What an amazing wealth of talent there is to be found in our region!
The Gympie Rotary Ancient Crafts, Rare Trades Expo, showcasing a host of skills of traditional artisans of heritage craft, for one great weekend 1 – 2 July, 2023, in and around the Pavilion, Gympie Showgrounds. It’s shaping up to be huge!
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Say g’day to the Makers:
Over 60 traditional artisans of heritage craft gather to showcase their skills, share their knowledge and their passion in their craft. They will be demonstrating throughout the event.
Plus Craft Beer: A range of craft beer to discover, taste and enjoy!
Plus Artisan Heritage Markets: Most of the exhibitors will have their handmade wares for sale onsite – a chance to pick up a unique, handcrafted and quality gift – for yourself or someone special! – straight from it’s creator. And just in time for Christmas!
Over 60 Heritage Makers share their trade and their passion:
Come along, meet the Smiths:
The Blacksmiths – In medieval times, the blacksmith was essential to every town, producing weapons, nails, furniture, locks, horseshoes, and armor, but, as with many industries, the demand for blacksmiths ebbed away as the Industrial Revolution took hold and factories began mass-produced ironwork. The art of blacksmithing slowly became almost obsolete.
Happily, in a modern resurgence of this ancient art, blacksmiths today are seen as artists, proudly upholding the traditions and history of blacksmithing, taking their trade into the future.
Artist blacksmith Wayne Schmidt, of Cracked Anvil Forge, will be bringing his historically accurate blacksmith equipment – his travelling forge and 100-year old bellows, hand cranks and a host of well-worn tongs and hammers – to create a heritage blacksmith shop onsite at the event. He will be forging items that would fit into any period of time in our history. Faithful to traditional blacksmithing methods and techniques, Wayne will provide a glimpse into the world of the blacksmith of old.
Presented by Bendigo Bank.
and meet Blacksmith Geoff – A regular demonstrator at Gympie’s Woodworks Museum, Geoff gets all fired up! Bringing along his portable forge, he’ll demonstrate blacksmithing and show a range of items being produced.
Meet Jim, 3rd generation blacksmith and vintage toymaker– a huge – huge! – collection of vintage metal memorabilia, including handforged toys, gadgets & gizmos, signs etc from renowned classic car enthusiast/ blacksmith/ welder and collector, Jim Walsh. Jim’s been busy welding and creating some new pieces – come and have a chat!
Meet the Silversmith – The oldest known piece of tooled or silversmithed silver dates to 600 BC – and many of the tools used in ancient times are still used by the silversmiths of today: tongs, hammers, blow pipes with clay nozzle, used to shape drinking and eating utensils, jewelry, armour, vases and artpieces. Meet the silversmiths from Gympie’s Gem Club and discover the addictive – and ancient – art of silversmithing. The Club’s lapidarians will also be there, cutting and polishing stone. With it’s roots in prehistory, early humans began fashioning stone tools and weapons. In time, these techniques were also used for items of personal adornment. Lapidary today encompasses four art forms: tumbling, cabbing, faceting, and carving, using stone and gem materials. Meet the lapidarists from Gympie’s Gem Club, catch their enthusiasm – a dedicated group with a wealth of knowledge to share.
and also working over the flame, meet the Glassworker: Lampworking, is a form of making glass beads that dates back to the 5th century BC, when beadmakers used the flame of an oil lamp to heat glass so that it could be moulded into shapes.
When Michele Bevis discovered lampworking about sixteen years ago, she was mesmerised, captivated by the viscous glass. She knew she had found a method of creating her own glass beads for her bespoke jewellery designs.
Now under the name emubeads, Michele’s handmade glass beads are individually forged by layering heated glass, shaping, mixing glass with metal and powder inclusions, sometimes combined with her hand forged silver components, all combined with exquisite artistry.
and meet the Woodies:
Gympie & District Woodworkers Club – All weekend, the “woodies” demonstrated many aspects of woodworking, from age-old pyrography, woodturning and scrollsawing to handcarving and spoonsmithing. On show will be all manner of wooden treasures, from little “comfort birds” to guitars, harps and more.
and spoonsmith Deirdre Wilson – As one of the “woodies”, spooner Deirdre Wilson lovingly handcarves intricate and detailed Welsh Love Spoons. A centuries old tradition in Wales, young men used to whittle a love spoon to give to their beaus, carving symbols of love, hearts, Celtic knots, bells and horseshoes. Be sure to ask about workshops.
Master Woodcarver & Fretworker – Bruce Weier is a renowned master craftsman in all aspects of wood carving, turning, fretwork and antique restoration. On the rare occasions when he isn’t working on commissions from around the world, he’s busy creating intricate and beautifully detailed signature works, releasing the varied flora and fauna hidden within each piece of wood. His aim is to continue to create wood carvings in the style of famous 18th century English carver, Grinling Gibbons.
Presented by Bendigo Bank.
Spoons by Jeff – A twisted stick with a odd protruding lump, a gnarly knobbly burl, a battered offcut from a cracked stump – all the stuff from which Jeff’s inventive, elegant spoons and delicate bowls are so beautifully crafted. Traditionally functional or irregular, wonderfully textural and tactile, his works are sought after by collectors and galleries throughout Australia.
Whittler – John Gerritsen was a man of the land. No matter where his working life took him – remote areas in the Gulf and the outback, he was never without his penknife is his pocket… in a quiet moment, to pick up a piece of wood and start whittling was as natural as breathing.
Over the last 30-odd years working with wood, John has notched up an incredible record – carving literally thousands of life-sized dogs, cats and birds, and whittling many more miniatures. He delights in finding a piece of driftwood or dry camphor laurel and working with it’s natural form to create animals and birds. “It’s all about the attitude, expression and body language” he says with a smile.
Penmaker – Mark Wilson retired and found a new passion in life, turning pens and making hand crafted boxes. His attention to detail produces beautiful works of art. He runs courses on pen making at The Gympie and District Woodworkers Club.
Shinglesplitter – Shingles & Shakes – Col is a regular demonstrator of shingle splitting at Gympie’s Woodworks Museum. In our pioneer days, rooves were first covered with bark, and later with shingles split from a then ready supply of materials. In recent times, even the tools are in the nearly forgotten past. Col demonstrates the what and the how of this once essential craft.
The Australian Buschcraft Show – Consummate showman Stan Ceglinski’s power-packed shows inspire a love for age-old traditions of all types of bushcraft. An award-winning bushcrafter with a deep love and knowledge of the skills of yesteryear, he will take you on a sentimental journey into our heritage and our past, passing on a host of knowledge that our country must not lose…. traditions like shingle cutting, bark hut building, split post fencing, broad axeing and cross cut sawing and more.
Over the years, Stan’s shows have been wowing audiences at renowned timber and heritage events in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane – he says “In the beginning I was a little technical, a friend told me: bullshit a bit! We were a poor Polish family, couldn’t afford bullshit. You know, I searched for the great Aussie Bullshit for 2 years before I found it! It’s like a seasoning you apply to a story – like putting salt, pepper and butter on a steamed choko – makes it taste better! Well, bullshit colours up the story!”
Stan’s superb wood and bushcraft skills, a rollicking sense of humour, (plus, Stan adds, my good looks – if I don’t tell you who will?!) – and the bull****! – have combined to make a winning recipe. With the grandest sense of showmanship, his power-packed shows have been delighting audiences, of all ages, for many years.
Presented by Bendigo Bank.
and the Luthiers – not to be missed!:
Luther & Sensory Harpmaker – Bruce Walker’s shed tells all about his love of woodwork – on benches cluttered with tools and sawdust lay pieces of beautifully crafted guitars, ukeleles, intricately inlaid boxes, carvings and more. From the rafters hang a forest of turned chair legs, scrolled posts and rough planks, all in various stages of refinement. A talented artisan and woodwork tutor, Bruce is renowned for his sensory harps, which help in healing through musical therapy and the sensation of vibrations for the elderly and informed.
Hart’s Harps – Ziko Hart, of Hart’s Harps, is a creator of bespoke hand-made specialist instruments, crafted from a combination of traditional and modern durable materials such as hemp composite. His unique designs are inspired by instruments both ancient and cutting edge, from all corners of the globe. He dreams of producing diverse and eclectic rhythms, reminiscent of other cultures, that step outside the conventional Western musical range. Passionate in researching traditional and vintage harps, Ziko is involved in their restoration.
Ziko and his display of instruments, including his latest creations – hemp bodied harps – can be seen in the Pavilion.
Meet Big Stan – Watch – or join in! – the jam session at Stan’s onsite stall
Using just a lump of timber, a drill and an axe, Stan can quickly knock up anything from a 3-legged stool to an elaborate musical instrument… and then play it. With a love of traditional country blues, he’ll be playing “musical interludes” on his hand made guitars at his stall throughout the event, and havin’ a ball… and if anyone in the audience can play, he will encourage them to join in for a jam.
It’s a real show. But who’ll be minding the shop? “Well,” says Stan, “I’ll need a couple of check-out chicks…. not ones with push-up bras, but blokes over 70 who just love life.”
Stan will be exhibiting a selection of his guitars as well as finger boards and necks at Gympie Rotary’s Ancient Crafts, Rare Trades Expo. He’ll have beautifully crafted unique 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 stringed guitars on show, his hubcap and biscuit tin guitar and yes, that original appalachian dulcimer.
He will also have a huge selection of craft wood, various timber slabs and acoustic timbers on offer – as well as great advice, delivered with lots of good cheer, good music and a good belly laugh.
“You gotta love life”
Presented by Bendigo Bank.
Wool, wheat, & fibre weavers:
Basketweaver – Basketry artist Julia Kitto combines nature’s inspiration, imagination and the beauty of raw plant fibre with traditional basketry techniques. Her woven works are mainly created from locally sourced plant life such as lomandra, philodendron, cordyline, palms, cats claw, jacaranda, agapanthus, lilies, banana, flax and more, creating and playing with a wonderful mix of fibres and natural dyes. Julia is an award-winning artist who enjoys sharing her craft through tutoring, exhibiting and also commissions Australia-wide.
Corn Dolly Making (Wheat Plaiting) – The art of Corn Dolly making goes back thousands of years, when it was thought that a “Spirit of Fertility” lived in, and protected the cornfields. To preserve this spirit at harvest time, and ensure the success of next year’s harvest, a corn dolly was made for the spirit to take refuge in over the winter months. Today, it is nearly a forgotten art.
Accomplished craftswoman, Shona, taught herself this ancient craft, also known as Wheat Plaiting, while living on a wheat farm in the 70s… all her materials were right at her door!
Over the years, she mastered a variety of techniques, including checkerboarding, twining and rope-making, and now is in great demand as a tutor and demonstrator. Her achievements include repeated guest appearances at a number of Bribane’s Chelsea Flower Shows, and a guest spot on a Channel 10 documentary.
Spinners & Weavers – Ros Evans, the Foxy Felter, is a keen spinner and weaver, using wools from her own alpacas raised by hand on her Gympie property. Interesting mixes of wools create lovely soft weavings, like the scarf pictured below made from alpaca and bamboo.
Felter – Belle began her artistic journey as a painter. In 2006, she attended a workshop on handmade felting – for her, it was an epiphany. “I could see from the workshop that I could work in 2-D or 3-D formats. That I could play with colour, with texture, with form. So I began to play.”
Since then, Belle has continued to learn and experiment with felting techniques and fabric dyeing. Taking inspiration from her surroundings, Belle now creates masterful 3D felted pieces. “I draw very much on nature. My garden, which more often than not is a jungle. The surrounding bushland, the tree bark, leaves, birds, insects, rocks. It’s all fascinating.”
Whipmaker – Over 20 years ago, Bill Glasgow strolled into a saddler’s shop to buy a plaited belt. He walked out with a Ron Edwards hand book on belt plaiting, a pair of nickel rings and enough lace to make a 36inch belt. Two years later, he branched into whip making, using Edward’s book to plait his first four strand red hide whip. He went on to work closely with expert Maurice Doohan, gaining invaluable experience and an understanding of good whip work and what goes where – he continues to pass on helpful tips to his students. Now, with several awards including a Dame Mary Durack Award, under his beautifully crafted belt, Bill demonstrates his skill and exhibits whips and belts at heritage fairs nationally.
Leatherworker – For sixty-four years, Chris Matthews looked at an old leather and pitch tankard he kept on his mantlepiece, inherited through his mothers’ family in England. After retirement from a life on the land, he spent quite some time researching the origins of the mug, first used in the middle Ages, and how it was created. Inspired, he bought the required tools, thread, the accessories and a hide and then he went to work, immediately enjoying the tactile feel of the leather.
As the number of his finished products grew, so did his expertise. He began creating mugs, jacks and water bottles, each unique and completely handcrafted, while remaining true to his firm commitment to stay as close as possible to the original Medieval design. His only concession is using health approved Resin for waterproofing rather than Tar.
Today, Chris’s products are in demand and have gone as far as New Zealand, South Africa, United States and England…. a lost art revived.
Meet the makers of heritage arts:
Horn and Italian pewterware – The horn industry is centuries old, the skills being passed down and added to over the generations. Crofters Craft flatware is created by the sixth and seventh generations of an Australian cattle family.
A hobby of breeding Texas Longhorns led owner Ross to an interest in polishing the horns…. and a weekend workshop with John Trier introduced him to pewter. After years of honing his skills on horn and pewter, Ross now creates exquisite, unique pieces of beauty and function using fine Italian pewter and Australian horn.
Every piece is handcrafted and unique. His pewter objects may be hand cut, planished, pressed, spun onto a mould or soldered as required. Final shaping is done by hand & eye, before being sanded and highly polished or satin finished.
Ross’s eye for detail and ability to produce a high quality finished item has elite galleries throughout Australia and international enthusiasts ordering and selling his horn and pewter creations.
Ceramicist Kay Wright has a passion for experimenting in alternative-firing techniques, using locally sourced organic matter – gum leaves, bark, fruit peel, sawdust, banana tree leaves, hay, feathers, seaweed, macadamia nut shells, egg shells, pandanus fruit, palm leaves, anything that she find lying on the ground on her Lake Weyba property – mixed with minerals and oxides in the firing process, The serendipitous nature and uncertainty of this process means the results are often unpredictable, sometimes surprising but always unique.
While inspired with saggar firings, she finds the process of Raku firing equally as exciting, unpredictable and dynamic – not knowing what the outcome will be drives her to keep going with her craft.
Papermaker – A chance introduction to the art of papermaking in 1978 sparked a life-long passion in Dion Channer, then based in Italy. There, he practised this ancient craft, learning the traditional methods used over thousands of years. His skill was further honed in mills around Europe and Tasmania, and then the opportunity to work in a Japanese mill making paper for calligraphy and traditional paper screens perfected his craft. He has even mastering the making of papyrus, as the ancient Egyptians did. Now a master papermaker, Dion has exhibited his exquisite papers around the world, finally establishing his studio near Gympie Queensland, where he can often be found sourcing and preparing his raw materials, using various types of cellulose, plant derived, fibres – stripping mulberry bark for pulp or shredding linen for fibre – and creating exquisite artpieces from miniatures, writing paper, paper for limited edition books to major art installations, room dividers and sculptures.
Bookbinder – In a perfect pairing, at this year’s event, Dion will demonstrate the 2,000-year old art of bookbinding using his handcrafted papers. In this digital age, this is another craft that is under threat – using traditional methods, Dion is one of a small number dedicated to preserving this beautiful craft. One book at a time, each unique, bound books are now seen as works of art in their own right.
Mosaics – The earliest known mosaics were found in a Mesopotamian temple dating back to the 3rd millennium BC. Made up of ivory, seashells, and stones, these decorative, colourful pictorials laid the groundwork for this artform, establishing a craft that was to continue on for thousands of years into the future. Sue Purnell creates individual, originally designed and hand-crafted mosaic pieces, with breathtaking patterns brought to life when light is passed through each tiny handcut piece of coloured glass.
Leadlighter – With a history spanning a thousand years, leadlighting has its origins in the Roman and Byzantine eras. By the late Middle Ages, the profession of domestic leadlighter was common across Europe, and by the late 1800s, decorative leadlighting had became a very fashionable feature of most homes and public buildings.
At this time, in Australia, this medium started to feature in public buildings, with a strong focus on our flora and fauna, as seen at the Sydney Town Hall (1880s) and the complex windows of Sydney’s Central Railway Station (1901).
Nelley, a leadlighter with over 25 years experience, creates designs also inspired by Australian flora and fauna, and her love of the Australian bush – its amazing colours and textures. While incorporating as much old repurposed glass as possible, she hand selects each individual piece for a one of a kind design, using both lead and copperfoil techniques.
Ropemaker – The origins of ropemaking go back thousands of years. An early ropemaking tool, dating from 40,000 years ago, was made from a simple piece of ivory, with four aligned holes carved into it – the holes used for threading through plant fibres, the ivory then continually twisted to form rope. While rope had many essential purposes – hauling (eg the building of the Pyramids), fishing nets, lashing logs together for shelter – all critical to man’s progression, it was the rigging of sailing ships which required the greatest quantities of strong, large ropes.
Malcolm Jinkson first saw ropemaking about 10 years ago, in Biloela – “an old bloke”, he says, “using a traditional rope maker”. He copied the machine… learnt the craft… and now does demonstrations at events and festivals throughout Queensland. Plying 9 strands of bailing twine, he can make whatever length rope is needed, the only limitation, since it is all done by hand, is “running out of puff doing the winding!”
Vintage Motorcycles – The Historic Motor Cycle Club of Queensland (HMCCQ) is an enthusiasts’ Club who take pride in keeping motorcycles 30 years and older, on the road. The objectives of the HMCCQ are to encourage proper restoration and preservation of Veteran, Vintage and Historic motorcycles. Members of the Gympie branch will be powering up at this years event!
Lacemakers – with it’s exact origin in dispute, historians at least agree that the late 16th century marked a rapid development in lacemaking, when lace came into it’s own, dominating trendes in both fashion and home decor. The Fraser Coast Lacemakers will be exhibiting and demonstrating this exquisite art form all weekend in the Pavilion.