ArtPlay and Craft Cubed Festival


I’m very pleased to be a guest speaker at next month’s Craft Victoria Craft Cubed Festival. I’ll be holding a workshop at ArtPlay on Birrarung Marr on Sunday August 10 at 10-12am and also presenting a seminar at the same venue on August 14 from 4-6pm. The workshop will be for children from 5 – 10 and the theme is Monster softies. Kind of nasty little things on the outside but soft on the inside. This workshop was a hit last time, so I’m hoping it will be just as fun second time round.



If you’ve never been to this art space for children, you simply must make a note of it and see if you can find some time to drop in. The space itself is an amazing warehouse situated by the Yarra River and used to be the old training space for Public Transport conductors and tram drivers for the Melbourne CBD. The space is vast, with high ceilings and such a lovely, inviting and inspiring feel to it that you want to stay forever. My favourite area is the mezzanine. I would like to live up there! The staff at ArtPlay are also amazing, skilled, passionate and they put together a damn good program of local and international talent. I feel very lucky to be invited back to hold my own workshops there.

I always like to have a little air of chaos in the workshops in that I like the children to use the template but create their own unique and exciting designs. I’m also lucky enough to have the knowledgable and passionate staff at ArtPlay help me keep everything under some sort of control. I believe that children are sometimes given too much instruction and not allowed to problem-solve or adapt their project to suit their own skills and aesthetic bent, which leads me to the seminar. The details of the seminar are as follows:

When it doesn’t look like the one in the picture: craft with children and the intersection of technique and aesthetics

What are we teaching our children through craft? A skill that they can take home and use? A beautiful or interesting object that they may have made by themselves or with quite a bit of help? A new sense of particular materials and an appreciation of artistry?

Should we worry about encouraging children to achieve a satisfying aesthetic outcome and a finished project, or let them experience creativity without expectations?

In this seminar I’ll will discuss children’s creative journeys in craft and the importance of aesthetics, skills, problem-solving and originality as well as our own expectations of their achievements and development.

Needless to say I can’t wait for this seminar! And I can’t wait for the discussion at the end of it. I am the worst culprit when it comes to bossing my kids around and micro-managing their projects. Actually, that’s not entirely true. I was once the worst culprit. But I think I have learned to step back and to let them go with it – to trust that the experience of creating something with their hands is valuable for them no matter what it looks like. God, I’ve even spruiked this philosophy in my own book,

‘ . . . crafting is a creative journey that changes all the time – what you set out to make may not be what you end up with. That is the beauty of this pastime . . . always remember that no two pieces can ever be the same – that would be boring! And if you find that your object doesn’t look like the one in the picture – with a crooked edge or an odd colour – consider yourself a true artist because you have added a little something of yourself into every stitch, shape and brushstroke.’

So I’d better stand by my own teaching (and I do). When my book was published I went on talkback radio and a parent rang in and asked what was so amazing about craft? What could their son learn from it? Basically, they couldn’t see the benefit. I explained that there are a number of skills learned – fine-motor, pattern-making (which requires strategic and problem-solving skills), patience, imagination – the list goes on. Hopefully I opened their eyes to the extensive skill-set required to make something and the benefits for young children. But hone there is also the danger of managing a child’s experience too much so that they get bogged down in the process and never fully let go to explore their creativity. You can give a child something with quite specific instructions attached but, if given full freedom of expression, they will create something quite amazing and unique. The best part of this process is the emotional impact – that they made it themselves without assistance and that it didn’t go according to plan but they had to find ways to solve problems on their own. I find that the less interventionist I am in my craft workshops, the more satisfied the children are with their work because they truly own it. With crafting you need to adopt certain skills to complete the project, which not every child is practised in. This results in a huge number of variations in the project as they learn what their limits are and how to either tackle them or work around them.

If you’d like to be a part of either of these events, the deets are below:

Monster Madness

Romping, stomping, snarling, slurping, burping, bumping MONSTERS!

They can be scary or snuggly, big or small, but no two monsters can ever be the same. If you could make your own monster, what would it look like? Would it be friendly or ferocious? Would it have rolling eyes and sharp teeth or cute fluffy ears and long antennae? So many ideas for so many MONSTERS!

Join the creative team at ArtPlay for a feast of monster magic – romping, stomping and bumping away while you gather horns and eyes, ears and teeth to create the ultimate monster. There’ll be lots of materials to choose from and lots of ideas to share.

Age: 5 to 10 years
Dates and times: Sunday 10 August, 10am to noon
Bookings essential: book online
Cost: $5 per child

All children must be accompanied by an adult.


When it doesn’t look like the one in the picture: craft with children and the intersection of technique and aesthetics

This session is part of Craft Victoria’s Craft Cubed festival. For more information go to:

Date: Thursday 14 August

Time: 4pm to 6pm

Cost: Free

Book online