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Meet the Maker with Bindi Browning

Updated: Feb 25, 2022

It's interesting to see how many wonderful makers we have in our midst that aren't from traditionally creative backgrounds. Over the years I have met many women who have jettisoned into basket making from the sciences - Bindi Browning is certainly one of those mixed bag types: astute in the ways of the natural world and the part we play within it - she's an ecologist, mother, and wonderful crafter who believes in the power of creating using the materials you have at hand. We hope you enjoy her craft journey as much as we did!

Tell us about yourself, and where your love for creating began.

I have lived on Muwinina Country, south-eastern Tasmania, my whole life. Over the years I have spent a lot of time holidaying at Kaparati, Adventure Bay, Bruny Island. The bush and coastal environments have always been a source of inspiration.


I spent my childhood exploring the bush surroundings of my home. Some of my most beloved animals and plants from the area are the mountain dragons, yellow wattlebirds and little Drosera species. One of the most defining sounds, apart from the yellow wattlebird call, was when a gumnut would drop onto the corrugated iron roof and dance all the way down to fall to the ground. I feel like that setting, those sounds, really became part of me, and I find I bring that into all my art and craft.


I'm an artist, maker, ecologist and science communicator. Early on in my career, I got a taste for science communication, and I have had some pretty amazing jobs that have come from that: a Parks and Wildlife Officer on Maria Island, a Tasmanian Devil keeper, I've also run fun, hands-on science events for students. All these jobs required practicality and creativity, it's a mix that I enjoy.


One of the most defining sounds, apart from the yellow wattlebird call, was when a gum nut would drop onto the corrugated iron roof and dance all the way down to fall to the ground.

Why do you think this craft appeals to you? Are there any crossovers when it comes to your ecology background, basket-making, and general creativity?

I see basket making as a fusion of nature, utility and beauty. I am in awe of the depth of history of the craft - particularly the way baskets demonstrate the ecological, scientific and technical knowledge of Australia's First Nation Peoples. This is where the crossover with my ecology background comes into the craft.


Understanding the strength of the fibres in plants traditionally used and how to process them for weaving, including dyeing, varied in different areas around Australia and required intimate knowledge of plants. There are so many weaving styles, each with its own practical use and beauty.


I also love that every basket is unique, how it takes on the character of the plants that are used to make it, as well as something from its creator - and being made from nature they are always beautiful.


Talking about passing down skills, what skills do you remember being passed down to you?

One of my hopes is to pass practical skills on to my kids. They love getting in and adding some character and colour to my weaving works-in-progress. My 2-year-old noticed me collecting and stripping leaves from ivy the other day - and endeavoured to put their gumboots on and trot down to pick me a few handfuls of grass to add to my collection, all by themselves. My 5y-year-old is getting quite handy with a needle and will happily embellish baskets I have made.



I have always appreciated lifelong learning and making things that are useful as well as fun for myself. My mum and dad are very practical and quite creative. My mum is a creative cook, I remember her always trying new things in the kitchen, but also making things too. There was a time when we converted half our shed into a candle making studio. We made rock lollies, salt dough sculptures, recycled paper, felting, printed library bags, folk art, cake decorating, plaster casting, knitting, crochet, sewing, and basket making! and probably lots more I've forgotten.


Dad was always tinkering - cars, goat sheds, chicken coops, cubby houses, natural stone garden walls, animated weathervanes, rocking horses. I learnt that if I wanted to achieve something practical or beautiful, I could do it myself, both inside and outside the house.


Another aspect of the making and crafting that I value deeply is sustainability. It applies to many crafts, but with basket making in particular I love that I can slow down and create what I need from what's around me.

What do you think drives us to make? What drives you to craft?

I think there's an intrinsic reward - that feeling of accomplishment that comes from crafting with your own hands, especially in a world where you are pushed to work so that you can consume constantly. There's a deep satisfaction that comes from making something that has a bit of your own spirit in it.


I like to take start a project, then sit down with a cup of tea and find my way to that flow state. It's a very important aspect of self-care for me, with a young family keeping my days otherwise quite full!


Another aspect of the making and crafting that I value deeply is sustainability. It applies to many crafts, but with basket making in particular I love that I can slow down and create what I need from what's around me.


I'll often use weeds for something like a rustic basket for rinsing fresh garden veg or I'll make a beautiful, elegant gift for a dear friend - all the more delightful when filled with homemade treats. These are the kind of values I hope to pass on to my children. Make it, love it, share it, mend it.



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