Latest Posts

Doggie Knits | Wow the Poocherazzi

Is your hound on-trend or are you too embarrassed to be seen in public with your four-legged friend in case of stalking poocherazzi? Unless you’re knitting for a Saint Bernard, it’s a relatively inexpensive exercise producing a garment for your loved one. Here are some stylish knits to preserve the celebrity status of your canine fashionista.

IMG_8853

Pretty as a powderpuff, this stocking stitch pullover with matching hat (along with a multitude of variations) was available on eBay when I first sourced it but has since disappeared – perhaps due to overwhelmingly popularity. Adorable, but kind of weird to have your furball surpass you in cuteness.

IMG_8855

Strike a pose, swag in colour and slimline fit, this garment is cleverly designed with an aerated under passage to allow sensational access for those last minute calls of nature. Take a leaf, humans. Image courtesy of Pinterest.

IMG_8968

The snoods have it. Hail the Prince of Wales who made Fair Isle tank tops fashionable in the 1920s. Named after a tiny island off the Scottish coastline that forms part of the Shetland Islands, the Fair Isle knitting technique is not for the faint-hearted and along with the brand Pringle, shoves Scotland up the ranks of the luxury wool garment market. Image from Pinterest.

IMG_8970

ET GO HOME!! Stripes are all the rage and this colour way is definitely de rigueur – Pale Dogwood is one of Pantone’s top ten colour predictions for this summer. A striped pattern is also an ideal way to use up leftover balls of wool, or so Dorothy (my Mother) says. Image from Pinterest.

Screenshot 2017-11-08 21.01.46

Sheep? Dogs that look like sheep? Sheepdogs? Knitted balaclavas hide a multitude of sins, a hairy chin, a double chin, a slobbery chin and a dog-food encrusted chin, all the while negating heat loss from the balding pate. Image from Pinterest.

Screenshot 2017-11-08 20.56.57And if your furry friend wants some sleepover buddies over Christmas and the New Year, then I’d advise you to whip up a few reindeer snoods and Santa hats for the occasion. Why should your puppy miss out on the dress-up fun? Image from Pinterest.

Interview: Sophie Carnell | Jeweller and Artist

Sophie Carnell is a jewellery maker and artist living and working on Bruny Island, Tasmania, Asutralia who only embarked on a Fine Arts degree in her late thirties and silver smithing fairly recently. She’s the perfect example of how it’s never too late to start a creative practice!

Fascinated by history, the landscape and our connection with the environment, Sophie explores these ideas, often using recycled, upcycled and collected materials in her work that combines jewellery and art and art with jewellery.

Read on to learn more …

sophie sq lg.

Sophie Carnell – jewellery maker and artist living in Tasmania

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

I was born in England and lived there until I was twenty, growing up in the picturesque Cotswolds and rambling free around the countryside as a child. I also lived on a little island off the South West Coast of Ireland. That forever instilled in my heart a love of storm blue oceans, lowering skies, dizzying clifftops and wild coastlines. When I came to Australia I lived for ten years in Southern Queensland, close to Lamington National Park, and then fifteen years ago I moved to Tasmania. Home is now the delicious Bruny Island.

I am definitely a country girl at heart, and to be living in the country with the ocean just down the road … I couldn’t ask for more. I’ve always been a maker and collector although I only started my Fine Arts degree in my late thirties and found silver-smithing six years ago. I wish I had ventured into the arts earlier in life, but I wasn’t confident enough in my abilities. I’m so happy to be in this arena now, it feels like home.

The Ocean is crying,bleeding,dying. Recyceld sterling silver, fishing line, plastic bottle_straws, disposable contact lenses, beachrope, brass, glass beads

‘The Ocean is Crying, Bleeding, Dying’

Describe an ideal working day for you.

Happily for me my workshop is just thirty steps from my front door, which allows for an extra bit of a sleep-in – mornings aren’t my forte!  Work day perfection is being woken up by the magpies warbling away outside my window, sunshine streaming in, being brought a cup of tea in bed (eternal thank yous to Daniel) and then heading into the workshop which overlooks the peaceful Barnes Bay. There are two elements to my work: retail and exhibition. Favourite days are when I have the freedom to mess around with materials and ideas for new exhibition work. When I’m not in exhibition mode, I work five days a week 9-5. Some people find it hard working from home – too many distractions – but I’ve been doing it for ten years now so am pretty disciplined about it.

treasure table

Treasure table

You work with a variety of different materials and make both jewellery and art. Tell us about the different materials you use and how you meld art with jewellery design. When does one become the other, if you know what I mean?

For my retail work, I mainly use recycled sterling silver but for exhibition work I may use anything! For instance, this year I have used ocean debris, disposable contact lenses, beach rope, fishing line, glass and antique books which I have dyed and burnt. What I’m not very good at is sticking with one material. This is probably not the most sensible course of action for me, because it takes a long time to learn the properties and materiality of different components and how to shape and morph them. Once I’ve done it a couple of times I get the itch to move onto something new, but that means I need to spend a long time learning a whole new set of skills.

I am trying to focus my use of materials but exploring and playing with new ones is sometimes too enticing. With my jewellery exhibition work I like to push the boundaries of what is wearable or not. Often the pieces ask: Is it jewellery? Or is it art? Can it be both? I like to make display stands that are incorporated into the works so that those that aren’t as wearable can happily sit in their stands and be viewed as stand-alone artwork.

The Ocean is Bleeding detail

‘The Ocean is Bleeding ‘ detail

What are some of your important tools of trade?

The tool I use every day is my micro-motor. It is awesome, helping me with sanding, shaping, polishing, texturing and engraving.  All my pliers are super important too. I am still using pretty crummy cheap ones, but once they go to plier heaven I’m looking forward to getting some good quality ones. And my hammer … love my hammer. Oh, and my treasure table. I’m not sure if this classifies as a tool or not but I bought it off the side of the road for $100. It’s huge and has glass inlaid in the top so you can see into the drawers below and all my little collections within. It’s great for inspiration.

The Ocean is Bleeding detail2 (1)

‘The Ocean is Bleeding’

What are some of your influences? What other artists, designers, peers and creatives do you admire?

I love the work of Australian jewellers Julie Blyfield and Marian Hosking, for their interpretations of the natural world; Blanche Tilden for her incredible use of glass and movement. The repetitive components Peter Hoogeboom uses in his work really appeals to the collector/categoriser in me. Fundamentally, two big influencers on my creative aesthetic have been my mother and step-mother. My mother made really beautiful homes for us, with very little money – lots of colour and hand-made decor and a really great eye for design. My step-mother was a collector extraordinaire and a real categoriser of colour – from pressed flower petals and buttons to fabrics and wooden spoons. Visiting her was like falling down the rabbit-hole to Alice’s Wonderland.

What project/s or pieces are you working on at the moment? Explain.

I have just recently exhibited in two exhibitions so am back working on retail lines now and trying to streamline that process. I love making spoons and am busy designing some native orchid sets, as well as driftwood and silver ones.

sophie-carnell-spoons

Collection of spoons

Morphing, brooches. Recycled sterling silver, Plastic knives_forks_spoons, cottonbud sticks, pingpongball, coral

‘Morphing brooches’ made from recycled materials

What’s the best thing about living on Bruny Island?

The community, the wildlife, the sea, the fact it’s an island. I like the idea of the island being set afloat and set free from its mainland. I also love the dichotomy of the calm Channel side of the island and then the wild east coast and rugged south coast. There’s a beach for any mood and any occasion. My absolute favourite thing to do is beach combing and rock hopping shorelines – it’s good for the soul.

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

Frozen pizza and watching telly in the bath, not at the same time.

sophie-carnell-bruny-island-series

Jewellery from the Bruny Island series

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

Depressingly, a recent ‘who would have thought’ moment, while researching for the Vanishing Point exhibition on micro-plastics, was when it was explained to me that not only does ingested ocean debris kill sea creatures through starvation and obstruction but also the chemicals that are added to the plastics to make them flexible and long-lasting are absorbed into the creatures’ systems and disrupt hormonal function.  Of course this toxicity works its way up the food chain, so that we, too, can become affected.

Who’d have thought there’s as many as 51 trillion micro-plastic particles littering our seas? That’s 500 times more than stars in our galaxy (according to a United Nations report).

Thanks, Sophie, for an insight into your creative life!

You can find Sophie here.

Visit the Who'd Have Thought store

Repurposed Military-ware

The ultimate in upcycling and repurposing is turning old military items and war-time materials into functional and wearable peacetime pieces. Who’d have thought Jerry Cans, unexploded bombs, shell casings and disarmed nuclear weapon systems could be anything other than unwanted waste?

Danish Fuel

danishfuel-jerry-can-bar-cabinet

Danish Fuel Jerry Can Bar Cabinet

Danish Fuel collects original World War Two Jerry Cans from military surplus stock houses and with a lot of elbow grease breathes new life into them to create Bar Cabinets, First Aid Stations, Bathroom cabinets and Trolley suitcases.

And in case you’re wondering where the name came from, ‘Jerry’ was the slang word used by the British and American armed forces for the Germans during World War II. The can’s original name was ‘Whermacht-Einheitskanister’ , meaning armed forces unit canister and was designed to hold fuel.

danish-fuel-jerry-can-cabinet

Danish Fuel Jerry Can Bathroom Cabinet

Article 22

BANGLE-Arrow-3_1024x1024

Arrow Bangles –  the arrows point forwards without forgetting the past.

Article 22 partners with artisans in off-the-beaten-track places to create modern jewellery with provenance. Their first collection, Peacebomb is jewellery handcrafted in Laos from Vietnam War shrapnel.

Each piece gives back to support traditional Laotian artisan livelihoods, village development, community endeavours and contributes to the Mines Advisory Group to safely clear some of the 80 million unexploded bombs contaminating land in Laos.

love-is-the-bomb-necklace-article-22

Makeshift Accessories

ww2-money-clip

World War Two shell casing money clip with British coin 1944. The projectile would have been used in a long-range naval or artillery weapon, and the casing was most likely brought back as a souvenir of the war.

Devin Johnson crafts metal, such as shell casings of long-range military weapons from the Vietnam War and World War II-era armed forces brass shell casings, into money clips in his sustainable, repurposing business Makeshift Accessories.

vietnam-war-shell-casing-makeshift-accessories

Vietnam War shell casing money clip 1974

From War to Peace

seven-rings-of-peace-earrings-fromwartopeace

Gold-dipped (using recycled precious metals) Seven Rings of Peace Earrings

From War To Peace recycles copper from disarmed nuclear weapon systems to create an  alloy called Peace BronzeTM, from which they cast jewelry and art. Originally the copper was mined in Montana, USA, then used as the cabling that carried launch codes to Minuteman III Nuclear Missiles in the American mid-west. Thanks to disarmament and recycling, that copper now helps launch peace in the 21st Century.

tree-of-life-necklace-fromwartopeace

Tree of Life necklace

I’m sure there are many others doing such great, sustainable work with war-time waste. Let us know if you hear of any!


Visit the Who'd Have Thought store

The Larapinta Trail

There’s nothing quite like climbing red mountains at dawn, showering in green canvas tents with dodgy flaps and “chewing the fat” fireside, under the expanse of a milky blanket of stars. 

I’d never entered the Red Centre. Well, not Australia’s Red Centre anyway. It was high time I connected with the earth beneath me and dropped out of internet range for a stint. So last month with 7 friends, I trekked the Classic Larapinta Trail with company World Expeditions, starting at Alice Springs. All I knew of Alice came from absorbing the movie Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, so I was at least prepared for an abundance of red rocks (minus the cocks in this case). The extreme dryness, extreme heat and extreme cold were foreign to me, so the existence of wildflowers and abundance of bush tucker in this harsh landscape enthralled.

Screen Shot 2017-09-14 at 5.23.55 pm

Our six day expedition followed the line of the Northern Territory’s West MacDonnell Ranges and involved hiking 10-13 kms per day, too easy when your back pack only contains water and blister protection for the day. Our guides clearly had the lions’ share, transporting us, cooking for us, cleaning for us, all the while puffing out historical knowledge like smoke-clouds used in aboriginal tribal communication.

Each night was spent at a purpose-built campsite where hot showers and compostable toilets afforded 5 star desert luxury. Modesty flew out the window, or tent flap more precisely. Environmentally friendly soap, pea straw and the “donkey” (a gas powered water heater) became our closest allies as ego washed away.

The opportunity to grab your swag and sleep under the stars proved inspiring. Many a shooting star was spotted and wished upon, made all the more magic among friends.

Each day we trekked a peaceful pathway in a westerly direction visiting Standley’s Chasm, Serpentine and Ormiston Gorges, punctuated only by a not-so-peaceful 2am wake-up to summit Mount Sonder for sunrise, where we saluted the dawn with some goddess-like yoga…feeling seriously invincible and zen.

Taking time out from the rigours of domestic life and work couldn’t be more rewarding. Immersing yourself in a foreign landscape and surviving the rigours of rock-hopping are one thing, but challenging yourself to listen, observe and learn to be at one with Country is another.