The Makers: Workshop

My sister is a crafty devil.

I had no idea of the extent of her work until I saw the mountain of collaged boards - literally, piled over a meter high, that's a mountain, right? - in a basket in her studio. The woman is prolific! not to mention talented, and modest.

I think she's adopted.

The Makers

My family is creative. We sew and we cook, we garden and we preserve, we paint and we quilt. We make things.

We're also all over the country, with the main core of talent residing in and around The Farm in Taranaki, New Zealand. And they have all the fun there - curry competitions, fossicking adventures, painting furniture - and it sometimes feels like the rest of us are on the fringes: too far North or too far West, miss all that comradery and support.

So we started a closed Facebook page and called ourselves The Makers.

On our page we show our work, we ask questions, and generally support each other. This page is relatively new, but by crikey, it's a wonderful connection to each other.

A Retreat

Online is great, and supportive, and works for us for the every day - but we have so much more fun when we're together, so naturally, the idea of having weekend retreats at The Farm has come up. A weekend where we in Auckland can drive down to Taranaki, and my cousin might be visiting from her homebase in Victoria, Australia. We coud all get together for a couple of days where we make stuff.

One might say a quilting bee, or a sewing circle, but with more wine, and lots more food.

At the retreat, those who love to bake, bake. Those who love to draw, draw. Those who love to garden, well, you get the picture. We might also have workshops where one of us could share expertise with each other - maybe we cold all learn to make felted cushions, or stitch a small quilt, or decorate a piece of funiture. We could also swap our skills - I'll paint you a dozen labels if you give me a jar of blackberry jam.

The Workshop

The other weekend when I was at The Farm, we had an impromtu workshop. A prototype, if you will - though that was more an afterthought. We mostly just got really excited about getting ourselves covered in glue and ink.

My aforementioned sister creates collages, and my Aunty Pat wanted to give it a go. I already had some drawing assignments promised, so I sat at the end of the kitchen table with my 2B pencil and sketchbook in hand, while Jo loosed her collage collection on and an almost overwelmed Pat -

They got started, ripping paper, gluing layers, modeling paste. Stamping, drying, dying, smudging, smearing until I couldn't take it anymore and had to join in.

The really great thing about the day was that the work could be left for important things like looking after Granddad, and cooking lunch, and talking to Marlee and such. The kitchen table was a workhorse for our endeavours. Jo had lots of ideas and suggestions with the battle cry of "More On!" when both my Aunt and myself thought we were finished. (such Noobs!).

We had a super great time.

Links to people to learn from and experience art 'n' crafty things:

Kelly Rae Roberts

Donna Downy

Arty Em

Keri Smith


Feijoa Jelly

Making jams, jellies, chutneys, and preserving in general, is so satisfying.

To make feijoa jelly really couldn't be any more straightforward. Get a great pile of washed feijoas and cover with water in a large pot. After boiling for a couple of hours the fruit will be extremely soft. Strain the contents of the pot twice - first through a kitchen seive, then again through muslin. Don't squeeze or press the fruit while seiving/straining.

With this strained liquid back in a clean pot, add one cup of sugar for every cup of liquid. Add the juice of one lemon. Stirring, bring the liquid to a simmer. Continue to stir occassionally - skim any scum off the surface of the liquid throughout the cooking time. Test as you would jam, and take from the heat once it is ready.

Pour into sterilised jars and cool. Label and take photos - blog and tweet about your gorgeous feijoa jelly!