The 2018 Creative Custodians workshop May 26/27 was designed and led by Mae Adams at her beautiful Venus Bay property, on the edge of Cape Liptrap Coastal Park. The nine participants were greeted with a cheerful outdoor fire and rosemary tea on the sheltered veranda of the Eco Lodge.
Mae warmly welcomed us to country and explained a bit about her connection to this place, and generously supplied us with a goody bag full of helpful resources such as plant guides, a beautiful fat needle and bandaids to protect fingers!
Mae shared her basket making history naming two local women, Pat Dale and Margaret Balfe, who have been wonderful mentors. Soon we were off walking in search of indigenous plants with Mae guiding us and sharing her knowledge. We walked through protected coastal forest to greet the ancient Manna Gums, and then to the salt marsh estuary to view indigenous reeds and grasses in the full splendour of their colours and forms.
It was these colours and forms in nature that Mae was keen to introduce us to so we could capture them in our basketry. We headed back for a tasty soup and bread lunch served by the lovely Kerrie and our final experience at this property was learning how to harvest lomandra and sword sedge (Spiny Headed Mat Rush Lomandra longifolia and Coast Sword Sedge Lepidosperma gladiatum).
We packed ourselves and our harvest into cars to drive to Tarwin Lower Mechanics Hall – a homely, comfortable place which was so well prepared for us. We had a table each and plentiful supplies of dried materials which Mae had harvested and prepared months earlier. Once we settled in we were shown how to begin coiling using blanket stitch with strong, long Madagascan raffia and then we continued to create our own central core around which we would showcase the native plants we had been introduced to with their textures and colours.
We had music, fruit and drinks, lots of sunshine streaming through the windows and plenty of support from Mae and each other. Good suggestions, encouragement and appreciation of our progress made for a comfortable afternoon of making and learning. We met again in the evening at Trulli Wood Fired Pizzeria in Meeniyan for a feast with friends and participants. People stayed overnight in many interesting places in this beautiful part of South Gippsland.
At 9.00 am Sunday morning we returned to the hall to progress weaving, encouraging, admiring, teaching, learning, experimenting while Mae illustrated special tips for working with the native plants, plus garlic skins and pampas grass flowers. Another healthy vegetarian lunch was enjoyed outside in the sunshine before eagerly returning to our own projects, finishing from 3.30 pm onwards with new friendships made as well as weaving creations.
The stimulus of Mae and the environment, the sharing and support from everyone made for a thoroughly enjoyable weekend of learning, and can be recommended should Mae repeat this workshop.
by Wendy Warren and Marlene Carty.