Need some craft inspiration? Meet the makers we love!
Updated: Sep 17
Meet Sharon Orr
Tell us about yourself and your craft.
I am a first-generation Australian, my family originates from Scotland. I live with my beloved dog who loves to roll around in raffia, especially whenever I am creating.
I discovered basket making 2-years ago when a friend asked me to do a basketry workshop with them. I didn't have huge expectations, but afterward, I was hooked. Thankfully I went along, as now I absolutely love it. Making is a big part of my life.
I have taught myself to hand-dye my own raffia. I love seeing how the colour takes with different amounts of dye, it's a wonderful process.
What do you love about it?
I love that my mind can rest for a few hours. When I am making, the only thing I need to worry about is what colour to use next, or what pattern I should use, or weave type. Everything else fades away for a moment.
Now I hand-dye my own raffia. I love seeing how the colour takes with different amounts of dye, it's a wonderful process.
What's been your experience crafting in isolation?
I am an essential worker so I have still been busy with work. Mostly, I have long days attending online meetings and dealing with work issues. The usual work stress. I love getting home, putting my feet up, and working on a weaving project before bed. It allows my mind to rest before I sleep.
First thing planned after restrictions are lifted?
A weekend away to a country town to support local communities. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner at different local places, lots of antique shopping and just enjoying life!
Meet Tina Zenou
Tell us about yourself and why you love to make.
I'm from Stockholm in Sweden. I moved to Melbourne with my family four years ago so I'm a pretty recent immigrant. My life has changed so much since coming to Australia and crafting is a way for me to lean into who I really am - something I didn't make time for when I was working full time in a busy job and raising three kids.
Last year I decided two things, I wanted to do more creative things and I wanted to meet new people. I tried a couple of different workshops here and there. It was Craft School Oz's textile baskets workshop with Ruth that really inspired me to make, and keep on making. I think it's because basket making is such a forgiving craft compared to others. I was never very good at textiles as a child, I couldn't sew straight, or knit very well, so I just never kept going with it.
When I look at the women in my family, both my grandmothers did a lot of crafting - weaving, crochet, and embroidery. I was always around it. My mum also used to do a lot of knitting when I was growing up in the '70s. My sister and I wore some elaborate and itchy one-piece suits (brown of course).
But my mum stopped making at some point - perhaps because of fast fashion - and it was never really encouraged with us kids.
I was never very good at textiles as a child, I couldn't sew straight, or knit very well, so I just never kept going with it.
It's taken me all this time to discover my own craft. Now I can't stop! Since my first Craft School Oz workshop with Ruth, I've taken both the raffia and Baskets from the Garden workshops, where you learn to weave with plants.
Another thing about this craft that I really enjoy is that it's possible to combine different materials and just try new things out. All the different colours, textures, and materials. They seem endless!
How do you begin a new weaving project?
I will have an idea in my mind but then the basket takes over as if it guides me into what to do next. There is nearly always a period when I don't really like the look of what I'm making but I trust in the process and keep going. In the end, it isn't so bad. I do creative writing in my spare time and the process is similar, the characters take over and end up doing what they want which is often out of my control.
What's your experience of crafting in isolation?
Crafting has been so great throughout ISO, keeping my hands busy calms my mind. Whenever I'm not doing it, like when I have to work, I always wish I was. And I don't think I could bear another night of Netflix without making a basket.
There is nearly always a period when I don't really like the look of what I'm making but I trust in the process and keep going
I notice I get grumpy when I complete and don't have a new craft project to work on. It's as if something is missing. As soon as ISO is over I would like to travel back to Sweden to visit family and friends but I think international travel will take a long time to recover. In the meantime, I am happy with a local dinner with friends and some more traveling around this beautiful continent.
I was going to travel to Arnhem Land with my daughter to learn traditional techniques from some first nation's women but the trip was canceled because of COVID-19.
There are so many talented basket makers and fiber artists in this country, and around the world. It's great to see what people are making on Instagram.