Friends' Craft Groups at the Cottage in the Gardens

  • The Friends' Craft Groups welcome visitors to their meeting days

  • New members, especially beginners, are especially welcome to join a group

  • Visitors and non-members are all welcome to come and watch

  • To take part in a craft group you need to be a member of the Friends
  • Join the Friends to become involved

  •  see below for information about the groups and their meeting and demonstration days

  •  Friends are reminded that Plant Craft Cottage has an extensive reference library on plant crafts.


Where: 
          Friends' Craft Cottage, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Melbourne Gardens, H Gate

Time:             10.30 am - 2 pm - Dates for each group listed below
Cost:              Free entry. Come along.    
Bookings:      Bookings are not required    
Enquiries:     (03) 9650 6398

Craft Groups at the Cottage
(Adobe PDF File)

Basketry Craft Group

This Craft Group meets on the 3rd Wednesday of the month. The Group investigates the use of plant material, Australian and introduced, to make a wide range of baskets. Techniques range from traditional stitching and weaving to free form construction with vines and creepers. In recent times the Group has made basketry items from corn husks, pine needles, vine prunings and red dogwood, and experimented with dyeing basketry materials.

We have had a steady group of 8 - 10 members at the Basketry meetings over the winter months producing a diverse range of basketry for the shop. 
The  Stitched Lavender Basket Workshop in May which was well attended by a lively group who enthusiastically produced some beautiful little baskets stitched with cotton or raffia.


Gemma Cotterell, the Acting Horticulture Team Leader, has confirmed that she will be providing us with Dogwood prunings in mid August. Put on your random weave hat and come up with some creative ideas.


Read more about

Garden Secrets for Basket-Makers

Basketry Views

Meetings/Demonstrations:   18 December 2019, 19 February, 18 March 2020

Natural Dye Group

This Group meets on the 1st Wednesday of the month. The Group works with natural dyes and researches their preparation and use in the dying of cotton, silk and other natural fibres. The dyes are extracted from the leaves, flowers, fruit, stems and roots of plants. Some of the dyes used have been madder, logwood, camomile, eucalyptus, thryptomeme, correa and indigo. The Group also uses the Shibori technique to pattern cloth. A reference collection has been established and is stored in the von Mueller Resource Centre. Read more about plants used...

In June the Natural Dye Group worked with home grown Weld and the results were curious. Not the brilliant yellow that Weld is known for. We discussed the role of climate, soil, water, time of picking and the influence these have on potential colours. Also, clarity of mordant processing may have had an impact. Testament to the wonders of working with the same plants across years, and nature’s habits.
July saw us getting some lovely blues with Saxon Blue. This comes from the Indigo vat mixed with diluted hydrochloride acid. We noted that whilst materials being dyed in Indigo do not need to be mordanted, the use of a mordant with Saxon Blue was found to lead to stronger colour and fastness of colour. Marigolds, with their gentle yellow were also used; as a first dye and then the Saxon Blue gave a nice green. 
These skeins have been added to the Shop supply.
In August we plan to rework some Marigolds and over dye the yellow with a few different colours to see what emerges.

Meetings/Demonstrations:     4 December 2019, 5 February, 4 March 2020

Working with Fibre Craft Group

This Craft Group meets on the 2nd Tuesday of the month. The Group specialises in the use of the plant fibre fabrics and threads cotton, linen and jute. They study ancient crafts, as well as traditional and modern ones. They use the skills with a view to their appreciation in everyday use. In 2016 we spent a number of meetings on 'scrumbling' or free form knitting. Read more about this ....
The group continues to meet on the second Tuesday of every month. This year we have been exploring textile jewellery, crocheted, knitted, knotted and stitched. The last two months members have been producing items for sale in the Shop and pursuing their own interests – knitting, crochet and embroidery.We are always happy to welcome new members.
Meetings/Demonstrations:        17 December 2019, 18 February, 17 March 2020

The Knitting and Crochet Group 

We invite you to join our friendly group of knitters. Our first project was to knit/crochet a Poppy and contribute to the Remembrance Day Poppy Appeal 2018. Future projects include knitted fruit and veg. or your own special project. All welcome, Join the Friends to take part in the activity. We are looking for some new faces who would enjoy crafting with us
When:  3rd Tuesday of the month from 10.30 am  - 12.30 pm
Where: 
Plant Craft Cottage, RBGV, Melbourne Gardens, near H Gate
Materials:  BYO wool, crochet hook/knitting needles
Tea and coffee provided.

Paper Group

The Group experiments with plant fibres and recycled paper to make handmade paper and sculptural forms. In recent times they have made plant fibre papers using New Zealand flax, tried various ways of decorating paper, both commercial and handmade, and investigated different types of bookbinding.
Read more about the Paper Group......
Meetings/Demonstrations:    the Paper Group currently have no planned meeting dates

Plant Card Group

This Group meets on the 3rd Thursday of the month. The Group presses flowers, leaves, grasses, weeds and even seaweed and uses them creatively to decorate home-made and commercial cards and bookmarks. They specialise in landscapes and creatures, and seasonal themes. 
We planned well for our annual Cards for Kids and prior to the Workshop, had prepared plenty of packs for the children attending and some extra packs to spare. On the day, we had 6 children attend in the morning session, who were most creative and beautifully focused on the task in hand.
In the afternoon we had 15 children who had arranged to come as a group and on arrival exploded into the room and maintained a steady chatter for the rest of the session. 
Meetings/Demonstrations:    20 February, 19 March 2020

Pot Pourri Group

This Group meets on the 2nd Friday of the month. The Group dries, strips and mixes herbs, spices, fragrant barks, leaves and flowers to make perfumed mixes having a variety of uses. Some of the items they make include both moist and dry pot pourri, pomanders, drawer sachets and insect repellents. They are also experienced in sand-drying flowers to retain their shape and colour. Moist Pot Pourri Sachets and Heather's small jars of Moist Pot Pourri are popular items in the Shop.

Members filled and packaged the wheat bags and these are now ready to cheer the winter nights. In July we had plenty of lavender so our Roster ladies helped out once more with the stripping, whilst other members made more packaging for future wheat bags.
We filled a few more Drawer Sachets with moist pot pourri, but spent most of the time taking the Pot Pourri Boxes to pieces and repacking them. 
We are hoping for slightly better weather in with bay leaves, both for sale and for the Moth Repellent mix which we hope to amalgamate prior to bagging.

Read more about The Art of Pot Pourri  and Moth Repellent

Meetings/Demonstrations:   13 December 2019, 11 February, 10 March 2020

Cottage Craft Shop 

The cottage crafters produce a wide variety plant craft items and other material for sale in the Craft Shop in the Cottage. Some of the items produced include kitchen herbal wreaths, scrapbooking kits, flower holders, garden tool holders, rosemary salt, cushions and a wide assortment of bags.
Take the opportunity to visit the Cottage Craft Shop full of hand made gifts. Hand dyed items, beautiful cards, Friends' calendars and cards, and festive themed gifts. Parking available on Alexandra Avenue and enter the Royal Botanic Gardens via H Gate.  The Craft Cottage is open Tuesday to Friday 10 am to 3 pm and the 3rd Sunday each month
Meetings/Demonstrations:    Visitors and volunteers most welcome - please come to the shop in the cottage during opening hours.

Cottage Garden Group

This Group meets on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month. The Group maintains the Cottage garden with advice and assistance from the staff of the Royal Botanic Gardens. Plants suitable for use by the Craft Groups can be found in the cottage garden. To join this group please contact the Friends' office.
Since our last report autumn has been and gone and winter has well and truly settled in. Various salvias seemed to hog the limelight over the autumn months and their flowers were much enjoyed not just by people, but by birds, specially the little Eastern Spinebills, and by lots of bees. The salvias are now all but finished and we have already cut some back and can see the new season’s growth already appearing. Autumn also saw the flowering of the lovely white Sasanqua Camellia in the top part of the garden, almost non-stop flowers on the Rotheca myricoides (Butterfly Bush), little chrysanthemums, both pink and yellow, rosemary and the continuing blooms of various geraniums/pelargoniums. Winter has ushered in Winter Iris (Iris unguicularis) both blue and white, the first jonquils and hellebores, and the rather nondescript but very sweet-smelling Wintersweet (Chimonanthus praecox) which in the past couple of weeks has been very busy dropping its leaves all over the path.
Some months ago we became aware of some self-sown ‘mystery’ plants growing on the bank beside the driveway gate to the Cottage. We watched these grow bigger and bigger and kept wondering what they were until we eventually decided that they were Paulownias (probably Paulownia tomentosa) and liable to grow ‘like Topsy’ into very large trees!  Needless to say, steps have been taken to remove them whilst still small enough to do so with relative ease.
As usual, our gardening days have been mostly spent on the usual garden maintenance tasks.  In recent weeks our numbers have been quite depleted owing to various members being away travelling, with health issues, or with work commitments.  We hope that some new members will soon be encouraged to join us and swell our numbers and help cover these unavoidable absences.

Location Map
(Adobe PDF File)