Monday, April 24, 2017

Tricia Smout

Today we interview long time artist Tricia Smout.

Were you creative as a child & do you come from a creative family?

My mother knitted and sewed in any spare time she had. Since I was a little girl, I have enjoyed playing with paper, yarns and fabric, and I made my own clothes in high school and university. 

After a career of science research and teaching, and then raising a family, I finally got back to creating artwork thirty years ago.

How would you describe your work?

I love working with all types of textiles … fibres, paper, yarns and fabrics. The tactile qualities of the materials give me tremendous pleasure, and I also delight in playing with different colour combinations.

My ‘grande passion’ is calligraphy and lettering, and in addition to legible calligraphy commissions, I use letters, words and symbols as the inspiration to create innovative hangings, artist books, sculptures and wearable art using a wide range of techniques.

I had a fabulous year as the 2012 Artist-in-Residence at Brisbane Botanic Gardens creating many collaborative works …

How has your work evolved since you started?

My original calligraphy work was only on paper or card. In 1993 I did a weekend workshop with famous English calligrapher Pat Russell, and this inspired me to put lettering on to fabric. 

I now try to include lettering in as many different forms as possible …bookmaking, embroidery, appliqué, patchwork, papermaking, felting, crochet, knitting and collage.

How did you start selling online?

I haven’t managed to set up an Etsy shop yet, but I have details of items for sale on my

Who or what inspires you?

When I decide to enter an exhibition or a competition, I find the theme or title often gives me the impetus I need to start jotting down ideas. 

Pat Russell’s tapestries and embroideries were my initial inspiration. 

I enjoy seeing how other artists incorporate lettering in their work. Denise Lach’s “Calligraphy: A Book of Contemporary Inspiration” is my current favourite.


Do you reduce, reuse, recycle as part of your creative process?  

As much as possible I do try to reuse things in my stash leftover from other projects, or things that others have discarded. 

Can you describe your workspace?

Now that my children have left home, I have bits and pieces in each of their bedrooms. Sadly I am not good at putting things away, so any vacant table spaces quickly fill up, and I have to resort to working on the kitchen table!

What is your favourite thing to make?

I need variety, so I enter as many competitions and exhibitions as I can to give me a creative challenge. 

I also really enjoy making multiples of my small books, which is very relaxing to do at night while watching TV documentaries. 

Where do you see your creative journey taking you in the next 12 months?

For the past two years, three friends and I have staged our “Shifting Seasons” exhibition in August at Richard Randall Studio, and we are doing it again this year.

I will continue entering competitions and exhibitions.

What’s your top tip to others wanting to break into the creative market?

Persistence and self-belief … and luck!

Describe your typical creative day?

It varies al lot. Some days I attend a craft group meeting, other days I work quietly by myself at home.

 Do you have a favourite quote?

“All the flowers of all the tomorrows are in the seeds of today.” Willa Hoey

“All glory comes from daring to begin.” Eugene F. Ware

Do you like to listen to Music or watch TV while creating?

I prefer to work quietly when creating one-off artworks, but I watch TV documentaries when I’m mass-producing multiples of my merchandise items.

What is your favourite handmade item that you have bought?

A commissioned embroidered letter “S” on handmade paper by Pat Russell. 

And two calligraphy artworks from Donald Jackson (official calligrapher to the Queen)

Where can we find you online?
My merchandise items are on my website -

I also have my work for sale at -
Scattered Arts in Camp Hill
The Hut in Samford
Aspire at Paddington
Redcliffe Art Gallery Shop and various craft fairs. 

How long have you been a member of BrisStyle?

I joined in 2012.

How did you find out about BrisStyle?

I first saw the BrisStyle girls at a “Finders Keepers“ market, but in those days you had to have an Etsy shop to be a member of BrisStyle. 

When I attended a talk at a local library in 2012 I found out I could now join.

Why did you become a member?

I hoped to be able to reach a wider audience who would buy my merchandise.

Why do you craft?

I need craft to keep me sane. I find it relaxing, and I get a real buzz when someone says they like my work.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Creative Space Visit - Raynbowcrowstudios

In February this year I was lucking enough to get an all access pass into the world of Bronwyn who is the human dynamo marbler behind Raynbowcrowstudios. She was the first of my studio visits I am going to be doing throughout the year.

I was just a tad excited to see what she did in her studio/workshop to make those fabulous marbled items. I'm sure there are a fair few of us out there that were introduced to marbling during their formative primary school years.

One of the things that make Bronwyn's space so amazing is the peaceful location and green front garden at her house. You pull up under a lovely lush tree and walk up some old stone stairs that look like they have been there since the 1950's.

Her space is set up in the rumpus room as we call it here in Australia under her house. The large glass sliding door looks out to a gorgeous hibiscus hedge. She shares it with her son and husband so there's also a drum set, guitar and a computer area.

I loved seeing her space whilst it was being used to create. It's great to have an area to let your creative side go wild.

The main item in her everyday marbling is her bath of liquid that she uses - I believe it is called "size". She has adapted a wonderful use of a table and frame that allows her to change the amount of size used to marble different things.

For a moment I was inspired seeing a bar fridge near her marbling table but it's only for the marbling.... I was wondering how I could fit one into my workshop. I'm still thinking even now.....

It was like watching an alchemist working when she was adding the colours to the size and then making patterns. It was a pleasure to watch. When I was there she was marbling paper and some of her amazing fans.

She hangs them outside to dry on portable clotheslines that brought back memories of when my children were at preschool and it was so much fun to be able to help her hang her wet items.

I absolutely love plants as any of you who know me would know so it was terrific to see she has a Fiddle Leaf Fig outside! She was on trend so much earlier then most of us.

It was a fabulous morning and I can see by the amount of work and the amount of love she puts into her creations that anyone who gets to own any of them is a very lucky person!

Michelle xx

Monday, April 10, 2017


Hi Megan.

Were you creative as a child and do you come from a creative family?

I’ve never considered myself to be particularly creative, however when I think about it, I’m always attempting some sort of craft or renovation at some point! 

Both my grandmother and my aunt are incredibly creative and talented – perhaps some of their genes have been passed through!

How would you describe your work?

Fun, bright and bold!

How has your work evolved since you started?

I’m still quite new – I only started November 2016. So I’d say I’m still very much evolving. I can already see different patterns, colours and mediums used in such a short amount of time. 

I’m excited for the future!

How did you start selling on Etsy?

I created my Etsy page as an easier way for people to browse my items, previously I was receiving orders through Instagram and e-mail.

What inspires you?


I’m a huge fan of bright and bold colours. I also LOVE so many creative people on social media. 

I’m also inspired by a few clothing brands such as Gorman, known for their bold and funky prints, as well as Brisbane based designers Jericho Road Clothing.

Describe your workspace?

It used to be my coffee table! 

Luckily my husband has created me a studio from our spare bedroom with a standing work station and everything in arms reach. My back and physio are absolutely thanking me!

What is your favourite thing to make?

GIANT BRIGHT earrings!

How did your shop name come about?

My name is Meg! And I make, haha.

Where do you see your creative journey taking you in the next 12 months?

Hopefully I’ll be attending markets and being more involved with the BrisStyle community! Things have snowballed very quickly – so who knows where things may lead!

What’s your top tip to others wanting to break into the creative market?

Use social media and start connecting with others in your local community!

Describe your typical creative day?

It’s very chill – I think of MegMakes as my hobby rather than my small business, as I absolutely love creating. 

I’m still working full time in finance, so I’ll head into my studio after work (perhaps with a wine!) pop on a rotten show on Netflix (I’m currently a sucker for Pretty Litter Liars) in the background and start creating!

What is your favourite handmade item that you have bought?

I have so many! 

I adore my clutches from Tiff Manuell and my many earrings from Each To Own!

Where can we find you online?

I have something in the works that’s due to be announced very very soon! So keep a look out!

How long have you been a member of BrisStyle?

I'm a Newbie.  Since December 2016

How did you find out about BrisStyle?

I follow a fair few crafters on Instagram that belong to this community, as well as attending many BrisStyle markets.

Why did you become a member?

I wanted to join this fabulous community and to be involved in the BrisStyle markets regularly.

Why do you craft?

I love it! It’s a fabulous outlet – and it results in fabulous accessories!

Thank you Megan, and I look forward to seeing you at the next BrisStyle market.

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Pink Plate

Hello Michelle 

Were you creative as a child? 

I was always creative as a child. I sewed, tried copper enamelling, pottery, macramé (it was the 70’s),  tie dye and anything someone would show me I had a go.

Do you come from a creative family?

My family was not very creative, but they allowed me to be creative. However, unfortunately when  I went to high school and told my parents I wanted to be an art teacher I was discouraged as my Mum was a teacher and she thought it was not a good choice. 

Not being allowed to do art as a subject at school, I became creative in other ways. 

I became a hairdresser and after finishing my apprenticeship I became a part time hairdresser and studied and worked as a fine arts jeweller.  After having children I returned to hairdressing, and in my 40s I started ceramics. 

How would you describe your work?

Let's not get too deep but my work is made though a very conceptual approach to the clay - I want it to tell a story in the end.

My work at first glance is quite conflicting and varying as I have a series of works that are fine and delicate and then I have a series that is robust and earthy. They both have underlying themes of nostalgia, and embrace imperfection. 

Here is a bit of the story:
The porcelain series highlights femininity, and both strength and fragility of the women and men before me, and grasps at capturing the ideals of appearances and things from the past - grandma's tea set, embroidered doilies, pearls, dressing up and afternoon tea. 

The series is based around my upbringing surrounded by spinster aunts, and childless uncles and the uncovering of stories of childlessness in marriages, secret adoptions, wartime brides left at the altar, war time poverty,  family scandal, and all the while the public appearance was sternly upheld and the pillars of society were celebrated by their peers. 

The family genetic pool is finished with my grandparents generation as all 13 of my grandparents’ brothers and sisters remained childless, and my mother was adopted. These porcelain works are embedded with all things that were considered of value and now remain only as memories. 

My stoneware range is conceived around the idea of the illusion of perfection. I had an idea to make a dinner set where no pieces matched and were all slightly imperfect. I make all my wares with a rustic haphazardness and disregard to be perfect, and often highlight the imperfections with gold.
I aspire to the idea that we begin to treasure, value and celebrate imperfection. 
The media celebrates perfection and I aspire to celebrate imperfection.

How has your work evolved since you started?

I think my arts practice has evolved to be a more subtle and restrained message to appeal to more people. I want my pieces to be more usable for day to day.

How did you start selling online?

I knew people liked my work and I thought there was a market to embed other people's treasured memories in clay, however I think I haven’t quite mastered how to promote this side of my work yet.

 Who inspires you?

I am inspired by a great potter Gwen Hanssen Piggott and the great artist Rosalie Gascoigne

Two great women artists who started art late in their life, just like me, and succeeded in their craft.

Do you reduce, reuse, recycle as part of your creative process? 

AbsolutelyWe recycle all waste clay if it is damaged or broken before firing. I re-wet the clay and turn it into casting slip. If it is fired, then I use the pieces where I can in mosaics or art pieces. 

I re-use objects which I press into my clay to leave impressions like cotton doilies, embroidered table mats, jewellery, keys. Sometimes metal objects are fired into my clay to create an interesting old rusted feel to them. 

I have solar powered electricity to run my home and kiln during the day.

Can you describe your studio space for us?

I have a fabulous new studio which is approximately 30 square metres of designated 'make mess' space.

What is your favourite thing to make?

My porcelain illuminators are my favourite thing, I roll it thin and impress it with my memory objects (like doilies, or keys, or whatever) and push the clay to the absolute thinness where it becomes so fragile it is a challenge to get it to the kiln.

And yet when it fires, the porcelain is so strong, so beautiful and if the light illuminates through it, there is a residual impression of what I have pushed into the clay.

And yet in some ways it is still so fragile - it says so much about what I want to say.

How did your business name come about?

Pink is the most beautiful colour in the world, it speaks of femininity to me.

Where do you see your creative journey taking you in the next 12 months?

I have learnt so much through being involved with this positive creative community of BrisStyle. 

The artist community don’t always want you to succeed as it is very competitive, so I hope to gain more exposure and have more interest in my work through this network of great people, as well as have some work in a retail outlet. 

Do you have a top tip to others wanting to break into the creative market?

Be passionate and true to yourself, and be prepared to spend a lot of time on social media and your administrative tasks. 50% practice 50% administration.

What is a typical creative day for you?

My days are about to change as all my children are finished high school now. So I guess it will be wake up late, read, do a bit of sunbaking…. jokes.

I wake up and lie in bed for an hour doing my social media and emails, at least one day a week I will spend doing research or any other admin tasks, other days I might do half a day but I try to head into the studio about 9am, break for lunch, back to studio until about 5-6 then do dinner and TV then bed 10.30-11pm.

What kind of music do you listen to while creating?

Abba, Katie Perry or Adele.

What is your favourite handmade item that you have bought?

When I was in my 20s I bought a hand sewn leather travel bag, it was so expensive but it's still going strong.

I also love my ceramics I collect around the world.

Where can we find you online/stockists?

I have selected works in Red Hill Gallery in Red Hill Brisbane.

How long have you been a member of BrisStyle?

Only 4-6 mths

How did you find out about BrisStyle?

Through a Facebook site I think.

Why did you become a member?

I needed some help refining my Etsy store - still working on it.

Why do you craft?

Because I can!

About 6 years ago I was a bedridden cripple, I have had two back surgeries and took a few years to really rehabilitate and recuperate. 

Clay and my arts practice gave me a reason to get up in the morning and start living.

Thank you Michelle.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Textile Artisan

Today we meet Jenny from Textile Artisan.

Hi Jenny

Do you come from a creative family? 

Yes. My Dad received a Soldier’s Settler Block in the Blue Mountains after WW2. Both he and my Mother worked tirelessly to create everything that they needed from a home to poultry sheds etc, and Mum made everything that she could on a treadle sewing machine as there was no power. 

Years later after her children had left home my Mother enrolled in ceramics at East Sydney Tech. and travelled 3hrs per day for 2yrs to become a potter.

And how would you describe your work?

I make practical items using natural fibres and natural dyes. 

I hope that the items will retain their use for a long time and contribute to sustainable living.

Has your work evolved since you started?

The change has been in the size and type of loom that I use. I started with an Inkle loom that I made for myself when living 150km NW of Bourke NSW.

Then my Mother purchased a floor loom for me that a retired Englishman had made. It had been advertised in the local paper. He had been involved in the textile industry in the UK. I was living outside Bathurst at the time and came in contact with a weaver living in a railway cottage in Bathurst. That was Irma Binder who was from Europe and a truly classical weaver and my first weaving contact.

How did you start selling online?

I built a website a couple of years ago and also had a presence on Etsy. Unfortunately I haven’t had the time to keep these sites up to date. I intend to build an online selling point.

What inspires you?

The ability to create an item from the simplest elements. 

To spin, dye and weave fabric then design and cut the pieces to construct a garment or accessory. 

Or to weave something that comes off the loom ready to wear, after finishing.

And do you reduce, reuse, recycle as part of your creative process?  

Yes. I make items from patches left over from cutting. 

I also weave right to the end of warps and use the extra pieces for making up. I use up as much as I can.

Can you describe your studio for us?

My studio is the main bedroom of our retirement unit. My loom just fits in with some storage shelving around two walls and the rest in the WIR, I have a beautiful bushland view in two directions. My studio is part of my living space.

Do you have a favourite thing to make?

I don’t have a favourite. Every item is unique.

And how did your business name come about?

Textile was a given but I was so glad that Artisan was available as it means a skilled worker in the handmade.

Where do you see your creative journey taking you in the next 12 months? 

Due to several reasons I have not been weaving for 3 years so the next 12 months is my focused return to weaving and online marketing.

What’s your top tip to others wanting to break into the handmade/creative market?

Be honest in making your own product of your best quality. 

What is a typical creative day for you? 

I am a carer for my blind/deaf partner so I try to have studio time in the afternoons and evenings. 
I often spin in the evenings

Dyeing sessions are governed by the availability of material e.g. I have grown Coreopsis and collected the blossom to store in the freezer until I have enough for a dye bath (or too much for the freezer). I have a large stand of Goldenrod (another ancient dye source) that will bring on a big dying effort when it flowers. 

Do you have a favourite quote?    

Never give up!

What is your favourite handmade item that you have bought?

A beautiful end delivery shuttle. 

Where can we find you online?

How long have you been a member of BrisStyle?  

Part of a year.

Why did you become a member? 

To be part of a vibrant marketing group.

Why do you craft?

There is something inside me that reaches far back in time that encourages me to live a simple life and to make, with integrity, what I can, from natural fibres and dyes. 

It is probably in my genes and in my upbringing. 
I feel compelled to work with my hands and I am happy about it.

Well thank you Jenny for sharing your thoughts with us.