craft

HOUTENPLANK - Melanie Muddle by Kian West

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Melanie Muddle

Creator & Plank Enthusiast

By Kian West

WHEN YOUR EMAIL SIGNATURE INCLUDES THE PHRASE ‘PLANK ENTHUSIAST’, YOU DEFINITELY HAVE MY ATTENTION. AND SO BEGAN A PLAN TO CATCH UP WITH MELANIE FROM WOODWORKING OUTFIT HOUTENPLANK TO SEE WHERE THE ENTHUSIASM HAPPENS IN HER REDHEAD WORKSHOP.

MELANIE IS ONE OF A HAND-SELECTED TEAM ABOUT TO APPEAR AT ‘THE IMPOSSIBLE’ MARKET AT THE EDWARDS, SO WE GOT A FEW DETAILS ABOUT THAT, AS WELL AS WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A MAKER, WINNING THE FIRST HOME BEAUTIFUL UNEARTHED AWARD, AND ONE OF MEL’S FAVOURITE GETAWAY LOCATIONS…

Houtenplank - Plank enthusiast

So this is where it all happens? Yes. The workshop is pretty empty at the moment! I've had like, I don't know, 800 metres of timber come through and out the other side on pallets to deliver down for this particular project [winning Home Beautiful’s Design Unearthed competition], so that was full on. Mass-production – overrated, it turns out! [Laughs]

So awesome opportunity with the Home Beautiful thing that has happened to me – yeah, just reminded me to be true to who you are and what you do, and still being a local garage-based business is kind of really important.

Can you walk me through what winning has meant? So basically they [Home Beautiful] run a competition, and they’re looking for someone like myself who is just a small maker that has the potential to be pushed out across the national magazine. So you win $10K and the chance to do this collaborative project. They just placed an order of two different Planks that we specifically designed together. So now they’re managing all the logistics and the freight, all of that stuff. That was a relief. Now they basically sell it through all of their channels overall. Awesome for me as a small maker, awesome for them as a big mainstream, because they’re all trying to do what you [Mirage] do, which is connect with local [people] and be relevant. hout04

I get the impression you didn't grow up in Newcastle? I grew up in Lemon Tree Passage, actually. My dad is an oyster farmer out there and I grew up there, went to uni – I'm a dietician. So I worked in that health field for a fair while, but dietetics wasn't my thing, very channelled and particular. But I have always lived in Newcastle – commuted to work when I worked in Sydney, on a regular basis.

So this seems like a much more creative position than some of your previous work? Yeah, well [I was] setting up businesses within Sanitarium, a whole setup of brand and everything that goes with that. I still had some creative kind of leverage in that, and I realised that actually I am someone that needs to be a little more creative in my day-to-day to feel fulfilled, and some of the reporting to boards was… not what I looked forward to. Working for yourself, as you'd know, is pretty liberating and also you can't blame anyone else [laughs].

So we just spoke about this award – can you elaborate on the details, like how many entries, the process...? They [Home Beautiful] ran a social media competition, where people had a limited amount of space [for] one photo of a product and a product synopsis. There were two sides to the award: the side where the magazine select a winner, and a people's choice award. So that runs through social media – all the people who enter trying to get their friends and family, community, voting for them.

I'm not 100% sure on the numbers, but it looked to be between 100 and 150 products that people put up. Huge range, from ‘Look what I found on the side of the road and made!’ to beautiful lighting and other amazing pieces. In the end I figured there were probably 15 businesses really in the running to win the big award. Of course, the big part was [the magazine] being able to produce something that was in the price range that people could afford to buy. Also looking for a brand that they would like to sit together with... Then they did a whole heap of photography for the project.

Was it a sense of validation? Oh, yeah! I questioned if my product was good enough to put into the competition, so... I'm not a woodworker, I'm just learning. There is a lot of self-doubt as a maker.

What's next? Definitely revealing some things... I might be able to get my stuff into prop shops and that kind of thing. I'd also like to pursue the whole food styling, food photographer kind of thing. [It’s] just made me realise that being a maker is awesome, but I don't want to get bogged down into being in the garage ‘making’ for hours.

You have a small family, a young family – is it like working on a complete cycle? There is possibly another blog on the horizon.

If someone came to visit you in Newcastle, where is a must-take-them spot or spots? Just Newcastle? Port Stephens. Because I have access, I'd probably take them out to our oyster farm, to the family oyster farm. Jump in one of the boats and shoot around the estuaries. Nothing quite like fresh oysters.

We have lots of relatives that come from the Netherlands, and they are just so keen to kind of experience what it is like. If I was honest, given I have a food background, there is a great organic blueberry farm, which we as a family visit on a regular basis. Great, seriously awesome blueberries, although they just canned under-fives picking – I think they just ruin the plants! There is also an orange grove. Learning where food comes from is a really big thing we enjoy doing as a family.

You already gave me this tip, but I'm guessing the audience is going to want to know where you can be found? I am regularly at the Olive Tree Markets – massive supporter of that market, I started there. Willows Home Traders... I have an online store... There is a COOL NEW MARKET that is going to hit The Edwards soon, called THE IMPOSSIBLE MARKET. [Note: Mel wasn't yelling here, but it deserves highlighting, right?]

Tell me more? Hmmm. Curated by Rebecca Stern from House of Bec, it's going to be a Sunday evening pop-up market event and it'll be hand-selected stallholders. The Edwards is planning some cool market-style food. All weather-friendly.

THE IMPOSSIBLE will kick off on Sunday, 13th September from 5pm–9pm at The Edwards, 148 Parry Street, Newcastle West.

Or you can find Melanie’s awesome boards here: houtenplank.com.au

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drinking Crafty in Newie... with @A_Craft_beer_ideot by Kian West

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"I thought I'd take a moment, just sit right there, and I'll tell you how we've became a city of such bloody good beer!" [Ed: Sung to the tune of ‘Fresh prince of bel Air]

 

Drinking Crafty in Newie

By A Craft Ideot

@A_craft_beer_ideot #Instagram

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Newcastle has quietly become something of a hotbed of beer drinking brilliance, and it's booming right under our noses. There are a number of locations that every proud son and daughter of the city should make an effort to attend if one really wants to sample the best hopped malt water these streets have to offer.

 

Let's start by saying that good beer doesn't nessesarily have to be 'craft', and 'craft' does not nessesarily mean it's good beer. The term 'Craft Beer' generally implies you're drinking something that was brewed with skill and passion on a smaller scale, rather than a fluid manufactured by robots and computers in a factory owned by a greedy cigar smoking tycoon.

 

The image of craft beer drinkers can be that of a pack of thirsty hipsters with patchy beards all popping sick wheelies on the foreshore and clinking their IPA bottles atop their fixed gear bicycles - a perception chiefly fulled by the fact that it's generally true. But that's cool, everyone is welcome when it comes to good beer and our newest bars are proving it.

 

Let's look at our slightly worn CBD; there are a bunch of places here with tap lists set to swell your bladder and have you in bed with two neurofen by 9.30. These new craft dens have only appeared over the last few years, and inside you will find the broadest cross section of punters with high expectations of their brew. For example; The Grainstore nestled in Newcastle East proudly flys the flag as an Aussie craft beer paradise, with the very best that we brew flowing from it's many taps and a team of beer experts pouring them. We also have the Hop factory on Darby Street and The Blind Monk in Hamilton, newcomers for sure, but true champions of the craft. The Clarendon and The Albion Ale House are more established purveyors of fine beverages and they are both fully prepared to serve you your next dank hop-bomb (with a robust malt backbone of course).

 

Yeah, there are now dozens of bars pouring what a few years ago we would have had to head to Syds or Melbs to even get a sniff of - It's truly a golden age for Newy bars, but what of the shy retiring ale sipper that wants to enjoy his or her quality craft at home? Well you'll find a pretty great selection of beers in almost every bottle-o in the city, however if you truly itch for the fancy stuff (and you're willing to pay up son) allow me to recommend The Prince of Wales Bottle Shop in Merewether and of course, the famous Warners At The Bay. These are meccas of bueno ale, with WATB in particular supplying a selection so vast as to bring a tear to the eye of grown men and bank managers alike.

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Heck as I write this I'm quaffing a craft beer that travelled all the way from Portland Oregon, in my yard, shirtless, straight from the bottle like a dang hillbilly. I plucked this beer cold from a fridge down the road - it's a satisfying feeling knowing that buying craft beer is as easy as buying a meat pie in Newy. There's no better time to start exploring Brewcastle folks, I'll see you at the bar.

 

60 seconds with... Tuesday Vintage by Kian West

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60 seconds with… Tuesday Vintage

With Rachel March

By Kian West

 

SOMETIMES THE UNIVERSE WORKS IN MYSTERIOUS WAYS. WE WERE BUSY AT MIRAGE HUNTING FOR FRESH NOVOCASTRIAN CREATIVE TO INTERVIEW AND STUBBLED UPON THE TUESDAY VINTAGE WEBSITE, A FEW HOURS LATER, BY PURE COINCIDENCE I RECEIVED A TEXT FROM RACHEL INTRODUCING HERSELF. IT SEEMED LIKE FATE SO WE STOPPED FOR A MOMENT SO SHE COULD TELL ME (AND YOU) MORE.

 

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So Rachel, Tell us all about Tuesday Vintage?

Tuesday Vintage is an online vintage boutique based in Newcastle, Australia. It is also a creative outlet where i can show cast the shoots i get to work on, the people who inspire me, but also I get to sell all these amazing one off hand selected clothing from around the world.

 

 

The website also states, “Styling” what does this mean?

It means i get to source and style amazing pieces of clothing on gorgeous models at photo-shoots.

 

And you are a photographer?

I've always had an eye for it but I’d rather be buying.. Or styling.. They are my things!

 

Where is your favourite place in Newcastle to hang out?

Rolador on Beaumont st, Cafe Inu in Carrington, The Lair in Hunter Street Mall.

 

Who inspires you Rachel?

My toddler. He's the reason I’ve been able to do all of this for so long! I'm continuously inspired by the people I work with on a daily basis whether they're young designers, photographers, labels, makeup artists, models, and creative. etc.

 

Anything else Novocastrians should know about you?

I don't work on Sundays. Sunday is for reading the paper and going to the beach xo

 

You can find Tuesday Vintage: tuesdayvintage.com

HAPPIE SURF CRAFT by Ryan Williams

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HAPPIE SURF CRAFT IS THE BRAINCHILD OF LOCAL NEWCASTLE SUFRER, DANIEL LOBB. BUT IF YOU HAD READ THIS INTERVIEW, YOU WOULD KNOW THAT ALREADY. YOU WOULD ALSO KNOW MORE ABOUT WHAT HE DOES, AND WHAT HE'S PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE. READ THIS INTERVIEW.

With Ryan Williams

 

nm_web_images_13Who is Happie Surf Craft? My Names Dainel Lobb. I’m 23, live in Newcastle and Happie Surf Craft is my label. I make hand planes from recycled surfboards and also a few boards.

Is there a philosophy behind what you do? I just love to make people happy. Recycling old surfboards and transforming them into a totally new surf craft that people can re-­use over and over gives me such a thrill. Seeing how interested and supportive people are of my work is inspiring and I’m always so stoked to hear good feedback from my customers.

Tell us about the handplanes. The hand planes take bodysurfing to a new level, giving you more drive and speed whilst allowing a lot more control on a wave. They’re compact, lightweight and great to keep in the car or throw in a backpack when you stroll down for a swim.

Is that all you do? I design all my logos and make custom fit covers for every hand plane and surfboard. I like to create a whole product and give people something they will love for a lifetime.

What else are you working on at the moment? I’m always designing and trying to think up new ideas and ways to improve my products where possible. I’m shaping a few surfboards at the moment and have a couple of old boards that will become hand planes in the near future.

What have you got coming up? I’ve recently started to sell my products at some local markets. I love the vibe and atmosphere that markets bring. Being able to chat to the people who buy your products and knowing they are walking away just as stoked as I am is great.nm_web_images_8

Where can we get this stuff? You can find me at Olive Tree markets on the 7th June and the Hunt and Gather Markets on the 21st June. You can also get in contact with me on facebook at Happie Surf Craft and on my instagram @lobby1.

Anything else you'd like to add?     I’m having a lot of fun creating and I’m stoked that people are interested. Come and see me at the markets and have a chat. I’m always keen to know what people think and I’m super excited to see what the future might bring.