Lately I have decided to upskill more regularly & get my hands dirty by attending more workshops.
My latest adventure was to Abbotsford Convent to attend a lock making workshop with Aaron Smith of Key Hole Surgeon. His appropriate last name is reassuring that he has this specialised trade in his genes – he is able to open, pick & crack anything that requires a key whether it is an vintage heirloom, antique safe or a stubborn lock. I did ask him if he had assisted in any heists but he remained mum about it!
In this day-long class (that fell on the same day as the fabulous markets in the grounds of the convent) we learnt how to make our very own brass 4 lever padlock and hand cut a key. The parts are from the oldest Australian lock manufacturer, Jacksons and we worked with a dismantled lock consisting of font & back plate, shackle, pin, 4 bank levers & a blank key. We scored, measured, drilled & filed & filed to create a working mechanism unique to each of us.
I have had a longstanding love affair with locks but now knowing the secret inside mechanism of a lock my appreciation of this age old device deepened. I will never again turn a key in quite the same way.
My friends & I enjoyed this so much we have started a Workshop Club. Next one will be Botanical Drawing – stay tuned!
Follow Aaron @keyholesurgeon and find out about his workshops via www.thekeyholesurgeon.com.au
F is for…
Like many things that have roots in ancient time, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where or how felt came about. Whether it’s the age-old debate of what came first, spaghetti or noodles, or many of the other materials in this alphabet, felt has a history that could have begun in more than one location. Evidence links it to Turkey, Siberia and Asia, and there a few biblical references as part of the backstory, too. But where it all began is not so much a big concern for me. I’m more interested in the feel of those matted fibres and the range of colours on offer. When I will build my ultimate yurt, I’d like felts from all over the world in a range of tones, please. The material, made mostly from wool and other animal hairs brought together with friction, is sure to keep me warm and look fantastic at the same time.
It’s hard to miss the latest trend towards indoor plants. And while I’m not so much about trends, I am definitely all for adding natural elements to a space. Here are some ideas for a new spin on the look. Bring your secateurs…
When the green hills and misty forests I’ve visited in my travels pull me back, one way to re-create the look is with lush greenery. I do love these string balls, but if you can’t find them, just cut foliage and put it in vases at all different heights. This achieves a feeling of being surrounded, and mimics mountains and lakes, which are never at an even keel.
I really like the unexpected. I like the surprise of something a little different. When I was in Scotland, I saw a lot of moss and scrub, but then stumbled across the incredible Inverewe Garden, which housed a lot of tropical species – totally unexpected. Here, I’ve used the fantastic silhouette of prickly pear as a centrepiece. My advice is to see what everyone else is planting in their home and opt for something else.
And for a look that last longer than the lifecycle of a shrub, I found vintage botanical charts and pinned them to the wall. That way, I can enjoy lots of nature’s bounty or change the species on display in line with the season. There are so many possibilities.
Introducing our new, very own dinner plates that are handmade in Australia. I worked on this project for over a year with family-owned business, Robert Gordon, which is based out of Melbourne and started back in 1949. Now three generations in, they have thriving business that has many layers & offerings from their factory in Pakenham, outside of Melbourne. After a few factory visits & learning the in&outs and layers of options I could apply to create my plate, I chose a technique that was unavailable! But with the patience of Sam Gordon we now have a plate that is uniquely The Society inc with an embossed shield, stamped 1856 and hand painted rim.
The inspiration behind this plate is my love of history, particularly the year 1856, The Royal Society & its ‘experimental gentlemen’ are key in the concept of The Society inc. They include some of my favourite historical figures: Charles Darwin, Joseph Banks, William Dampier, John Bartram & Peter Collinson, who were either members or were desperate to be members!
At The Society inc you do not have to be independently wealthy or be a gentleman, our membership is free & everyone is invited – it’s BYO ideas, outlandish as possible please, however you do have to adhere to The Royal Society’s motto ‘Nullius in verba’ meaning ‘take nobody’s word for it’.
The mid-1800s where a-changing with the understanding of kerbing scurvy, sophisticated new navigation tools & the charting of the tradewinds led to a flurry of English seafaring exploration from the mid 18th century on. The oddities&curiosities, botanicals, animals & bird specimens & other treasures that were carefully transported back, began to spark the imaginations of the general public as well as the exciting travel journals of seafaring adventures & far-flung exotic places being published. The traditional religious understanding of how the world was created began to be questioned with the opening of Kew Gardens in 1840, The Great Exhibition at the Crystal palace in 1851 and the publishing of The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin in 1859 amongst other world altering events. This was a great time of change, excitement, experiment, discovery and imagination; the world & how it was viewed was in the process of changing forever!
This week we have pulled Yellow Monday from our colour box, and what a fitting hue for the glorious Spring weather in Sydney.
Yellow Monday can be found amongst other bright & blissful hues within my colour palette Tender Is The Night.
This vibrant punch of yellow reminds me of summer holidays with my siblings and the excitement of finding cicadas and the deafening song they make whilst making our way through the bush; the scent of hot sand & salt water close by.
Yellow Monday is named after the Cicada of the same name. This was one of the rare ones, and a real treat to find. The veins within their wings boast the most beautiful hues of yellow and are a nod back to childhood memories & good times.
Bring the sounds and scents of summer home with a splash of Yellow Monday in your interior. If you’re ready to brighten up a whole room, paint an 1100mm high dado around all of the walls. If you are after something a little more subtle, try painting the treads on your stair well or the chairs around your dining table to add a punch of colour to a previously neutral space. For a real punch, be bold & paint a whole bathroom in it & pair it with some popham tiles – it will always bring a smile to any face on opening the door!
E is for…
It all started with a problem. People wanted to stop that metallic taste or rust getting into the food they prepared with heavy cast iron pots, and happily the practice of enamelling these utensils sprang forward as a solution. Well, this is actually the story of enamel cookware, or enamelware, as I’m sure we all know that the history of using enamel as a decorative and practical material dates way further back than Germany circa 1700s. But not only did this solution cover off the practicalities of high standards of food preparation, but now the look of enamelled cookware has left quite a legacy. I love the smooth, cool surfaces of these pieces from everything to cooking pots & pans to the carafe you see above. I’m always on the look out for such pieces, and have been known to be partial to a marbelled design. I love this about these little known histories, that what often began out of pure necessity, becomes something of beauty.