Come to a Friends' Craft Group meet up

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

  • New members, especially beginners, visitors and non-members are all welcome

  • Come along, watch and ask questions of any member of the Craft Groups

  • Join one of the Craft Groups and take part in Craft Workshops

  • Join the Friends to become involved

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

          Plant Craft Cottage, Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne, near 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

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.

On Friday 6 October 2017 the Basketry Group hosted a children’s school holiday workshop called ‘Get Crafty, Come Weaving’. Ten children participated in the workshop, where they used pipe-cleaners and string to make a small colourful basket. Some of the older children were so enthusiastic they even squeezed in two baskets in the two-hour workshop. The workshop was run by Libby Andriske, Lyn Brown, and Lydia Beshara. Thank you for making this a successful day.

On 18 October the Basketry Group was joined by about 15 members of the Basket-makers of Victoria. Despite the electricity supply being cut off only minutes after people started to arrive, everyone had a very good day. It was opportune that Mary Jost produced a gas stove from the Dye Group and everyone enjoyed a ‘cuppa’ for lunch. It was an unusually hot day for October and it was very pleasant sitting outside with the garden in full glory.
Lydia Beshara – Co-ordinator
The Basketry Group is interested in making some larger works which can be displayed in the Cottage garden. We will be working on ideas over the coming months to develop designs and sourcing materials. 

Read further insights on Basketry ...
Meetings/Demonstrations:       21 February 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.

With a noticeably cold winter, attendances at meetings have been rather low. We thank Anne Dluzniak who taught us to make brooches with indigo dyed cotton fabric. We have taught newer members to wind skeins and brushed up our own skein winding skills. This is to be followed by mordanting and dyeing with Eucalypt leaves.

We will be holding a Natural Dye/Eucalypt leaf dyeing workshop in April 2018. To find out more or to book look for the workshop under Whats On
Meetings/Demonstrations:     6 December 2017, 7 February, 7 March 2018

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 ....

This year seems to have passed very quickly.  Members of the Fibre group are again making Christmas decorations.  It doesn’t seem that long ago since we were making them for last Christmas. The challenge each year is to find new ideas and try giving older, popular ideas a new look, however, it is a lot of fun. 

In the Fibre group display case there are some pieces from the ‘Seaside images’ exhibition, part of the celebrations for the 10th birthday of the PCC. They were made by members of the past, unfortunately we don’t know exactly by whom. They are beautifully made with amazing detail and workmanship. They were found during the tidy up of the shed and it seems a shame to not have them on show occasionally. Also in the case are the results of our couple of months of embroidery over the winter, it was very satisfying to spend longer on a project and the results are beautiful.

Meetings/Demonstrations:      12 December 2017, 13 February 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. 

As the winter months end and spring comes to the Cottage, the Card Group is making a push to help stock up on cards for the Christmas season and a stockpile for reopening in January 2018.  With a small group of dedicated members we have produced some beautiful cards and maintained a stock of cards for sale during the year.  

We have kept up a steady supply of card-making kits and ensured we all keep producing flowers for them, and continued producing  unique and cute creative cards.
Meetings/Demonstrations:      16 November 2017, 15 February 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.

We have been busy assembling Starter Kits for Pot Pourri, whilst Frances stripped plant material for Moth Repellent. This will be amalgamated in November to ensure winter woolies are safe over the summer months.

Moist Pot Pourri Sachets and Heather's small jars of Moist Pot Pourri are popular items in the Shop.
Read more about The Art of Pot Pourri
Meetings/Demonstrations:       8 December (clean up) 2017, 9 February, 9 March 2018

Cottage Counterpart Craft Shop 

The cottage crafters produce a wide variety plant craft items and other material for sale in Counterpart, 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 garden. To join this group please contact the Friends' office.

On the whole we have continued to be treated to good, and on some days, absolutely gorgeous weather for our gardening mornings with the exception of one morning in September when it was inclined to rain and ‘drip’ a bit, but not sufficiently to deter us completely!  The rainfall over the past couple of months has been a bit spasmodic with some very good and very welcome falls, but then weeks of very little rain at all.  In the final weeks of September and early October there has been a feeling of summer about and parts of the PCC garden are already looking as though a good drink would not go amiss. 

As the area at the side of the Cottage, beneath the Peppercorn Tree, is no longer being used as a dedicated area for mulch, the decision was made to convert this space into garden.  Adnan Mansour, together with Angela Mitchell’s husband, has installed a retaining edge of sleepers and we have already moved some clivias and hellebores into this space.  We hope that such plantings will enjoy this sheltered and shady spot.

A Sweet Pittosporum growing on the bank above the driveway entrance to the Cottage has developed what appears to be a fungal infection and is looking decidedly unwell, with yellowing foliage and peeling bark.  The problem was reported to the RBGV and the arborist, and it is possible that this tree will need to be removed.  This pittosporum has provided shade and shelter to the area beneath it and so if it goes the micro-climate will completely change and thus we will need to review what is planted there and move and replace things that will not thrive in a much sunnier and more exposed situation.

We were sorry to have to say goodbye to Jacqui Hawkins in September.  Jacqui has headed home to England now that she and her husband have come to the end of their two year stint in Melbourne.  In her time here Jacqui pitched herself wholeheartedly into involvement with the Gardens, the Friends and the Garden Group.

On our last gardening morning in September Michael McNabb (Manager, Horticulture, RGBV Melbourne) visited the group again and talked to us about planned developments in the Gardens and the thinking behind the transition planning that is necessary to prepare for the predicted warmer and drier climate of the future.  Michael also suggested a tour of the RBGV nursery for the group and this has been arranged for late October.

Over the past three months the garden has been blooming brightly, with rosemary, wallflower, jonquils and daffodils, white violets, purple flags, daisies, clivias, hellebores, arcotis, Spanish Bluebells, geraniums, the Kowhai (Sophora microphylla) and Waxflower (Philotheca verrucosus, syn. Eriostemon verrucosus) amongst others, all flowering for much of this time.

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.