A truly beautiful Minxy mix of charm, inspiration, practical advice, and pretty projects to simplify and beautify your life and home. - Jane Brocket, The Gentle Art of Domesticity
Last weekend at Surry Hills Library I ran a craft workshop for around 25, making early xmas gifts whipped up by hand and sharing favourite places to source materials. There was much discussion on Japanese fabrics, yarns and pattern books because as a rule, I think the Japanese have nailed the quirky craft market, consistently producing covetable materials I can never seem to own enough of.
Nani IRO is one such collection of stylish, unique designs. Some are printed on lovely cotton, others on linen blends or 100% cotton soft double gauze, and they’re perfect for fashioning homewares, bags, wall art and clothing. Duckcloth stocks an enviable range, as does Calico & Ivy. I’ve used them for skirts, cushions, curtains and lightweight scarves to name a few. And they wash so beautifully, too – well worth purchasing a metre or two in time for holiday crafting.
If you own The Crafty Kid, you will have read about my good friend Olivier Dupon before. Olivier used to operate an exceptionally special French homewares store in Rozelle, Sydney called Lola et Moi. Since shutting up shop, he’s been working on his wonderfully edgy Dossier 37 blog, as well as this vast project: a collection of profiled artisans, published in Australia this month by Thames & Hudson.
The New Artisans captures the new mood in craftsmanship – a return to a preference for the unique and the handmade. Olivier, a former buyer for Christian Dior and various luxury labels, has sourced the cream of the contemporary design world from all over Europe, Australia and the United States, profiling 75 artisans who use craft techniques rather than mass-production methods to create stylish, whimsical, covetable objects. 850+ colour photographs feature a huge variety of crafts including art, ceramics, furniture, glasswork, jewellery, lighting, metalwork, papercraft, textiles and woodwork. Complete with a directory of products, and personal recommendations for inspiring shops and websites to visit, his is the perfect resource for discovering unique and beautiful objects made by new, talented artisans from all around the world.
Here’s some of my favourite spreads and profiled artisans below – ‘like’ the Facebook page for regular updates. A further book is already in the works… top secret for now, but more to follow soon I’m sure. Prepare to be inspired!
Thank you so much to all the entrants in the Minxy Vintage Treasure Hunt – I just loved looking through your finds, and hope you appreciate the winners’ stories and treasures as much as I did. We’ll be in touch this week with details on how to claim your prizes.
1st prize – Sarah Hyland ($500 voucher to Coco Repose)
When I found this 1930s capelet in the bottom of a box of material at my local Salvos, my heart skipped a beat. The lady at the counter said That’s a nice old bit of rag love, that’ll be a dollar.
2nd prize – Bree Hiatt ($100 voucher to Vinnies)
The gorgeous old vollies headed off to the storeroom and returned with a dirty box. Inside sat five hats covered in dust in various conditions. One hat caught my eye – it had a beautiful yellow ribbon. I asked if I could possibly buy the whole box. They could not understand why I’d be interested when they had a window full of hats ready to wear… Of course I felt like I’d picked a winner and had not even been to the races yet. Each hat had been stuffed with newspaper to preserve their shape – the newspaper was from September 1948!
3rd prize – Steph (Murdoch book pack)
A beautiful cotton dress and belt, perfect for a mad hatter’s tea party. Found this gem in a charity store in North Lismore and have lent it to friends, danced in it, spilt paint on it – I hardly need to say it’s a fun dress and I’d hate to lock it up.
Joint 3rd prize – Meaghan Quirk (Murdoch book pack)
My favourite vintage buy is this 1940s telephone cord bag I got in Melbourne years ago which had a very old movie ticket inside. I just couldn’t throw it out, so it’s stayed in the pocket. Also some vintage milk glass beads and a brooch that came from markets and fairs.
I’ve been asked quite a lot lately about my favourite eras in fashion… difficult to answer, given the latest book is all about cherry-picking the best bits from the past and mixing up your references. But my response is the 1950s for evening wear (for the drama and decadence and romance which followed the sheer austerity of the war years) and 1970s by day.
Why? Because despite its awful connotations of wide lapels, shag hairdos and disco-babe synthetics, I simply adore the global mood which found its way into fashion with the advent of widespread air travel. Previously far-flung countries such as Morocco and India and those in the the Far East opened up as desirable holiday destinations, and infected fashion with a hippie luxe vibe and sense of adventure. The seventies foray into kaftans, bell sleeves, floaty scarves and historic decorative techniques is irresistable, and not dissimilar to the Ballet Russes / Oriental-inspired mood of the 1920s (but seventies pieces are easier to find, and will set you back less).
The golden years of fashion in fifties America also saw some dabbling in cross-cultural references. South Pacific-inspired florals, Mexican tooling and vibrant prints ruled, and I’m always on the lookout for those items which have survived a good half-century or more to be worn today (case in point, the bandeaus seen in recent runway cruise collections – very fifties but very now).
As a mother who works from home, this sort of detail – worn elegantly dishevelled – always wins out over clean lines for me, and informs the relaxed vibe of a modern home and wardrobe. If only these crafty, authentic techniques with metallic thread, mirrors, dye and pattern-mixing were available in mainstream fashion, and not just for the couture crowd. A trip to Rajasthan is on the cards, as I’d love a lesson in how to do it myself. Maybe when Olive hits five, and we can start her off as well. Long live these ancient skills.
Come to this event in the Blue Mountains if you can – it’s for a good cause and a visit to the mountains always lifts the spirits, don’t you think? I’ll be attending in one of Charlotte’s precious frocks from The Darnell Collection. Can’t wait.