Monday, 13 October 2014

of weaving my own path

Yesterday I finished a little weaving on a tiny loom that Sam made for some workshops I did last year. There were a few looms left over and I brought three inside with a basket of yarn for the kids and me to work on as we wanted. 

I started the weaving well, and contentedly. But then after a short while I started to feel like I didn't know what I was doing, or more to the point that I wasn't doing it right. I pushed the weaving aside to look at Instagram and see the other people on there who I follow who do quite stunning and amazing weaving artworks. I looked and looked and felt a whole lot inadequate. 

I haven't been taught how to weave, aside from as a child by my mother and at school. I haven't done any workshops or online tutorials. Or even looked at a how-to book on weaving. The weaving making that I do is fairly innate and self-taught. The memory of under-over-under-over. But the knowing of any other special stitches or how to make the exact right way of setting up or finishing or adding embellishments. All of that is unknown to me. Unknown except for what my brain tells me might be the right way. 

I sat with this feeling of not knowing, and being wrong for only a short amount of time. I pulled my weaving back in front of me. With my selection of colours and yarns I told myself that the very first humans to ever weave and make cloth or fibre of any sort didn't have a teacher except their mother or father, and didn't have a book or a fancy workshop. They had their materials and their human innate understanding of maybe how something could work. They didn't know if it would work or not, but they kept on trying until it did. And they kept on listening to their own thoughts and intelligence. 

The weaving I have made I am not sure if it would be classified as art or craft or design or simply over-under-over-under of yarn through yarn. But what I do know is that when I made it (and I make more, not just weaving but other makings) I felt good and like I was following - making - my own journey and not following someone else's journey or rules or pathway. And when I look at this weaving I see a piece that talked to the maker and the maker talked to it. A conversation and communication between hands, mind, soul and materials. 

This, I realised, is the best way for me to create. To make with my own inner guidance, to use my understanding of how things work and not have to follow. I don't have to lead either. I just have to happily meander along my own path. 

I have entitled this weaving 'she whispered in my ear'.

*this piece was written some many months ago, sitting in my drafts - for some reason never published. I like adding it to my story now - as since this piece I have found my own direction and non-path path for weaving. I have learnt new stitches, I have taught other people how to discover their own weaving styles. I have talked, conversed, listened to my materials and time and time again been delighted in the tales we tell each other, in the stories we create together..... the yarns we weave. 

Sunday, 12 October 2014

skinmade {beautiful natural skincare - an interview & discount code}


A short while ago I was introduced, via Instagram, to a beautiful and local-to-me skin care small business, Skinmade. I've been loving using their organic and natural products each day. These are products made with thought, intention, care and a commitment to bettering the environment as well our skin. The simple packaging appeals to me - I don't need (or want) excess packaging or gimiky products, I prefer to use products that have pure simple ingredients and are easy to add to my daily routine. 

My boy has also been using the oat & lemon myrtle scrub, which you combine with the castile & lemongrass cleanser to create a gentle yet very effective and lovely to use face cleaner. His skin (and mine as well) looks and feels so soft afterwards. I can't decide which moisturiser I like best - I'm using the rosehip & cucumber serum for refreshing daytime use, and the vitamin E & balsam as a night time cream. Both are nice and rich, yet not heavy - which is perfect for the coming Summer. 

When I was younger a friend of my mum's started a skincare range, and my sister and I helped her sell it. We learnt a little about the products and the ingredients, and got to enjoy using beautifully made natural skincare. Finding Skinmade has been a wonderful way for me to use something that fits within my lifestyle and environmental ethics, while supporting a local business as well. It's important to do each little thing we can in our regular purchases to make differences in our environment, our economy and our personal welfare. Choosing a skincare company who doesn't test on animals, uses organic and local ingredients and makes a conscious decision to support the environment in their manufacture and packaging is an easy way to make such a change. Next time you go to the department store to purchase your new moisturiser and a million cleansers and such, have a think about the what you are actually putting on your skin, where and how it's made, and what happens with the excess packaging afterwards (Skinmade has a fabulous program where you can return your glass bottles for reuse - just another way they are actively committed to environmental consciousness).

I asked Claire and Genevieve to share a little about their beautiful products and their business. They've also shared a 25% discount code (find it at the end of the questions) so that you can try out their range yourself - you'll find their products very reasonable before the discount, so this is an added incentive! And make sure you add one of their super soft bamboo facecloths to your order.

Why did you start Skinmade?  



After having children it really opened our eyes to what we were using on our skin - especially our babies skin. (Did you know that a leading brand of baby oil has only two ingredients: mineral oil and fragrance. Mineral oil coats your skin like glad wrap so it can’t release toxins. It also interferes with the skin’s natural immunity barrier. And unspecified fragrance is usually synthetic which can cause major skin irritation and even cause dizziness. It horrifies me to think we lather this on our new born babies).
So we started Skinmade - making up our own plant-based oil blends using recipes passed down from our mother in-law. We felt like there was a gap in the market for affordable, good quality, plant-based skincare. There is no shortage on the market, but most if it is very expensive.
What makes it special?  
We use really good quality, mostly organic, plant-based ingredients, subtle earthy scents - nothing overpowering and we keep our products as simple as possible. They feel really clean and light on the skin so they can be used by the whole family.
What's your favourite product and why? 
Claire: I have fair, dry skin so my favourite product is the Vitamin E + Balsam cream. Sometimes when I run out(yes that sounds crazy as I am the maker) I will use pure rose hip oil until I make a new batch. When I get finally get my hands on a new jar my skin feels so supple and nourished.
Genevieve: My favorite product is the castile and lemongrass CLEANSER.  I have normal kind of skin that can get a bit oily at times.  This cleanser feels so nice and gentle and the smell of it is very fresh and light.  I use it with an organic bamboo face cloth and the scrub.  It was very hard to formulate this product as there is nothing natural that foams, except organic liquid castile soap, which is what makes this cleanser so special. 
Tell us a little about the making process, and what you love about the ingredients you use. 
We spent a lot of time with a local naturopath learning about oils and herbs, and perfecting emulsification etc. I think for both of us two of the most exciting parts of making skincare is seeing the cream emulsify. It really is amazing. And secondly when we come up with new essential oil blends.
Our first priority is to make a product that is 100% natural, second is to make a product that is nourishing, healing, and rejuvenating. Affordability to our customers is really important to us, so you won’t see us using exotic ingredients such as gemstone crystals from brazil, caviar or snake venom. Instead we use the highest quality ingredients that are more sustainable and readily availablesuch as jojoba, rose hip, essential oils, shea/coco butter, vitamin e and aloe vera. We source organic and local where possible.
How do you work together - what are your roles in your partnership? 
We mostly do everything together. At the moment Genevieve is pregnant so Claire has taken over making the product and Genevieve looks after ordering, shipping, online enquiries etc. I think we really compliment each other in our business partnership. We both bring unique skills and ideas to skinmade, and when one is having a busy week with family or work commitments the other steps in and picks up the slack. We have a good laugh when we are together.
What are the challenges of having a small handcrafted skin care business?
We both have busy families and work part time, so it is often a challenge to find time.  One of our biggest challenges is getting skinmade out there.  Once people try it, they love our products for life, so we are constantly thinking up ways to promote the brand and reach as many people as possible.
Skinmade has been around for just over a year now, how are things going? What are your plans for the future of your business?
We are booking lots of markets for the end of 2014 and next year, plus deciding which trade shows to exhibit at. We have a feature in the Etsy Christmas gift ideas, which will give us lots of exposure. We hope to grow the skincare range to cater for more skin types and also develop a range of natural remedies for children such as a breath easyessential oil mix, chest rub, natural insect repellant and, head lice repellant. We are very committed to minimizing waste and are working behind the scenes on developing 100% compostable packaging. Our beautiful skin tea range comes in 100% compostable containers, so we aim to extend this across the range.
What's the 'secret' to beautiful skin, in your opinion?
Never believe the marketing ploys from commercial skincare brands about getting rid of your wrinkles or making your pimples disappear over night. The secret to beautiful skin extends well beyond what you put on it. Firstly HEALTH. Good health including diet and exercise… Secondly HAPPINESS. Balance in your life and finding happiness and mental strength. These are the building blocks for beautiful skin. Finally skincare. Your skincare should always be plant-based with no harsh chemicals. It should leave your skin feeling clean and nourished. It should basically be edible.
Why is local and handcrafted so important to you, personally and for your business? Can you share with us some other local makers who's work you love? 
Buying local is reducing environmental impact, creating more local jobs, investing in the community, buying something unique and encouraging local prosperity. But most of all you are buying something from a real person who has made the item with love. 
We have a huge crush on handmade pottery at the moment such as thrownbyjo, Harvest Clay, Susan Simonini, Kanimbla Clay.
We are loving the vege died clothing range from Vege Threads and the up cycled kids range from Alfie Children’s Apparel.
We get weekly veggie boxes from Farmer Foster (Murwillumbah) and make food for our kids from Jude Blereau whole food cookbooks. 
We are saving up for some recycled furniture from Simply Recycled Furniture


Anything else you'd like to add, please share ~
We would love for you readers to have the chance to try our skincare. Use the code: petalplum to receive 25% off Skinmade.
You can follow Skinmade on Instagram here
Check out the website, and make sure you read the blog with some really interesting (and scary) info about beauty products and ingredients.
Connect with Skinmade on Facebook.
*all images by me, except b&w one of Claire and Genevieve from their website.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Coconut Cake - an excuse for pretty flowers and styling {a recipe}


Cake solves lots of problems, don't you think. You know, not massive world issue problems, but those tiny at home daily challenges problems.

The making of a cake, for me, is such a restorative process (mostly). I love thinking about the cake I'll make, and gathering the ingredients  - seeing if we have the right things, or making do with what we do have instead. I love the preparation - getting the butter and eggs out. And then thinking about the sharing of the cake - that's the lovely part. Sitting down together and cutting into a cake. 
So - cake is good. Yes?
I wanted to share a current go-to cake, with you. It's easy to make, quite healthy, very delicious and ever so pretty when you want to pretty it all up. (Those of you who read this blog know that I don't often use a recipe - but there are times I need to know a cake will work with no issues and this one ticks so many boxes in terms of look, taste, ease of making and fairly healthy).

Coconut Cake with (coconut) Cream 
 6 fresh free-range eggs, separated
1 cup coconut sugar
1 cup plain flour (I use spelt or whatever you want)
2 pinches baking powder
2 cups shredded coconut or 1 cup shredded + 1 cup dessicated.
180g butter, melted (I always use salted butter in my cake cooking - it adds that little speck of salt)

For cream ganache / filling
1-2 can of coconut cream - place in the fridge for 24hours before ready to use
2-4T coconut sugar (the coconut sugar will turn your cream a beautiful golden colour)

How to:
Preheat oven to 180C. Lightly butter a 16cm spring form cake tin.

Using an electric beater, mix the egg whites until stiff peaks form and set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat the yolks and sugar until thick.

Gently fold a third of the egg whites into the yolks, with a third of the sifted flour. Repeat until all mixed together, then gently add the coconut and melted butter and fold through until just combined. It's ok if some of egg white can still be seen.
Pour into prepared cake tin and bake for 30-40mins  until golden and pulling away from the sides. Leave to cool and then remove from the tin. 

For the coconut cream ganache - Place one can of the cooled cream and 2T of the coconut sugar into bowl of an electric mixer and beat until light and fluffy. One can is enough for one layer of cake filling. 

To ice cake - slice cake horizontally into either 2 or 3 pieces, through the middle. Spread the coconut cream filling over each layer and carefully place them on top of each other. You can leave the top naked or cream it as well. This is the fun part - so I'll leave it up to you to decorate as you like. Toasted or large flakes of fresh coconut on the top is lovely too. 
Decorate with non-toxic or edible flowers. Please be sure you check that the flowers aren't poisonous before serving to your guests!
You can make as many layers as you like - make 2 cakes to make a giant cake stack of 6 layers!

Coconut cream is more of an 'adult' taste, so you can just as easily use regular whipped (cows) cream. You shouldn't need sugar with this as it's sweet enough on it's own. We like whipping it in a jar - shakey shakey. Fun and easy.
{I have started using a 16cm cake tin, instead of my usual 22cm as it makes a smaller but taller cake. I'm loving the tall cake layers at the moment, but not needing the giant 22cm size cake for smaller gatherings or family nibbles. This recipe is suitable for a 22cm cake tin - it makes two well-sized layers}.

*Recipe is adapted from "Coming Home" by Kathy Armstrong.
*Photos of pansy-topped cake are taken by Leah from Sang the Bird at my weaving workshop gathering. The cut-pansy cake photo is by me. Other photos are by me, at my daughter's 7th birthday party earlier this year. 
Pansy-topped cake has coconut cream and 16cm tin used. 
Zinnia-topped cake has regular cream and 2x 22cm tin used.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Get your Weave on - workshops in weaving (and finding your own creative voice)


I've long wanted to do some weaving workshops with adults, to share my own way of working with yarn and making pretty wall hangings and pieces of art. I've finally found someone who makes looms in Australia that I can share with you.

Weaving is just the teensiest bit addictive; I've actually been dreaming about new weaves and wanting to get up at mid-night to finish the current piece on my loom..... The house can stay messy for all I can. I guess I'll have to eventually feed the family - though they're pretty good at making do themselves.

Anyway. I'd love to share the fun and complete satisfaction that comes with making your own weaving. It's like making your own piece of amazingness. Yep - it's that cool!

I have a couple of workshops coming up really soon (before this baby pops!). Would love love you to come along if you can. To learn the basic skills and techniques and to spend time with me and hopefully soak up some of how I work - by breaking rules, making my own rules, experimenting, having fun, conversing with my materials...

Oh yes indeed. I do have conversations with my yarn and fabric. Sometimes they tell me they want to be just so and I really have to listen. I do think it takes practice and quiet and being fully involved in your work to listen to your materials. But when you do, when you discover how to, I think it brings an emotion and a uniqueness to your work. It brings yourself to your work. Not copying someone else's stitches and patterns and ways of doing things, but doing it your own way. Telling your own story. Allowing your own voice to shine. 

That's important. I hope that during all my workshops (be in children or adults, screen printing or weaving or sewing or....) I can help you to open up and find your own inner voice. To allow you - give you permission indeed - to shout your own creative visual voice. That's so important to me. That we all share our voices, that we all feel confident that we can share our voice, and not hide behind copying someone else, or worse still not making and creating because we don't think our voice is valid. 

Part weaving workshop / part find your creative visual voice workshop. Yep.

Details are: Get Your Weave On!
Brisbane - Saturday 20th Sept, 12.30 - 4pm. At Tangled Yarns in Newstead. 
Byron Bay - Saturday 27th Sept, 10am - 1.30pm. At Bubbles at the Head Studio in Byron Bay. 
Cost is: $145 for 3.5hr workshop. You go home with your own new weaving loom + accessories (those lovely wooden needles), instruction booklet, scissors and yarns. You'll have a beautiful day with new friends (or bring a friend along to weave together), nibbling cake and treats and creating an amazing special piece to take home. 
Bookings are essential as spots are very limited. Bookings through our online store. Click here. Or email me for more info if you want. (deadwoodcreative@gmail.com). 
I'm also open to private classes if you'd like to gather some friends and have a weaving workshop at home.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

spring blooming


From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the boy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward   
signs painted Peaches.

From laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.

O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into   
the round jubilance of peach.

There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.
                          - "From Blossoms" by Li-Young Lee


The peach blossoms seem to be bigger and more showy this year. I wonder if it's true, or if my mind is just so wonderfully excited to be seeing them again. These are the prettiest thing in our garden. The trees make me happy all year around, but when the bare Winter branches break into bud and then bloom. Oh oh. So beautiful. 
These have been flowering bit by bit slowly over the whole of Winter, due to our funny weather at the moment. One tree in the garden - in a different section - hasn't yet bloomed and is still a week or two away. Which is lovely, having the blooms staggered. Oh yes. Loving this more than I can say. 
And the white plum blossoms will bloom soon - on they are magical indeed. 

I'm loving Winter, but Spring really is on the way... or some days it feels like it's already here.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

my dad's chickpea dahl {a recipe}



Today I made my dad's chickpea dahl. My dad is one of the best cook's I know. ......maybe the best..?? Anyway, he's a pretty excellent cook. We grew up eating his good healthy real made-with intention, thought, care, love meals. My mum was a great cook too. 
I think childhood memories of food and cooking and being in the kitchen with your parents are some of the strongest memories I have. I think maybe my siblings have similar strong food memories.

A couple of days ago Ari told me he wanted to make hummus for his school class party. He makes a pretty delicious hummus. As I won't buy tinned beans, it meant I had to soak raw chickpeas for his hummus making - so I decided to soak and cook a big batch at once. Which led to deciding what to make with the other chickpeas. And of course it being cosy fire-weather and warm nourishing dinners, I decided to make dahl. Luckily I got to ask my dad how he makes his. 

So - here's the recipe. In case you want to make:

Eric's Chickpea Dahl / Channa Masala -
(as with all my recipes, quantities are fairly inaccurate as I'm not so good at measuring...sorry. I think that's the best way to cook - but instinct and to your own taste). 


Ingredients:
1 cup dried chickpeas
3 cloves local or Australian garlic* diced
a knob of fresh ginger grated
1 onion diced (I use the purple ones because I like the caramel sweetness better than brown onions)
2t cumin powder
2t coriander powder
2t paprika or chillis
2t sea or rock salt (the one in the photo is pink Himalayan rock salt)
5-7 tomatoes diced
Olive oil or cooking oil
Fresh coriander.

The day before you want to eat your dahl you'll need to soak 1 cup dried chickpeas. Just regular water will do (of course we have beautiful rain water, so you should use filtered water if you have town water). Leave them in the saucepan to soak overnight. And then the next morning top up with water and put on to cook. The longer you soak them, the less cooking time they take. Bring up to the boil and then leave to simmer for some time - may take 1-3hours. Skim any scum that comes to the surface. You want to turn the heat off before they are fully cooked - a little bit of bite left, don't let them cook until falling apart. 

Heat a heavy based fry pan (I have a beautiful cast iron one that my parents gave me when I first left home all that time ago and I use it every single day) and add olive oil. I let the oil heat a teeny bit, then add the onion, garlic, ginger and salt and fry until all nice (don't burn it!), add the tomatoes and spices and fry until the tomatoes start to break down. A good five minutes at least. 

Drain the cooked chickpeas, but keep the cooking water. Add the drained chickpeas to the fry pan spicy sauce and fry for a further 10 or 15 minutes. Return it all to the saucepan and add a little of the retained cooking water if need. Put the lid on the saucepan and allow to slowly simmer for at least 3 or so hours. Stir occasionally and if needed add more of the cooking water, though the tomatoes make it nice and saucy on their own. Taste the chickpeas and see if they're well cooked and have soaked up the flavours. It can slowly simmer for more than 3 hours if you have the time. 

Add freshly torn coriander right at the end, just before serving. 
Serve with basmatic rice.

You can also add potatoes and kale during the cooking process if you want to make it a more vegetable meal. Though we like it plain like this and serve it with pan-crispy spiced potatoes which are super yum!

Enjoy. And think of the memories you can start making for your own children to have.

ALSO - in other wonderful and exciting news - our new benchtop was half installed today. Will be finished very very soon. Can't wait. It's so beautiful. We're all  dreaming of standing in our new kitchen and cooking and sharing and being in the space. Can't wait to show it to you. And maybe have some of you over for sharing a meal together!

Beautiful spotty bowl by Elke Lucas.


*do not ever, please please, use imported from China garlic. Local garlic grown in your country is much tastier and better for you. Garlic that has been imported from China has been irradiated.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

do what you love / love what you do - but what about when..... {creative business conversations}


We've all seen those lovely posters and heard the sayings:

Do what you Love
Love what you Do

about being a small business owner, a creative maker, a someone who has fled the rat-race for living the 'good life' making do and doing what they love everyday, for making their talent and skills and passions their business and livelihood. 

You know those sayings?

but what about when..............

A few weeks ago both Sam and I were in a little slump about our making and the whole self-business and keeping on going and doing and 'loving what we do'. We were both sick, the kids were sick, the weather was horrible, the house-building was dragging (which means still no set dedicated studio for working in, still very make-shift). A whole lot of stuff was happening all at once, we had lots of deadlines and external things as well, and upcoming events, and self-imposed deadlines and that sort of thing. 

Basically one of those months of full on crazy time. When you start to wonder why you work for yourself, why you can't call in sick and have someone cover your shift, why you've set yourself up to always always be having to work long days and often weekends and wondering if it's really all worth it and is it really what you want. 
When the love goes a little cold. Or something like that.

Of course, we both love what we do and feel more than grateful every single day that we are actually able to step away from a regular job with a boss and all that. That we can do what we want, how we want. That we can be here when the kids get home from school. That we can make and chase and redefine our own dreams. We love all that. But sometimes all that doesn't make it easier. 

So - I got thinking a little. About what to do when the love goes a little cold. Do we give up? Do we keep on plodding through it, hating it, or resenting it? We talked about it a little.. and I thought a little. And here's a few tips and ideas I came up with, or realised that we were already doing, to get us through the 'wish I could call in sick' feeling. 

1. Remind yourself really what you love and why you're doing this. Write it down, talk it out, say it loud. 
2. Look at all the cool stuff you can feel grateful for - the setting your own hours, the skipping afternoon shift to head to the beach or skatepark, the being home for your kids, the working together. 
3. Think about what you'd actually be doing instead, in a 'real' job. The fact that you probably wouldn't be able to call in sick due a number of other things....and how horrible that would be. 
4. Step away from it all - for an afternoon, a day, a couple of days. If possible I think taking time off is really important. What's the use of all the hard work if you don't reward yourself when you most need it?
5. Push through. Get over it. Toughen up. Grow up. 
6. Sing and laugh and talk with someone fun - have someone beside you in the studio to lighten the load, even if just for the shortest of whiles. We always find our family particularly are good at helping out when we really really need it. 
7. Or - sometimes...after a whole lot of thinking and talking and writing and more thinking....ask yourself, are you really still doing what you love. Do you really still love what you're doing? Sometimes we stay on a track because it's working, or there's no other options, because stepping off is harder or you need that next order before you can stop. Sometimes maybe you really do need to change or alter what or how you're doing things. This is ok - it's good to take time in your business and redefine if you still love you do. 'Cause if you don't love it, then what's the use?

I'd love to hear your thoughts and tips on what you do when you're in a rut - either in your own creative business or a self-set project. 
How do you get through the slump? 
Do you push on or give up?
Do you look deeper for the love, or notice that the love isn't actually there anymore?

Monday, 4 August 2014

Creative Makers - Ceramics I love #letsallsupportcreatives

These pieces by Kim Wallace Ceramics.
These pieces by: from top left - Megan Puls, large blue bowl Kim Wallace, smaller green bowl Pebuku Pottery, beaker cup Pebuku Pottery, pourer jug Megan Puls, spotty dish Elke Lucas, small blue dish Kim Wallace.
These two pieces by unknown local artists.

Beaker cups - from left to right: Elke Lucas, Megan Puls, Susan Simonini, Harvest Clay, Pebuku Potteryay gold coast






Small scoop spoon by Pinky & Maurice Ceramics, painted spoon by Tamsin Ainslie

Last week I decided to start sharing some makers and creatives who I love and appreciate and respect. To share the maker love, and to start a conversation about supporting our creatives. A conversation about the realities of the income of artists, crafters, creatives in our country (in many countries really!). 

I'm not going to go into too much detail today, perhaps another day. Today - an image heavy post with just a small selection of some of our favourite ceramic pieces. Lots more in our home. We love using pieces that someone has made with their own hands, that someone has spent hours, sometimes days making and watching dry and firing and having the devastation of it cracking or not firing properly. And the sheer joy of it coming out of the kiln perfectly perfect. 

I love the little indentations of the artists hand upon the pieces - that imperfection of knowing someone made the piece. 

I made a lovely little magazine layout story of this on a fabulous fun app called Steller. Oh that's going to be a great place for me to play and share. You can view the story online here, or download the app and follow along with my other stories (search Ellie Beck or Petalplum). 

I'd love you to share your own Creative Maker loves. To spread the word about why we should support and value the artists in our community. I'm using #letsallsupportcreatives to connect us all on Instagram, if you'd like to join in there. Or leave a comment with your favourite makers for me to look at.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Natural Dye ~ the magic of creating colour from botanical materials {a workshop}


Lately I've gotten right back into my natural dye making, and it's making me happy and excited and eager to be at the dye pot as many days as I can. I'm stretching myself, and learning new things and discovering new colours. I'm also learning to take note and write it all down - not like my usual 'oh, I'll remember that..'. A dye journal - that's what I need to make happen.... perhaps tomorrow. 

All this new colour magic making has me wanting to share what I know and have learnt. Hence some upcoming Natural Dye workshops. Oh golly - I'm really excited about these. About gathering with people and seeing the look in their eyes when they make colour on fabric and yarn from simple plant materials. Oh yes, oh yes! It really is that much fun. It makes me sort of giggly sometimes... And I want to show everyone who comes nearby - though my family sort of doesn't have quite the same enthusiasm as other natural dyers would.. though they do try hard to be happy for me too.


So, I have an upcoming Natural Dye and Wearable Weaving workshop as part of the gather :: create events I'm co-hosting with Leah. It's about spending time discovering the beauty of creativity within the little nuances of exploration.
Taking garden, kitchen and road-side findings we will create some magic in the dye pots and discover the joy of dyeing fabrics and threads with the natural alchemy of botanical colours. I enjoy using hot and cold dye methods to create colour, and delight in the finished cloth. My easy to learn ways of working with natural plant dyes is something you can take home and continue experimenting with to create your own colours and variations of patterns.


After a full morning (well, half a day) of working with the colour pots and turning white fabric and yarn into a rainbow of hues, we will take those threads and weave ourselves a pretty wearable neckpiece. I am a self-taught weaving, drawing upon my childhood memories of weaving as my source of inspiration, and can't wait to share these easy workable ways of taking scraps and threads of fabric and making an art work for your wall or to adorn your body. I prefer to work with a flexible approach to my making, to discovering what can be done and not having to follow rules - to make up my own way of working. To share this way of making with you will be an honour - to help you tap into your own innate sense of creating is what our gather :: create events are about.


Natural plant dye is about more than just making colour on cloth, it's about the environmental aspect of our clothing and our textiles. It's about thinking about how our fabrics are made, and where our colours come from. It's about learning to appreciate the beauty in the softer colour palette, or how to up the colour hue with some simple modifyers. Natural plant dyes seem to always fit together as a range - with a beautiful way of melding and colours flowing into each other. The process develops patterns on the fabric that are often not easily replicated, and to be enjoyed for their one-off amazingness.

Our day will also involve delicious and beautiful food, as well as new friend making, and interesting conversations. To connect with other makers is such an important part of being a creative, and to be able to share a journey of learning and making alongside others brings a sense of togetherness in a unique way. 
 
We have one workshop in Melbourne and one in Brisbane. (click those links for details and booking info). 
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