Friends' Craft Groups at 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.

          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.
In May we ran the Red Hot Poker Basket Workshop with the help of Lyn Brown, Libby Andriske and Lydia Beshara. Whilst it was initially challenging for some participants, everyone did well to complete a basket. Ten participants attended and we had very positive comments about the workshop.  Thank you to Sheila Evans for supplying much of the material for the workshop.  
(right) Photo by Lydia Beshara: A few of the baskets made by workshop participants.
Our project for June and July was this lovely open “orange basket” (right). The Basketry Group started with making the frames in June, using cane, with seagrass god’s eyes and will aim to finish their projects this month using a range of natural materials.

Lydia Beshara – Co-ordinator

Read further insights on Basketry ...
Meetings/Demonstrations:     19 September, 17 October (annual visit to Basket Makers of Victoria, Wattle Park), 21 November 2018

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...

Natural dyeing, using gas bottles and near boiling water, is of necessity an outside activity, be it summer or winter. The group has recently enjoyed some of Melbourne's best cold weather, with, in June, dyeing with Coreopsis flowers and leaf printing in July with steaming on various fabrics and papers. 
At the July meeting we also packed dozens of handkerchiefs dyed with indigo. 
In August we will dye wool with madder.
September will see us dyeing with lichen.
In October we will be exploring the use of soy milk as an aid in natural dyeing.
November will find us replenishing handkerchiefs and scarves.
In December we will enjoy using our annual indigo vat.
Meetings/Demonstrations:   5 September, 3 October, 7 November 2018

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 ....

We have spent the last two months working on fabric brooches, using ideas from the book “Wild Women- - stitched art brooches” by Sarah Lawrence. The brooches may be beaded and embroidered, and decorated with lace, ribbon, charms and buttons. These have been a lot of fun to make.

At our July meeting we moved on to making a cushion with a combination of patchwork, appliqué, embroidery and stitching. I think we are all approaching this project slightly differently, it is also the type of project that takes more time and one which I hope we will enjoy.

Meetings/Demonstrations:      11 September, 9 October, 13 November 2018

KNITTERS !!! - Join the Knitters' 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.

 3rd Tuesday of the month from 10.30 am  - 12.30 pm
Plant Craft Cottage, RBGV, Melbourne Gardens, near H Gate
Materials:  BYO wool, crochet hook/knitting needles
Tea and coffee provided.

Dates:   18 September, 16 October, 20 November 2018

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 is hoping to meet on the 4th Wednesday of the month please phone Jean on 8588 1824 if you are interested.

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. 

Although a small group we have had good attendance at our monthly meetings, and had a most productive day in June, when we prepared the packages/kits for Cards for Kids. Our holiday activity for children is always fun and fully booked in advance. This year was no different and we had 10 'kids' booked for each of am and pm sessions, on 12 July. There were plenty of flowers and leaves from which the children could choose.

With the start of the new season, we are looking forward to spring flowers emerging for us to press, and a new batch of cards for sale in the Gift Shop.
Meetings/Demonstrations:      20 September, 18 October, 15 November 2018

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.

Pot Pourri is not confined to the lovely bowls of petals we may display on our side tables. In order to perfume our homes all the year, the making of Moist Pot Pourri is one of our skills; and recently we were visited by the President of the Herb Society of Victoria who requested a demonstration for a few members of the society.  A day was arranged and on the second Tuesday in July Heather Schroeder showed them the sequence of turning fresh rose petals into a lasting perfume by salting the petals. This process enables the perfume to last very much longer in containers and has the added advantage that it can be put into Sachets for drawer perfume.
With winter upon us the Heat Bags of aromatic wheat have been made and they are now ready for sale in the Gift Shop.

On the OHM Saturday the boxed Rose Pot Pourri we had prepared were sold on the day. Our Group day in September we be a demonstration of Moth Repellent using strewing herbs such as wormwood (Artemisia absinthium), southernwood (Artemisia abrotanum), cotton lavender (Santolina chamaecyparissus) etc. Do come along to find out what ‘etc.’ is!

Meetings/Demonstrations:      14 September, 12 October, 9 November 2018

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.

Due to the enthusiastic growth in the garden over the past few months there has subsequently been a need for much trimming and cutting back, especially of the salvias as their flowering period comes to an end. As well as the usual maintenance tasks which we all undertake, we have been busy re-vamping the patch of garden at the base of the cliff beside the path to the shed and have moved and replanted a number of cliveas there. The old lilac growing in the top garden between the path and the fence was removed, as it had deteriorated beyond recovery. 
The diseased (and deceased) Pittosporum undulatum growing on the bank above the main path leading to the Cottage was removed by RBGV arborists in June 2018 together with some dead branches on a pine tree growing in the same area.  It was decided to leave the pittosporum stump in situ as it is thought it will continue to stabilise the bank and getting machinery in to remove it would be extremely difficult and hazardous.
In the past three months the garden has been blooming brightly with various salvias, plectranthus, rosemary, chrysanthemums, Seaside Daisy (Erigeron karvinskianus), geraniums, Butterfly Bush (Rotheca myricoides) which has flowered over many weeks; the lovely white Sasanqua camellia growing in the top garden, Red Hot Pokers, Winter Iris (Iris unguicularis), a few early Purple Flag iris, jonquils, and in June, has been perfumed by the Winter Sweet (Chimonanthus praecox).

Two Special Interest Groups focus on the day-to-day activities of the Cottage.

House Group

This Group is responsible for household duties at the Cottage.

Roster Group  

The members of this important Group are the hosts in the Cottage each day it is open. They introduce our local, interstate and overseas visitors to the history of the Cottage and the range of plant related crafts practised.
Location Map
(Adobe PDF File)