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Maker of the Month | Lauren MacDonald from Working Cloth

The intricate and old-world craft of quilting represents everything we love about the art of making - it encourages the maker (and viewer) to slow down and appreciate every hand-stitch. Lauren MacDonald has a gentle love for the history and culture of textiles and this is richly represented in her quilting practice Working Cloth. Her stitched creations are imbued with time and patience, and her colour palettes are subtle and calming. We are pretty much in love with everything she makes.

We interview Lauren to find out more about her practice...

Can you tell us a little about your self and your practice?

I am a quilt maker and designer and am currently based in Sydney. I am Canadian, and have spent the last 5 years living and working in London before moving to Australia this past March. I make, study and teach all things textiles. I have experimented with wholesaling and retailing my work, however prefer to work on commission. I enjoy working with a client to ensure I am making something they will love forever, or working on a self indulgent project in which I don’t have to worry about a piece’s commercial end.

When and how did you first get started in textiles?

I started sewing when I was 15 or 16 - and just made really naff hoodies for all of my friends and family with flannelette pockets. I continued sewing through my teens and ended up transferring out of a bioscience degree to study Human Ecology - I focused on material culture studies and textile science. I moved to London for an internship in fashion after my degree.

Can you describe those early days?

I was working as a studio manager and then as a production coordinator for different fashion labels in London. I learned an amazing amount from the designers and pattern makers I worked under - from admin and management skills, to practical sewing and construction techniques, to conceptual design and colour choice. I didn’t have time for a formal design practice of my own at the time. It was a few years of intense learning.

What has the journey been like since those early days?

I never expected to be doing Working Cloth. I quit working in fashion last year - which up until that point had been a huge part of my identity. I was visiting Australia with my partner at the time and felt really lost, confused and unsure what to do next. Working Cloth began from me trying to address some of those feelings.  I wanted to focus on the cultural and historical aspects which I had always loved about textiles and fashion, and to use a process I felt ethically comfortable with and could maintain long term.  Working Cloth has gone through many manifestations but ultimately it has given me a platform to work on projects which I love.

Can you give us some insight into your creative process and where you draw inspiration?

I usually start by mood boarding and then sketching. I have many files devoted to a particular texture or colour - a mood I would like to capture. I also have a load of vintage quilting books that I use as references for patterns and techniques. Sometimes I’ll find a textile I love and feel the need to include it and I just sort of go from there.

What does a typical day look like for you?

I am a bit of a night owl at the moment and end up sleeping until 8 or 9.  I’ll make a coffee and a bit of toast and do a bit of reading, then get ready to work.  I live in a one bedroom apartment and my studio is my lounge room. I have a few collaborative projects on the go at the moment, volunteer work, and another job, so Working Cloth functions as a restorative practice. I focus on it a few hours each day and keep up a consistent pace. I try to go for a walk or a swim everyday - it clears my head and helps me keep things in perspective. I find getting in the ocean is a pretty good cure-all for any extra stress or anxieties.

What are you…

reading? In Defense of Lost Causes by Slavoj Zizek

listening to? Ribbons by Lazy Day

watching? Cosmos - Carl Sagan’s 1980 mini series. I’ve already rewatched the 2015 ones with Neil deGrasse Tyson earlier this year and thought I should get into the original.

Can you tell us the first thing that pops into your mind when we mention the word …

Breakfast: Coffee

Weekends: Beach                      

People: Places 

Pause: Stop                 

Sound: Music   

Smell: Lavender           

Place: Home                

Texture: Satin         

Ritual: Swim          

Colour: Green   

What’s one thing you can’t live without at the moment?

The numerous friends and family members constantly being called and sound boarded off of and who are very patient with me.

Any advice or words of wisdom for other makers out there?

Document your process. It doesn’t have to be public or structured, and it doesn’t come naturally to me, but it is an incredible feeling looking back at where you’ve come from and how your practice has grown.

We are really excited about your upcoming workshop at Guild, can you tell us a bit about it?

I am running a quilted coin pocket workshop. It’s my second workshop at the Guild and I am very excited to be back. We’ll be making up little zip pockets using the fundamentals of Hitomezashi (one stitch) sashiko - a method of visible mending and embroidery that dates back to the Edo period.

Any other projects or news you want to share?

Yes! I have an exhibition coming up next month for part of the inaugural Sydney Craft Week. It’s at blank_space gallery in Surry Hills from October 7-13. It’s a multimedia exhibition featuring a soundscape by the incredibly talented Alyx Dennison. I am also working on a project called Electrocraft, with Laura Walsh of Sydney Makerspace Bobbin and Ink.  The idea is to introduce basic scientific concepts in a very simple craft project. For our first workshop we’re doing some circuitry in the form of light up LED cards and badges. The aesthetic is a bit 70’s sci fi - it’s very different than Working Cloth and a wonderful challenge in its own way.

You can follow Lauren on Instagram.

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Maker of the Month - Linsey Rendell

Linsey Rendell is one of those people that has many projects on the boil and always has interesting stories to tell about her adventures. We first met Linsey when she came into Guild to shoot and write an article for Broadsheet. She was warm and friendly and knew how to make as feel comfortable in-front of her lense - we instantly liked her. Since then she has done many of our product photoshoots for our website and newsletters. Each time she manages to produce beautiful results with limited resources. 

Linsey is teaching a 'Photography for Ceramicists and Makers' class at Guild on Saturday 29 April where students can learn basic lighting and editing skills to get professional looking product photos for web and print marketing. There are two places left for this hands-on class, so jump onto our website and book yourself a spot.

Below we showcase some of the lovely images Linsey has taken for us, and we ask her about photography and life...

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your practice? 

I’m a freelance writer and photographer. My stories generally explore ideas within food culture, farming and design, nurturing further conversations across sustainability and social and environmental change. These days, I find most of my ‘freelance time’ is spent producing Broadsheet’s travel stories, and writing and shooting for Peppermint Magazine. My Peppermint stories mosey from profiles of Melbourne ceramicists, shoemakers and fashion designers to features on farmers, social activists and environmental issues. I also work behind the bar at Market Lane and run their social media accounts, and occasionally play assistant to other photographers. My ‘studio’ is essentially a combination of my flat in Kensington and cafes (Long Street Coffee is a favourite) and bars (Clever Polly’s, Sunmoth, Neighbourhood Wine) for a change of scenery. 

When and how did you first get started in photography?

I was lucky enough to have photography as a subject in high school. Back then it was all film-based photography and we shot everything in black-and-white and developed it ourselves in the darkroom. We only started to play with digital SLRs right at the end of year 12. So I learnt the basics—line, composition, light direction, exposure—slowly, making each click of the shutter count. After I finished my journalism undergraduate degree, I took night classes at the Brisbane College of Photography and Art to upskill my manual SLR knowledge to the digital realm, along with learning to edit in Photoshop. My mum kindly gifted me a Canon 1000D when I was 22, and I used it tirelessly that year. I quickly outgrew that base model, and upgraded to a 7D the following year. That body was my sturdy companion for five years, until a friend recently sold me his 5D. It’s been a very slow progression to build up to this point—it’s an expensive passion to pursue!  

What has the journey been like since those early days? 

In my honours year, I created a magazine from scratch, completing all of the writing and photography, so I could bring these to disparate skills of mine together on a page. That project landed me a job editing a weekly digital publication in Brisbane, where I continued to both write and shoot for three years. This was a very fast-paced environment, so I learnt to shoot quickly and efficiently. In my mind the work was merely ‘good enough’, but my ‘good enough’, luckily, was impressive to others. I shot portraits, interiors and food, and developed the beginnings of what I suppose is my editorial style. Since moving to Victoria and becoming a freelancer, I’ve tried to push myself to slow down and consider each shot, but it’s something I struggle with constantly, especially when time is limited. I still shoot food, interiors and portraits, but I love shooting landscapes and nature. I produce a lot of travel stories, so I’m lucky to get out to national parks and coastal regions regularly. I’m trying to train my eye to pay closer attention to light and shadow and lines and shapes, and to make pictures out of these tiny moments.  

What does a typical day look like for you?  

Each day starts with making coffee at home for myself and my partner. Breakfast is really important—I can’t eat gluten or dairy and I’m predominantly vegetarian, so eating a nourishing meal in the morning keeps me sustained throughout the day. If I’m heading out on the road for stories, I’ll be photographing various venues all day and meeting people and hearing their stories. Then when I return to the city, I’ll spend one or two days writing up the words component of the story, and one day editing the photos. I try to make a dance class every Monday evening, and Melbourne Cinématèque on Wednesdays, but it’s not always possible. I definitely find I have more headspace and feel physically more able when I’m practising yoga, but life has been rather upturned of late and I’m still trying to re-find rhythm and space for these important rituals.  

 

What are you...

ReadingKrista Tippett’s Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living, and Bruce Pascoe’s Earth.

Listening to? Podcasts! Namely Design Matters with Debbie Millman, 99% Invisible, Hidden Brain, On Being with Krista Tippet, Longform and Memory Palace. 

Watching? The intriguing and obscure films screened at Melbourne Cinématèque  

 

Can you tell us the first thing that pops into your mind when we mention the word 

Breakfast: Miso, avocado, kimchi and eggs 

Weekends: Slow mornings, natural wine evenings  

People: Community  

Pause: Sunset 

Sound: Jazz in the morning 

Smell: The salty ocean 

Place: Anywhere good friends are  

Texture: Linen 

Ritual: Morning coffee 

Colour: Indigo  

 

Any advice or words of wisdom for other makers out there? 

You can be angry at the system, or you can get inside the system, and change things from the inside out. "The best way to complain is to make something" ~ Seth Godin on Design Matters. 

I’m an optimist and my partner is a realist, which is helpful in balancing out each other’s strong opinions. But everyone needs hope. Hope is what creates change. “It’s much more radical, much more daring and much more dangerous to hope" ~ Mary Karr. 

We are really excited about your upcoming workshop at Guild, can you tell us a bit about it?  

The workshop is designed to give ceramicists and makers a few insights and skills to up their own photography, so they can shoot their products and improve the look and feel of their websites and social media accounts. Hiring a photographer can be expensive, and when we’re all following our dreams and just scrapping by, there usually isn’t money around for investing in really polished imagery. So the workshop will allow makers to do-it-themselves. I’ve done trades with ceramicists in the past when they have a whole collection they’d like to shoot. But sometimes you just need one or two images to submit a proposal for an exhibition or promote a studio sale. After the workshop, makers will feel confident that they can produce these images on their own.  

Any other projects or news you want to share?  

My partner Björn, his brother Sascha and I also produce a journal called Scrag End. It sits within the food culture and food futures space, but mostly we just love telling people’s stories and pairing these with beautiful imagery and film. It’s predominantly a print publication, but printing a magazine off your own back is expensive. So we redesigned the website to turn it into a space where we could continue to publish stories even if we don’t have the money to put them on a printed page. There are a couple up there now, and we’re hoping to add more very soon (yet another ‘spare time’ project!) Take a look: scragend.com

 

Photography by Linsey Rendell

You can follow Linsey on all her adventures via Instagram

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Maker of the Month - Regina Middleton

Regina Middleton's simple and reverent jewellery is influenced by her explorations along the coastline near her home in Torquay, Victoria. She uses objects which she finds washed up on the beaches to cast and create intricate pieces in silver and porcelain. We think her latest collection 'Collect, Imprint, Adorn' is a stunning reflection of how jewellery can communicate an essence of history, place and the evolution of time.

We interviewed Regina about her practice and work...

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your practice?

I have been making jewellery for nearly ten years, and although my practice has very much evolved in that time I have always been enamoured with found materials and have felt a natural pull towards creating pieces of adornment. I live in Torquay with my husband and our very loved dog Ary. The ocean shoreline is where I find most of my inspiration, may it be in colour, shape or form.

When and how did you first get started as a Jeweller?

The first summer after high school finished my best friend and I spent every day at the beach, eating salad, sun baking and beach-combing in between swimming in the beautiful Indian Ocean. A few friendship pieces were made with what we collected, and I was hooked. Shells with holes were my favourite as were curiously weathered forms! From there I went on to complete a bachelor of design majoring in jewellery at Curtin University in WA, and an honours in fine art at Monash University.

What has the journey been like since those early days?

Moving to Melbourne nearly ten years ago saw a massive shift in my practice. With the ocean being so far from my immediate surroundings I found inspiration along the street, in parks and the dumpster at Uni. For some time I was exploring up cycling electrical and telecommunication wires. The colours were insanely inspiring.

Looking for beauty in the abandoned has always run through my practice. As is the connection between time and place and objects that have been able to mark that experience, or at least spark a memory of that time.

The obscured history of an object has always held my intrigue. I think that is why weathered forms with text always excite me the most. Imbued within them is an allusion to the their history.

Can you give us some insight into your creative process and where  you draw inspiration from?

My creative process tends to begin with a hunt, a gathering, a collection of sorts. From there I love sorting my finds. Familiarising myself with their differences and putting them together like a puzzle. I find this is great way to explore their forms further and establish which stand out and speak to me the most.

Shape, form and detail are driving factors, influencing the starting point. Interestingly, there are certain shapes that I find over and over again; the way the plastics breakdown and weather produce similar results.

I can’t help but also see the comparison between the way in which my holdfasts (the anchor that many seaweed species use to fasten themselves onto the oceans floor) could be branches, twigs, veins, antlers, etc. Nature is about repetition and this has always spoken to me.

The repetitive nature of making jewellery is also where I find my zen. 

Any advice or words of wisdom for other makers out there?

Keep at it, immerse yourself in your craft and the people within it and don't be afraid. Trust your instincts. Explore, play and breathe. 

We are really excited about your upcoming workshops at Guild, can you tell us a bit about these?

My upcoming workshops at Guild will be exploring our connection to materials and found objects. We will be casting an object/objects/materials to create a precious ring or pendant in silver. Participants are more than welcome to bring their own objects or I will have some for them to sort through and find what they connect with the most to choose to cast. The objects I bring will be clearly recorded and grouped into where they were collected from and when.

I really hope I can share the idea of mementos; markers of time and place as precious things to be held onto. We will also be able to explore leaving impressions from these objects in wax and in turn creating a ring or pendant to be cherished or gifted with the intention for another to cherish.

Any other projects or news you want to share?

I am working towards a solo exhibition later this year with that which the oceans rejects, that which I find along the high tide lines. It will be about time, place, sentiment and materiality. The works will be both wearable and not so wearable.

My precious plastics will also be taking shape into explorations outside of adornment for the body. I am hoping to create some new artworks and prints from my drawings and placements of found objects.

Photography Credits: From Top - Images 1,2,3,5,7 Timothy Marriage | Image 6 Kristoffer Paulsen | Image 4,8,9 Regina Middleton.

Find Regina on Instagram and in the Guild shop.

Regina will be running two workshops at Guild on Saturday 4 March, 2017 - 'Make a Silver Ring' and 'Make a Silver Pendant'. We are offering a 10% discount if you book two or more spots in her workshops before Valentines Day (14 February). 

 

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Maker of the Month - Vivien Hollingsworth

Vivien Hollingsworth from Flos.Botanical Studio gets up a 3am to go to the flower market. She chooses to do that with her own free will. And we are so glad she does, because the result of Vivien's trips to the flower market are absolutely stunning. We love receiving her weekly, seasonal posies at Guild - they are always a surprising combination of textures, colours and fragrances.

We're also super excited to have our first flower related workshop by Vivien coming up on Sunday 11 December. She is teaching Native Wild Wreath Making and we can't think of a better way to decorate our doors for Christmas. There are still some spots left, so if you are interested in making a gorgeous, fresh wreath this year then you can book your spot here.

We interviewed Vivien about starting her floristry studio and how she finds her inspiration...

Can you please tell us a little about yourself and your craft? 

I am 27 and I am a florist. I work full time in my business Flos.Botanical Studio.  I live and work out of my home in Northcote, I have a studio space out the back of my house and two very kind housemates who let me take over our backyard with my work. I grew up in beautiful lush Warragul in Gippsland but have lived in Melbourne for 8 years now.  I studied floristry at Holmesglen Tafe and before that I did a double degree in Visual Arts, painting and Arts, visual culture.

When and how did you get interested in floristry? 

I have always loved flowers, my mother is an avid gardener and my extended family are berry growers. I grew up with a love and understanding of the seasons. It wasn’t until I finished my degrees and was working in uninspiring arts admin and considering what to do next that I decided on a whim to enroll in floristry. Once I began I knew that I only wanted to be a florist. It is the perfect medium for me; I love the pace, the connection to the seasons and getting to make impermanent compositions.  When I was painting and sculpting my work was often about site and landscape. Now working with flowers I get to make work about the same thing and it completely satisfies my creative energies.

Can you describe the early days of setting up your business?

I have been working for myself full-time for just over a year now.  It has been far more challenging and rewarding then I could have imagined.  The flower scene in Melbourne is very close and supportive, I have been lucky enough to freelance for some really talented people who have been extremely supportive while setting up my studio. I have consciously tried to cultivate clients who suit my aesthetic and work with brands and people who I respect. The flower industry and be quite commercial so trying to carve out a space where I can be both financially viable whilst maintaining my creative practice has been a balancing act.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Working with flowers creates a certain rhythm.  On Thursdays I head to the market around 3am and collect and buy for my jobs that week. I really love going to the market and I find all the characters you meet there really energizing. I love seeing all the surprising and seasonal blooms as they start coming in with the change of weather.

Once I get back to my studio I have some breakfast, begin conditioning the flowers and organising them for the jobs. Then the fun part, I being making my arrangements for the weekends jobs and weddings. As well as my day to day routines I also regularly head out of town. I have family in Gippsland and the Dandenong’s so I am especially attached to those regions and try to go to both at least once a season to see the landscape change.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

For colour pallets I look to the landscape and gardens. I am often working to a brief and design from a client or bride which can be a great inspiration and challenge to work with. I try to find ways to tweak the pallets and integrate a more natural but also surprising composition.  I also like to draw from art, particularly the Dutch masters and Australian landscape artists as well the constructivist and contemporary artists who work with still life. I am also heavily inspired by those around me, especially my friends who are practicing artists, and the beautiful produce of the flower growers at the market.

If you could do anything tomorrow what would you do?  

Move the country and plant paddocks of rambling roses.

If you could teach your kids one thing, what would it be? 

To learn the importance of growing and making things, and the skills to do it.

What are you reading at the moment? 

I am dyslexic so more than reading I listen, to Radio National, podcasts on politics, history and feminism and the occasional audio book when I can sit still long enough.

If we rummaged through your grocery bag, what would we find? 

Avocados, liquorice and probably some snips - I always have a pair of snips in-case I find something beautiful to cut.

Can you tell us the first thing that pops into your mind when we mention the word …

Breakfast:  coffee

Weekends:  work

People:  support network

Pause: weekends in the Rhodendron Garden

Sound:  The birds on mums Deck

Smell: Lilly of the Valley

Place: Mum's garden

Texture: Grasses

Ritual: Seasons

Color: Burnt Orange

What’s one thing you can’t live without at the moment? 

Snips, hot chocolate, garden roses and burgundy foliage.  The dream combo.

What are your words of wisdom?

Surround yourself with smart talented and motivated people and will encourage you. We all have something to offer and once you find your medium work hard to get better at it. We owe it to each other to share our passions and skills.

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Vivien is running a Native Wild Wreath Making workshop on Sunday 11 December - book your spot here.

Flos.Botanical Studio stocks seasonal flower posies at Guild. You can secure your weekly bunch here.

Follow Flos.Botanical Studios on Instagram.

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Photos by Bobby + Tide and  Samee Lapham (Radical Yes)

 

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Craft Cubed Events // August

We're proud to be a Craft Cubed Partner this year, celebrating Australia's biggest festival of the handmade presented by Craft. As we pretty much live and breathe handmade and local, we are packing in the Craft Cubed fun at Guild for the full month of August with workshops and events.

It all kicks off with our Afternoon Tea this Saturday with cakes from our favourite Beatrix *afternoon tea is now sold out  - don't be sad, book a class instead. 

 

Each Thursday night in August we have four weeks of exclusive workshops with some of our favourite clay makers - Leah Jackson, Robyn Phelan, Jessilla Rogers and Chela Edmunds from Takeawei.

In the fun and relaxed environment of our workroom learn a variety of new clay hand-building techniques from these skilled potters. Each class is suitable for beginners and beyond.


See below for workshop descriptions and a little heads up on each artist's favourite flavours for afternoon teaStrictly limited to 10 places per class-book here

Thursday 11 August - Sgraffito Plate Making with Chela Edmunds from Takeawei

Chela Edmunds will take you through the process of hand-building slab plates and the decorative technique of Sgraffito. Read more >>

Chela's favourite afternoon tea: Salted Caramel Slice from Beatrix with Three Ginger Tea.

 

Thursday 18 August - Pinched Sculpture with Robyn Phelan

In this workshop you will be instructed by Robyn Phelan on the subtle art of decisive clay pinching. Make a tree which you can have fired and take home. Read more >>

Robyn's favourite afternoon tea: Vanilla Slice with passionfruit icing from Beatrix and a pot of Rooibos tea brewed strong with milk.

 

Thursday 25 August - Clay and Colour with Jessilla Rogers

Jessilla will show you how to make your own fun, colourful ceramic objects in terracotta clay then decorate them in brightly coloured slips. Read more >>

Jessilla's favourite afternoon tea: Banana Lamington from Beatrix with Jasmine Tea

 

 

Thursday 4 August - Combinations Handbuilding Techniques with Leah Jackson

* This class was sold out, due to popular demand we have added another workshop with Leah Jackson for Saturday August 27

Expand your knowledge of handbuilding techniques with Leah Jackson, focussed on creating lasting joins in multi part pieces that will survive the drying and firing process. Read more >>

Leah's favourite afternoon tea: Moroccan Snickers Tart from Beatrix with Genmaicha green tea.

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