Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Meet the Member - Benandjess

Please introduce yourself. Who are you, where do you live?

I’m Tracey and I live in Sydney, Australia in a house with pretty French windows near a national park with my husband Laurie, son Ben and dog Jesse. I am 42 but I tell everyone that I am 35!

My summer days are spent outside by the pool and my winter days are spent on the front porch near the rose garden. My scrapbooking desk looks out over my backyard and pool but my craft supplies are hidden in cupboards all over the house.

I’m a bit of a bower bird and love to collect old things. As I’m a self confessed craftaholic I collect vintage craft books, patterns and fabrics. I also collect vintage blue and white china. Here is some of my precious blue and white china collection.

I love reading especially cookbooks and old sewing books.

I try to go to the gym at least 3 times a week (to get rid of all that chocolate that I eat). I’m addicted to Pilates. I do some of my best thinking when I’m on the treadmill. I got the idea for my inspirational garlands while doing a 3 kilometre jog.

My favourite craft of all time is counted cross stitch.. I started cross stitching when I was 12 years old. My high school home science teacher Mrs Robinson taught me how to embroider and it has been a passion of mine ever since. I love the accuracy of it and counting the little squares.

This is my first cross stitch that I did when I was 12

I’m currently working on a tea time cross stitch

I also like to do thread painting embroidery. No paint is used the embroidery thread is your paint

How would you describe your work / style?

I go through spurts where I make like crazy and then I may not make anything for a week.

I get ideas when I’m exercising at the gym (strange but true!). I also have dreams about making things and when I wake up I write them down. I’ve just come up with an idea involving a French style dress as a wall decoration which I dreamt about. It may have something to do with the movie that I watched that night being 27 Dresses?

Colour is important to me. If you look at my Etsy store you will see a lot of colour. I like to use vintage inspired scrapbooking papers in particular the Basic Grey line of papers. I have a great stash of ribbons that I try to incorporate in most of my items. I use chenille fabrics that I’ve collected from my travels around the world to make my Scottie dogs.

I only make things that I enjoy creating. I feel that life is to short to be making things that cause you grief. For me its all about making things that make me happy and I hope that that shows in my work. I enjoy sitting at my scrapbooking desk and creating. Making something from nothing. My dream is that one day this will be my full time job.

Who, or what, inspires you?

Right now it is the changing colours of the trees. It is Autumn in Australia right now and this is my favourite time of year. The colours are amazing.

I also get inspired by a collection of 1940’s postcards that I inherited and vintage sewing books.

Sometimes it is a simple as a piece of paper or what someone says and that turns into an inspired idea.

What made you decide to start selling your work?

I started out making things and giving them to family and friends as gifts. People started telling me that I should be selling my hand made goods. Then an opportunity came along in the form of my friend Miss J. I met Miss J when our sons started at the same school 4 years ago. She had been selling at selected markets in Sydney for a few years and she graciously let me join her.

That then led to being on Etsy. Customers at the markets wanted me to have an online store so they could make a purchase when ever they wanted. One thing led to another I suppose life is like that. One door closes and another door opens.

Do you have a website or blog address?



How did you learn your craft? How long have you been creating?

I think I was born with a piece of fabric in one hand and a needle in the other.

I’ve always liked to create something from nothing. Creating something from nothing may have come about from watching my Dad work. He was a draftsman. He’d sit at this huge desk with a big blank piece of paper and draw these amazing buildings.

My mum had a great influence on me. Many wonderful things would come out of her sewing room made on her Elna sewing machine. I loved playing with her jar of buttons and fabrics. I can remember all of the doll’s clothes and linen, my clothes and knitted jumpers that she made for me. I still have the fabric dog she made me when I was a little girl.

She taught me how to sew, knit and to be the best I can be. She always had faith in me no matter what.

Over the course of my life I’ve learned new things along the way some self taught some at courses. I once studied European bread and cake at evening college for two years simply because I loved to bake.

So far I my craft portfolio includes: sewing, knitting, embroidery, scrapbooking, card making and basic crocheting.

Is there any other craft skill you would like to learn?

I try to do a few crafty courses each year. I’ve just did a one day work shop on how to take a new manila gift tag and make it look vintage. I took that new found knowledge and created this

I’d like to learn how to crochet. I can crochet a square but that’s about it. I need someone to show me how to read a pattern.

Anything exciting planned that you’d like to share?

I’m planning on entering a piece of my work in the 2011 Sydney Royal Easter show. This show is huge it is held for two weeks over Easter and its where the country comes to the city.

Have you had any work featured in magazines/books/galleries?

My embroidery has been featured at an art show on the NSW Central Coast.

Has your work won any prizes/competitions?

No I haven’t won any prizes. That would be because I haven’t entered any.

If I wasn’t doing this, I’d be………

Holidaying in the Bahamas (just joking that would only happen if I won lotto).
I’d be sitting on the lounge doing nothing probably being a sad old sole with a big hole in my heart. Craft is in my blood it keeps me vibrant and alive – eyes wide open.

Describe your perfect day.

Sleeping in, sunshine, family, friends, food.

Describe your proudest moment.

When our son was born. Our greatest creation yet. He is 8 now and he amazes me every day.

What do you do to relax?

Err, make stuff of course! LOL

I also relax by doing pilates, drinking coffee, eating chocolate and baking. I love to bake and then eat (see the theme here - create, bake, eat)

What animal would you like to be, and why?

A whale. The gentle giant of the sea who moves so gracefully regardless of her size.

What’s your weakness?

Eating to much chocolate and buying yet more fabric and paper when I don’t really need it but have to have it.


  1. Great feature Tracey! I love your china collection display. I love the fact that your wee dog mirrors the colourway so I'm guessing that you like blue and white!!


  2. What a GREAT inteview, Tracey Jane!!! SO good to get to know you a bit better! I had to laugh at the last question. I can't resist beautiful fabrics either! I have TOO MANY totes full in my basement that I am committed to cleaning out this summer! :)

  3. So nice to get to know you better Tracey! What a beautiful shop you have :) And, I have the same weaknesses...:)

    xo Nickole

  4. Thank you for sharing. I LOVE the needle point of the porcupine with the needle and thread!!! You are a genius with fabrics!

    I don't think my comment to this posted earlier. If it did you can disregard this post.

  5. Hi Everyone,
    Thanks for your kind comments. It is nice to be part of such a talented group of people.

  6. Thank you so very much for sharing!

  7. I loved reading about you, your loves, your weaknesses! I love chocolate and I often dream of making something and waking up to quick jot it down!


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