August and Craft Cubed

Throughout August we got very hands-on down at Laneway Learning as we participated in Victoria’s Craft Cubed. We found that Melbourne *really* loves its arts and crafts.

So, as alluded to last time, we kicked off the month a day early with Cate Lawrence from Green Renters teaching us how to make our own Homemade Bath Products. For the whole night The Little Mule was filled with the smell of a spa (masking the usual edible deliciousness!) as a host of essential oils wafted through the air. Everyone left the class with bath bombs, salts and mud masks – great for a gift with a personal touch, but maybe even better as a treat for yourself!

We then started Craft Cubed proper by getting creative with paper. We made some gorgeous sculptures in 3D Paper Art – Paper Sculptures with Louise Seymour, aka PaperLou from PaperLab, who has been obsessed with paper ever since she was a little girl. Starting off with a slide show of some magnificent projects created by the giants of the paper world (the incredibly realistic bird was definitely my favourite) our enthusiasm for paper was let loose and we continued to cut, fold and glue our way through the night. You can read PaperLou’s own blog post about her evening at Laneway Learning here.

In Paper Craft – Stylish Invitations with Jazmine Bradley we looked at the history of invitations, and learnt some tips and tricks, including what tools of the trade can help us go from amateur to professional in a flash. Then we got hands-on, making our own oh-so-stylish invites but without the snooty price tag!

We did a bit more playing with paper as Erica Louise of Recycled Fashion took a class called Upcycling – Making Bowls and showed us how to make bowls of any shape or size out of recycled paper. Although the concept is actually wonderfully simple it did turn out to be a bit more fiddly than expected and there were quite a few groans as half made bowls became unwound!

Now then, although we were really excited to be taking part in Victoria’s Craft Cubed one of the things we love most about Laneway Learning (apart from it being fun and totally awesome) is the variety that we have. So, we got a bit of academia into the month, starting with Maia and Science in the Kitchen. This class included all manner of interesting and intriguing facts from preserving food to how you can end up with garlic breath even if you don’t eat any. Maia also took us on a culinary adventure as we made ice cream from scratch. Just ziplock bags, ice, salt and tasty ingredients required. Yum!

Halfway through the month we got foodie, or rather drinkie, with Mark Free of Black Coffee for Black Coffee – 5 Brews in 50 Minutes. With everything from coffee bean, to temperature, to grind size, to time affecting the final product he shared with us his five spectacular brews that we can make at home, without any fancy equipment. We talked about the wonders of coffee and learnt that it contains over 800 different compounds that influence flavour. Compare that to the 400 or so in wine and you start to understand why Mark Free is passionate about getting straight up black coffee to taste great.

And then we were on to fabric. Eleanor from Kick and Screen spent an evening teaching us how to do our own Screen Printing: The Basics and after practicing the techniques with stencils on paper we moved on to the real thing. By the end of the night everyone went home with their own customised tote bag and we even scored ourselves an awesome Laneway Learning stencil! Staying stylish whilst caring for the environment, double win.

We got a little more geeky as Lucas Rutten and Tom Morgan told us about the The Internet – From Cats to Latvian Crime. What is it? Where does it come from, and go? And why is it covered in cats? Between our two teachers an interest in cyber law, the internet’s uses in education and innovation, the connections between urban and virtual societies, and the potentials embodied in a rapidly cybridized world began to surface. We looked at the origins and current ecosystem of the network, as well as its technologies and platforms to discover how to find what you want on the web and get there most effectively. We also discussed ‘best-practice’ activity surrounding security and identity-protection. If you didn’t quite get your head around it the first time round, or just don’t remember it all, you can find their presentation here.

Our very own Tom Ding took a class himself, teaching us how to appear much cleverer than we are whilst annoying our mates by mastering Cryptic Crosswords for Beginners. Tom explained the different types of clues that exist in cryptic crosswords and with a bit of practice and gentle hinting there were ‘ahhh’s of understanding going around. Tom explained that his slight obsession with cryptic crosswords stems from the fact that there is a very human element to them, making it more of a game with the setter than other types of puzzles. A really awesome, clever game.

For the last week of the month Erica Louise returned to The Little Mule with Making Rosette Brooches, showing us that there is a use for those little scraps of fabrics. With just a few twists and a couple of stitches  you can make a pretty rosette, and with a little bit more work we turned those rosettes into snazzy little flowers to turn into brooches, hair pins or anything else you fancy really!

Then, we pushed all the chairs and tables to the side and got physical as Kelly Goding gave us a whirlwind tour of Karate: Self-Defence. Starting with an introduction into the concepts and history of martial arts we then got to know each other and moved onto the practical side of the class. Using some basic techniques we built up a series of moves and looked at basic kata such as arm bars and wrist rolls. Everyone at the class left geared up and brave enough to join a martial arts club on their own.

Clare Burder of The Humble Tumbler took us on an exploration of wine. How it ages, where the flavours come from and what we should be looking for in a glass, or bottle! After learning about grape varieties and wine styles we looked at the structural elements of wine by testing and tasting the roles of acidity, sugar and tannin. Clare was great at teaching us the basics of wine appreciation Laneway Learning style – that is, accessible, interactive and fun, and without all the fancy wine guff. Thanks to Wine: A One Night Palate Trainer we need never be lost in the bottle shop again.

Finally, Brianna lugged two knitting machines for Machine Knitting 101 down to Laneway Learning and showed us how to create knitted items (supposedly) super quick and relatively hassle free. We weren’t quite so fast as your usual machine knitters, or as Brianna who owns the knitwear label Jack of Diamonds, but we had a lot of fun anyway. And whilst our crafty month had seen the gender balance swing in favour of the ladies Machine Knitting helped the boys bring it back just a little bit. Although they seemed to have been drawn in by the machines much more than the knitting…