This article has been a long time coming. I went to the Makers Market held at Abbotsford Convent on the 20th of July 2014 and I've been inundated ever since. Life has been happening in the midst of the best laid plans. Still, better late than never to share my experience of the day. I'm sure the ladies I'm about to feature in this article (for me they were the most awesome stores), have given up hope of seeing their stores featured. Apologies ladies and here is the article as promised many moons ago.
The Convent Bakery is always a good stop off for coffee and beautiful pastries. I think their pies are 'to die for' with beautiful crispy pastry
This was my first time at the Makers Market and I was looking forward to checking out all the stores that were there. I more or less flew past a lot of the stores and just honed in on the ones that really caught my eye and they're the ones featured here. There wasn't really as many stores as I imagined and I figured the winter weather probably kept a few away.
Walking across to the ground floor of the actual convent it amused me to see a little gravestone that said 'Here lies 'Should', oh that we could bury it for good. RIP' It is the work of Robyn Devries a visual artist who co-founded the Melbourne Art Therapy Studio that is based at the Convent. I also thought the ceramic sculptures you see in the picture above were gorgeous.
The first person I met was Cara of Bonniebix the home of 'bake at home' delicious shortbread. Cara has been baking for family and friends for over 20 years and it's taken her that long before she started her own business a year ago. Finally tired of the daily grind she swapped it for her passion. Her family have been telling her for years it's what she should be doing and she wishes she had done it ten years ago. Selling her delicious treats at the markets she also gets orders from 'corporate' entities. She caters for children's parties and makes biscuit shapes to suit the theme for end of party take home 'lolly bags'.
I'm sure she can just about work in with whatever the customer needs. She has quite a few followers that follow her from market to market and the product just sells itself I am told. Such care is taken by Cara that even her tasting plate offerings are not broken up pieces or crumbs of her shortbread, but are carefully shaped and baked shortbread in miniature. That alone should give you a clue as to how much pride is taken in what she does. Keeping the business small her shortbread has somehow found their way across to Bali, Canada and Malaysia to name a few countries, travelling in suitcases to these far away destinations; a request from various people who have visited and tasted her wares and beg their visitors to bring them more each time they visit.
Cara from Bonniebix (0418 327 567) email: firstname.lastname@example.org & Loretta her mother, a mixed media/resin art artist (0417 310 847)
Cara's mum Loretta is proudly by her side with talent of her own. She's an artist that works with mixed media and resin and enjoys bringing her artwork to the markets. She tells me she can't bake a shortbread to save her soul. If I remember correctly I think she also said she can't bake a roast, though don't hold me to that. However she can produce a traditional water colour and abstracts. She also designs cards, instruction books and star books - all forms of paper art and framed mixed media projects.
Helen of Helen's Kitchen Favourites is quite the celebrity, winning silver and bronze medals at the 2011 and 2012 Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria's Find Food Awards and was the winner of the 2012 Hobsons Bay Business Excellence Award for 'New start up business' (you'll find her name at the bottom of the page of the link). She makes an award winning range of gourmet sweets, savouries and preserves. They're all handmade, are preservative free and ready for gifting if you can bear to part with the 'treasures for sharing' as Helen would put it. Hailing from Williamstown her love of food and traditional recipes that embody the philosophy of producing hand made quality products for gifting and spoiling yourself finally got Helen into her own business 3 years ago. With her trusty man by her side, working hard behind the scenes, she covers the markets and also makes up hampers according to the customer's requirements. You can also find her goodies stocked in various retail stores (check her website).
E M Hurst children's book illustrator, writer & fine artist. Email: email@example.com
Elise comes from an artistic family, grew up painting traditional paintings and she is self taught. While studying archeology at university, a fellow student saw her doodling knights and dragons and mentioned to her that a writer she knew needed an illustrator. That's how the journey began and she has now been illustrating for the last 16 years, trading under the business name of E.M. Hurst. I absolutely loved her work and immediately bought a couple of her cards. I loved the drawing of the little girl and bear featured in the picture above; perhaps another time. At her stall were cards, her drawings/prints and children's books she had either illustrated or written and illustrated herself. Below is a clip featuring one of Elise's books. Check out her webpage which is full of interesting reading by this talented young woman who was the illustrator in residence at the Melbourne Writers Festival in August 2014.
Can I pick them or what ! Last but not least, I bring you another talent that impressed me at the market. She is a Japanese ceramic artist and her name is Shoko and her business is Hug Bell Ceramics. Shoko has been a ceramic artist for over 30 years and started the hard way advertising herself. Arriving from Japan, when she first started her business she used to go door knocking, introducing her creations. Finally over time the tables turned and galleries were knocking at her door to display her work. As a child she always loved playing with clay and now she holds a Bachelor of Industrial Chemistry degree from Seikei University in Tokyo, Japan and studied pottery for 5 years from 1978 to 1983. She has researched her craft and exhibited all over the world as you will read on her website. She also runs Japanese Pottery classes at Yarravile.
Shoko's studio is open everyday for pottery classes. (0414 253 511) Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
You will find her at the markets as listed on her Facebook page and some of her work is displayed in galleries such as Bird's Gallery in Kew, Kirra Galleries at Federation Square, Wilkins and Kent in Fitzroy, Gallery Vespa in Sorrento, Eagles Nest Gallery at Aireys Inlet and Helen Bassett Gallery in Yarraville to name a few. She has more but at the time she could not recall all the names. So there you have it. It was my pleasure to meet these great talents and if you want to check them out for yourselves, check out their websites and Facebook pages to find out which market or venue they are going to be at next.
I leave you with a couple of videos, each with a charm of their own, of the Abbotsford Convent and the Collingwood Children's Farm practically next door that I found on You Tube because they are both quite lovely and informative in their own way. The Farmer's Market (slow food market) that operates at the Convent, also operates at the Farm.