Splendour in the Craft 2017

Splendour in the Grass returned this year in the North Byron Parklands with a sell-out crowd. As glitter bugs and music lovers waited with their tickets in anticipation for a weekend of some of the worlds biggest musical artists, a team of dedicated crafties set up for what turned out to be the busiest stall of the festival: Splendour in the Craft.

Byron-based Craft Mafia returned for Splendour in the Craft for the sixth year, bigger than ever. Attached to a converted school bus, the creative hub was open daily, equipped with glue guns, scrap materials and copious amounts of glitter. New activities were free of charge for festival-goers to get their hands dirty, with popular sessions including jewellery making, bedazzling and t-shirt bag making.

Splendour in the Craft has become a huge part of the festival, with people returning for it each year. The huge knitted letters made it a hard area to miss — “Knit happens, sew what!” — with quirky sayings and puns greeting people as they walked the festival grounds. The huge stall was decorated with rainbow flags, words of affirmation, fairy lights and cozy beanbags. Volunteers sat on the converted school bus with body paint and glitter ready to take everyone’s festival outfits up a notch, and they did not disappoint. Along with these admirable features, the colourful tent also presented four days of unique festival craft sessions, which ended up being the go-to activity between musical acts.

The creative festivities kicked off for campers on Thursday afternoon with the very fitting ‘Night Lights’ LED lantern making activity. The tent filled with eager participants who used up-cycled milk bottles to create bedazzled lanterns to help their gazebos stand out in the campgrounds. The craftiness continued on Friday with a fresh set of activities. First up was ‘That Felt Good’ which saw felt sprawled across the craft benches where people were advised how to create their own Grizzly Bear Hats, which were all worn with pride at the conclusion of the session. The popular hat making activity was followed up with an hour and a half of bedazzling. Craft Mania supplied old recycled gear but BYOs were welcome. Upcycled sunglasses were a hit and ended up being a weekend staple. The last activity for Friday was t-shirt bag making. T-shirts and crafty tools were all provided to participants, setting them up to invent the ultimate one-of-a-kind festival bag. The SITG said it best with “we know shirts are considered optional at festivals, so we thought we better think of another use for them”.

Saturday kicked off with a t-shirt bedazzling session, where glue guns and felt were once again utilised to create unique wardrobe staples. The Craft tent filled up to capacity once again for Saturday’s second activity for the day, which was led by the ladies from Each to Own, a Brisbane based jewellery brand. The crafty jewellery company is known for its funky shapes, colours and patterns and was the perfect fit for a Splendour in the Craft visit. Pliers and chains came out in between musical acts and eager festival-goers crafted charm bracelets and choker necklaces. As the t-shirts from the mornings activities continued to dry, Saturday afternoon wound down with straw prism making, using up-cycled materials to help convert plain paper straws into fancy home (or tent) décor. Finally for the concluding day of Splendour in the Craft, Byron Bay gallery Art Park brought forward the artistic forces of Paul McNeil and Craig Rochfort to join the Craft team and lead the tote bag making session. The community driven movement Boomerang Bags, who focus on ‘tackling plastic pollution at its source’, provided the plain totes (made from 100% recycled materials), which were then screen-printed and bedazzled to capacity. The post-lunch activity on Sunday was focused on ecological jewellery with Byron Bay based company Polli, who specialise in sustainable jewellery and clothing. All things bling were being crafted, taking form in earrings, necklaces, key rings and more. The directors at Craft HQ definitely hit the nail on the head with the bedazzling theme, the tent filled up considerably faster whenever glitz and glam were involved. ‘Craftivism’ wound down the chilly Sunday afternoon, encouraging festival craft-heads to do some conscious crafting. Knitting and sewing were the popular choices, with creators crafting for animal shelters, asylum seekers or anyone else in need.

Sustainability and social responsibility were definitely key undertones amongst this year’s crafty line-up, with compassionate encouragement to up-cycle materials and BYO shirts and bags. ‘Mend it Like Beckham’ was a cleverly named program running from Friday to Sunday where festivalgoers could take damaged outfits or accessories and mend them with supplied materials for free, instead of seeing them end up in landfill. The sustainability continued with a convenient coffee stand that encouraged and supplied keep-cups and waste free refreshments. Getting crafty can work up an appetite, but Southside Tea Room came to the rescue with coffee, tea, kombutcha, brownies and much more.

Rachel Burke and Patience Hodgson are the human definition of glam if there ever was one. The crafty duo have been working at Splendour in the Craft for a number of years and BAM was lucky enough to have a chat to Rachel on entry to the craft tent. When you look at her bright red hair and head-to-toe bedazzled outfit, it is hard to imagine anything topping it, but she recalled a crafty visitor to the tent who could have come close. “Someone once used the felt to make a whole felt outfit which was really cool,” Burke said, “but people do a really good job of the bedazzled sunglasses each year.” The pair, along with all the other volunteers, had infectious positive vibes and made Splendour in the Craft the place to be this SITG. We cannot wait to see what is in stall next year, our crafty countdown has already begun!


Post and photographs by Liz Calligeros

Artist Profile - Kai

Horn  2016  Acrylic on paper

Horn 2016  Acrylic on paper

Hailing from the coastal area of Taranaki on New Zealand's North Island, Michaela Snowden, or “Kai”, studied textile design in Wellington before journeying to Byron Bay, where she has fed her artistic appetite for the past three years. Like many local artists who draw creative stimulation from the boundless natural beauty of  the area, Kai sees her personal artistic process as a form of  meditation and reflection. She often spends time in nature with a pen and sketchbook firmly in hand: “With all the magical, serene places in Byron Bay ... it has lent itself perfectly to this style of work and has been such an inspiring place to be based for the past couple of years. All the different creative courses or classes that are available have also kept me inspired ... Friday mornings slinging paint around at Dynamic Drawing classes in the Scout Hall with Ron and Liz is a personal favourite.”

Calling herself a “designer/illustrator/creator”, Kai attributes her mish-mash of titles to the “short attention span” that has led her to constantly explore different mediums. Her strong illustrative style and “weakness for clean black lines,” has seen her develop a crisp graphic approach that transitions smoothly between her signature black and white aesthetic and her more recent work. Traditionally partial to Posca Paint Pens and fine-liners, pieces like Horn show Kai delving into colour and texture with acrylic paints. “I like to explore my creativity in whatever medium holds my focus for long enough or pushes me out of my comfort zone,” she says. She jumps from painting artworks on surfboards to hand crafting unique leather wallets and leather cut-offs sourced in Byron Bay.

Currently travelling around Central America, Kai is documenting her travels through sketches. She says that travel - and reminding herself of the paradise we live in - is one of the "best forms of inspiration," for her art, and her life.

For more on Kai's art, or to follow her visual travel diary through Central America, visit @kaisnowden on Instagram.

Creative Meetups at Cubby House Byron Bay

The Cubby House is hosting casual, fun meetup sessions for all types of creatives at its workspace in the Byron Arts & Industrial Estate.

Guests are invited to bring their own projects and ideas to work on during the meeting, by themselves, or with others. It's also a chance to socialise and network: "A lot of creatives work from home so it is nice to get out of the home studio and continue to work in a different environment", says Cubby House founder, Lisa Galvin. "There are a number of business networking groups in the community but nothing specific for the significant number of creatives."

Galvin also wants to enable younger group members to seek out potential mentors and advisers. "Overall, my vision for Cubby is to create a hub for other like-minded creatives to learn, teach and socialise," she says.

The Cubby House is located at Unit 6, 10 Brigantine St, in the Byron Bay Arts and Industrial Estate.

For more information, click here.