I’m a self taught leather worker and run my own business. I’ve been learning to do both as I go and I’ve found a crucial key to making a go of it has been seeking out other makers and questioning them about what they do, how they do it and how we can help each other. I’ve discovered that we have an amazing community of makers who are willing to support each other, right here in our very own Newcastle. As a result, so many fantastic products are being made that are of a global standard. I reckon that is something to be celebrated. Leather goods, furniture, surfboards, ceramics, fashion, bicycle accessories, and beeswax products are just some of the things made in this great city. There’s a big movement towards knowing the origin of products we buy and buying them from the person who made them, like in years gone by. That’s a fantastic thing and with Christmas coming, I thought I’d make a gift list from some of the local makers I’ve come across.
Anchovy Quad - Jye Byrnes Surfboards
For me as a maker, the surfboard industry is a constant source of inspiration. There is no other industry I can think of where local makers are so prolific. Newcastle especially has a history of surfboard shapers that we should all be mega proud of – Mark Richards, Sam Egan, Pacific Dreams. You come across these boards all over the world and they’re made right here. Jye Byrnes, along with his old man, has made quality boards for decades. You can still walk straight into their display room and buy one off the shelf or discuss a custom board. That’s the kind of shop I love. The Anchovy Quad is a special board. It’s Jye’s take on a board that has been incredibly significant to the progression of surf board design: the Steve Lis fish. Jye brings his own features to the board that translates to smooth lines and drawn-out turns on the wave face. Perfectly suited to small-medium size days, of which we have plenty in Newie. Available: 16 Maitland Rd, Islington. www.jyebyrnessurfboards.com.au
Keep Cup - Good Grief Ceramics
Ceramics is another thing that is going off in Newy. We have ceramicists that range from those making work that is available from excellent handmade markets all the way through to makers that are household names in certain parts of the world. What I love about Good Grief Ceramics is not only how damn beautiful they are but (given my own predisposition to loving things that are functional) Jen makes a really great Keep Cup. They are a 10oz wheel-thrown stoneware cup. Clear food-safe glaze inside and textured periwinkle glaze outside for easy grip and heat resistant properties. We all love coffee but putting your takeaway cup in landfill is definitely not cool. Gift a Keep Cup and grab yourself one too so you can drink coffee in style. Reduce waste, and get something beautiful at once. Win, win. If you’re local you can check out their studio when you buy it. www.studiogoodgrief.com
Hunka Down Low Wall Bench - Round 2 Timbers
These guys have been around for close to 10 years initially providing Newcastle with quality Australian recycled hardwood, then moving into a whole range of custom joinery products such as decks, windows and tables. In December they will release their own furniture range of coffee tables, benches and shelves. Made from quality recycled materials, the range features designs reminiscent of the era of mid-century furniture where design aesthetic and timber selection were so important. Round 2 Timbers launch the range at ‘The Fernery’, at 84 Fern Street, Islington, on December 8 from 5:30pm, running until December 12. They’ve been my go-to guys when I’ve needed timber in the past and I can’t wait to see their furniture. www.round2timbers.com.au
Totes Tea Towels - High Tea with Mrs Woo
The three sister combo that is High Tea with Mrs Woo have been designing, pattern-making and producing all their products in Newcastle since 2004. Incredible right? These ladies are a big source of inspiration for a lot of Newcastle makers. Their designs are beautiful, comfortable and elegant. What I particularly admire about their work is the fabrics they choose and how they really showcase them in their designs. Made from linen fabric offcuts, the tea towels are made oversized for more uses in the kitchen. The extra length means more material to fold around bakeware from the oven, the extra width makes it an easy double as table cloth and the extra stitch-work uses and celebrates the material in an interesting way. Available: 74 Darby St, Cooks Hill. www.highteawithmrswoo.com.au
Chaff Bags - Bike Bag Dude
Bikepacking, bike touring, gravel grinding...Whatever you want to call it, it’s a bike trend that’s starting to make waves in Australia and has been huge in the US for years. I can safely say that there is not a single bikepacking event in the world that doesn’t have someone riding, and probably winning, with Bike Bag Dude bags. Sure enough, the Bike Dude in question, Kedan Griffin, makes the bags right here in Newcastle. They are famous for being super water-proof and ultralight. The Chaff bag lives on your bar and is handy for little snacks and anything small you need to access quickly. If you are interested or know someone into riding, any Bike Bag Dude product is a top gift. www.bikebagdude.com
Board Balm - Urban Hum
Surfboard wax that is 100 per cent naturally produced using ingredients that are sustainably harvested and made in Newcastle. I can’t think of a present more gift-able than that. It’s a product for the surfer who loves the ocean as much as the surf. Urban Hum produces honey and a range of beeswax products collected from hives placed all around Newcastle. The flavour of each honey jar is unique to the suburb the hives come from. Find them at local markets or order online. Available: Olive Tree Markets, Yardsale Islington. www.urbanhum.com
The Square Belt - Hide + Seeker
For quality leather goods, I’m your guy. I make all of our bags, belts, and accessories from start to finish in our shop. I’ve designed and redesigned all of our products over and over to make sure that the quality and craftmanship is the best. We have a range of products that make excellent gifts. I know this for a fact as I’ve gifted them to my friends and family for years and it’s definitely making me more popular amongst them. If I had to pick one thing as a go-to gift, it’s hard to go past one of my belts. My favourite is my Square Belt. I use Australian saddle leather for the strap, Italian braided nylon for the hand stitched thread and a Japanese solid brass buckle. The combination is very simple and very beautiful. Everyone needs a good belt and wanting one myself led me to leatherwork. If you want to be more popular with your loved ones, I firmly recommend the gift of leather. Available: 92 Maitland Rd Islington. www.hideandseeker.com.au
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