Retreat to Tin Can Bay 1: Things made

This last week I have been away from my day job and away from home at the Retreat to Tin Can Bay with Roz Hawker and India Flint.  What a wonderful opportunity!  I felt as though planetary alignment must have occurred when it turned out to be possible for me to get there, and I managed to get a place.  There is a lot I would like to say about this week.  There will be a little series of posts, if you would like to stay with me a while on this theme.

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I’m going to start small, with some of the things we made.  I call this starting small both because some of the things we made were small–tiny, even!  But I also say this is starting small because, as these posts from Roz Hawker and India Flint both make clear–the things we made are, in important ways, the least of it.  I was delighted to be among other folk who clearly felt the same way–that the growing of relationships and the creaking and whooshing sound of minds expanding and the beginnings of new ideas that will grow and develop and become larger and different… are so much more than these little packages of wonderment.

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Not that I would wish to trivialise little packages of wonderment in the slightest!  Naturally, there were some bundles.

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Here is one of mine as it emerged from the dye pot.

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Weeds can give some great colour on paper, clearly!  I got another lovely print from cobblers’ pegs (Bidens pilosa), a plant with very sticky seed heads well-known by all who have worn socks in Queensland.

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There were little books and little packets cunningly folded from paper.  I know I’ll be making these again.  Small, achievable acts of genius please me immensely… and I think any regular reader knows that I am completely capable of finding repetition pleasurable.

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There was coiled basketry of a kind I hadn’t tried before, shown here prior to dyeing. It was glorious to see how different people did different things with the same concept and even with the same materials.  I have had little exposure to the kinds of exercises we did some days–using a set of constraints that paradoxically demand and therefore set free creativity.  It was rather lovely to see that process work out with a group of different minds and different skills sets and personalities.

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There was drawing and playing with ink and graphite and making marks with plant materials and… so much more…

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There was a little etching on silver.

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There was the sampling of new and sometimes unidentified windfalls.

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There was a dyepot over a glorious wood fire (the smoke came in handy considering the array of insects keen to nibble on any exposed skin–Queensland would not be Queensland without critters).

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I was surprised to get a leaf print from one of the local banksias.

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And also to get green from one of the local eucalypts.  It doesn’t show as well here as it does on my new silk bag!

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This was one of my favourite things… a small collaboration  between leaf, insect and eucalpytus-dyed silk thread.

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But there was so much more… feet in the sand and the mud.  Banksias and mangroves.  The pleasure of being nourished by poetry wonderfully read and collectively created.  Admiring the creativity, beauty and thoughtfulness of my companions.  Time to play and time to delight.  Friends to make.  Leaves to be twisted into string.  And so much smiling.


Filed under Basketry, Leaf prints, Natural dyeing, Sewing

21 responses to “Retreat to Tin Can Bay 1: Things made

  1. Susan

    Oh you are one lucky ‘duck’, Planets aligned indeed…whoo Hoo
    going to go back and explore Tamborine Mountain……..Thank you.


  2. This is so marvelous. Cannot wait to hear and see more.


  3. purplejulian

    oh, very very envious – in a good way, and grateful for your blog, excited to be waiting for more


  4. lucky you it sounds like a wonderful time loking forward to more posts. I did a course with India in the UK a couple of years back and it is stil in my mind, she is such a wonderful teacher and peaceful person.


    • I can only agree…. hers are ideas that stay with you, aren’t they? I am finding myself taking up ideas from Eco Colour after having read it several times over a few years. One day they float to the surface and become interesting or possible… or simply, I understand them better with time and experience.


  5. I have longed (and I do mean LONGED) to attend just one little workshop with india (and the combo with roz is just a treat almost to sweet to contemplate) — so I have loved your show and tell post….. ‘one day’ I’ll get there….. sigh….


  6. i did contemplate this retreat….. so close, but the planets did not align for me (:


    • Such a shame! I thought of you before, on the highway going past the sign to the place where I believe you live… and on the way back (but by that time I knew for sure I wouldn’t be meeting you in person)!

      Liked by 1 person

      • one day …..but now how is this for spooky …… I entered your details onto the Eden Seeds data base ( have worked for Alf for 10 years ) by the way how did you go with the woad seed ??


      • I suspected as much as I have been a customer off and on for many years! I had no luck with the woad seed. I did get some of it to come up, but clearly it was utterly delicious–and it was munched to the ground in preference to my lettuce seedlings before reaching three leaves. I tried again with different seed more recently and if any came up, it must have suffered the same fate. I currently have some woad thriving bought at the local herb fair already big enough to make it in the vegie bed. Fingers crossed for that to grow, as I don’t seem to be blessed with an aptitude for woad!!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Wendi! I still had woad seed and it is now coming up! Fingers crossed (and I invested in iron based snail bait)…

        Liked by 1 person

  7. i love the way you turn a phrase, Mary.
    on a par with your exceptional turning of heels 🙂


  8. roz

    yep, that leaf collaboration ……


  9. If I say I might be a little envious you’ll know that’s the biggest understatement ever won’t you.

    It all sounds and looks wonderful!


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