popcraft studio

home sewing élan

Photograph by  Emma Byrnes

Photograph by Emma Byrnes

My friend Nita-Jane always turns heads. Her eye for style and fashion is acute and most of her garments are made from scratch. And when I say 'from scratch' I mean that NJ conceptualises fresh ideas, translates them into patterns and then constructs beautiful one-off pieces. She truly is an original and marches to the beat of her own drum.
And the good news is that she now shares her aesthetic with others as her new enterprise Pattern Fantastique sells sew-at-home digital patterns. The other bonus is that Nita-Jane wants her clients to extend their technique and sewing skills and encourages discussion and problem solving via her blog.
Despite having what at first glance appears to be a fairly limited range of designs available for sale, on deeper investigation you will find that each pattern can be appropriated in many ways with dramatically different outcomes depending on slight alterations and the fabric used. In fact, Nita-Jane is hosting a workshop at Pop Craft Studio in March to explore the myriad of ways the Aeolian tee (pictured above) can be executed and she will guide people through assessing fit, fall, prints and texture. For anyone who wishes to inject élan into their home sewing - this workshop would be for you.

Em x

food and textiles

Photographs by  Emma Byrnes

Photographs by Emma Byrnes

The other morning Pauline and I (plus our two mini sidekicks) visited Yoshie Burns at her home studio to talk food and textiles. 
The moment she opened the door with her beautiful nine-month-old son strapped to her back I felt the gentle warmth of her home-making and her artistic practice. Yoshie has a mindfulness that is just delightful to be around. Her home is humble yet rich with meaningful works of art and knick-knacks generated by her illustrator/painter husband, her older son and of course with her own woven pieces. 
Yoshie practices Saori weaving and the way it manifests is breathtakingly simple and pure. She weaves cloth that she then makes her own clothing from...these pieces are unique and to be honest they take my breath away. The idea that you can weave your own fabric to make into wearable pieces is obviously not new but the textures and the colours that Yosh conjures up make this idea seem like an innovation. She also weaves scarves that she sells in Japan and to any local folk who require some of her handwoven goodness.

Yoshie will be the guest chef at our March Pop Craft studio feast and so the menu was discussed in great detail. Her natural tendency towards Japanese cuisine will be exploited and once again the feast promises to delight the tastebuds. As her kitchen filled with enticing talk of edamame, shiso and yuzu all three of our little boys crawled under the kitchen table and Yosh baked us a batch of fresh scones, serving them up with fresh cream and jam. 

I left Yoshie's place feeling calm and positive. Feeling that emotional high that can come from holding and looking at somebody's hand generated work. I have not turned my attention to much making since Alby was born but spending time with Yosh has reignited my interest. The gesture of opening her home up to us and allowing me to photograph her private domain is much appreciated. Thank you Yosh.

Have a look over at Pop Craft Studio where you can see more images and read a full interview with Yoshie. You can also see images from other studio visits Pauline and I have made just here.

If you would like to view a small collection of Yoshie's Saori weaving please come by our studio between 1 - 4pm on Saturday 28th March and Sunday 29th March. She will be demonstrating some of her techniques on the Sunday and exclusively for our feast guests on the Friday evening. Pop Craft Studio, 1/177 Beavers Road, Northcote 3070.

Em x

simple living

As a visual person it can be tempting to dream about owning all sorts of beautiful objects, wearing fabulous clothes and living in architecturally designed homes. But when I think of design and how we should apply it to our everyday lives in order to have a positive impact, the three words – more with less - make so much sense to me.

Less stuff….oh yes this is something I constantly dream of. In this modern world what a ridiculous bind we find ourselves in! Owning too much can be almost like a disease. With a family of five, things just accumulate. And it can be very stressful and take up a whole lot of headspace. Without juggling all of this stuff there would be more time for family, friends, health, spirituality, gardening, cooking, lovemaking, weaving, the list goes on....

Which is why it was an absolute pleasure visiting the home studio of weaver, baker, teacher - Carla Grbac.
Carla has recently moved into a shared home with her sister and the lack of things clogging up their rooms was just wondrous. Compared to the chaos in my own home it seemed to me that the two of them were living an almost monastic existence. The home is very modest...in fact it is an unremarkable regular suburban flat but with Carla's aesthetic tendencies the space takes on an ethereal feel...a simple vase of homegrown roses adds warmth to an otherwise stark bathroom scene...a handprinted work on paper adorns the wall of her serene bedroom...the kitchen bench is clear apart from the warm tart on a cooling rack waiting to be served...

On my way home I made a mental note to be mindful and satisfied with what I already have rather than what I might think that I want. To pare back, to be reverent, to make space for the things that matter.

Carla will be teaching a natural dyeing and kumihimo workshop at Pop Craft Studio on the last Saturday of March. I look forward to spending the day learning from her - being resourceful, celebrating nature, using my hands.
There is an interview with her on the Pop Craft blog -I love the parallels she finds between her weaving and baking practice.

Em x

Photos by  Emma Byrnes

Photos by Emma Byrnes

pop craft studio

Photo by  Emma Byrnes

Photo by Emma Byrnes

Already Pop Craft Studio is proving to be a fantastic creative space; we have hosted some very successful Friday night feasts and the first round of textiles master classes has just been announced. 

Since having my youngest son Alby 16 months ago, my hands-on creative practice has been lacking so I look forward to attending classes with our guest teachers and getting busy with some textiles projects.

As a founding member of the studio one of my main contributions to the start-up phase has been to develop the visual branding and website. 
Considering I am such an advocate of slow contemporary textiles and love photographing anything relating to beautiful fibres the Pop Craft gig is a dream brief.
We launched the website this week - go take a look. 

I will be regularly updating my personal collection of images of Pop Craft Studio. If you are keen to see the latest from me, visit here.

Em x

ticking boxes with a new studio

David piecing together patchwork panels for the vintage denim upholstery fabric we are making to cover our studio lounge. It is a humongous project and will be a super comfy piece to rest on once we are done.

David piecing together patchwork panels for the vintage denim upholstery fabric we are making to cover our studio lounge. It is a humongous project and will be a super comfy piece to rest on once we are done.

My new studio has been in the pipeline for many months now and is slowly but very surely coming together. So many ideas that have been percolating away are now seeing the light of day and it is at this point that collaboration really begins to be exciting.

It is a beautiful work space and housed in a newly-built, light-filled, architecturally and purposefully designed complex - tick, tick, tick and tick! 
Plus it is a stone's throw from my front door (just a matter of riding along the bike path for a mere 5 minutes) with views over Merri Creek bushland to Ceres. With a new year's resolution to find a greater sense of self in my work this serene environment feels like it will mark an evolution in my personal creative practice. 

My studio buddies are Pauline Tran and David Pearce whom I admire very much as makers and innovators and so it is with great anticipation that we come together to see what bursts forth.
We have named it Pop Craft Studio (in honour of Pauline's amazing luxurious yarn business - Pop Craft that has been running for four years.)
Above and beyond our own personal creative work the intention with Pop Craft Studio is to serve as a point of exchange for Melbourne's creative textile community hosting textile master classes, with instruction from local and international experts; host an artist-in-residence program; establish an individual mentorship/business development scheme for emerging textile designers, and introduce Big Pop! - an irregular gallery space showcasing monumental fibre art works.  
And as a way to inspire creative dialogue, a monthly Friday Night Feast will also be held in the studio (or on the outdoor deck, when the seasons allow).

As a way to get all of this activity underway we have launched a Pozible campaign - I would love you to make a pledge if any or all of these ideas tick your boxes.

We are making a studio couch from vintage denim (work-in-progress pic above) so if you have any spare denim lying around that you would like to donate to the project let me know. You could even come and test the couch out once it is done. It is being designed especially with midday siestas in mind.

Em x