Thursday, July 3, 2008

I (heart) craft with Cate Brown

As the curator of Craft Revolution, and the creator of the blog I didn't want to be too 'hoggy' and write lots of posts as I thought it would be better to offer a diverse range of craft lovers, theorists, writers, makers etc. the opportunity to write. Unfortunately, this week I had two writers contact me explaining that they were unable to get their blog posts to me on time because of other commitments - so I thought this would give me the opportunity to share some of my craft loves with you all!

My essay, which began the blog, really explains my relationship with craft, and my interest in the future of craft - so I thought, let's just make this fun, and below are some links to some wonderful craft sites and blogs that I love love love. PLEASE post your comments, and include some of your favourite craft sites and blogs - it is always wonderful to find a new, favourite craft site!


Cate - v. cute bits of everything, love the crochet flowers! - i love her bird brooches, but she is also a super talented illustrator. - more toys to love - her birds and her sailboats - hot galore, looking at people's houses is ultra inspiring - i love this blog heaps, heaps and heaps, the horses remind me of the horse in the film 'The Science of Sleep' so so so divine!

Image: A beautiful Sian Keegan horse from her blog

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Craftie Stories with Samantha Jockel of Biddy Bags

I have a passion for connecting with my local community and in particular my neighbors and street. After moving into my street with my husband at the beginning of 2005 and organizing a few street BBQ’s I noticed that our street was made up of a large number of mature-aged people. Although my experience up till this point has been with young people I still desired to connect with my neighbors and community even if they were out of my immediate experience. I love knitting and would take it along to the BBQ’s and meetings with my neighbors. As a result a lot of the women at the BBQ’s came up and asked me what I was knitting and then proceeded to tell me about some of the things they were knitting/crocheting. The idea just came to me one day about starting a project involving crocheting and local mature-aged ladies in Redcliffe and two and a half years later came Biddy Bags.

I am a human service worker who likes making stuff. I have worked as a youth worker for the past 6 years up until last year when I starting working as a community cultural development worker part-time and doing Biddy Bags with my other time.

Biddy Bags for me has been about believing that locally I/people can make a difference and can do something a bit sexy, fun and successful without having to move to Melbourne or major city centres.

I also believe that no matter who we are or what our skill level we always have something to contribute of value and my experience, living among lots of retired folk, is that the vibe in society is once you hit a certain age you don’t really have anything that valuable to contribute. It is about bringing sexy back to growing old.

Biddy Bags has also been about establishing a model for ethical business. We are a social enterprise based on profit-share principals with no shareholders. This means the women are the priority not dividends for the shareholders. My aim is to get Biddy Bags to be a profitable self-sustaining business to show that ethical successful business is possible.

Biddy Bags has also been about bridging some of the generational gap. Being a youth worker for 6 years I realize that adults are very significant in young people’s lives however there seems to be less and less adult contact for young people for a variety of different reasons. Biddy Bags is about trying to bring some of these relationships back together.

Too many times have I gone to local markets and seen tables full of handmade crocheted stuff by women who used whatever wool/cotton they had spare in their cupboard. Mostly hideous and not very accessible stuff being sold for $5. What if we were to take the design ideas of young women and the skills and abilities of older women to create incredibly irresistible, unique, one off, handmade, beautiful products that sold for prices worthy of the effort put in?????

And this idea has now become a reality…………..yey……… can check it out at
Samantha Jockel
Images: Biddy Bags, 2008, Samantha Jockel

Thursday, June 26, 2008

I (heart) craft by Marty O'Hare


In early 2007 while stopped in traffic I saw a sign outside a community hall giving times for the QLD Cake Decorator’s Association (QCDA) monthly branch meetings.

Images of benches filled with elaborate shiny cakes came to mind, and owners standing proudly along side their creations talking about the month that was.

I contacted the Association to gauge a feel for what the group might really be like.
I learnt of the Mt Coot-tha Festival, a highly anticipated event on the Cake Decorating calendar. In 2006, 95 entries had been submitted from all over the state in categories ranging from novelty to contemporary wedding.

The most recent festival theme had been ‘QLD Tourism’. The overall winner was a cake depicting the state of QLD lapped by waves on the coast and featuring outback landscapes inland. I contacted the decorator responsible Brenden Clem. When we met he showed me the winning cake (refrigerated since the competition). I was impressed.

The following year I decided to photograph the progress of contestants and their cakes toward the 2007 Festival. The QCDA sectary let me know about an upcoming ‘demonstration day’. She said demonstration days showcased the association and would be an opportunity to gain insight into the culture and meet the Cake Decorating Community. I was interested.

Entering the venue, (a Community Hall in Mt Gravatt) any preconceptions I may have had fell by the wayside. The hall was a hive of activity. Final adjustments to seating plans, table cloths a flutter, morning tea platters whisked around a room of some 150 people and an atmosphere akin to Christmas.

The morning gave way to demonstrations of techniques and equipment. The audience soon worked its way into a groove of concentration and facial expressions indicating fascination and an appetite for knowledge. No tool or technique was thought too obscure or unnecessary, no detail superfluous. Chocolate orchids, patchwork icing, and pattern cutting implements, the audience watched-on enthralled, united by a vested interest in cake decorating and the community it has inspired.

Through the course of the day I was fortunate to meet three Cake decorators interested in participating in my photo series. Each was talented, committed and highly passionate in their craft.

I photographed the path of cake and cake maker toward the much heralded Mt Coot-tha Festival. Cake concepts often started out as sketches on paper and developed according to instinct, vision and improvisation. The paths to completion weren’t always smooth. Dilemmas, accidents and unforseen circumstances reared their heads as they would in a classic literary tragedy.

As the big day approached a physical sense of anticipation was clearly detectable from the beaming contestants. On one level participants were hesitant to reveal too much about the final creations but at the same time desperate to debrief about the process that would bring so many cakes together in the same exhibition hall.

On the day anticipation, nerves and excitement reached a climatic high. ABC news was scheduled to do a piece on the festival and bus loads of various community groups were expected to roll in early in the day. Additionally each QCDA branch was presenting a Christmas themed cake display which added even more festive commotion to the room.

When preparations were complete and all cakes were displayed the room took on a luminous glow. A generous spread of ribbons was awarded amongst the many deserving cakes and as adoring crowds arrived the day quickly became a swell of colour, smiles, admiration, and photo opportunities.

And so it was that the pursuit of cake decorating had come to mean so much to so many people. A group of people bound by their sheer delight and vested interest.
Cakes, friendship, craft and community were the winners of the day. I felt privileged to have been privy to such commitment, passion and warmth. Long live the Queensland Cake Decorators Association.

Marty O’Hare
Marty's full 'Vested Interest' photographic series can be viewed at his myspace page, the address for this is below.

Images: Queensland Cake Decorators from the series 'A Vested Interest' by Marty O’Hare, 2007

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Exploring the Revolution with Bec Adamczewski

For me, craft is synonymous with community. This can be the literal sense of community which may take the form of knitting circles, stitch and bitch groups or in my case 'Crafternoon', or it may be in a broader sense, the passing down of knowledge via family and friends and more recently the growing community of crafters online.

It is this sense of community that led me to begin the group 'Crafternoon' - a fortnightly gathering of like-minded individuals based in Hobart.

The group started out as a bunch of graphic designers seeking a non-comercial way of being creative and since has grown to include people with a broad mix of backgrounds, occupations and interests. Through this group we have made our own little community and interact within it and outside it. Crafternoon holds exhibitions of it's members work, many social events and recently a markers market, but is also focused on the wider community bringing craft to state library programs and in the future a collaboration between Crafternoon and a local nursing home. It seems for so long craft has been frowned upon, how refreshing to see the difference it is making.

As a graphic designer I am in the fortunate position to be creative almost everyday. It is part of my nature to be creative however, my work, being commercial, lacks a certain amount of satisfaction. I think this is the case for many people, in our daily work and lives, an opportunity for a creative outlet is lost and those with a sense of creativity are left unsatisfied. One of the beauties of craft (there are many) is that anyone is free to try it, not all craft is straight forward, but there is a beginning point regardless of ability.

Personally, I feel the call back to crafts not only to satisfy a need for community and creativity but to feel feminine. I hope not to offend anyone, because I know there is lots of lovely guys who get into craft, but for me, making my own quilts and knitting my own clothes give me a sense of feminine purpose in my home, which is hard to come by in our instantaneous society. I love to look at the things I have made and feel great achievement and joy. Handmade gifts are a gift of time, in our time poor world, what a beautiful gesture to give something of yourself.

I encourage you to make a cup of tea, take some time for yourself and make something with you own hands, enjoying the richness of the community that all crafters are part of.

Bec Adamczewski

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Craftie Stories - Cherryl McIntyre, leather crafter

The one trait that has struck me as uniform across the crafting community is their generosity with their time, and the desire to share their love of craft. Cherryl MacIntyre kindly invited me to come and view her work and her studio which is in her home. As soon as I walked in I was amazed, I didn’t understand the potential for leather until I saw the incredible variety of things Cherryl crafted. Of course there were wallets, belts and handbags, all exquisitely made; but also jewellery, wall hanging artworks, leather corsages, flowers, hair pieces and many more surprising creations.

Cherryl is president of the Queensland Leather crafters Association, which has been around for many years, with the aim to support the sharing of leather craft knowledge, and foster the growth of this craft practice.

Cherryl began making leather long before she became involved with the Leather crafters Association. Back in 1974 she was living in Toowoomba and met a young couple who made stamped leather belts and intrigued by this she decided to give it a go. Purchasing a basic kit with a book, tools, leather dyes and sealers, she began her work with leather, a love affair that has prospered ever since.

Reading her biography it is the kind of career many of us dream of – since she began crafting in 1974 Cherryl has never stopped working in the field she loves, and has forged a successful career for herself. She continues to be sought after as a teacher of leather craft, and her goods are distributed widely.

Cherryl recently won the Al Stohlman award for leather, a major award for which she flew to Wyoming in the USA and competed against leather crafters from all over the world and was selected as the recipient of this prestigious award for her long term contribution to the sector. This was a very special event in Cherryl’s career.

Written by Cate Brown, curator of Craft Revolution
Images: Cherryl McIntyre working, examples of Cherryl's diverse leather work, 2008

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I (heart) craft by Simone Jones part 2

6. Christin Johansson

Subtle yet powerful, robust yet delicate, these beautiful ceramics are often imprinted with the patterns of industrial materials, such as linoleum.

7. Hilda Bjarnadottir

Exquisite contemporary crochet that reminds us of our mortality

8. Zena Verda Pesta

I love this humorous stab at the rigidness of ‘high tea’ chinaware and its associated pompousness.

9. Miranda Meilleur

As you’ve probably gathered I’m big on juxtaposition. I love that these works have the feeling of the old and the new coming together, as well as the decorative and the minimal.

10. Janet Morton

There is a lot of work around at the moment exploring knitting graffiti and other crafty interventions in social space. This ‘laced’ tree is exquisite in its technical execution and I love how sections between branches look like patterned spider webs with morning dew.

Images: Ceramics by Christin Johansson; crochet pieces by Hilda Bjarnadottir; ceramics by Zena Verda Pesta; silver pieces by Miranda Meilleur; lace works by Janet Morton
Simone Jones is the Curator, public programs, at QUT Art Museum

I (heart) craft by Simone Jones

10 Things I Love About Craft

Ever since Cate asked me to write this blog piece I’ve been running round in circles trying to decide how to distil everything I love about craft into a succinct post. I’ve given up and decided to list 10 of the many many many things I currently adore.

1. Abby Glassenberg

What’s not to love about these quirky characters? Each of Abby’s birds (left) has its own personality, with some created out of recycled material, leading to kooky text appearing through ruffled feathers. I’m also quite fond of Girl Savage’s feltidermy works (right), which bring a new twist to the huge design trend at the moment for fake animal trophies.

2. Cupcakes + Baking

I’m loving the cake decorating arts at the moment. Check out Eugene and Louise Bakery, and locals the Cupcake Company and the Cupcake Parlour.

3. Trixie Delicious

Trixie Delicious refers to her work as vandalised vintage, a saying that neatly sums up her process of subverting stock standard chinaware by over painting incongruous text. Full of wit and cheekiness!

4. Yu Chun Chen

This artist beautifully juxtaposes the coldness of silver and the warmth of sewn, furry, textural growths.

5. Silhouettes

I know silhouette’s are “so hot right now” but I always love anything that plays with shadows and outlines. Particularly appealing are these Silhouette Masterpiece Theatre works by Wilhelm Staehle.