Thursday, September 29, 2011

Marc Harrison: Musing on a sustainable practice

Re-appropriation of the Macadamia Nut Shell

Husque is a composite material that uses ground up Macadamia shell left over from the Macadamia nut industry processors. The Macadamia shell is a by-product once the kernel has been removed for food or oil. I combine the shell with polymer that then allows me to mold forms. These forms are set with heat and then can be machined, polished and hand finished in various ways. I introduce colour into the shapes by lining the moulds before the composite material is injected. 

If Husque can be compared to another material, an accurate one would be Bakelite. Particularly, electrical insulation Bakelite used commonly in the design of appliances from the 20s to 40s. That type of Bakelite was a composite of wood-flour and phenolic resin.

My understanding of sustainability is that it is ‘the clean and prolonged use of our existing resources and the pursuit of new resources that are safe and efficient’. Husque has developed a value adding process to a low valued by-product but the value of Husque is in the concept of innovation more than the product itself. Its arguable whether the production of more ‘things’ is indeed what the planet needs but it is clear that the processes to develop well designed product by hand or intuitive methods is grounding and can be an inspiration when life and the artifacts we surround ourselves with become overly complicated.

Husque is unique as it is a product more created from art than science. The idea of using Macadamia shell in this way came from my interest in the significance of cultural icons as signposting in an increasingly homogenizing international design scene, however, the idea of using this by-product in a new application had just as much interest from an eco hungry international movement.

Being conservative and innovative with materials is natural to me and goes back to having immigrant farmers as parents and being raised with in an alternative lifestyle family where as kids we made do with what we had.  In my own practice I have translated this as a unique aspect of Australian, and New Zealand design where a philosophy of ‘getting things done’ is inherent in many local innovative design practices. Low-tech methods and lateral thinking are often platforms for innovation. 

One of the key features in the manufacturing of Husque is its molded form, very little waste is generated as the material is measured precisely to fill the volume of the shape required. Besides from the design of vessels, there is a hopeful future for Husque to be used in jewelry, architectural fittings and as with the Husque jug, handles.

The Macadamia nut is native to Australia, and remained exclusively landlocked here on the East coast until 1880, Australia still produces 56% of the worlds Macadamia nuts.

Husque website 
Sustainability stories link  
Marc Harrison is one of the top ten  finalist in the 2011 Bombay Sapphire Awards website 
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Friday, September 23, 2011

Craft Australia invites you to take the Share Your Stories survey

Craft Australia invites you to take the  Share Your Stories survey

Craft Australia is again conducting the 'share your stories' survey to gather data about Australian crafts people and designers operating small businesses or creative micro industries.

Craft Australia will collate these findings to establish a picture of micro businesses. This data will be the basis of information to advocate for small businesses in the creative industries sector. Please take 5 minutes to take the Share Your Stories survey.

All participants go in the draw to win a KINK oil bottle designed by Deb Jones, hand-made by the JamFactory Glass Studio and donated by the Canberra Glassworks.

The winner will be notified by email and an announcement made on the Craft Australia website,  and Craft Australia blog,  

Craft Australia thanks the Canberra Glassworks for donating the KINK oil bottle.



Thursday, September 22, 2011

DesignbyThem: Musing on a sustainable practice

Nicholas Karlovasitis and Sarah Gibson met whilst studying at university and formed DesignByThem in late 2006. Since establishing DesignByThem they have gone on to work with a diverse range of clients and have produced numerous designs characterised by their innovative use of materials, sustainable practices and ability to combine a sense of fun with clear function.

WebLight is the result of an exploration into the potential possibilities of reusing plastic bags. Made from recycled content, each WebLight is individually hand made and features an intricate pattern of texture and holes that are the direct result of its unique forming process.

Designers’ Notes
“WebLight is the result of an exploration into the potential possibilities of reusing plastic bags. We spent over a year developing the light; perfecting the process to form the intricate and organic structure allowing it to be lightweight yet rigid, delicate and organic in appearance and softly diffusing. Each WebLight is hand made by us and completely individual with no WebLight being the same.“

WebLight is recyclable and made from 100% recycled plastic bags and factory waste. Each WebLight contains no virgin material and has a minimum of 70% post consumer waste. Custom WebLights can be made containing 100% post consumer recycled content as well. The forming process uses 100% renewable energy sources and DesignByThem also offers a product stewardship program where it takes back products to be either repaired, reused or recycled. Please visit the DesignByThem website for more information.

Design by Them website
Sustainability stories link  
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Craft Australia is interested to know how you are tackling sustainability in your practice. If you would like to contribute ideas or have an experience you would like to share on the Craft Australia blog. Contact the blog editor

Liz Stops: Musing on a sustainable practice

Works in slipcast porcelain have been a consistent thread through my practice for some years. The forms I devise are usually landscape-based, expressing interpretations of my rural locale. I assemble groups of objects in configurations of 2 to 150 that portray particular and imagined locations. I value the exacting and time consuming processes involved when developing a form, making a mould and then slipcasting, as an opportunity for contemplation and immersion in the objectives underpinning a defined project. I find that reflection is fostered by repetitive process and physical engagement with materials and is an important component towards furthering and evolving ideas.

I also work in recycled and found media, an enterprise that attempts to more closely link the form and content of my work with my environmental concerns. I recently completed a PhD entitled Carbon Credits in which I explored these possibilities in depth, an undertaking that was motivated by the conviction that it would be possible to develop a professionally viable practice that incorporated a strong procedural ethic of sustainability. Carbon Credits was integral to my environmentally committed lifestyle and was also contextualised within a society increasingly aware of its dependence on the health of ecological systems with which we interact. My project also acknowledged the environmental impacts of colonisation.

Image: Liz Stops, Investigations into Colonisation,   2010 Porcelain, recycled fenceposts, charcoal, binder 47cm high x 110 x 30

The outcomes of my investigations were objects and photographs through which I observed the implications of my colonial complicity in misuse of resources, but also imagined new possibilities of a more inclusive interaction with the landscape. Works completed during the project were in porcelain; a variety of recycled materials such as pulped cotton, flywire, bird wire, barbed wire, copper sheet, charcoal, bone, ash and sap, most of which were collected as a result of my land-management practices; as well as photographic documentation of temporary works and ephemeral events. In particular, charcoal that had been collected from my winter fires over two winters became the sustainable substance through which I aligned the conceptual, the material and lifestyle considerations, developing works that responded to my local colonised landscape, while establishing resource-conservative studio procedures. The production, preparation and manipulation of charcoal became a regenerative gesture through which I could envisage a hopeful environmental future.

Image: Liz Stops Wombee Landscape III: Dawn, Charcoal, ash, sap, bone, binder 50cm high x 75 x 5

Carbon Credits also impacted on my porcelain practice and led to the development of strategies to minimise its carbon footprint. These included taking measures to eliminate studio waste by devising works that utilised scrap, as well as installing a grid-connect solar system to produce electricity for firing. However, recently, mining of one of the components of my porcelain slip has ceased in Australia and it is now imported, thus increasing the footprint of my work. This occurrence highlights the fact that resolutions are not static and my practice requires continual review and adaptation.

Carbon Credits thesis
Planet website
Australian Ceramics website
Brenda May Gallery website 
Sustainability stories link 
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Craft Australia is interested to know how you are tackling sustainability in your practice. If you would like to contribute ideas or have an experience you would like to share on the Craft Australia blog. Contact the blog editor

Monday, September 19, 2011

Alexander Lotersztain: Musings on a sustainable practice

DERLOT re-project

Re-project is designer Alexander Lotersztain’s research study on design’s potential to address environmental and social issues. Taking design as a tool for communication and a mediator of human behavior in both passive and active ways.
Re-project  explores new solutions to old problems, proposing sensitive and sometimes provocative ideas that will stimulate change. Re-project latest venture merges community support and environment


re-stitch - New collection soft-denim seating " derlot + Saint Vincent de Paul Society"

Old denim gets a re-stitch!
By purchasing otherwise discarded denim from charitable organization Saint Vincent de Paul Society of Australia, the project provides financial support to the Society but most importantly   creates public awareness and promotes sustainability. As the designer and project founder Alexander Lotersztain calls it: “chic-derelict!, bring a sense of cool and fashion to a good cause.” The project suggest that design can and should play an important role in society, and can tackle many of the important issues we face in today’s world.

Images: Alexander Lotersztain, re-stitch, Photographer Florian Groehn

Alexander Lotersztain website
re-stitch website 
Sustainability stories link 
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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Craft Australia: Craft Australia Forum 2011

Sustainability what does it mean?

To explore this field Craft Australia invites you to join in our focus on sustainability. Craft Australia Invites case studies  highlighting sustainable craft and design practice.  An online forum addressing the issue is  planned for September and October where online discussions about models of sustainable practice will take place.

Feedback from the sector will identify the main areas of concern for makers. Craft Australia will make the findings from the focus on sustainability available to government and relevant stakeholders to future proof the capacity of craft and design creative micro enterprises.

 Image: Pennie Jagiello,  Pieces of Fate Neckpiece  Recycled electrical wire  plastic bags & aluminum de-consrtucted costume jewelley and  fishing nets

What are your thoughts on sustainability?

Craft Australia is interested to know how you are tackling sustainability in your practice.

If you would like to contribute ideas or have an experience you would like to share on the Craft Australia blog, please leave a comment or contact Craft Australia to submit your case study. 

Published case studies

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Vicki Halper, Australian craft impressions

Vicki Halper, Australian craft impressions, review article 
‘It’s easy for Americans to identify with Australia,’ I said to Kevin Murray, a writer about Australian craft , at dinner one night. ‘The colonial past, language, youth of the country, pioneer spirit.’ I was thinking of places I briefly saw in the Great Dividing Range that reminded me of Montana towns. Kevin wasn’t nodding in agreement.  After a month in Australia, I still know only a bit, and much of that likely incorrect. Bear with me then as I give my impressions of the Australian craft scene that I encountered.

I came as a visiting curator, guest of Craft Australia, in April 2011. During that time I stayed in Sydney, Canberra, Adelaide, and Melbourne; spoke directly with scores of people including artists, historians, curators, administrators, collectors, and students; and saw work in galleries, museums, and studios. Because of the compressed timeframe and intense schedule, I left with the lovely but surely misguided sense that craft is the center of all Australian life. (Thank you!) Read More

Image Vicki Halper and Nina Cuvea at Metalab Gallery Sydney

Monday, September 12, 2011

Save our Stories: the Craft Australia digitisation project

 Image number 1009019: Tom Moore, Just Another Day (detail), 1986

Craft Australia is saving the story of the Australian Studio Craft movement. Over 25,000 colour slides that form part of its national historical collection represent a unique visual archive as the Craft Australia Image Bank.
Unfortunately, the slides are slowly deteriorating in the historic slide sleeves of the past. Craft Australia is preserving these slides by digitising them and making them accessible online. Images of work by Australian artists dating back to the late 1960s will now be viewable on the internet.
We need your help to make these stories talk. Preserving and digitising this rare material is very costly. To date we have had the support of the National Library of Australia. With $10,000 we have saved 4,000 slides. Craft Australia needs a further $35,000 to save the slides in the collection.


Be a part of the story 

Make a donation to Craft Australia and help to us to save our stories.

  • With as little as $5 dollars you can help to rehouse, preserve and digitise a story.
  • With $50 we can do that to an entire slide sheet of stories.
  • With $500 we can do ten slide sheets.
Be part of Australia’s history, save the past for a vibrant future.
Please donate to save our stories.

About Craft Australia image Bank website
Images saved so far Flickr

Melissa Cameron: Musing on a sustainable practice

Recycled objects in my practice - 2011

In my practice I choose to work with various materials, including recycled objects. Prefabricated metal containers appeal especially to me, not because of quirks arising from their pre-used qualities (in fact I sometimes sandblast them to erase obvious traces of their past), but because of their form, or their embossing, or their inscribed patterns. Using already worked material is akin to a collaboration.

I began working with these objects for three reasons; firstly they suited the scale and the method of fabrication I was working with; secondly, when I began experimenting with found objects, I tried deconstructing many objects, such as porcelain plates, nylon and bamboo trays and cork trivets, but it was working with whole containers that crystallised the concept. Thirdly, I wanted to exploit the fact that when sawing out interesting and intricate patterns from a sheet, there is always an equally interesting and intricate hole left behind. The rigidity and simplicity of a found object framed, and provided a foil for, the complex patterns of the void. The contrasting complexity of the forms sets up an interesting dialogue between the finished works.

Image: Plated Triptych I + II, 2011. Recycled chromed gilding metal powder case, 925 silver, stainless steel, photo courtesy Melissa Cameron

A methodical planning process of drafting, at scale, all of my works, ensures that they make best use of the material, so there little leftover, barring swarf. When I work with an object or container I generally design two works in tandem - a piece to be taken from the object, and another from what remains of object itself. If not making more than a single piece, the process then becomes more challenging to design, in that all of the motifs in a pattern have to be reconciled to form a seamless composition.

 Image: Acanthus Oval, 2010. Recycled gold-plated gilding metal powder case (half), 925 silver, stainless steel, photo courtesy Melissa Cameron

All of my works are propelled into three dimensions by the use of fine threads, of steel cable or silk, to give the pieces volume. This cold-joining system exploits tensile forces, to animate the works, and also make them easily disassembled.

 Image: Blue Tin Set, 2011. Recycled painted mild steel tin, 925 silver, stainless steel, photo courtesy Melissa Cameron

In these works, a more useful or symbolic part of the recycled object does not exist, and thus in the obverse, there is not a waste part.  In this area of my practice I refute the concept that waste is a necessary end product.  Waste as a concept is harmful to inhabiting a planet of finite resources, and so through this work I remind myself that I am responsible for what I use, and equally, what I choose not to. 

Melissa Cameron website
Melissa Cameron blog
Sustainability stories link 
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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Craft Australia's Top Hot Opportunities (THO)

A diverse range of current opportunities are listed including residencies, exhibitions, grants, professional development and commissions for the craft and design sector in the Craft Australia Opportunities calendar.

Image: Kim-Anh Nguyen.  Spinifex, detail, Vitrify Ceramic Award 

Sample to this months latest opportunities. 
  • Craft Hatch, Craft Victoria's quarterly market for emerging makers 
  • Vitrify Alcorso Ceramic Award, annual prize for ceramic art
  • La Macina di San Cresci,  Italian residency
  • craft+design enquiry Journal Issue 5, Call for papers
  • Janet Holmes à Court Artists' NAVA members grants
  • ArtStart, financial assistance to recent creative arts graduates

Full THO listings

Tales of Adventure, where are they now? Zara Collins

 Zara Collins, one lost earring
Zara Collins visual artist, jeweller and curator discusses her current online project "one lost earring" in which participants contribute a story and image of a lost earring to the project. Read more

After completing an artist-in-residency in the Gulgong area during Autumn 2010, I couldn't wait to come back to the Mudgee region. When  Lyn Cole from Cudgegong Gallery invited me to be a Guest Curator in their 2011 Exhibition Program - I couldn't refuse, what a great opportunity! 

 Image: Graeme Bannerman's ceramic floor installation 'Spannerotozoa'

Places & Spaces recently opened at Cudgegong Gallery, Gulgong, NSW on 3 September and continues until 17 October 2011. Featuring contemporary craft makers from Adelaide, Sydney & Melbourne. The group exhibition has a diverse collection of makers featuring jewellery, ceramics, embroidery, illustration and installation. The opening was a relaxed and lovely affair with about 30-40 guests attending the combined exhibition opening.  The smell of blossoms and wattle in the region announced the beginning of spring - a gorgeous time of year to be in the country! Four of the artists from Sydney; Graeme Bannerman, Matina Bourma, Isobel Pegrum & Chloe Waddell travelled out to Gulgong which was great to see. Graeme Bannerman's ceramic floor installation 'Spannerotozoa' was a real hit with the gallery visitors. The original spanner was found in his grand father's tool box in Tamworth and was brought down to Sydney after he passed away. Graeme cast and hand manipulated each ceramic piece and mentioned he was "never quite sure what the curved spanner was used for" but a lovely woman (born and bred in the Mudgee area) filled him in on the spanner's purpose - it was used for tightening horse harnesses. What a lovely exchange of information and ideas. 

Image: Opening Places & Spaces Photographer Scott Andrew

For more information and images of the artists in Places & Spaces have a peek at the Places and Spaces blog
Cudgegong Gallery website
Zara Collins  website 
Zara Collins blog

Monday, September 5, 2011

Stuart Faulkner: Musing on a sustainable practice

‘Felix’ a stool with nine lives
As an educator and furniture designer/maker I am aware of the issues surrounding sustainable and ethical design that have gained prominence and significance over the past few years. First exhibited in the Splinter Workshop Exhibition at the Tin Shed Gallery in 2009 ‘FELIX’ was developed as a project to explore ideas on a number of related topics such as eco, sustainable, socially responsible design and design for disassembly (DfD). Research conducted into these topics led to the creation of a brief which featured the 3R’s; reduce, reuse and recycle.

Reduce: the timber elements in the stool were designed to minimise wastage. The stool uses small size timber sections which means these could come from fast growing plantation timbers, reclaimed 4” x 2” hardwood framing or manufactured sheet material ie. FSC Certified Plywood or bamboo sheet material. Having DfD as a core feature means the stool can be flat packed to minimise transportation costs associated with delivery.

Reuse: ‘Felix’ is designed for disassembly so that elements can be easily returned for exchange.
This means seat colours can be changed, also the timber frames. The facility to exchange elements allows the customer flexibility to accommodate changes in interior style. The returned elements can then be refurbished and resold. The timber elements will be sanded and finished and the seat elements can be sandblasted and powder coated. Replacing damaged elements or reconditioning elements ensures an extended life span for the product.

Recycle: At end of life ‘Felix’ can be disassembled into pure waste streams. If the timber elements can no longer be refurbished they can be chipped for use in the garden. The Aluminium and Steel parts can simply be recycled. Recycling ensures there is no waste to go landfill unlike many other furniture items.

Sturt School for Wood website 
The EDGE Awards website 
Sustainability stories link 
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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Tales of Adventure, where are they now? Louise Fulton

 Arafura Dreaming - A ceramics residency in Darwin
Ceramicist Louise Fulton, based in the Northern Rivers area of NSW, recently undertook a residency in Darwin with Territory Craft culminating in an exhibition inspired by the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin's publication of On the Origin of Species and his 200th birthday anniversary. In this tale of adventure she takes us on a drive to the top end and through her process of creating works for the exhibition Dyad - an unnatural selection.
Louise Fulton tale of a residency in Darwin Read More


Where is Louise Fulton  Now ?

This wintery July, I set off again in my trusty Toyota Echo and crossed Bass Strait. I was lucky enough to spend the month as artist in residence at Kings Bridge Gorge cottage.  Originally the caretaker’s home for Cataract Gorge reserve in Launceston, the cottage is built in the Arts and Crafts style and hosts visiting artists.

My daily routine included a visit to ‘Tant pour Tant’, a French patisserie and café, then snuggled in beanie, scarf, polofleece jacket and down booties, I worked in the drawing room of the cottage which faces the cliffs of the gorge. Apart from working on botanical drawings of casuarinas, I made an installation inside the tiny tollhouse where a dining table was set then covered with artificial snow. 

At the end of the residency I had a show with my sister Deborah Fulton at Sidespace Gallery at Salamanca Arts Centre in Hobart. Deb exhibited her elegant Adirondack style chairs and I showed my ceramic sculptures and drawings related to botany and evolution. Our sister Rebecca Fulton opened the show.

Tales of Adventure list
Louise Fulton Blog 
Kings Bridge Gorge Cottage residency program