INTERVIEW: Kitiya Palaskas and her felt faux foliage

This month, as we celebrate the arrival of Spring, our store windows have been filled with lush greenery. But there's a twist. The potted plants are all handmade by Melbourne's craft queen and our friend Kitiya Palaskas! Today we ask Kit about her life as one of Australia's premier craft-based designers.

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Tell us about a typical day as a craft-based designer.

Every day is different! That's what makes my job so interesting. I work from home at the moment so my day usually begins with a walk to my local cafe for a coffee, then it's into my studio to go through emails, do some admin, and then get stuck into my projects for the day. On any given day I could be working on design or construction, delivering or installing a project on site, teaching a creative workshop, or shooting content. I thrive off a busy productive day but full disclosure, sometimes I can also spend hours procrastinating while watching Royal Family Dance Crew videos on YouTube... it's all about balance!

(Top) Kitiya in her studio // (Bottom) Kit has become known for her bright and bold felt illustration and typography creations

What has been one of your favourite personal craft or design projects to date?

Publishing my craft book Piñata Party. Writing a book has been a bucket list goal of mine since I was 12 so this was a huge personal achievement for me. At the same time, it was also one of the most challenging projects I've ever undertaken and I learned so much as a result.


(Top) Kitiya can make a Piñata like nobody's business // (Bottom) Some of the felt foliage that is currently gracing our Northcote, Fitzroy and City store windows!

What was the most fun thing about creating your felt Forever Foliage?

Watching my cats try to eat the leaves because they thought they were real plants! 😂

Your Real Talk Project is all about encouraging dialogue about wellbeing issues experienced by creative people. Tell us about how it began and what you hope it can achieve.

After struggling with various creative wellbeing issues for years (but never admitting it out loud) I realised it wasn't doing me any good to suffer in silence so I took a leap and started sharing my experiences online and in keynote talks at conferences I was invited to speak at. I received so much encouraging feedback and discovered that so many of my creative peers were also experiencing similar things, many of whom were also hesitant to talk about it. Real Talk grew out of a desire to contribute to opening up the conversation about mental health in the creative industry and forming a space where people could seek solidarity through shared experiences.


What's the best advice — personal or professional — you've ever received?

Everyone is on their own creative path, you'll get where you need to be at your own pace, and there's room for all of us to succeed in our own ways.  

What are some of your favourite travel destinations for art & craft inspiration?

Mexico – hands down! The colour and vibrancy, richness and diversity in culture, playfulness, and pure joy for all things handmade are the ultimate inspiration for me. I could visit a thousand times over!

See more of Kitiya's work at her website or on Instagram @kitiyapalaskas, don't forget to stop by and see her Forever Foliage installation in the flesh at all Obus stores throughout October.

October 17, 2019 by Obus Clothing

Our signature prints in development

Like all our prints, Kado was developed by our fearless leader (founder and creative director), Kylie Zerbst, as part of our most recent collection, Way of Flowers.

Inspired by crysanthemum flowers and contemporary ikebana, Kado is accented with mauve, burgundy, and potent orange accents - A true Obus classic.

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Shop all KADO styles - including our CRUMPLER X OBUS accessories collection now! 

May 15, 2018 by Obus Clothing

Studio visit: And O Design

And O Design’s Yumi Ando is happily consumed by her ceramic jewellery business during her waking hours, and her love and attention to the form is evident in every piece she creates. But jewellery design isn’t a simple leap from formal study into manufacture, or learning all you need and then jumping right in with commercially accepted ideas.

We visited Yumi in her home jewellery studio and she shared with us her path from growing up in Japan to relocating to Australia, studying interior design then finding her way to a self-taught ceramics practice, and what keeps her regularly inspired.

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Did you study ceramics or jewellery design, or are you self-taught?
There isn’t much ceramic or jewellery related formal training under my belt aside from short-courses from time to time in Melbourne, and some basic pottery classes I took in Canberra over a decade ago. Luckily, I am blessed with a good eye for things, a knack for detailed manual work, and perhaps a fair serving of patience.
When I moved to Melbourne I studied Interior Design and Decoration at RMIT and I thought my career path would travel pretty straight in that direction.. however I was wrong. [I realised] ceramics provides almost everything I appreciate in an artistic sense. Flexibility to work with organic forms, immeasurable options in design, colour and feel, the ability to grow the stories of my pieces and their development over time.

It has taken many years to learn all of the techniques and little details that go into my making process. Hours of experimentation, trying different combinations of raw materials, adjusting firing temperatures, selecting the best tools for particular effects - it has been a self-taught process. Part of the joy and excitement with ceramics is the unknown. No two pieces are ever truly identical. Sometimes things go wrong, leading to disaster or sometimes an unexpected revelation, and other times everything goes wonderfully. I think you grow as a person through all this, and your designs naturally change with you, like a constant evolution from one idea to the next, with a thread of continuity between them.

Part of the joy and excitement with ceramics is the unknown. No two pieces are ever truly identical. Sometimes things go wrong, leading to disaster or sometimes an unexpected revelation, and other times everything goes wonderfully.

Can you tell us if/how the history of ceramics in your native Japan influences your work?
My cultural background incorporates a country and upbringing which highly respects craftsmanship and functional design. But the Japanese influence on my work is probably mostly subconscious. As I’m creating things, it never really crosses my mind and the pieces are formed instinctually. That is to say, I don’t purposefully set out to stamp a Japanese influence or traditions upon my work, but when they are there and prevalent, I accept them. One can’t simply ignore one’s upbringing or home, as I consider my work a very personal endeavour, so naturally some of my heritage is going to show.
Every once in a while, I like to return to Japan and visit my family, letting my eyes feast on the whole experience. The craftsmanship of old homes and temples, beautiful gardens, dynamic little art galleries, traditional paper and fabric shops all excite me and add to the brush of fresh air. It is also an opportunity to collect some unique tools and materials for my work, which brings a little piece of home into everything they touch.
From the beginning of my journey with ceramics, I never set out to attempt to conform with tradition or work through firm stages of mastery with the medium. This is the creative side of my personality perhaps, and also the influence of Australia’s pride in freedom, nature and individualism at play. I work within my own personal world where each piece is a direct reflection of who I am, as a person, and the stories I’d like to tell.

You have a beautiful studio workspace! How have you set it up to help with inspiration and production of your work?
The great benefit of incorporating your workspace into your home, is that it need not be a dry, simplistic or depersonalised zone. My studio, although rather cluttered at times, is a place for me to escape into things I love to do, surrounded by things that I adore. This isn’t to say that sometimes I don’t escape to the soft comforts of the lounge, and keep our rabbit company while whittling away at some work.
My studio, although rather cluttered at times, is a place for me to escape into things I love to do, surrounded by things that I adore.
A large window has become a leaning-post for an all-too-large mass of plant life, between which I have a view of the neighbour's garden and the odd foraging blackbird. The walls and most of the unused areas have become homes for artworks and other objects of inspiration. Being an older house, storage is severely limited. As a home for slabs of clay, tools, brushes, glazes, and not to mention thousands of small pieces in varying states of completion, I’ll be honest and use the word “cluttered”. It's not a chaotic space by any means, everything has its place, there just aren’t many empty places available. It's organised, workable, and intimate.

What does a typical day involve for you?
One might expect that by working in a home studio, that each day might blend into anonymity, but it's not the case. There are always personal challenges to climb, be they forming the initial pieces, firing, glazing or assembly, and no two days have the same schedule.
The process is organic. There aren’t eight hours in a day when you operate like this, sometimes there are only a few, sometimes there are twenty-four. Either way, the most important thing is to enjoy the process, relish the freedom and make ample time for experimentation. This is probably the most important and enjoyable part of the process, making time to play and bring some new ideas to life.For a portion of most days I’ll also quietly tap away on a laptop.

What is your favourite corner of the world and how does this inspire your creativity?
The adventurous side of me loves to travel, and trips away always lead to returning home with a head brimming full of fresh ideas. A little space and time away is a wise investment, and a break from studio life can really help put everything back into perspective.
There is something about the allure of South East Asia which always calls, and I’ve been lucky enough to spend time in Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia over the years. It is eye opening to visit craft-villages and see some of the historic and commercial pottery districts in these countries, and appreciate the hard-working way they create such ornate and beautiful work. Obviously quite a few pieces from these countries have become part of a personal collection.

Anything can be inspiring really, it's just a case of opening up to what's around you, and taking the feelings home and transferring them into your art.

The natural world, be it through scenic views, mischievous animals or sunlight upon rice-fields has always felt very healing in these countries, especially if you endeavour to leave a majority of tourists and commercial facilities in your wake.
My husband and I are avid explorers, and can often spend hours poking around on an unexpected detour if something catches our eye. We’ve ridden an old scooter around the Golden Triangle, stopping to watch elderly ladies weaving on an old loom. We got terribly lost once on a walk in some of Thailand’s highlands, which eventuated in a swim in the Mekong (not a smart decision), an endless uphill hike, and eventually a ride home in the back of a local’s old truck. These kinds of trips always bring funny stories and fond memories home.

We don’t always really need to travel too far however. There are some favourite places in Victoria where we like to dig out the old kayak, rattle our bones on corrugated dirt roads, dip our feet in a river, investigate where gold was once mined or dig around for a few spears of worthy quartz.
Anything can be inspiring really, it's just a case of opening up to what's around you, and taking the feelings home and transferring them into your art.

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Say hi to Yumi on Instagram @and_o_design

July 25, 2017 by Obus Clothing

Meet the women behind Flock Curiosity Assembly

 

Flock Curiosity Assembly is Stacey Rutigliano and Sarah Byrne. With backgrounds in fine art, jewellery, 3D design and photography, the friends bring a variety of creative skills to their jewellery-making tables. As retail colleagues years ago, they quickly realised their aesthetics aligned and their love of resin could be more than an after-work creative pursuit. Flash forward ten years and with 3 young kids between them, they’ve found themselves working in their ‘dream job’ and couldn’t be happier.

We caught up with the Flock ladies at Stacey’s Reservoir studio to learn a little bit about working with resin, their studio setup, and how they have each incorporated motherhood into their small business day-to-day.

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How did you meet?
We both met while working at an inner city jewellery shop about ten years ago. We use to sell a lot of amazing contemporary jewellery from all around the world and some of the most exciting pieces we saw (and often bought!) were bold statement pieces.
How did you decide upon resin as a primary material and what do you like about it?
Sarah had experimented with resin and contemporary jewellery design concepts while studying, mostly as a means of dabbling a little bit in casting, mold making and colour play. Resin wasn’t a widely used material in those days compared to its popularity and availability today, so skills were either self taught through experimentation and from awesome kitschy jewellery making books from the 70’s found in local op shops.
We were inspired to have a play with resin one day after work as a means for a creative outlet as well as to make our own jewels that we could wear to work. It was the perfect material that could translate the ideas we had for our own pieces plus it was accessible and not too expensive to work with.

We started simple with small vintage inspired pieces, but as we are both from quite creative backgrounds, we didn’t stay there for long. We started to sculpt our own unique pieces and use resin not just because it was the perfect medium for creating form and shapes, but also as a medium for exploring colour, pattern and texture. We more we played, the more we learnt how to manipulate the material and stretch its boundaries. We apply equal importance, if not more to the design of our pieces too, making sure that everything we create is unique and considered, and of course, something that is fun and enjoyable to wear!

It is a material that can be applied in so many different ways that will always produce unique results in every pour.

Like most materials, the extent of what you can make with resin is limitless, but the beauty of this material is that you can apply it with an equally limitless array of colours, textures and shapes. It is a material that can be applied in so many different ways that will always produce unique results in every pour. We love to challenge our colour palette at every studio session too, and even between the two of us, we rarely produce anything remotely similar. There is nothing more exciting in the studio than popping out a batch of set castings to see what we have made. Half the challenge is not keeping the pieces we have made!

Tell us about your workspace/studio. How have you set it up to help with inspiration and production of your work?
We both have our own home-based studios, which is a necessity with small people in our lives. But we get together once or twice a week to make together at each other’s studios. One of the perks of working in a partnership is getting to hang out together as well as bouncing ideas around so that we always have something new and challenging on the go.
Our studio setups are both pretty similar. There is messy space (where the resin magic happens!), a cleanup space (where the evil sanding happens), a polishing space (where everything is drilled or buffed, ready for findings), and a finishing space (where a lot of the jewels are finished off with their final magic touches). It’s hard to keep everything in the studio so it’s not uncommon for both of us to extend our studios into the kitchen, office and lounge room where we can do our finishing and packaging whilst watching Netflix into the late hours of the night!
Sarah: My studio is mostly practical rather than inspirational at the moment. I’ve just started using my space properly after moving house and taking time off to have a baby. It becomes such a dirty space so quickly with dust and resin everywhere (despite all the exhaust fans) that it seems a shame to put nice things in there! Having said that, a lot of inspiration comes from the mess, ironically, especially in the resin pouring area, where all the drips and resin mess can produce some pretty interesting colour combos that often end up in a pair of earrings!
Stacey: I share my workshop/studio with my husband’s man den… though he has been pushed to the back half of the shed! The front part has got a few big tables and is a nice big space that we both work in a few times a week. We also have an employee who comes and helps us finish all our gems and work with us at a few of our markets. She has also been known to wrangle a baby or two!

A selection of Flock studs for Obus' Autumn 2017 range

What does a typical day involve for you (especially now that you're both mums?)
Sarah: I’m still finding my feet a little as my little one is only a few months old and isn’t aware of this thing called day sleeps. I’m currently learning a new skill called time management (ha!) so that I can get as much done as I can whilst still doing mum duties! Early on, the best words of advice came from Stace: learn to work at night! But theoretically, on a typical day, after breakfasts and feeds in the morning, if I’m not heading over to Stacey’s place to work, I ‘might’ get a few hours of work done in the morning, usually casting or studio work, checking the previous nights pours or running a few errands. I would usually work inside in the afternoon either photographing new stock for our Etsy shop, or office work or orders (aka clean work!). Bath time and meals and bed time around 6:30 and then if I’m not too knackered, back into the studio again in the evening! Of course, this rarely happens this way!

Early on, the best words of advice came from Stace: learn to work at night!

Stacey: 4.30/5am: 1st child enters bed 6.30/7am: 2nd child quickly (not so quietly) enters room/bed, which is when my husband leaves for work! Then it’s breakfast time: coffee for mumma; Porridge, toast + milk for Frankie + Piera! After this it’s day care drop off for Frankie, and perhaps a stop at the post office to post some online orders from the day before. Back at home Piera has morning sleep usually for a few hours (if I'm lucky... Fingers and toes are always crossed for this time). Then I'm like a well oiled machine answering emails, packing orders, editing photos for online.... if I'm really organised I can even prep dinner. In the early afternoon my husband gets home from work so he takes Piera so I can get a few hours of studio time until 4pm, until work usually stops for a few hours so we can hang with the kids and do dinner and bath time!! After the kids are in bed, sometimes I sneak back out to studio for a few more hours or do some computer work if I'm not too knackered.

What is your favourite corner of the world and how does this inspire your creativity?
Stacey: Creativity is all around us! Social media has a lot to do with my inspiration I think… the Internet is a bubbling pot of goodness. This year I have been lucky enough to travel overseas twice, once to New Zealand and a month later, to India with my sister, starting in Dehli and then to Rajasthan. That place oozes inspiration. It's a visual feast for one’s eyes, overwhelming the senses with its colours, architecture, smells (often offensive), beautiful textures, fabrics etc.

People that we meet at the markets, and in our travels, they inspire us to make for them. Especially those who enjoy playing with fashion and aren’t afraid to try something new.

Sarah: My corner is a big one and encompasses so many places, people, and objects. Recently a lot of my inspiration comes from my environment, my everyday travels through the 'burbs, the city and nature, even my own backyard. I also love all things vintage and have plenty of borderline hoarder collections of completely useless but beautiful objects throughout my home that I have found over the years. These alone trigger the old creativity button in the brain! And of course there are people! People that we meet at the markets, and in our travels, they inspire us to make for them. Especially those who enjoy playing with fashion and aren’t afraid to try something new. Nothing is more exciting and rewarding than seeing people wear and enjoy the things you have made with your own two hands (or four, as it is in our case!).

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Say hi to Sarah on Instagram @sahofflock and Stacey @staceyflocker.

June 15, 2017 by Obus Clothing