Fresh @ Craft Victoria is always a highlight of the year. The 'best of the best' graduates selected by advisory committee, then curated (in this instance by Craft Curator Debbie Pryor) have been a highlight of the CRAFT calendar. This year marks the 20th anniversary of this amazing showcase of emerging talent.

The ladies of HML have been to quite a few of these let me tell you! Both of us have been honoured to be on the committee in past years and it's been a thrill to watch careers forge ahead from this amazing platform. 

John Brooks(VCA) continues to push at the boundaries of weaving

In our mind this has to be one of the very best we've seen in recent years. The focus is very much on craft - with inclusions of weaving, jewellery, ceramics, even embroidery gets a much needed look in! But what can it tell us about current craft practice? We've noted a return to skill, a celebration of technique and material as a rising trend across  the board and Fresh is the perfect example of that.

We can't wait for Kate Jones' (RMIT) solo show
Some makers we are already familiar with. The wonderful weaver John Brooks who I keep banging on about like and incessant fangirl, the incredible monumental slab bots by Kate Jones who Beck has been raving about since her window exhibition at Craft in 2013. With a solo show later this year we can't wait to extend our ceramics collection.

light and shadow are just two of the dualities explored by Elise Sheehan (RMIT)

There is a real lightness of touch to this show. You can see that it has been 'curated' as things sit together so well and support each other in their quiet pools of light. Debbie Pryor is to be congratulated because Fresh is a tough one. All these new kids on the block trying to flex their creative muscles to be heard above the rest, a committee that has very firm ideas on what constitutes 'Fresh' and a challenging space all make for a tricky mix.

We think Marcos Guzman (RMIT) is the NBT in contemporary jewellery

It may be that having the show In April/May rather than the traditional November/ December has allowed some of the dust to settle on graduation but none of the excitement as was evidenced by a packed opening night. People were genuinely excited to be there, to meet each other and to share in each other's successes.

Guzman's work celebrates primitivism and minimalism at the same time

Craft Victoria also have a fantastic short film celebrating the 20 years of Fresh with some interviews with past recipients. It's a nice watch and shows just what an important show this has become for the craft culture of Melbourne. We'd like to add that unless funding levels are maintained or improved many of the tertiary craft courses will disappear (like tapestry and glass at Monash).

Louise Meuwisson (VCA) dense and strange embroidery
There aren't too many yardsticks for professional maker, especially emerging ones. As they begin a tough journey of defining their own practice and where it fits in a complex craft culture, Fresh remains and important exhibition that acts as both celebration and forecast. This year the mood is resilient and optimistic, a fantastic combination we think. Here's hoping for 20 more. RAMONA (words) AND BECK (pictures)



making and baking

Apologies for our week off air, but what with Easter, school holidays, ongoing health issues and crazy chocolate fueled children we've kind of been swamped. This hasn't however meant that we haven't been busy making, we still both manage to find time to get creative even if its in a stolen half hour between boys bath and bedtime.

While I tend to work on longer term projects that can be picked up and put down easily like tapestry weaving and coiled baskets Ramona knocks out new works on a daily basis like some kind of crazy making machine - you can see the results of her current totem obsession above. Having these long weekends is such a luxury for home crafters, giving you a whole day to get busy on bigger projects (like overdue wedding gifts) without having to think of the barrage of domestic duties and needy family members that fill regular weekends.

Over the past ten days Ramona's been busy with hand painted totems, paper flowers while I've been working on dyed indigo bedding, needle weaving, and baking... lots and lots of baking (I even broke my old oven over the weekend courtesy of my new-found obsession with freshly baked sourdough) and the kids have been making mine craft craft and covering the concrete with chalk drawings.

Busy busy crafting creatures we are... what did you get busy with over the long weekend? BECK



egg on

he took great care getting the colour combos right
The ladies of HML are REALLY looking forward to Easter this year. Work and home have been unusually mental and we could sure use some downtime (if you call cooking Easter lunch for 8 people downtime). The school holidays have beautifully coincided with Easter this year so there has been much seasonal crafting. Thom excelled in the crepe paper stuffing of clear eggs for the branch.

$2.80 shops are the best for odd craft supplies

I even went one step further this year and made an Easter wreath for the front door. I'm a little wreath obsessed I admit. I find that they work best if you amass bits and bobs over time and have a beautiful wreath base so you don't have to cover the whole thing. You'll need a hot glue gun too because you need instant grip of odd shaped items like eggs, felt flowers etc

it wouldn't be Easter without those chicks
The branch looks particularly pretty.  I wrapped it in different coloured wool first and then dotted it with those crazy yellow chickens. It showcases both this years clear eggs and last years bedazzled gilded ones.

a hot glue gun is your best friend to get this much stuff on!
The front door wreath was so successful someone passing by asked me where I bought it! She then offered to buy it off the door which was sweet but a little crazy. It only took me 30 minutes and cost about $10 (wreath from a $2 shop, papier mache eggs covered in  scrap fabric and lace trim, felt flowers made out of cheap acrylic felt which is better outdoors, and Peter Rabbit acting as the Easter bunny  printed out from the internet and mounted on cardboard - it's not rocket science).

looks great in my Iggy and Lou Lou vase!

We'll be back next Tuesday with a show of the week. We hope you all have a lovely break with family and friends, eat some chocolate, read a book, listen to the rain, have tea, ignore the housework, sleep in. 



Wild and Woolly

I snuck a look at the back for you all!

There is the most extraordinary tapestry on display at the wondrous Australian Tapestry Workshop that the ladies of HML are kind of in love with (both the place and the tapestry). Large Tree Group (based on a 1975 painting by Victoria Crowe) was chosen by Dovecot Studios in Scotland to be translated into a large scale tapestry. With over 70 producers across Great Britain contributing you can view the work and also learn about the process of bringing the tapestry to life from Fleece to Fibre.

How beautiful are these photos?

Weavers used undyed wool to recreate the painting and the effect is quite moving. By showing the beautiful portrait photographs of the rare breed sheep whose yarn contributed to the making of this amazing work you are aware of the beautiful palette nature provides. these portraits give them such gorgeous nobility you spend as much time looking into their big brown eyes as the tapestry itself

the workshop has a great shop where you can buy their full palette of yarns

Truth be told  we don't visit the Workshop very often, which is crazy because it is the most inspiring and energising space. We urge you to make a day of it. There is a fantastic project space there and if you take a tour you can up close to the working weavers and marvel at their skill and sensitivity at interpreting images. In a world awash with simple graphic interior design weaving (which we also love when done well) it is so extraordinary to see how complex artwork and photography can be translated into weaving. RAMONA

Fleece to Fibre: the Making of the Large Tree Group Tapestry
runs until June 6
Australian Tapestry Workshop
262 Park Street South Melbourne




painted egg cups serve as place names for Sunday lunch

With only a week to go I thought I would start sharing some of my family Easter crafts past and present with you. Easter comes under the banner of a 'very big deal' in our home. Despite having let many of my childhood traditions slowly go (religious ones mainly) I cling to the Easter ones like old friends.  I give up something for lent, make hot cross buns, serve fish on Friday and decorate eggs for around the house.

Fabric covered eggs make good gifts for non chocaholics

I plan Easter egg hunts (Beck has the edge there with a beautiful sprawling backyard and a knack for hiding things in fruit trees). I go to the Stations of the Cross at the cathedral, and I always always watch Easter Parade. This year I also intend to make an Easter bonnet but I'll save that for another post.

last year's place name eggs can with gifts inside

We go for the mad rush at the market on the Friday for seafood and return on Saturday for the big weekly shop. Mum and I cook up a storm on Easter Sunday, this year my daughter's boyfriend (whose nickname is baker boy) is in charge of sweeties. I've put in an order for a plaited sweet bun, and some hot cross buns for breakfast.

yeah I will gild and bedazzle ANYTHING

Haven't decided on the menu yet but am enjoying pouring over cookbooks for inspiration. My mother always puts in an order for roast chook as it's what she grew up with, her own grandmother choosing which one would get the chop from the backyard.

Thom made these a couple of days ago - crazy cute.

I've always been so envious of northern hemispereans as they are celebrating Spring at Easter while the autumn chill is settling on us here.It's good weather for hearty soups and crusty breads so who am I to complain?

these stencilled papier mache eggs are a favourite
It doesnt matter where your belief systems operate for this holiday. It's about taking a couple of days off to rest, recuperate, rejoice in each other's company and sing along with Judy Garland and Fred Astaire (oh and to go hunting for rarities on record store day of course!) RAMONA



On the town

Opening this week at the Incinerator Gallery in Moonee Ponds is Wunderkammer by Rod McRae. Yes it's taxidermy, yes it comments on the current standing of the world's fauna, yes it is totally cool and you should see it. The incinerator is a great space and as it was design by the Burley Griffins it has pull for the architecture fans. Open 11 April -25 May.

Mr Kitly does it again with Pukulpa Pots. A series of ceramics and works on paper by the encredibly talented Anangu women of the Iwantja Arts group in Alice springs. This collaboration with the brilliant ceramicist Kim Jaeger (she of 'potheads' fame) is sure to be on many peoples top 10 shows of the years list. Won't tell you much as we are yet to see it and we know we are going to write a review because our tiny minds are already blown.

RMIT Gallery is showing work by School of Art Honours students who are in the running for travel scholarships. Go see what the best and the brightest are up to. This level of 'student' work is always interesting and boundary pushing. A bit like grad shows on steroids. It's also important to rediscover university galleries as they often have shows that come and go without much fanfare but have the most dynamic work (how great is the above piece by Ruby Aitchison we think she's one to watch.)

The awe inspiring craft hero Polly Borland has a new show at the Centre for Contemporary Photography. This work has come out of a Museum Victoria residency and is inspired by their psychiatric services collection - enough said. Borland has long been an inspiration and this new work is scary, exciting, and well worth a trip to Fitzroy. So that's what we are checking out this week. Reviews to come! RAMONA



greetings and salutations

OK so the above photo is what my dining table looks like a lot of the time. There isn't some pristine pinterest worthy studio where the ladies of HML make stuff. For both of us it takes place somewhere between making dinners for multi-generational fussy eaters, the hum of the dishwasher/dryer/washing machine and cats and dogs vying for attention by walking across keyboards. We wont be ready for the Design Files photo shoots any time soon, but we get a lot done!

With lives full of friends and family it's handy that just some of the craft supply tsunami has included a collection of stamps, ink pads, punches and paints. I have so many people with birthdays in April/May and many people to send thank you notes too that I dedicated an afternoon last week to hand making some cards for them. The trick with these traditional scrap booking supplies is to customise their look by adding paint, gilding or glitter details. Including the recipients name is a nice way of showing them a little extra love too.

You can often find bargain bins full of end of line stamps at craft stores and it is a good idea to buy an alphabet set. You can always make your own too, which we of course love most of all. If we had a spare weekend that's what we'd do for sure. RAMONA 



Sarah Crowest
Both ladies of HML have invested in the wonderous work of Sarah Crowest so we are very excited to see her latest offering this week at C3Gallery. Crowest has a way of combining quite complex personal art theory with playful and welcoming imagery. To describe her work in a nutshell I would say 'you might not get it, but you'll get it'. Opens April 2-20

Melanie Katsalidis/UPALA
The amazing Melanie Katsalidis, better known as director of Pieces of Eight Gallery is a fantastic jeweller in her own rite. She has recently collaborated with fashion uberstars Apha 60 to create a new range of work for the Melbourne Fashion Festival's cultural program. Featuring Australian opals set in 'primary forms' (circles, square, triangle, diamond) the work can be viewed at the very glamorous digs of Pieces of Eight.