Raffia for Basket Making & the Sustainability of crafting with ‘String Harvest’

An important part of my crafting life is to focus on the sustainability and ethics of where my supplies come from, and where they go after. I use only natural fibres, and aim as best as possible, to support smaller businesses whose ethos matches mine. I’ll be honest and say sometimes this is harder in this industry of new fabrics, mass produced materials and cheap labour. But taking a thoughtful approach to our materials is an honest way to reconcile the overflowing craft cupboard. Often finding a business who goes out of their way to stock, promote and sell only ethical, sustainable, and environmentally thoughtful craft supplies can be hard; so when I do I’m keen to support them in any way possible to make sure this type of business keeps on becoming more of the norm.

Which is why I was exceedingly excited when I first heard about String Harvest a few years ago, and I’ve been so pleased to watch grow and continue staying true to the original ethos (something that is not easy at all in the reality of business). String Harvest is owned, run and managed solely by Cass from her home studio in South East Queensland. In Cass’ own words, String Harvest is:

“…..an online store, owned by me (Cass) that I now realise reflects my personal style and taste – a combination of staple, classic craft supplies and quirky, interesting vintage yarns. You can find all manner of natural and ethically sourced fibres alongside yarns and materials not easily found anywhere else. I love weird vintage and hard to find! I believe that our craft habits should be done with the conscious effort to reduce our environmental impact, and as ethically as possible. So that’s why I encourage creativity and crafting with the use of low impact and fairly traded fibres – hemp, raffia, linen, jute, paper and so on – they’ll eventually biodegrade and that’s very important. The yarns I supply are both vintage in the sense that they are from estates, retired fashion and textile designers, and other surplus yarns from the fashion industry that make their way into wholesale markets. They are post ‘mass production’ in that sense, so you will not find them in 500 other stores. There are plenty of brands already driving ‘new’ and seasonal production in the global economy and I’m not interested in feeding that demand – I am way more interested in re-discovering and sharing the delights of textiles that already exist”. 

While Cass sells many beautiful rare and vintage fibres, she also sells new strings, yarns and threads all with a sustainable and ethical underpinning. One such product that I use a lot, and many of you have been asking me more about, is raffia. Basket weaving is a beautiful craft that I’m a little bit addicted with at the moment, and based on my current Instagram feed I think I’m not the only one! I’ve had lots of people asking how I store and wrangle my raffia so I thought I’d share some tips and while I was at it, I thought you might be curious about what raffia actually is and what to look out for when you’re buying it. So – who better to ask than Cass. Hence this blog post that is a mini-semi-interview with my favourite yarn/thread/string supplier, who also happens to be a friend in real life as well as online, and a mini how-to for storing your craft supplies.

I love to know the background on my craft supplies, rather than just randomly pulling things off the shelves of shops, and raffia is one of those “what is that” things.

{Ellie} Cass, can you tell us what raffia actually is & where it comes from? 
{Cass} Raffia for craft is made from the mature leaves of the Palmyra palm, Raphia farinifera which is native to Madagascar. Like all palms, the new leaves grow up on the inside and make their way to the outside – they eventually drop off, or can be harvested by climbing the tree and trimming – you would not want theses leaves to accidentally fall on you! As far as fibre crops go, raffia harvesting is quite sustainable because no trees are cut down and it’s a very resourceful use of leaf. (Imagine if we used a fraction of the palm leaf waste from urban environments in this way!) Unlike most crops, it requires no chemical or extra water in processing and you don’t need to water palm trees. (I’m talking here about the natural, undyed stuff only). One of my suppliers sends me photos of the ‘factory’ sheds where they bring in harvested raffia for drying sorting and packaging/binding and I really love that level of transparency. 

It’s not a huge stretch to see what you get, from where it comes from. It’s a giant bushy palm tree – I don’t think we have any species like it here in Australia. The leaves are quite long, up to 10m and over 2m wide! Raffia we use is simply these leaves, dried and shredded. The raffia I currently stock only comes from Madagascar because when we talk about natural raffia I think we should be talking about it coming from this particular palmyra palm. There are other palm species grown in Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Indonesia which are sold as raffia but they have quite different qualities and we shouldn’t conflate them. 

{Ellie} Are there different sorts or qualities of raffia – and what do we have to look out for when buying it?
{Cass} Yes absolutely! So aside from different species of palm tree giving different kinds of raffia – there are also many grades of Madagascan raffia. Here in Australia our market is relatively isolated so we don’t have the luxury of choice when it comes to grades, although I am always looking for premium quality (even though this also varies from year to year). However, I’m working on something secret to do with that… you’ll have to wait a few months to hear more about it!
You will find different sources for raffia, ranging from floristry supplies, to $2 shops and the mainstream craft supply supermarkets. You get what you pay for, and supply chain transparency varies accordingly. I like raffia that has good structure – where you can see the strong hardened end close to the spine of the palm, not too yellow, good length (at least 1.2m), and reasonable width. The less stringy and stray bits, the better.
{Ellie} What’s your best storage tip? Care to share photos? 
{Cass} My best storage tip is to give your raffia a little space… something it likes to do whether you have the space or not! I have zero advice on how to keep it out of your pets legs… or fellow family members lives. Raffia usually comes bundled at one end, and I try to keep it held together at that end for as long as possible. Rubber bands are also good for this. I also let it sit in a big tub. When you’re using raffia for weaving, it’s best to let it relax a bit so it’s not coming straight out of a compressed and folded up state, the fibres straighten out and it tangles less on itself. The drier, less humid the storage space, the less I find it tangles. 

{Ellie} What do you love using it for? What’s your best project you’ve ever made?
{Cass} I love using it for coiled baskets. I love it as a core because you can shape it nicely and it contrasts beautifully with other fibres. I miss experimenting! The best project I made has a raffia core and I coiled around this with a very fine silk wrapped linen paper. 

And because I’m pretty sure all our families are a little bit over having raffia everywhere they walk (or in bed, or stuck on the couch or the toy box), I’ve written a little how to wrangle raffia’ especially for you. It’s a simple technique that might just change your relationship to this wonderful, but messy, material. This post got pretty long, so you can read the mini tutorial here, including a simple how to naturally dye your raffia using kitchen scraps & pantry supplies.
If you’d love to know more about raffia and basket weaving (like how to make beautiful vessels like these ones that Cass made), make sure you check out my online Basket Weaving Course where I show a different techniques to create a beautiful hand woven piece – all my students are addicted to it!
Make sure you visit String Harvest to check out ALL the delicious fibres & threads she, which include vintage, rare & sustainable. Website Here || Instagram Here.
*all images by Cass from String Harvest.

is there such a thing as too much quiet?

It’s Sunday, my family has been away since Thursday morning. That’s a whole lotta “me time”. And golly am I loving it! But…. is there such a thing as too much quiet? I realised, as I kissed my husband good bye when they drove away on Thursday morning, that I’ve never in all my life been home alone ALONE for so long. One or two nights here or there, but nothing more… When I was younger I travelled overseas on my own, but a young woman in Europe – it’s not so quiet amongst the noise of museums, trains, art galleries……

The thing of having no one to account your daily goings about to. No one needing food, or talking at just that moment when you’re deep in a thought process, no one bickering in the other room. That’s the quiet I do so like, ever so much. But then – no one rushing in on Easter morning with giggles and excitement, no one hugging you for simply no reason except pure love, no one to set the table and sit down and share a meal with. Those things.

I have listened to podcasts, watched dvds, chatting on the phone to my family, but I have not seen a person for 4 days (except the people driving along the road who nod at me when I go for a daily walk). That seems epic doesn’t it! Ha, not!! 4 days without seeing a soul. Wow – I wonder what I’d be like as a little old lady living on my own.

So, anyway…. this quiet thing. I’m finding it’s a balance. Like the motherhood & artist balance. Which isn’t a balance at all, is it. It’s a juggle, a sea-saw, a ying&yang …. or whatever other thing you might call it. Is it divided, I’m not sure that feels like the right word for me. But maybe that’s because I feel like I want to work out how to make it not divided. I want to work out to make the quiet & the noise work together. Is that possible?

How to make the silence & the noise work together. I needed to say that again. For myself. Because I’m realising more and more that that’s journey I’m on. To be able to have one sit beside the other. To delve deep into my quiet reserves while kids climb on me, hug me, moan at me. So I can laugh and play and giggle with them AT THE SAME TIME as I thought process my creative practice. Is that possible?

To turn the noise down, but have it still playing. To turn the creative thoughts up so they speak louder. To be able to write a blog post while someone talks loudly right beside me. Or conversely to tune into those beautiful thoughts and voices and words from my children, and ask the other voices inside me to please be quiet for some time. To tune in & out of each voice > of their voices, and my voices….. I’m sure I can’t solve this in one life time – I know all over that creative mothers are trying to work through this, around this, in this, out of this. To make it work.

To love our children deeply fully connectedly, but also to have space to love our creative practice deeply fully connectedly. Like the way we love each of our children as deep as possible, not one more than the other, all fully with our depth of heart. Each child takes up the whole heart. How can you fit them all it? We just do don’t we! A heart expands to fit in all the love. But sometimes we have more connection, affection, patience, noticing, time spent on one child and then on another. We shift it about moment by moment, day by day, year by year. Is that right? Do you know what I mean? You love all your children, but some days one shines a little brighter, other days another one days. So :: the creative practice, the artist child inside us fits in the same. Some days it’s quieter, other days it’s noisier. Yet the heart expands to fill them all; to love them all as deeply as possible.

Though, for me…. I think the challenge is not the heart, but the head. The mind. The thoughts. Separating a conversation with my daughter or my sons from a conversation with myself or my weaving or my hands {&cloth&thread&….}.

There’s no conclusion for this. For me. It’s a journey. But sometimes speaking it out loud, writing it down is a step along that journey. A slow half-step towards working through it. Understanding it better. In the meantime, here’s a few ways that I’m currently working around/through/in/out of this ying/yang of motherhood & artist ::

  1. Focussing & dedicating time to each: When I’m with the children, I tune into them fully. I focus on them. I listen to them, I fully fully fully take in what they’re saying. I tell those creative voices to shush down a minute please. And yes, that might mean sometimes they flit away. Often they flit away. But truth is my children are flitting away too.
  2. Asking for & taking time alone for me, with me, with my creative practice: This long weekend for example. Not feeling guilty or selfish that I didn’t go with Sam & the kids to my in-laws for Easter weekend. Knowing in myself that this is vital and important. And that loved ones will understand.
  3. Being honest with my children: Telling them & asking them, please right now to leave me in some peace and quiet. Of course I have a toddler who does not understand this (or doesn’t want to agree to it), but the bigger kids do to a certain degree.
  4. Realising and giving in to where I am right now: I have young children. That right now is my life, and my focus. When I settle peacefully into that role then I feel less anxious about the artist role I’m letting sit quietly. I feel fuller as a mother, more connected & connective. I’m realising that now is so brief and short. And one day I’ll be fully at home alone again with my practice and my own quiet voices. Now is the time of my noisy life.
  5. Working with what I have: Quiet moments to delve deeply are rare and few at the moment, but when I get them I jump in and settle deeply in. Sometimes that means I start creating with my immediately, other times it means that I sit quietly and let the thoughts chatter loudly. I take and give what I can when I can.
  6. Store up all the thoughts: Either by writing them down, or holding them securely in my heart. This means that when the time comes to jump into it all, my creative thoughts are ready. I’ve spent many hours of playing lego or reading mindless books on a mindful practice. I can play lego and chatter, while another part of my brain/heart works on other processes. Is this a divided mind? I’m not sure. Perhaps.
  7. Be joyful & content with what I do have, rather than what I don’t have: look around and feel at peace with all I’ve been given. Children & a creative practice together is more than one lifetime of joy. I’m not longing for months of quiet to create a body of work; I’m content & joyfilled with moments of time here and there amongst all of life. The fullness and wholeness of life.
  8. Use one to guide the other: A big part of my creative practice is my mothering story. I would have a different voice, and another way of expressing myself if I wasn’t a mother. Motherhood guides me in the way I think and work. The quiet role of mothering has brought me to the quietness of stitching and weaving. And when I fully immerse in those stitching or the weaving process I feel motherhood talking to me.

I’d love to hear your thoughts or ideas on motherhood & artist. Is it a Divided Heart for you, a divided mind, or a ying&yang, a balance, a sea-saw….???

Skinmade – natural beauty care (& a discount).

A few years 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 10% 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 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 makerswho’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 thrownbyjoHarvest ClaySusan SimoniniKanimbla 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 20% off Skinmade.

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. 

Creative Conversation {Geraldine Devine from Bee Eco}

I have a supremely beautiful and special conversation to share with you today. I want to jump right into this home, this family and be part of it all – don’t you?!

Geraldine Devine, of BeeEco beeswax wraps, is a woman who lives the life she talks about – she runs her business with a full heart and commitment to her beliefs; her family form the basis of all she does, and her home is full of warmth, honesty, colour and beauty. Living a true sustainable life, Geraldine and her family share their ideals in a positive light – inviting you to be part of the change through simple slow thoughtful living. This isn’t about the perfect life, it’s about a thoughtful journey, about sharing, connecting and educating. Geraldine, along with her husband Matt and four children, aren’t living a trendy hipster Indie lifestyle (though, golly couldn’t this photo below be an album cover!) – they’re more content with simply living their daily beauty and watching their children play. 

I want to know about your beautiful family – tell me about where you live, and your amazing-looking home, and those sweet little ones of yours. 

Our family of six live deep in a very enchanting forest in a soul warming & welcoming treehouse cottage. A 1920’s Teahouse, renewed by our favourite craftspeople, using recycled timbers & materials. It rattles, shakes & is filled with love & quirky character! Our self sustainable haven of tranquility, ‘off the grid’ with solar power, tank water & no services. Based on Permaculture & Biodynamic Principles we built a cob oven, spiral veggie patch, dam filled with silver perch, yabbies, lotus & lilies and a sub tropical orchard. Free range animals, tree forts, swings & fairy gardens galore, bring daily delight & good reason to live life outdoors. Our gorgeous children, Archi, 11, Arjuna, 8, Mirrah, 5 & Soma, 2 have a rhythm of farm duties, crafting, cooking, tree climbing, animal loving, reading & lots of surfing. The Farm is an endlessly magical oasis for them & fills our heart immeasurably to witness them being raised this way!

What are Bee Eco wraps? Share why you started making them – what lead you to walk this path in life? 

Bee Eco Wraps are a beautiful & sustainable method of wrapping your food. GOTS Certified Organic Fabric or Handprinted Hemp, infused with beeswax, jojoba & tree resin. A reusable option to reduce your use of plastic and enhance the freshness & longevity of your food, naturally. A tactile, everyday reminder of the changes we can make toward sustainable lifestyles.

What you love, comes to be! Bee Eco, born from two great passions, textiles & sustainable living!

Raising children saw us shift from being environmentally aware observers to become active participants in paving a sustainable future. This is our time to ‘be’.  Role models that are grounded & passionate. Respecting this beautiful planet.

Our kitchen is the hub of our house as it bubbles, brews, ferments & soaks are daily fare. Beeswax Wraps are an essential part of the homesteading, food loving kitchen!

The ‘Market Life’ of the business is also our destiny, a perfect adjunct to our farm life, as we thrive amongst the bustling, diverse, musical, artistic & farming community on the Sunshine Coast.

You make all the wraps by hand – can you share a little of the process, or how special they are… how much work/time/energy/love goes into each piece? 

We have poured so much love & positive energy into Bee Eco. The business has become a healthy part of our family, an element to the rhythm of our days (and nights!). From collecting the beeswax (and honey), cutting, chopping, blending, waxing, curing, every element absorbing the chatter & song of children & existing amongst the bustle of farm life. The monotonous sectors are enlivened with chit chat or loud music & the creative & delectable tasks of designing & choosing fabrics we savour & enjoy.

Is Bee Eco a full time business or do you have jobs outside of the home as well?

Bee Eco, our 50 acre farm & 4 children leaves us full!

On the Farm we love to grow & make our own, we trade & support artisans & local growers. Within a community, our humble, real & down to earth existence can find it’s authentic face.

As a mama of 4 with a handcrafted family business, how to fit it all in, how do you find your ‘balance’ within the busy?

Laying in the garden, warmed by the dappled afternoon sun, nuzzled by lambs, surrounded by chickens, nibbling on fresh picked lychees near the bustling beehive, the children spread amongst singing, climbing, whittling & chicken raising….. we poured our heart & soul into creating this lifestyle & we are committed to savouring it.

The balance is a gift from our children, who are ever present in each aspect of our life. To ensure we remain good role models on how a day should run, full of rhythm, purpose, nature, creativity & connectivity. To each other. To slow and channel our energy toward specific tasks with intent and positivity.

In a slow living orientated household with no technology (other than a work iPad) and an aversion to shops & consumerism, time really opens up. We have a different sense of ‘presence’ now. We are so much more deeply engrossed in daily tasks. A choice to minimalise our distractions, interactions & things that we find may deplete us. Allowing our strengths to surface & our consciousness & peace to unite & ignite us.

We feel that the greatest impact we can have on paving a sustainable and enriched future is held in our commitment to this lifestyle & passing traditions & knowledge onto our children. We are dedicated to not filling our lives too full to allow slow & generous time to relish in our children & the natural world.

The wisdom of age brings insight, boundaries & more confidence to keep business within the realms of our energy resources, to harness it as a handmade, homemade family business.

In a recent busy season phase, the snakes found holes to the baby chicks, the goanna’s got to the eggs, I cooked my mother sourdough, the kombucha grew weird stuff & the animals took over the house. Yoga joined the list of multitasking skills, I got to bed just as the baby started nightly wake ups from not enough slow time day breastfeeding, I often forgot to breathe & my idea of tidy was to sweep everything into an ever growing pile (!), our sense of why we do what we do gained more strength than ever. Busy is good, but balance is essential.

In the fast & hectic times we practice our mantras, remember to breathe & endeavour to have each other’s back as we shelter our small folk from the inherent pressures of a small, family business.

We are so very deeply in love with family life, grateful for our lifestyle & enjoy creating beautiful Beeswax Wraps. We pull ourselves & each other short when we feel too sorry for ourselves. We do sometimes call our life ‘relentless’; the farm jobs, food preparation, lack of sleeping ~ we’ve been co sleeping & breastfeeding for a LONG time ~ this ‘balancing’ & juggling. Our life travels and experience have developed an ingrained need to think globally & remember our good fortune. We have many affirmations, methods & tools that we utilise to stay afloat through the tough times, that do, & will always come! We laugh, ALOT!

I love the recent fabric collaboration you did with Ink & Spindle (image above) and the linocut prints with artist Taryn Eales. You do a lot of collaborations with the fabrics of Bee Eco wraps – is this part of your business model, how do you choose who to collaborate with and do you have any tips to share on how to make it work well for both sides. 

The creative process & exchange of ideas is so vibrant in collaboration. We tend to work with folks with a mutual understanding of the dynamics within a creative family business & the flexibility & genius required to uphold professionalism, with a baby off one hip, amongst the chorus of little chatterers & helpers.

The collective exploration & exchange of ideas results in something exceptionally beautiful, useful & bursting with story. Our hearts are full with the beauty created & friendships formed through collaboration.

Like all of life, expect a few downturns, or sticky aspects & determine to ride it with grace. As the journey of a business & creative collaboration unfolds, remain kind, fair, professional & excited. Keep in the forefront of your mind what you can give rather than what you shall receive.

Collaboration is a process of human relations, to which you can garner all of your gathered wisdom to bring about success. To offer your innate gifts & talents to bring to the table & trade with your chosen ‘idols’! Fun!!

Have you got anything coming up this year that you’d love to share?

The Ink & Spindle Collaboration was such an honour for us and we just adore the outcome! As it all sold out near immediately, a new Australian Native Botanical Range, once again designed & handprinted by Lara Cameron & Caitlin Klooger in Melbourne, is very soon to be released.

The innate beauty & talent of Taryn Eales will continue to flourish as we bring more handcarved linocut, handprinted with Eco dyes, onto a gorgeous sturdy hemp. These Wraps feel invaluable & enriching to the soul of a kitchen. We roll down the country lanes, over rickety bridges, the kids mooing all the way, into Taryn’s whimsical farm paradise, you truly can feel the beauty of this very talented Mama encapsulated in each handprinted Wrap!

A beautiful boiling pot of textile love is brewing! We are just bubbling with excitement at some  upcoming collaborations! Solar screen printing & nature dyes with some of our favourite creative folk are amongst the excitement.

We have also opened the doors of our Farm to welcome others travelling a journey of self sustainable living.

What’s your best eco tip – the simple smaller everyday things often are the best aren’t they? 

Our number one Eco tip is time in Nature. Every day, as much as possible. The real change comes from within & occurs in Nature! A form of Eco enlightenment that brings a consciousness & empowers the determination to make & stick with those daily changes. Then get excited about all of the wonderful things you will learn, cool sustainable community you can be a part of & relish in the beauty of the natural world you are conscious of protecting.

On a practical level, allow a gentle awakening to the perils of plastic & eco conscious choices. Create a list. Step by step challenge the disposable parts of life.

Buy in bulk. Shift to sustainable toothbrushes, shampoo bars, jojoba oil & henna. Bicarbonate soda, apple cider vinegar & eucalyptus for cleaning. A great dishwashing cloth, scrubber, soap nuts for laundry. A mason jar each, a favourite op shop spoon, bamboo straw when out & about. Vintage wicker baskets are fabulous or an essential reusable shopping bag.  Look at ways to trade goods & reduce consumerism, or delve into the magical world of vintage!

There is so much to learn about fermenting, gardening, cooking or sewing tapped into a local like minded community. Sustainable living is cool, pass it on! The time is NOW to be that change.

I’d love to hear if you introduce beeswax wraps to your life – they are one simple change. You can find all the info about the Beeswax wraps here, and follow along with BeeEco on Instagram

the art of art


Here’s some truths….

I grew up in a very very extremely creative home. I was supported in my artistic, creative wishes… My parents helped, pretty hands-on, with my massive end of high school art piece. Actually, they probably helped with a whole lot of most of the things we made at home. Not always hands on helping, but support and idea sharing, and offering advice and suggestions. And supplying materials and space to create. And sharing “real” artists – books of, stories of, taking us to exhibitions and talking about their history, their careers, their art techniques.. That sort of thing. The sort of things that we took for granted. Some of which I offer my kids now, and they take for granted. Which is cool – I think kids should take some things for granted from their parents.

But – here’s the thing. Through all this. Going to a Steiner school, having special art teachers, going to art camp during holidays… all those things (Which for my parents would have cost a lot, and been a challenge for them to find the funds for – somehow they did; with 4 kids too!). I still didn’t go to art school, or ever consider myself as becoming an artist. (I did want to be an actor, which is an artist in itself – but I gave that dream up when I didn’t get into any of the drama schools I wanted to). I never once considered the possibility of “being an artist when I grow up”. Neither did my younger sister, or my older brother. My older sister did go to art school, and majored in photography, and she now works in the arts industry – but not as a photographer, and not as an artist.

Now – at this stage in my life, where I’m coming closer and closer to calling myself an “artist” I still have these issues, doubts, thoughts about it. I know mostly all real artists go through this.. huh. Do they. Maybe. I guess everyone goes through different aspects of that through whatever their career. I’m not saying I’m special or different by having these thoughts, issues, whatevers.

What I am saying, asking… is why.. And then – I remember that while my parents lived this very creative artistic life, neither of them was really a practicing artist. My mother wanted so desperately to be a potter, well to be accepted and acknowledged. She plugged on and on, with all her creative skills and talents – but always was left short of that particular fulfilment of being recognised. Even her craft of being a yoga teacher wasn’t respected the way she deserved. But she kept at it, and battled through it.

Many of you know that my mama is no longer here, walking our Earth. I was youngish and caught up in myself when she died, so much of this could be strange memories, or made-up extrapolations. And I don’t know / will never know the full depth of much of what she was, went through, wanted… But I do know, remember, and now myself feel, that pain – a deep ache – of wanting to be ‘accepted’ somehow.

I don’t talk about my dad much here, because he’s himself and I don’t think he wants his story to be shared – especially my version of it.

All this is the lead-in to say…. I’ve been thinking about the art of making art. And about the anguish of. But mostly – about the way to come around and away from that strange need for validation from an outside world. Which is hard in this time of ‘likes’ and ‘followers’ and such a big world of popularity. Everyone wants more than their 15minutes of fame – we all want continual ever-increasing fame. And many people will never get that, many people who don’t deserve it (artistically speaking) will get it….

So – as a society, and a community. What do we do about this? How do we raise a new generation who don’t value or need this validity of ‘likes’ and ‘followers’. Or is it just a bigger version of the school yard where we can all see the physical number count of someone’s popularity – rather than guessing at and giggling about the losers in the playground. I was never the popular kid at school; I was quite happy being the slightly strange ‘hippie’ kid (not self-named) who was respected by people but not their number one or anything.

For me, as a mother and a creative and a sorta-kinda practicing ‘artist/maker’ my goal is to let go of the ‘likes’ issue. To make for making’s sake – to delve into what I want. To remember that girl who made because she loved making. Who stood in drama class and spoke words loudly and proudly. Who made a plaster cast of her body and filled it with precious things, and glued birds wings on her back for her high school major artwork. That girl. The one who spoke up to the bullies and didn’t really mind what people thought of her if they weren’t her friends. And to help my kids be that person too – find that person in themselves and never forget him / her throughout this world of popular.

Yep – that’s my goal. Find the girl who glued green bird wings to her plaster cast body.

(*I wish I could share a photo of this piece with you. For while I still have it, it’s slightly the worse for wear… not having been stored in an art gallery or anything prestigious like that Cause doesn’t everyone’s year 12 artwork get picked up by a gallery! also – bird wings / feathers were found in our forest home, no birds were harmed. Also – I love that we dyed paper and fabric with natural berries from our forest home for part of the work. These things – from way back then – are my life now.)