Tinker Maker


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We had to make the short drive to Emerald yesterday to pick up a guitar that was being repaired. It was a good excuse to have coffee and cake at The General Food Store and a mosey ’round the vintage and op shops, I found a beautiful tweed skirt.

I grew up not far away, there was nothing to do in Emerald in my youth, except get off Puffing Billy and go to the bakery, ha listen to me “back in MY day…”.
It’s not that I didn’t appreciate the beauty of the area that I was raised in as a child, if anything it inspired me more than anything ever has, but it was just home. Now as an adult my heart aches more than a little for those green rolling hills, our farm…

Anyway (now I’m getting all wistful, it’s the weather), what more appropriate name for this piece and its copper carbonate glazed beads than Emerald. The silk was dyed with bits and bobs from the garden, which bits and bobs exactly I can’t remember but they imparted pastel greys and the softest hints of blue, rather like the colours of the Winter sky today.

In the shop now.

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(From top to bottom: Meadowsweet, Lady’s Bedstraw, Coreopsis, Madder, Australian Indigo, Madder Buds, Tansy, Woad, St Johns Wort)

Not a lot happens in my garden at this time of year, it is cold and quiet with many plants hibernating underground. Most of the action happens in Spring and then late Summer/early Autumn when I harvest.

I took some photos in the garden this morning though and happened to notice the first tiny flower bud on the Indigofera, a sign that the days are indeed lengthening and soon the garden will be awake again.

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So of course, as soon as I announce that I’m going to open my little online shop again all hell breaks loose in this house. Anaïs decided it would be the perfect time to sprout a new tooth and stop sleeping, both children came down with one of those delightful viruses that produces hacking coughs and rivers of snot, and then the internet broke. Four days of a mexican standoff with our ISP insisting it was not a problem with the line (it was variously “the modem”, “the socket” or the fact that I’m “a blond female and not capable of understanding how it all works”) and therefore not their problem resulted in me getting out the wire strippers, a pair of pliers and fixing the corroded line (which was/is actually their problem) myself.

Anyway while all this was happening I decided it would be a good idea to make a few more things to go in the shop, but there has been some hiccups with getting necessary bits back from the kiln which has taken ages and some things needed to be refired. So rather than have everything together in one go, (which honestly might not ever happen given my poor track record of late), I’ve decided to just start releasing things one by one. Every piece is unique, so it’s a little bit more special that way don’t you think?

I am so excited to be once again making things with purpose and sharing them here. I hope you like what you see, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

First up is appropriately a design to celebrate Winter Solstice and the wintry, sparkly night sky. Two of my favourite things.



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Photo by Belinda Evans

I met Belinda Evans when she invited me to run a couple of natural dye workshops for the City of Port Phillip as part of their World Environment Day festival. But I’ve also long been an admirer of her multi-displinary works as the master (mistress?) of Alchemy.

It was an absolute pleasure to have Belinda over over for a wander around my garden late last year as it was just waking up from Winter. Bel thank you so much for your generous words and beautiful photos on The Planthunter. It is incredibly humbling to be there amongst so many other highly esteemed and talented gardening folk.



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The lovely Felicia of The Craft Sessions very kindly asked me to participate in her I Made This series.
You can read the story of my baby friendly pinafore over here as well as the contributions of many other inspiring makers.
I love reading Felicia’s carefully considered thoughts on making (and other topics), well worth a visit and I can’t wait to attend The Craft Sessions retreat this year!



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It might be evident that I like to dye with roses, I took some photos a little while ago when I had some roses and amaranth at hand (thanks Pop!) The roses were your regular florist bought hot house variety. As was the Amaranth. Amaranth plant not to be confused with the synthetic red azo dye!


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Image Credit: Victorian Native Seed an absolutely beautiful site where you can buy Native Indigo seed online.

It is not widely known that we have our own native source of indigo which grows commonly in many states of Australia. I’m lucky to live in an area where it grows everywhere! I also have several plants in my garden, I love it because as well as being very pretty, it grows under the eucalypts when not much else will. I’ve found it doesn’t like to get too dry or hot, it also doesn’t like husbands with errant whipper snippers (or errant husbands with whipper snippers).

But of course it isn’t just a pretty face, you can also dye with it!
Used conventionally it will impart a variety of bright yellows. I’ve also achieved a fast red by altering the pH of the vat.
Used in the same way as the more common Indigofera Tinctoria, Isatis Tinctoria (Woad) or Persicaria Tinctoria (Japanese Indigo) in a chemical reduction or fermentation vat (or the vinegar cold process) you will of course achieve the famous (and very popular right now) blue!

Precipitating the pigment

Silk dyed with Indigofera Australis

I’ve read some reports that Indigofera Australis is sometimes weak or unreliable. But this is true of many natural dyes. I haven’t had any trouble with it, I find Woad more problematic. I have been surprised at the depth of colour I’ve achieved from even a handful of leaves. It’s my favourite indigo to use, as you can see above it gives varied tones of blue. An unexpected discovery after opening a forgotten jar of leaves left fermenting in water was that they smelt quite pleasant, unlike many of my other long lost fermenting things! And the blue hue of the fermented leaves is always beautiful, almost magical. As I proselytise to class participants at the workshop, I don’t understand why it isn’t more commonly used. It’s certainly cheaper than imported indigo and better for the environment. The seeds collected from the pods which set after flowering germinate readily. It can be easily found in most good nurseries, particularly those specialising in natives.

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My last proper post here was in December. Sorry for the silence. 2013 has been a pretty rough year for me so far, I have lots of new things in the pipeline for the shop but am having to take my time while my energy is required elsewhere. I did manage to hold my first dye class at the workshop last weekend. It was so much fun, I’ll be adding more dates soon. And I have a post on natural dyeing up at the Handmaker’s Factory today, head on over there for loads of crafty goodness.

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Tinker on your table and Tinker on your couch. These goodies for sale and more this Saturday at Pop&Scott. Come on down!

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