Inside Out (Australia)

Gemma Patford

ThisT Melbourne maker and authora crafts playful rope vesselsv and handmade goods

- EDITED BY BELINDA KEMP Follow Gemma on Instagram: @gemmapatfo­rd.

Have H you always been creative? My parents gave me a lot of free rrein to cook, get messy and play. I was lucky to have older siblings who hhelped me finish my creative projects. When I went to school, I leaned ttowards science and maths because that’s what I thought you were ssupposed to do. I’ve forgotten most things from my science degree. What W led you to working with rope? I dabbled around making felt jjewellery, silly-looking homewares and other things. I went mad there ffor a while and started making huge hamburger scatter cushions. TThey were actually pretty popular, but when a friend introduced me aas the ‘hamburger lady’, I knew the burger cushions had done their dash. I was given a beautiful Vicki Fowler basket and her use of fabric and colour really spoke to me. At that time, Harvest Workroom in Melbourne was hosting basket-weaving classes by Maryann Talia Pau. I started Googling, reading and sampling, and it grew from there. Could you tell us about your production process? My baskets are made using an electric sewing machine and cotton rope. Some of my first pieces were very floppy and not at all practical. I started working with harder, neutral rope, which made the vessels more durable. I experiment­ed with watercolou­rs and noticed the cotton rope absorbed the paints wonderfull­y and created the effect you see in the pieces now. I’ve moved into using more vibrant acrylic paints. Does your home reflect the style of your work? My husband Duncan and I are in the process of renovating our new home in Melbourne. Think polished floorboard­s and terrazzo tiles: our style is a mixture of things found in op shops and items we’ve had custom-made for the space. We have a few luxury items, such as art and a solid table that we can dance on, but largely we don’t own anything too precious. There’s nothing in our house that we don’t enjoy so, in that way, our home is an honest reflection of our style. You released a book last year, Roped In. What’s the best project for a beginner to tackle? If you can sew a straight line, I would recommend starting with the rope placemats or coasters. If sewing isn’t your thing, then I would suggest starting with the knots, and making a set of friendship knot earrings. What’s in the pipeline for the rest of the year? The first thing I need to do is set up my new studio. Then I plan on really investing a lot of time in making my own rope – hand-dyeing fibres and creating unique rope to make a new, totally different range.

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