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It’s All About You – Interview with Ramona Barry and Beck Jobson

_ HML homepage slide show

Craft bloggers Beck Jobson and Ramona Barry are the forces behind the inspiring and generous blog, Handmadelife. We think that Handmadelife is a shining light in the world of craft and creativity and so we’re really excited to be able to present the seminar It’s All About You with Beck and Ramona this Thursday night.  If you tried to buy tickets and found that it was sold out, NEVER FEAR! We found 15 more chairs and so there are 15 more tickets available to purchase for the very reasonable price of $20. Come along and find out How to write, talk and present yourself to media, retailers, galleries and collectors without being a marketing expert.

We caught up with Beck and Ramona this week to gain some insight into the working process behind their successful blog.

1. Can you tell us how Handmadelife came about? How long has it been going?

Ramona: Way back in 2006 we were both at the front desk of Craft Victoria, Beck as Retail Manager, and I as Front of House and Admin. We were instant friends and had a shared passion in craft, design, art, cooking, anything that involved the handmade.  When I left Craft Victoria we wanted a way of continuing the conversation and blogs were just starting to become a big part of the craft world so we jumped on board. Beck named it handmadelife and we have been collaborating ever since.

Beck: I remember that within the first five minutes of meeting Ramona we discovered our mutual love for Craft, Buffy, obscure 70’s martial art movies and The ghost and Mrs Muir… and I knew we’d be friends for life. After we started working together side by side at Craft Vic it became a natural fit for us to want to collaborate further outside the office. We both had a background in publishing, loved talking about and making stuff and are both ‘early adopters’ so when Ramona finished up working at Craft Vic writing a craft blog together seemed an obvious fit.


2. Ramona and Beck, you both have strong individual voices in your blog, do you have clear roles in the creation of content? Or is your process more fluid?

Ramona: We both lead really complicated lives, juggling, family, work, and friends. We used to try and approach it in a planned manner but find that it has to be more fluid for it to work for us and not be a burden. We do try and start the week highlighting an exhibition so we have a chance to share and promote makers we think are amazing. But you can’t tell one week from the next what we’ll have on there. Our voices are different and we do bring our own ideas to HML – but our passion for the handmade knits it all together.

Beck: Ramona’s right, at the start we were much more focused on thematic scheduling and role clarity, but as things in our lives have evolved with children, different jobs and outside projects our method has also evolved into a more organic process.  I think the difference in our voices and interests enriches the blog – it’s much more conversational and we cover a lot more territory than we would otherwise – and it’s nice to surprise each other (and the audience) with new things coming from very different parts of the craftiverse.

3. One of the great things about HML is that it is open to all disciplines of making, from ceramics, painting, jewellery, textiles. Your readers have the luxury of being introduced to unique and diverse makers, all in the one forum. Do you have a preference for one discipline over the other?

Ramona: That is impossible to say. We both collect ceramics, I absolutely love jewellery and Beck, with her background, is passionate about textiles. As writers and commentators we like to dip into all areas to really understand the process of making. We both paint and draw and love skill building. This year alone has seen us bookbinding, printing, dye, crochet, concrete plaster casting, terrarium making, macramé and of course jewellery. We are also avid filmgoers, foodies and gardeners. What I can say is our preference is for makers. It’s the people that make things that really keep us engaged and interested.

Beck: I think as people we’re open to anything, I’m as fascinated by what inspires and compels people to make as I am about the finished project.  As Ramona said, we’re both makers, collectors, observers and incessant commentators (sometimes to our families dismay!!!)  and we’re both insatiably curious. I think it’s the combination of all of these things that draw us to other people who seem as hopelessly obsessed with thinking and making, irrespective of their material outcome.

takashi pages

snawklor pages

4. Where do you both go to for inspiration?

Ramona: There are three layers to our inspiration cake. The first one obviously is online: blogs, Tumblr, and Pinterest –  I think combined we have around 10,000 pins. Magazines used to feature heavily but with the advent of the Ipad not so much anymore but we certainly are still big fan of the book. Working on our own has made us revisit our collections (close to 500 books) to see what works and what doesn’t. It’s also really important to get out into the world and see what other people are doing. See shows, read the paper, listen to the radio and talk to each other – a lot.  Many people complain of information overload but we are sponges for all of it. The beauty of collaboration is that it’s a shared experience; there is always a chance to debrief about what we’ve seen.

Beck : Everywhere. I’m a big believer in just opening your your eyes, ears, mouth and hands and seeing what falls into frame. Record shops, movies, the interwebs, libraries, shops, gardens, travel, people, mountains, beaches, galleries, just walking the streets. You name it, can inspire me… as my lumbering and overloaded instagram account will attest. I’m shamelessly curious by nature and I love nothing better than alone time in a café, tram or train to watch the world and the people in it doing their thing. I try to be an unobserved observer wherever possible.


5. Can you tell us a little about your upcoming book that will be published by Thames and Hudson? How did this come about? And by the way, congratulations on this amazing book deal.

Ramona: We certainly can’t take all the credit. It was an idea first proposed by our publisher, which we then developed. We can’t tell you much but we can say it is going to be like nothing seen before. It will thread all of our handmadelife philosophy together in one beautiful volume that hopefully will inspire, promote, educate, energise and articulate the relationship between professional and domestic craft, art and design. It is a dream for us to work with such an amazing publishing house and we can’t wait to share it all with you. We could not have imagined when we started handmadelife that this is where we’d end up and we couldn’t be more excited.

Beck: It’s an incredible offer that’s been made to us! And Ramona’s right we can’t take all the credit – our publisher is amazing and she had a pretty good idea that we were able to shape handmadelife style. After having self published “I make stuff “a few years ago to now have the opportunity to collaborate on a project with a real live publishing house is pretty mind-blowing and to be honest, at times a somewhat overwhelming proposition. We hope the new book it will build on the work we’ve done in handmadelife articulating the contemporary craft scene as an inspiring and inclusive arena, while still managing to throw  people a few surprise curveballs.

Thanks Beck and Ramona and we look forward to seeing you on Thursday night!

Handemadelife image for seminar copysm

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