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Environmental Artists | Nature meets waste

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At WHT we love nothing more than artists who can produce sensational bodies of work using naturally occurring materials or even waste products such as plastic bottles, ocean detritus and outmoded CDs as their primary resource.
American stick work artist Patrick Dougherty studied hospital and health administration before returning to North Carolina University to complete a degree in art history and sculpture. Using carpentry skills, he began exploring tree saplings as a sculptural material. Starting with single trees, his work soon evolved to a monumental scale and over the past 30 years, Dougherty has produced more than 250 giant scale artworks and become internationally acclaimed.

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Two beached fish on Botafogo beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil were the marketing tool chosen to promote the UN Conference on Sustainable Development at the Rio+20 in 2012. Made entirely from plastic bottles, the enormous installations were backlit at night to create a vivid light display. Scheduled 20 years on from the original Earth summit in 1992, Rio+20 was “a chance to move away from business-as-usual and to act to end poverty, address environmental destruction and build a bridge to the future.”

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Byron Bay environmental artist John Dahlsen is well known to most Australians. While collecting driftwood in Victoria to produce furniture, he returned with a pile of plastic which he began to experiment with. A celebration of colour, he saw the potential of these vibrant pieces to be worked into an assemblage. Initially his friends thought him bizarre. He describes his art as twofold – there’s the intense beauty in the way nature smooths off his materials, but this comes with a sadness about what is happening to our environment. Five Totems is made from plastic objects found on Australian beaches and from stainless steel. It is housed at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney.

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Bruce Monroe is an English artist renowned for large scale light installations, including a large scale work at Uluru. In this artwork, CDSea, he used 600,000m used CDs from all around the world and installed them with the help of family and friends in Long Knoll Field, Wiltshire in 2010. The inspiration came while at Nielson Beach in Sydney, when the shimmering silver of the sea transported him to his father’s home in Salcombe, Devon, prompting him to think about connectedness. Beautiful…

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Ceramics Masterclass | Photo Gallery

I did a ceramics masterclass recently with the wonderful Sydney-based ceramicist Alana Wilson via Megan Morton’s The School and it was so much fun!

Alana specialises in pieces that look as if they’ve been unearthed from an archaeological dig, particularly because of her special, often experimental, glaze mixes she has perfected over the years. As she says on her website, her primary source of reference and influence are ancient vessels and archaeological artefacts. While it was this ‘look’ that attracted me to her work and the workshop in the first place, I pretty much love all ceramics and have always wanted to give it a go.

Using paper-based clay, a few tools and our hands, we started by making a small Japanese teacup. The technique Alana taught us was coiling, which that has been used for thousands of years in places such as Africa, Greece, China and New Mexico. Basically you build a vessel using rolled strips of clay and moulding and forming it with your fingers, starting from the bottom up.

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One of Alana’s finished teacups in white sits to the left of my upside down unfinished piece.

With my next piece, I decided to go big …

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In the background is one of Alana’s pieces which I was using as inspiration.

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Along the way, we dried our pieces with a heat gun (background right) to harden them and ensure they kept their form. After letting them sit and dry out further for a few days, they were fired in a kiln (see below), which turns them terracotta.

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The next class worked with the glazing. We could choose from a selection of Alana’s secret glazes based on finished examples of her work. As you can see from the pictures below the glaze application looks nothing like the finished article so it was quite hard to imagine how they would end up and knowing how much or how little glaze to brush on.

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I went with a blue-mauve wash with copper accents for my large vessel and black and copper for my Japanese teacup.

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And this was a professional photo taken at the studio …

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Thanks Alana and Megan for the workshop!

And please do check out Alana’s Visual Diary and her Instagram.

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Lime-iced donut studs by Kate and Rose

Interview: Suzanne Anderson | Tea-party inspired jewellery

How wonderful to engage in a creative life fulled by a penchant for donuts and high tea parties! But Suzanne Anderson of Kate and Rose has done just that. She has forged a rather unlikely business from making polymer clay foodie treats, vintage teacups and bespoke vintage upcycled cake stands. It is her iced donut studs that have proved such a hit, she can’t make enough of them. And I certainly can’t think of a better way to indulge a donut addiction than by wearing them. Meet Suzanne …

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Suzanne with one of her children

Please introduce yourself – tell us about your background and how you’ve got to where you are today.

Before I started my family I worked professionally, mainly in contract roles in telecommunications, in a variety of roles such as market research, project management and as a business analyst. I worked in London and also in New Zealand, and finally settled back in Melbourne in 2001. After I had my two girls, I decided I didn’t want to go back to this type of work. It also didn’t really suit the demands of my family. So I decided to work towards a more creative life.

I started my business in late 2011 upcycling vintage items e.g. cake plates into cake stands and teacups into teacup candles. Over time I decided I wanted to add some jewellery to my small trinket stands for display at markets. It seemed appropriate that they fit into the tea party theme e.g. donuts, cupcakes etc. Over time these pieces became more popular than my vintage items – hence the slight shift in my business.

Chocolate donut studs by Kate and Rose

Chocolate donut studs by Kate and Rose

When and why did you begin exploring with the idea of making tea-party inspired jewellery?

I think I added chocolate sprinkle donut studs to ‘The High Tea Party’ event in July 2013. I also sold little polymer clay cupcakes too. The chocolate donuts were such a hit – even before the donut trend. To be honest donut studs are still one of my best sellers and I have added many colours of the rainbow since. The cupcakes and donuts seemed like a good fit with my tea party theme. Plus, I’m just partial to a good donut.

Vanilla ice cream cone studs

Can you share a bit about the creative process …
Where do your ideas come from?

Usually in bed late at night, or when I’m in a cafe and looking at treats like macaroons, or even travelling. I don’t think I have any online now, but sometimes I set an Eiffel tower with a macaroon, jar of Nutella, or a bread stick (this came about after a trip to Paris in 2015). Some pieces have come out of everyday life. Like breakfast: setting a polymer clay toast with jam-like resin hanging from a miniature cup of tea set on a necklace.

Croissant studs by Kate and Rose

How do you like to work?

Messily. I have to fit it between appointments with my daughters which can be a little hectic. So I often leave little piles of half-finished jobs/work around the house which I slowly finish off over time. I also stock a number of shops, so I juggle online orders with retail orders. I love getting the chance to go out and visit stockists when time permits. Some great ideas also come from customer requests.

What inspires you?

Food (obviously), other makers, being a mum (my kids can have great ideas). I also believe there are all types of work and you can choose a more creative life. You should always try and find passion and joy in the things that you do. I love that this job lets me be flexible around my family.

Watermelon studs by Kate and Rose

What are some of your important tools of trade?

Clay, fimo, resin (for the sprinkles, coffee fills etc), findings (lots of cups of coffee and tea), other makers, Instagram – looking at food accounts and junk food trends, especially in the US.

What would be your ideal tea party?

Putting together a children’s high tea party. I actually made my first tiered stand when my daughters turned 3 and 5, as back then you couldn’t really find high tea stands. I thought, how hard would it be to make one? We had a fairy high tea party. My version of the perfect high tea would be lots of vintage china, tiered stands, lovely treats and champagne and pretty pink champagne flutes while wearing my prettiest tea party studs.

Banana studs by Kate and Rose

It’s not very cool, but I really like …

Reading lots of books, both non-fiction and fiction from topics that affect my life like ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) to books where I can totally escape (I’m more your stay-at-home girl than your go-out-and-party girl). Although I’m always happy to go for a coffee (with or without friends).

Have you ever had a ‘who’d have thought’ moment?

I’m still completely blown away by how popular donut studs were and have been. I find it a little amusing that sometimes I’m actually ahead of some trends. I added avocados to my store last year. Not tea party but I thought they looked cute. Yes, another donut moment.

Thanks so much Suzanne! You can find Suzanne and Kate and Rose Vintage on Etsy.

Avocado studs by Kate and Rose

Avocado studs by Kate and Rose

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Transform our world | United Nations Sustainability Development Goals

The United Nations has set down 17 aspirational global goals for a more equitable, greener and healthier planet by the year 2030. The Sustainability Development Goals are a universal “call to action” to end poverty and hunger, obliterate gender inequality, triumph over climate change and improve clean water and sanitation globally, to name a few.

17-global-goalsFor change to occur, it is essential that companies, governments, and individuals collaborate to work towards making an impact. It’s the small things that count such as turning off lights, drying clothes in the sunshine, and saving on paper by using a notebook instead of printing screeds of documents from your printer. We’ve heard it all before but cutting down on waste by composting, using a recyclable coffee cup, shopping vintage, buying “funny fruit”, and walking instead of driving, are small and achievable adjustments to our daily routines. They’re all within our humble capabilities.

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When governments and corporations get onboard, then change can have a more significant impact. Our parent company Sproutworld has opted to focus on improving education and has pledged to donate pencils to children’s homes throughout the world. For every 8 pack of Sprout Pencils sold online, one pencil is donated to this cause.

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Sproutworld has also established a campaign that uses Sprout Pencils as a tool to demonstrate commitment to the SDGs, by etching the 17 goals on Sprout Pencils. If you or your organisation is focusing on one particular goal, then gifting Sprout with the associated etching, can raise awareness of the global goals and hopefully stimulate some positive action.

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If you’d like more information on this campaign and are considering such an initiative in your workplace or at home, don’t hesitate to contact us at Who’d Have Thought.