chanley and Jarriet Barrile – conceptual wearable works have been created with the idea of water at their core from transportation to consumption. Collectively their work encompasses material manipulation, movement, process, form and function, and this exhibition will be no exception. Clearly the drought is over, in flinders lane at least.

AVogue Idea by multidisciplinary artist Matthew Linde and founder/curator of the Centre of Style. (Melbourne based hosts and home of the best, most engaging emerging and contemporary art fashion.) Matthew continues his body of work exploring and dissecting the use of fashion as a social statement through garment creation and durational performance work. A Vogue Idea will also have a public incarnation at White Night Melbourne – expect to be amazed - we are.

Namaste a collaborative exhibition by wonderful ceramicist and super ace making person Chela Edmunds and new Melbourne fashion label Dress Up.  Chela has drawn on her extensive background as a textile designer to create a 50's inspired graphic surface pattern based on yoga postures called Asana. The print has then been used across both her own ceramic works and clothing from the Dress Up 2014 Autumn/Winter range. Very Clever stuff - and this will no doubt sell out so if you want to get in and get some, get in early!

I'd also better remember the Chicks on Speed show Scream, currently on display and interface at RMIT Design Hub until March 8. Chicks on Spped re pretty much the perfect art/craft fusion of performance, politics and polemics, with all the best and most subversive elements of feminist DIY at their core. They call this particular outing 'an experiential interactive installation or GESAMTKUNSTWERK (‘total work of art’), we call it genius. 

Their collective output always features a heady mix of collage, music and objects, engaging and interactive, and this one features a ‘self made instrument’ that allows visitors to literally play artworks in an ongoing collective jam session. YEAH!!! The Chicks on Speed show at Craft Victoria a few years back was an absolute corker so Scream is an absolute not to be missed event, especially for those who missed the last one. Whew... here's hoping I remember all that! BECK



Give us enough rope...

Last Sunday we braved the heat and headed to the supercool Pop&Scott co-operative workspace to learn how to make rope bowls with the wonderfully generous Gemma Patford. Every time we head to Hayes street we're reminded of what a brilliant and much needed resource this space is,  and just how lucky we are to have it in our hood!

You all know what suckers we are for upskilling and this is a technique that we've long been fans of, lets face it we are both big accumulators of stuff, and subsequently are always on the look out for ways to make new vessels to hold our craft supplies and equipment. Presented via the magic of Instagram (thanks pop&scott and patford feeds) with the chance to learn how to to whip up our own collection of custom bowls, baskets and trays we were pretty much sold on sight.

Regular readers know what big fans we are of simple techniques that give makers lots of scope to develop their own particular aesthetic style. Rope based craft comes with a looooong history and rope itself is such a (pardon the pun) flexible  material that it really lends itself perfectly to experimentation and reinterpretation. So its been inspiring to see the development of Gemma's practice and the new direction she's moving in with her sculptural wall works. 

Despite the heat Gemma had created a cool and welcoming environment complete with ginger beer, cheese and fruit platter and even a double layered brandy chocolate cake that was seriously delicious. Not to mention a customised badge name tag making service that Ramona and I took full advantage of.

In addition we also got a super cool goody bag complete with everything needed to go home and whip up another to ensure that we nailed the technique, and a pre made bowl to play around with on the day! See we told you she was generous.

We got some insider knowledge (which we can't divulge), step by step instructions, lots of opportunities to have a practice both constructing on the machine and decorating our own 'blank canvas' bowl.

From the paint, embroidery and trimmings stations we chose the embroidery table most likely because it was right in front of both the open door and super sized fan. Funnily enough we both went straight for the bead jar. Anyways in true HML fashion we both chose similar materials and then came up completely different styles.

It was amazing to see how this happened right across the workshop - each person gravitating to the different decorative elements - sharp metallic geometrics, fluffy pastel pompoms, bold graphic brights, embroidery, painting, glue, creating bowls as individual as their makers. The more we engage in these crafter-noon style workshops the more we realise how wonderfully refreshing it is to sit in a room full of strangers linked together by a simple but incredibly profound love of making. Its kind of awesome. BECK



block party

Jeweller, writer and visual artist Meredith Turnbull is one of those makers that is constantly moving.    Cerebral and tactile, abstract and decorative she continually produced works that cleverly fuse historical forms and techniques with a thoroughly considered awareness of the implications of folk craft, modernism and hand-making on contemporary art practice and design. 

From super sized sculptures to wearable wooden blocks her eye is super keen and her output always on point. We love her work. So we're pretty excited to see this new collection of 'compositions' now on show in the newly refurbished Bus Gallery.

Turnbull fans (ourselves included) should also take advantage of Meredith's interactive Co-Workers Hanging Sculpture also on show as part of Melbourne Now.

This work was one of our favourites in the M.N megalith. No just because it focuses on scale via a range of mixed media from wall painting, abstracted 3D components and large photocopies (swoon), but because it also invites small people to play with, think about and create their own hanging sculpture with the extremely thoughtful option of either adding their finished creation to the exhibition or to take it home. Seriously brilliant stuff and highly recommended... see you there. BECK

5-22 Februrary 
Gallery 1
25-31 Rokeby Street Collingwood.

Melbourne Now
NGV until March 23




Have you all been wondering where we've been? Apologies for our long breaks between posts at the moment. We've been working on a major project for 18 months now and we are so close to the deadline we can feel it. So it's a mixture of stress and excitement for team HML. That being said the world certainly doesn't revolve around us and the craft world continues to produce amazing shows, events and activities both here in Melbourne and around the globe.
We very nearly missed out on the  current show at Gallery Funaki and it's is a real corker. A collaboratin between jeweller Helen Britton and fashion designer Justine McKnight has produced a series of works  called 'jewellery for tshirts. 
Jewellers are often thinking about how their work relates to the body, but how does it relate to clothing? Fashion designers think of jewellery as accessories, not a necessary partnership. So it is interesting territory to explore and they created some amazing pieces together. The show ends tomorrow (yes we are SO sorry it's taken us this long to tell you about it) so if you can scoot in - fantastic. But if not go here for an interesting read on the show. RAMONA