This retail business is on a mission to build community.
Some couples have brunch together; others start businesses. Maggie May and Josh Kelly do both. In 2016, when Maggie’s macramé workshops outgrew their living room, the couple went hunting for a studio space and fortuitously stumbled across a location with the potential to think big. Breaking the mould of a traditional retail experience, the pair opened Think Thornbury, a community-focussed store and creative workshop venue where thinkers, makers and doers are at the forefront. In partnership with Bank Australia, the bank Think Thornbury chooses to manage their finances, we spoke to Maggie and Josh about creativity, community and business.
You’re the husband and wife duo behind Think Thornbury, but also talented creatives in your own right. Tell us a bit about your creative practices.Maggie May: I have a background in interior design and retail, and taught myself macramé along the way. I started my creative macramé practice Middle Aisle and began teaching workshops in our living room – slowly, the classes became too large to host at home, and that prompted us to find a new space that eventually led to Think Thornbury. Josh Kelly: I’m a musician and play the saxophone. I teach music while also playing in several bands, and am currently working on a new commission for the Melbourne Jazz Festival.
How did Think Thornbury become a way to support your individual creative careers, while also building a stable foundation for your future? JK: We started considering what it would mean to get a bank loan to buy a house, and chatted to Bank Australia – it was an eye opener. We discovered we had no assets to work with. MM: Even as two people working as much as we could, in a creative field, we found it quite challenging. Think Thornbury came from the idea of wanting to build an asset for ourselves using our creative skill set and retail background, while also being community-minded.
Why was it important for you to offer a service that went beyond traditional retail? JK: We knew of so many amazing Melbourne retailers focussed on local design, and wanted to do something different. We decided a strong ethical charter where most things we stock are Australian made was important to us, and from that idea, we really wanted to create a space that activated the community. We wanted Think Thornbury to be more than a shop where you buy things, but a place where you can learn a skill as well, so we started our workshop series with local makers (and Maggie!). MM: We stumbled across a location that was larger than we expected, which gave us the opportunity to think big. We thought, if no one else is going to open that cute creative space that’s very much needed in our community, we should have a crack at it! Our tagline is ‘supporting thinkers, makers, doers’, and running a shop downstairs and workshop upstairs in tandem fully embraces our vision.
Why is it important that you advocate for this sense of local community spirit? MM: Without wanting to sound too idealistic… because it makes people more connected and happier!
What advice would you give someone wanting to take the plunge and start their own creative business? JK: To have resilience! A lot of people give up after their first year because they’re not making enough money or their business isn’t where they thought it would be, but you really have to see the hard times out and push through with your vision. Eventually, you’ll reap the rewards of your hard work.
This inspiring chat was created in collaboration with Bank Australia, a customer-owned bank creating a positive impact for people and the planet by investing in not-for-profits and renewable energy projects. As part of its leadership in the clean money movement, it guarantees its customers’ money won’t support industries like fossil fuels, live animal exports and gambling. Find out more about Bank Australia’s ‘Clean Money’ promise here. You can also flex your creative muscles with Maggie and Josh at Think Thornbury workshops.
Put down that denim jacket and direct your puff paint at the closest op-shop vase instead.
In frankie issue 90, we gave five local makers a once-loved craft and tasked them with updating it for the modern day. Below is the results of designer Rachel Burke's efforts, along with her handy DIY so you can give it a whirl at home. Peep the rest of the crafts inside the latest issue of frankie here, or subscribe from $10.50.
For DIY puff paint: 3 cups foam shaving cream 1 cup flour 1 cup white glue, like PVA food colouring of choice ziploc-style sandwich bags
For the project: pencil or marker puff paint, bought or homemade (see how-to below) plain pot or vase
Make homemade puff paint
Pop the shaving cream, flour and glue into a large mixing bowl and gently stir until they’re blended together. (The aim is to keep some air bubbles in the shaving cream.)
For multiple paint colours, divide the puffy mixture into small bowls and add a few drops of food colouring to each. Stir gently, being careful not to over-mix. Leave some white, if you wish!
Spoon the puff paints into squeeze bottles or sandwich bags – a bag will make it a little easier when covering larger surfaces. If you choose that route, seal the bag up nice and tight at the top (maybe even adding some thick tape for extra sturdiness), then snip off one of the corners to create a DIY nozzle. Now you’re ready to roll!
Decorate your vase
First off, use a pencil or marker pen to lightly sketch the design you want to create on your vessel’s surface. (We went for a simple pattern of squiggly lines and shapes.) Once you’re happy with your design, you’re ready to get painting!
Shake your puff paint bottle or bag to ensure the mixture is nice and thick and ready to go. Using a generous amount of paint is a good idea to ensure your artwork has a full and ‘puffy’ look – now’s not the time to skimp!
Carefully squeezing out the puff paint, trace the outline of the shape you’re creating, then fill in the whole shape (almost like you’re colouring in). Try to keep the flow of paint even, so the puffy texture is consistent across your surface area.
Continue this method until all your shapes are filled, then leave the vessel to dry overnight. The paint will probably get even puffier over time as it sets!
This super-easy project will make even the coldest and greyest of winter days instantly more colourful.
Stand out from the crowd with this cheerful umbrella DIY: the super-easy project will make even the coldest and greyest of winter days instantly more colourful.
solid colour umbrella made from nylon – I bought mine for a few dollars from a variety store acrylic paint textile medium paintbrushes paint palette or containers iron
1 In order to make the acrylic paint waterproof and permanent, you will need to mix in a substance called ‘textile medium’ according to the instructions on the bottle. Mix up your colours in a paint palette or container first.
2. Now it’s time to get painting! As my umbrella had eight panels, I decided to paint two different patterns and alternate them around the umbrella starting with wavy blue stripes. By using a wide bristled brush you can maintain a very neat and consistent striped pattern. Paint one whole panel, then continue on to paint every second panel with the same pattern.
3. For the second pattern I chose to use a contrasting pink and white dashed pattern. Begin by painting the pink dashes all over the remaining four panels. After this is dry, you can go back and paint the white dashes randomly over the top.
4. After all the paint has completely dried, go back and touch up any area that may need it. Depending on the type of paint you use and the colour of your umbrella, you may want to go over some areas to make the colour more opaque.
5. Before you start using your umbrella in the rain you will need to heat set the paint – otherwise it will not be permanent and you could wind up in a colourful puddle! Open the umbrella up and, using a piece of scrap fabric as protection, iron it on the inside using the lowest synthetic setting. Be very careful, as your umbrella fabric could melt if the iron is too hot or left on for too long! Follow the instructions on your textile medium bottle for accurate heat setting times. This step is a bit fiddly, but it is important to make sure all areas have been heat set. You can always test that you have set the fabric properly by wetting a test area and making sure that the paint has adhered properly.
6. Voila, you are finished and ready for whatever Mother Nature throws at you!
Here’s one way to put your empty moisturiser jars to good use.
It’s a question that’s plagued us since we first slathered moisturiser on our faces: what to do with empty cosmetic containers? Well it turns out that they make rather lovely receptacles for your littlest plants – think succulents and new cuttings. With a quick paint job, as demonstrated by the clever cogs at Sweet Paul, these upcycled jars will look good enough to perch atop your coffee table or mantelpiece. It sure beats tossing more stuff into the trash.
Give your local birdlife a sweet spot to hang with this build-it-yourself retro camper.
Thirty bucks. That’s all it’ll cost to get your craft-loving mitts on one of these retro birdhouse camper kits. And you don’t even need any glue to put it together. Simply nab one from clever maker Marcus Williams, aka 1Man1Garage, snap the pieces apart and whack it together. With eight eye-popping colours to choose from, you’ll be able to select a camper that suits your outdoor area down to the ground. If not, you can always get a neutral version and paint it whatever shade you fancy. Here’s to charming stuff!
Mould your next craft project or batch of baked goods into some rather novel shapes.
Etsy sellers sure make the darndest things. Take this shop full of quirky silicone moulds for example. You'd have been hard pressed to find a shop like that in your neighbourhood, but thanks to the internet, you can even order the niche-est of moulds for all your future fancy baking sessions or craft projects. Want to make a cameo-shaped soap bar? A cake-shaped candle? The options are seemingly endless on the MoldMuse catalogue.
How to whip up a lovely piece of framed fibre art.
Oh the things you can do with some yarn and a bit of patience. Sandra, the clever cog behind the French blog Jesus Sauvage has a nifty method for making a woven piece of décor, complete with a calming mountain scene. To get started on weaving your own picturesque landscape, you’ll need a wooden frame, nails, and a hammer, along with a collection of yarn and wool needles. And unless you’re fluent in French, you might also need to get your Google translate going to follow Sandra’s instructions. Luckily, her photos help to make it a pretty straightforward DIY. Pop by Sandra's blog to check it out in full.
Keep your pin collection tidy using this space-themed embroidery hoop.
With an endless amount of beautiful enamel pins out in the world, amassing a collection is easy as. Finding a place to store them – now that's the hard part. Rather than keeping your precious pins locked away, this embroidery hoop will add a bit of fun to your wall or desk, while also keeping them in order. Plus, it works just as well for storing earrings, too.
MATERIALS 20cm embroidery hoop 30cm x 30cm of 16 count cross-stitch canvas in your chosen colour. (The count refers to how many squares per inch, so 16 count is quite a tight weave and allows very delicate cross-stitch, but you could use any count, really.) Range of stranded embroidery cottons. (I ended up using mustard, jewel green, mint green, pale pink and bright coral colours – just make sure your threads show up well against your canvas colour.) Hand-sewing needle Scissors
1. Place the inner hoop under your square of cross-stitch canvas and place the outer ring on top, pushing it down to hold the canvas taut. Tighten the screw at the top as necessary. Now you can start sewing.
Cut a length (roughly from your hand to elbow) of one of your embroidery cottons. Separate two strands and thread these onto your needle, then tie a knot at the end. (As this embroidery is quite delicate, we’re just using two strands at a time.)
Download and print this diagram out if you'd like to sew the same geometric shapes as I have, or make up your own designs!
2. Once you’re happy with your embroidery, turn your hoop over and trim your canvas with sharp scissors as close to the hoop as possible.
3. Turn your hoop back over and you’re all ready to store your pins!
For more rad DIY projects from Anna, be sure to check out her new book – it's filled with bags for just about every occassion.
Holy moly. We may have just found the DIY to end all DIYs.
Holy moly. We may have just found the DIY to end all DIYs. And we have very little to say about it, because a) we're still trying to pick our jaws up off the floor, which makes saying anything at all rather difficult, and b) its awesomeness is pretty self-evident. MAKE-IT-YOURSELF, PERSONALISED GUESS WHO. It's all our childhood dreams come true in one handy-dandy craft project.
Sneak some snaps of your chums then find the full instructions here.
Get everything you need to start crocheting your own winter accessories.
Need something to keep your hands busy (and warm) this winter? We reckon these crochet kits from Homelea Lass will kill two birds with one stone. Homelea Lass is run by Lynda, who puts together a number of crafty packs such as the chunky crochet starter kit. Inside, you'll find 300 grams of Merino wool, a crochet hook and access to 14 different online patterns and video tutorials. (There’s patterns for scarves, beanies, teapot cosies, stool covers and cushion covers, depending on what you fancy making). If you’d like to get your mitts on a kit, send us your deets over this-a-way, and let us know if you’d prefer the cumin or oatmeal-coloured yarn.