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Weaving her island experience

The control of exotic plant species is a controversial issue throughout Moreton Bay’s island suburbs, but one Coochiemudlo Island resident has made her arts practice all about harvesting weeds and other natural and human-made materials, and transforming them into beautiful and practical items.

Jacqui Cresswell has lived on Coochie for almost fourteen years, a period which has seen her passion for fibre art blossom.

“I started using natural fibres when I arrived here on Coochiemudlo Island because so much of it was landing in my garden from palms and trees,” Jacqui says.

“Many years ago I had worked briefly with cane, and finding the local vines and plants brought back the desire to weave.

“I weave with mainly natural fibres which I source locally. That’s why I call myself a fibre artist. I also call myself a basket weaver, but because I also do sculptural pieces, sometimes I am referred to as a fibre artist.”

Jacqui collects vines that are declared weeds in this part of Queensland, such as morning glory (Convolvulaceae), corky passion vine (Passifloraceae) and cat’s claw vine (Macfadyena unguis-cati). She also uses garden prunings such as jasmine and grape vine.

“The palm inflorescence [flowering stem] is abundant here and is lovely to weave with,” Jacqui says. “I also use found ‘stuff’ like washed-up rope, wire, and even recycled plastic bags. Mostly I source from my local environment here on the island.”

The unique structures and lines of her raw materials, and their varied textures, inspire the making of Jacqui’s pieces, as does nature itself.

“The local vines themselves twist and turn around the trees creating wonderful woven shapes,” she says. “I gather in the local bush, and seeing the beauty but also the messiness of nature also acts as inspiration”.

“The finding and collecting of materials has brought me closer to nature and made me look more closely and walk more slowly.

“Birds and spiders, of course, are nature’s best weavers and they too provide inspiration.”

Jacqui regularly runs different weaving workshops - random weave, melon/ribbed basket, basic twining and string making - and at the up-coming Coochie Handmade Expo on Saturday March 11 at the island’s Red Rock Café, she’ll be sharing string-making basics with customers.

“Weaving workshops show different techniques and people can experiment with many different fibres and plant materials to create a woven basket, wall hanging or sculptural piece.

“I have found weaving to be therapeutic, meditative and healing, and I hope that people who do my workshops have a taste of this plus enjoyment and fun.

“Weaving together in a group is a beautiful way to be together and has probably gone on for thousands of years in most countries of the world.

“It is reviving an ancient craft with ties to a simpler and more ‘in touch with nature’ lifestyle which is a change from our plastic throwaway society of today.”

A great line up of island artisans will be joining Jacqui at Coochie Handmade Expo on March 11, including ceramicists Denise and Viv Wright; bead artists Elissa and Trish of Bay Island Beads and silversmith Richard Moon.

Qualified massage and beauty Therapist Emma Flanagan of the island’s Organic Simplicity will also be selling her beauty products and gift vouchers, with handmade products to revive hard-working hands!

Many of the artisans will be sharing basic handmade processes of their work. For more information please contact Michael on 0400 977 816.

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