Saturday, March 15, 2014

Lost trades

We're just home from the Lost Trades Fair in Kyneton (and it's on again tomorrow, just in case you're interested - and who isn't? - in scything, shoe-making, coopering, spinning, hedge-laying, letterpress, and ambling around the extremely tourist-congenial bluestone streets of Kyneton). I have two things to say. Firstly, Kyneton is lovely. Everytime I've been there (twice) it's been drizzly or mizzly, awash with sourdough, second-hand bookshops, half-price quilting fabric, licheny old oaks, withering hollyhocks, and elderly dogs asleep in the town's one remaining sunpuddle. Secondly, I WANT TO HAVE ALL THE SKILLS.

Look at this chair! Just look at this chair! Some guy (his name's Greg Hatton, in fact) just snapped off a few bits of willow from his local tree and knocked this together this morning. The way a less skilled person (me) might knock together a serve of porridge.

I want to be able to make this chair. I really do. It looks pretty easy when Greg Hatton does it. Also. I want to be able to describe myself as a willowsmith.

See this wall? This perfect and wonderful dry-stone wall? Someone was just chipping up bits of stone and assembling them while I watched. Oh, this old thing, just threw it together today, he says.

I could really get into drystonewallmeistering. Lalor needs more drystone walls. I could sledgehammer up the concrete driveways and re-assemble them as quaint yet serviceable structures over which to grow cane-berries.

This fork!

This biscuit tin mandolin! (Plus: "Hello, what do you do?" "Oh, I'm a luthier.")

This hessian bunting! (Actually, possibly within my existing skillset.)

Also, pottery, wool spinning, and making coracles. (If I could learn Cossack dancing, Old Icelandic, and Chinese medicine to boot, I'd begin to feel moderately equipped for adulthood.)

P.S. I hereby officially recommend the lost art of taking the V-line train to Kyneton and back. Not only is it pretty cheapo (approx. $20 for a full return fare), and pretty quick (a bit more than an hour from the city), but the view from the train (dark blue clouds rolling up over yellow grass) is mildly preferable to the view from the Calder Freeway (the distressed palms and dead tyre collection of Calder Park Raceway).


  1. I know, right. What a great idea for a festival. This was its first ever year, and I think the organisers are now regretting it - they'll have to do it every year now for the rest of eternity. As for me, I am going to spend my days looking for an unloved willow, and then teach myself how to make rustic and gorgeous armchairs. Have powerdrill, will travel.

  2. How wonderful! I too would love to be a willowsmith. I do hope they do it again, as I wasn't able to go (why did everything have to be on this weekend...) and I love any excuse for a trip to Kyneton. I do love that area around Castlemaine through to Daylesford, but Trentham is my fave. I'd love to be a basket weaver myself, I hope they have some of those next time around, assuming there is a next time...

  3. I know! Everything this weekend!

    I don't know if this is much use to your basket-weaving ambitions, but someone taught me how to weave a melon basket last year. I'll make another one soon and try to blog it step-by-step. (Will have to assemble some appropriate fibres first.)

    I love Trentham too. Cool, damp mountainy climates are my soulhome.