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  • Writer's pictureVisit Coochiemudlo /nc

Beading island sisters learnt their handiwork from mum

A handmade present will always be special, but this year, you could leave the creative work to the island's artists and makers. The Coochie Handmade Mother’s Day are on Saturday, May 13th - just in time for mum’s special day.

These are our fourth local handmade pop-up markets on Coochiemudlo, held at the Red Rock Café. Sisters Trish and Elissa Miller from Bay Island Beads, will again show and sell their stunning pieces.

We have met with Trish to learn more about the art of bead weaving.

Visit Coochiemudlo: You're known as bead weavers - what's the best way to explain that to jewellery lovers?

Trish Miller: “Bead weaving (off loom) involves weaving beads together with a needle and thread to form a flat fabric or dimensional shapes. There are many different stitches. Bead embroidery uses needle and thread to attach beads to a fabric surface.”

VC: Tell us about Bay Island Beads - what is it and what are its aims?

TM: “Bay Island Beads is part of the Visit Coochiemudlo artists’ cooperative and it is the collection of our work at any given time. We always have new, one-off pieces on the go and only very occasionally do we repeat a piece, usually on commission.”

VC: Does bead weaving have a history? Where does it come from?

TM: “Both have a history dating back thousands of years with pieces surviving from Ancient Egypt, Europe and North America.”

VC: How did you start out working with beads?

TM: “We have always been involved in creative handiwork. As early as three or four, we were taught by our mother to knit, sew, crochet and to make things from whatever was available. It was just what you do.”

VC: What are the main types of beads you work with, and where do you source them?

TM: “Our mainstay is glass seed beads. These range in size from extremely small (size 15) to rather larger, pea-size (Size 6). Our favourites are cylinder beads made by Toho and Miyuki of Japan. They are precision-made with an accurate bore and come in a wide range of colours and finishes. In particular, they produce a beautiful flat fabric with a silky drape.”

VC: What inspires you to create a piece?

TM: “We are inspired by the colours and shapes of nature and like to incorporate natural gemstones into our work. The marine environment of the islands has certainly got the creative juices flowing.”

VC: Does practicality ever take precedence over aesthetics in your work?

TM: “Most of our pieces are wearable although two recent ‘statement’ pieces were purchased by buyers intending to simply display them under glass. Occasionally we will embellish everyday objects as an affordable and useful representation of our work.”

VC: How long have you been on Coochiemudlo Island, and what brought you here?

TM: “We moved to the islands from the NSW Northern Rivers looking for a caring community closer to Brisbane. We knew no one when we arrived and consider ourselves fortunate to have landed in such a beautiful part of the world.”


The Coochiemudlo Handmade Markets have been set up by local artists and to have one island market event every month. They alternate with the five traditional foreshore markets – on Australia Day, Easter, Flinders Day, September and November markets.

Make sure to come over this Saturday 13th for the Mother’s Day Edition and find a truly unique gift for Mum! 11am-3pm at the Red Rock Cafe on Coochiemudlo Island. More details about participating artists on our event page or call for information at 0450 039 320.

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