Meet The Maker: MELO handmades
Meet The Makers is a series of interviews supporting our resident artists here at Know The Rose. From ceramics, to art prints and bespoke gift cards - when you shop with us, not only are you supporting our vision, but also those of local makers who are passionate about their craft.
Hey Melody! In this series we introduce our makers here at Know The Rose. What is it that you make for us?
At MELO handmades, I use natural dyes extracted from sustainably sourced botanicals, minerals and insects to dye fibre and textiles and craft them into useful things.
I'm the hands behind the one of a kind, botanical printed gift cards at Know The Rose!
How long have you been creating for and what was your career journey prior to ‘MELO handmades’?
I must have been "making things" for forever! I've always enjoyed drawing, painting, and creating in general and went to fashion school where I trained as a fashion designer.
After graduation, I was part of the design team of a Singapore-based fashion label and have since worked (still am working part time) in various positions in the fashion industry, from design to production to retail merchandising.
Could you give us a little insight into your creative process? What steps are involved in the making of your pieces?
I usually start with preparing my fibre and textiles - scouring (deep cleaning) and mordanting (preparing fibre to take dye), which are the “boring” processes but probably the most important steps to ensuring good uptake of dyes and also how lasting the colours will be.
Then I gather the botanicals I want to use in each piece - mostly local botanicals collected on my walks around Sydney. I also grow some in my balcony garden.
For the actual dyeing process, I layer the botanicals onto the pre-treated textiles, roll them up like a sushi roll and put the bundles into a steamer (or pot) for a several hours.
When the fibres and botanicals have had time to make friends with one another, they’re taken out, washed and then cut and sewn into a range of products!
Can you tell us one thing people don’t know about your work?
That I could probably tell you where each leaf or flower I use is from!
I have some favourite spots and sometimes I make detours to visit my special tree friends :)
What flowers and foliage did you use when making the gift cards especially for us?
The cards at Know The Rose are available in 3 colourways and are printed with sustainably sourced local flora.
Mellow features botanical windfalls such as oak, Japanese maple and smokebush, Rustic is imprinted with a mix of locally gathered eucalyptus and gum leaves while Plum bears prints of pelargonium (geranium) leaves grown in my very own garden!
How do you practice sustainability in your craft or everyday life?
As much as possible, I try to reuse whatever resource I can!
Almost nothing in the studio gets thrown away - remnants and offcuts are turned into ribbons or notecards for my orders; packaging materials I receive, such as bubble wrap and packing peanuts, are reused for packages I send; dye baths are used multiple times and at the end, used to water my garden to grow more dye plants!
When I can, I also gather floral waste from local florists to use in my work.
And of course, being mindful and planning carefully throughout the creating process to avoid waste.
What’s been the best part of running your own business?
Knowing that what I create is bringing joy to others!
And meeting all the brilliant people (shoppers and fellow small biz owners, like you!) along the way!
What’s been the biggest learning curve with your craft?
Learning to let go of expectations!
There’re so many variables in natural dyeing - the botanicals, how they’re grown, the fibre used, water quality, temperature… all affect the outcomes so results are always different! Sometimes frustratingly so!
What inspires you to create everyday?
Nature and the seasons.
Every new leaf, new bloom makes me want to capture the fleeting moments into something more tangible to cherish!