Elise Cameron-Smith is a dreamer, and crafts whimsical wooden treasures to carry these dreams & stories into your homes. We were lucky to house her fleet of miniature ships at The Society Inc. warehouse earlier this year, and we always have some pretty copper foiled arrows on hand.
Her little creations carry big ideas: new adventures, grand seafaring voyages, journeys, and quests into self-discovery. An avid reader, she is a wordsmith as much as a craftswoman, and here, she tells us her story.
Can you describe in detail your workspace and your location?
I'm really lucky to work in a shared workshop space with three incredible legends that I met whilst studying Fine Furniture Making at the Sturt School For Wood. We are right down the South end of Wollongong, on Swan Street and we love visitors!
Who or what keeps you inspired?
My beautiful friends and family are a real inspiration; all of them are so special and strong. I am extraordinarily lucky to be surrounded by such fantastic creative people. I find inspiration in fairy tales, pirates, parrots, explorers, daredevils, TED Talks, goddesses, mermaids, mischief-makers, costumes, monsters, and princesses… I also go on a lot of short surf trips; I find I really need to remove myself from my home environment to fully switch off the work side of my brain. So just a night away, out in the bush, down the south coast is so rejuvenating and always heaps of fun. Then I can come back and go crazy and get heaps of work done! It's a nice little cycle…
Does your location inspire your art?
I live in a little seaside suburb just North of Wollongong called Towradgi. I've just moved here and I'm still settling in but absolutely loving my new house. The ocean is where I draw a huge amount of inspiration for my work, but also where a draw a huge amount of happiness and general well being.
Describe your artistic process.
I make miniature boats that look a little bit like birds; they float on dreams and magic rather than water though… They are made from beautiful timbers, with rawhide sails and detailed with brass & copper rivets. Each and every boat is unique and has a name, story and spirit. I also make arrows with recycled timbers, copper and feathers that I find on my adventures and travels. Again, each and every arrow is individual.
They both symbolise moving forward, on an exciting quest or new direction and I think this is what people really connect with.
Which Instagram accounts do you find yourself looking at every day?
I love Instagram, there are some seriously amazing and inspiring people doing awesome stuff, and Instagram gives you an opportunity to connect and vibe off these legends.
@shipwrightskills - For all things boat building
@tmogy - Amazing handmade animals
@_hamburglar - Sensational surf images
@kookslams - Good laughs!
@tasmania - My new favourite travel destination
@thereedsmith - Woven wonders and really beautiful story telling
@sa_rips - Oceans like you've never seen them
@marcoterenzi - Miniature tools, and seriously miniature…
@sibellacourt - Of course!
@juz_kitson - Awesome and unexplainable, you'll have to look…
What is your earliest memory of your craft?
On my first day at Sturt where I was studied Fine Furniture Making, it was January 2012 and I was extremely overwhelmed. I had absolutely no experience in woodwork what so ever, and as the teacher was demonstrating the band saw I found myself slowing backing away from the machine with out even realising. It was all a bit scary, but I got on with it!
How do you greet the day?
I wake up super early, always before the sun. I'll drink coffee and decide whether to surf before or after going to work…
What is currently on your bookshelf?
I'm always at Wollongong Library and usually reading a couple of books at once. I just finished 'For The Term Of His Natural Life' by Marcus Clarke. I really got swept away in the trials and tribulations of poor old Rufus Dawes… Think I need to read it again. I'm halfway through 'The First Dismissal' by Luke Slattery, which is all about Governor Macquarie and is super interesting.
Photos by Citizens of Style.