Welcome to Autumn Hub Market - Wrap Up

The Blue Mountains Makers kicked off this year’s markets with a Welcome to Autumn Artisan Market at Springwood Theatre and Community Hub on Saturday March 2. We had a spectacular day, with lovely sunshine and a gentle breeze. Many locals and visitors from Sydney came out to support our local makers.

We had a number of debut stalls, including Virginia Burrow Design, Shack Stuff, Parchment and Moss, and Elizabeth Rose Ceramics to name a few.

There was a wonderful variety of handmade products on offer including fashion, jewellery, art, children’s toys, homewares, accessories, gourmet food and skincare.

Market Stall Checklist

To round off our little blog series on creating the best Market Stall experience you can, we have put together a handy checklist document for you.


The day of a market can be hectic. You’re up at the crack of dawn to drive to the venue for bump-in. You have about two hours to get your stall completely set up and ready to trade. Hopefully it’s a busy day with lots of visitors meaning you will most likely be on your feet all day, chatting and serving customers. Then you have one, maybe two hours to pack down your stall, cart it back to your car for loading and drive home to a well deserved glass of something cold. Phew! What a day.

Being prepared ahead of time and ensuring you have packed everything you need will reduce market day stress and the need to dash home to get something you’ve forgotten. We have used our collective market experience to put together a list of Market Day necessities, also leaving room for you to fill in more specific items or merchandise you want to take.

And remember….Always Be Prepared!

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Eight Tips for a Successful Market Day

Whether it’s your first time or 50th time, setting up and running a market stall can be a daunting process. Early bump-in times, long days, un-predictable weather, there are many things you need to be prepared for. We have put our heads together and come up with eight tips to help you achieve a successfull market day.

  1. Be Prepared

Do not wait until the day of the market to pack your car! Prepare your stock, price tags and signs the week or at a minimum the night before. Make yourself a list of what stock you want to take and what displays and signs you will need. You may find it beneficial to do a mock set up at home and take photos of it so that on the day you are not trying to work it out. You will have generally two hours to set up your stall at most markets, so it’s handy to have a rough idea how you’re going to do it. Pack yourself a market bag with essential items and don’t forget a cash float.

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2. Be friendly and welcoming.

Greet everyone who enters or comes up to your stall with a welcoming smile and a polite “Hello how are you”. Acknowledge them but don’t immediately hound them with your rehearsed sales pitch as this can be off-putting. If you notice them lingering and looking at a product intently approach them in a friendly manor and tell them a bit about it. In-your-face sellers can be off putting to a lot of market shoppers. It is a fact of market life that not everyone is there to shop, some people are just enjoying a pleasant market day stroll and browse. Don't be disheartened or resentful if they don't buy something, they may return!

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3. Stay off your phone.

It is totally fine to jump on to social media to share your market stall, but do not sit there all day with your phone in your hand. You will come across as a disinterested stall holder and shoppers will find this rude and think you to be un-approachable.

4. Be on time and follow organisers instructions

It’s important for the smooth running of every market that you follow the organisers bump-in schedule and instructions. Be there on time for your allocated bump in spot. Tardiness will reflect poorly, as will any instructions that you ignore from a market official. Markets have strict bump-in and bump out policies to protect both stallholders and the visiting public. These are also in place because they are hiring the venue for those set times.

Just as it’s important to be on time for bump-in, it is equally important to follow the bump-out instructions. If you are instructed not to pack up until the market close time, then be sure to follow this. Stall holders who begin to pack up before a market finish time send a message to visitors that the market is closing early and they may leave before looking at other stalls.  

Organisers are most likely hiring the venue which will have its own rules that need to be followed. There may be an official from the venue marking which stalls didn't respect the conditions and will discuss this with organisers. It may be out of the market organisers control once the venue manager has decided a stallholder has done the wrong thing.

Food and drink stalls will have their own extra set of rules and regulations to follow, always be prepared for unannounced council inspections. Check back with council and venue requirements regularly.

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5. Have a good looking stall

It’s important to have a well planned out stall design. The look and feel of your stall should reflect your business brand. Stalls with consistent merchandising displays are eye catching and creates a feeling of cohesiveness and professionalism. For tips on designing your market stall and keeping stands safe and secure from crazy weather see this post.

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6. Keep your stall secure

If you are an outdoor stall, be prepared for crazy weather. Not checking the weather forecast doesn't cut it with organisers.

It's baffling seeing people show up without adequate weights, these can be purchased online or from camping shops and hardware stores. Purchase proper weights, fill them with wet sand or quick dry cement for extra weight. Some people use double weights tied with ocky straps to the legs and some will also use a huge weight for the centre of their marquee which they tie on with a rope. You can cover your weights with fabric if you're worried about how they look, but please have them. Some markets won't allow you to set up without them, especially if pegging into the grass is not allowed. Take your roof, backdrops and walls down if it's getting windy, keeping these on will create a parachute like affect and your stall will fly away.

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7. During quiet times stay active

During busy phases of a market your products can be picked up by customers and put back down in random places. Sometimes neatly arranged items can be rummaged through as customers browse.  When there is a quiet time use it wisely to tidy up your displays, and refill empty props or stock if necessary. It is also more enticing for customers to come and look at your stall if they see someone else there.

Stay visible and ready to welcome people to your stand even during quiet periods in a market.

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8. Care for the community

Have fun! Market stall holders are a bit like carnies. We are a community of small business owners trying to bring our products we've put our heart and soul into, to the public.

We should all support each other,  you will find you see some of the same people you've met working at markets and festivals near and far. Many become friends and it's great to celebrate the good market days, business goals and get through the tough ones together. If you need help, someone will be there who's probably gone through something similar. We stand stronger together, especially on crappy weather days, all holding down our marquees!

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Market Stall Design

Taking the time to theme or style your stall creates an inviting and interesting space for customers to immediately understand what your business is about. It helps to characterise your products and give them a personality. Putting the effort into styling your stall also shows people you are a serious business, people want to relate to your brand and support it. Creating something immediately recognisable, even from afar will help you to be sought after and stand out.

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The design of you market stall should be in keeping with your brand. Use materials and displays that are in keeping with your brand's style and also your business ethos. If you sell organic products, then consider using natural cotton tablecloths and recycled timber display stands. Plastic, shiny displays would jar against the products you’re trying to sell, as well as your business eco mission.

Write a list of what products you have to sell. Use this list to then draw up some ideas and ways to display your products specifically. Consider items that need to hang? Maybe you have lots of small items, or do you have large bulky items? It doesn't matter if you don't use all of your ideas, once you start this process you may find you have a clearer idea of what will work

Give yourself a budget, it needn't cost too much. You can always revise or set goals to improve your stall in the future. Op shopping is a great way to find affordable pieces to display or style your stall. Garage sales can also be a fantastic place to find stands. You can upcycle found items like boxes and shelves by giving them a new coat of paint, covering them in fabric or turning them into a display.

http://scoutvintagemarket.blogspot.ca/2012/06/more-photos-of-scout-by-sharalee-prang.html

http://scoutvintagemarket.blogspot.ca/2012/06/more-photos-of-scout-by-sharalee-prang.html

Think about the layout of your stall. Make a list the main foundation display items you have and their dimensions, such as tables, shelving units, clothes racks. Start by drawing up a plan with these pieces. There are many ways to set up your tables. Think about if you want a walk-in stall, or if you want people to stand outside of your stall. On hot days you might like to consider allowing some shady space for customers to stand under.

https://soapmakingclasses.wordpress.com/2016/09/12/9-great-craft-show-layout-designs/

https://soapmakingclasses.wordpress.com/2016/09/12/9-great-craft-show-layout-designs/

Doing a mock set up at home can give you the time to work it out. Are there lots of blank spaces on your tables? Is there too much walking space? Is everything laying flat on the table? Do you have a good tablecloth that covers the legs?

When people stand in front of your stall and look around, what do they see? Putting yourself in the shoes of the customer helps in seeing the space clearly. Does it look empty and unapproachable?

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http://thefinderskeepers.com/photo-gallery.html?utm_source=pinterest&utm_medium=social_organic&utm_campaign=gallery

Think about what's above and behind you, is there a lot of blank space, consider filling this with something to break it up. Banners, wreaths, garlands, bunting, signs, and hanging stock ( if suitable) can help.

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https://www.flickr.com/photos/renegadecraftfair/15334622765/in/set-72157647700345896

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http://claireabellemakes.com/2014/11/25/renegade-craft-fair-london-2014/#comment-295192

Think about where you’re going to stand or sit. You want to look approachable and not off putting. Consider being in a position that allows you to see who is entering and leaving your stall. It is a sad fact but shop-lifting does happen at markets. Being able to see your customers and see them interacting with your products at all times can help to minimise theft.

It’s a good idea to set your self up a space where you can take sales. Have an area where you can gift wrap, bag up items etc. This could be a stand alone counter or just a small area of your table set up behind a display stand

Highlight a feature product, best seller or a great deal. This creates a talking point and an opportunity to talk with your customers.

Do you need to offer sampling to your customers so they can try a product? Think about how you will display your tester items. Make sure tester products are clearly labelled and identifiable. Use disposable paddle pop sticks or timber spoons for people to try products hygienically.

http://www.ninasbees.com.au/

http://www.ninasbees.com.au/

https://paudhahealing.com/

https://paudhahealing.com/

If you’re selling clothing consider setting up a discreet change room for a customer to try the item on. And don’t forget a mirror so they can see how fabulous they look! Likewise if you are selling jewellery or small apparel items have a hand held mirror (or two) on hand so that a customer can see the piece on themselves.

Think about how a customer will engage with your product. Can they easily pick an item up to look at it more closely? Be careful not to overcrowd items so that a customer doesn’t feel like they will send an entire display to the ground if they pick up one item for a closer look.

Give your stall an identity with a good business name sign. How will a shopper know what your business is if you don’t tell them!. Make it prominent. Your business name sign should be a representation of you business branding - logo, fonts, colours, materials. Other important signs to consider are payment method, website, social media and contact details.

Product and pricing signs are also important and should also reflect your brand style. Consider price tags on all items. Many shoppers will dismiss a product or item if the price isn’t clearly shown.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/archimedesandme

https://www.etsy.com/shop/archimedesandme

Don’t forget to have business cards and promotional flyers on hand for people to take. Having a clip board with a Newsletter sign-up sheet is also a good idea.

https://www.etsy.com/au/shop/EcolierKids

https://www.etsy.com/au/shop/EcolierKids

Remember to be prepared for different weather. Can things be clamped or tied down? Are stands heavy enough? If you sell lightweight items is there a way they can be individually pegged or held down with elastic? Baskets can also help with keeping things together. Consider weighting your displays with flexible weights. Fitted tablecloths hold up better in the wind because they won't flap around as much. Consider sewing elastic on in stripes to hold down stock

Ensure that your floor stands are stable and can be adjusted or stand firm on any type of ground. Many outdoor markets have uneven ground. You could be on grass, pavement or even dirt! Stacked table stands should also be stable. Avoid using wobbly display stands, or placing stacked displays where people could easily bump into them and make them fall down.

Also know the limitations of the Market site. Most markets will provide you with a stallholder layout map a week or two prior to the market. Study this map to work out where your stall is positioned. Do you have a corner stall or do you have stalls either side of you? This will impact the way you set up your stall space. What are the sight lines to your stall, which direction will customers be coming from? Having an idea on this lets you orientate certain products and signs that are eye catching.

Also be aware of what you can and can’t do or have at the Market. Some outdoor market sites will not let you peg items in to the ground. There also could be restrictions on tying things off buildings or trees. Always be respectful of the Market Terms and conditions as they are put in place to protect you and visitors to the Market.


Here are some display ideas:

  • Frames can be used to display all sorts of things, prices, jewellery and of course artwork.

  • Baskets can be dipped in paint and lined or kept natural.

  • Vintage suitcases are a good way to transport and display stock

  • Timber boxes can be stacked to create different spaces to showcase products

  • Pegboards can be used to display hanging items big or small

  • Add height to your stall with tiered timber display stands and hanging apparatus.

  • Timber A-frame displays a great for hanging clothes. Add timber planks and you have a set of shelves

  • Old wooden ladders can also be turned into a shelf display system, or used to hang items off etc

  • Mannequins are great for displaying clothes, hats, scarves etc

Pinterest is a great way to create an inspiration board with styles and themes you like, you can get ideas of how to display products and create stands. There are loads of ways to upcycle using bought and found items you may already have.

Check out The Blue Mountains Makers Market Stall Ideas board on Pinterest.

Most importantly have fun! This can be a great way to really show what you're about. Merchandising is a creative exercise that anyone can do. If you need, feel free to ask advice  in the group, or you could do a mock set up for family and friends.

Written by Nisa Stone and Leela Brown



Blue Mountains Makers Artisan Markets

The Blue Mountains Makers are excited to be hosting not one but two Artisans Markets this year at the Blue Mountains Theatre and Community Hub in Springwood. The team hosted their successful inaugural market last August, offering a curated selection of local handmade and artisan stalls to the public.

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After overwhelming positive feedback from both stallholders and the community, The Blue Mountains Makers are proud to put on another two Markets this year, focussing again on local handmade and artisan businesses. With such a variety of local talent in the Blue Mountains, these markets are set to showcase a diverse range of products including art and design, homewares, jewellery, fashion, beauty and health and children’s toys.

The first Market is on Saturday March 2nd, 9 to 2pm to welcome in the Autumn Season. The second Market will take place on Saturday August 31st, 9 to 2pm to welcome the coming of Spring. Be sure to put these dates in your calendar, you won’t want to miss it!

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Please note: Applications for the August market have now CLOSED.

Etsy Made Local Blue Mountains 2018

On November 24th the Blue Mountains Makers held their third Etsy Made Local Christmas Artisan Market. This year’s market was a stand out event, both for the local Mountains community and for the organising committee. With an estimated attendance of 8000, we thank everyone who came to support local Artisans and Makers.

Once again, our market was held in the tranquil Heritage Listed gardens of the Norman Lindsay Gallery. It's wonderful to know each year that more people discover the Gallery and Gardens by visiting our market.

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If you visited on the day you may have spotted this darling little duck family

If you visited on the day you may have spotted this darling little duck family

It was a busy day from start to finish, and a very early start for the members of the committee who had to set up their own stalls as well as bump in stall holders, organise the workshop and kids craft spaces and ensure everyone was ready for the Market opening.

This year we had a great variety of stalls with something to cater for everyone. From handmade timber furniture by the Leura Bodger, beautiful botanical art by Alison Dicken, children’s toys by Miss MoMo’s Heartfelt Creations and stunning jewelry by Madeline Chalftan. We really are lucky to have such a thriving and talented creative community in the Blue Mountains.

Etsy Made Local is made up of Artisans who sell their wares on Etsy.com an online marketplace that connects sellers with customers worldwide. The Blue Mountains Makers are so proud to partner with Etsy to bring about this amazing event.

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The market is also a fantastic family fun day out. We had a variety of amazing food stalls including Sincerely Cake, Sorelle Eats and Underground Coffee Roasters. This year the committee made some unique table centrepieces for the picnic area. Many visitors enjoyed picking out the various art and craft tools and materials.

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Market goers were also entertained by five wonderful local buskers including Allegra Dunning and Dave James. Children were also kept entertained by Lisa’s World and the beautiful Rhiannon Flower Fairy who wandered through the gardens greeting children.

This year we had a wonderful workshop run by Hanaya Origami Artist on how to make an origami flower crown. The workshop was a great success with all the attendees going home with their very own handmade flower crown.

Children were not left out of the creative making, with a colouring competition and weaving project to get their crafty juices flowing.

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This year we held our first “Craft De-Stash” stall to raise funds for Buy-A-Bale, which is a national charity that aids our farmers who are doing it tough. We were apprehensive, but needn't have worried as the stall was a resounding success, raising $545! Thank you to everyone who donated, we hope you are enjoying your crafty bits and pieces. A big thank you to everyone who dropped off craft donations to the stall, many stall holders donated craft goodies, as well as market day visitors.

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The Blue Mountains Makers would like to give a special Thank You to the following local businesses and volunteers who help to make this market successful and special:

The Norman Lindsay Gallery

St John’s Ambulance

Springwood Rotary Club (our wonderful parking officials)

Charterplus Bus co (and especially our Shuttle Bus driver)

The Blue Mountains Gazette - for our editorial feature

Haze Magazine - for our editorial feature

Insight Magazine - for our editorial feature

Colour Art Australia - for your generous prize donations to the Colouring-in competition

Jodie Mcleod and Eloise Short, Author and Illustrator of Leonard the Lyrebird - Not only did Eloise donate the colouring-in image from the book for the competition, but donated a book as a prize also

Rhiannon Flower Fairy

Lisa’s World Face Painter

Cleaner Robyn

Wonderful Husbands - Ben,Tom and Daniel for helping to set up, pack down, bump-in stall holders and man the Craft De-Stash stall...legends!

Jo Dunning, photographer and dog wrangler extraordinaire!

Maria Harding for her beautiful graphic design and banner work.

Of course we would also like to thank our talented buskers:

Tom the Pom

Allegra Dunning

Julius Timmerman

Dave James

Lynsey Mackey

Lachlan the Blue Mountains Piper was sadly missed

Thanks to our delicious food vendors:

Underground Coffee Roasters

Sincerely Cake

Ton Tiki

Sorelle Eats

MJS Cocina

Zensational Coffee

Fresh Corn Fritters

Yellow Things

Springwood Rotary Club Sausage Sizzle

And of course a massive thank you to our amazing and talented Artisans and Makers (See previous post for Artisan Stall Holders here.)

And that’s a wrap for Etsy Made Local 2018! We will be back next year with more markets.

Follow along on Facebook and Instgram for future market dates and opportunuties.

The Blue Mountains Makers Inc.




Etsy Made Local Blue Mountains - Our Stall Holders

The Etsy Made Local market brings together makers and artisans from the local community and gives them an opportunity to showcase their wares and tell locals about their handmade journey.


The Blue Mountains Makers is hosting their third Etsy Made Local Christmas Artisan market Saturday 24th November 9-3pm in the idyllic grounds of the Norman Lindsay Gallery.

This year we are proud to bring market goers more than 50 unique Artisan stalls. There really is something for everyone, from kid’s toys and clothes, to fashion and accessories, ceramics and art, jewellery and craft supplies, candles and beauty products.

The Etsy Made Local Market Blue Mountains is a wonderful way to shop local this Christmas and to show your support for our local makers.

In this era of mass production and the need to acquire ‘all the things now’ it is more important than ever to support the makers that are helping to keep traditional crafts alive. We have some wonderful craftsmen and craftswomen at our market this year, including wood carvers, ceramicists, spinners, sewers, and artists. All of our makers have a story to tell and they are all passionate about what they do.

Below is a list of our Stall Holders. Do check out their Etsy Shops. You might just find that perfect gift you were searching for!


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The Etsy Made Local Blue Mountains Artisan Market is on Saturday 24th November, 9-3pm at the beautiful Norman Lindsay Gallery, 14 Norman Lindsay Cres, Faulconbridge NSW 2776

Feature Maker: The Mulberry Two at Etsy Made Local Blue Mountains

We are extremely fortunate in the Blue Mountains to have a thriving handmade community. From artists and sculptures, to sewers, spinners and fibre art, local makers are keeping traditional crafts going. This is true for sister duo The Mulberry Two who are keeping the craft of wood carving alive, creating beautiful homewares.

This year we are excited to have The Mulberry Two debuting at their first Blue Mountains Etsy Made Local Market. We asked Lucy and Rosalie to share a little bit more about their creations, the processes they use and what sparked the idea to start The Mulberry Two.


Tell us about the Mulberry Two: Who are you and what do you do? 

We are two siblings united by a love of hand-crafting and passion for sustainability. We like to try our hands at many different crafts, and we hope to include these in our offerings down the track, but for now we are focused on carving scoops and spoons in as many forms as we can dream of! 

What lead you to start The Mulberry Two? 

It’s hard to pinpoint that first spark that set what we’ve now named The Mulberry Two in motion.  Maybe it was making mud pies under our giant mulberry tree as kids, or cooking funny face shaped pikelets on Friday afternoons but as siblings we’ve been creating together always. 

Now we are grown up it can be harder to get together and nurture that creative spark, so recently we made a double pinky promise with each other to make it a priority, and we named this The Mulberry Two. 

Where did the name Mulberry Two come from? 

Our childhood home had a glorious mulberry tree in the backyard that most of our childhood adventures seemed to revolve around. It was HUGE, about one story high, and it had a “cubby house” with a basket on a pulley that could be used to send mulberries to the kitchen (or as we preferred it – a picnic basket from the kitchen to our cubby). We threw around lots of names at the beginning, but The Mulberry Two felt the most “us”. 

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Can you please describe what you make and the processes you use to create them? Do you use any particular methods, machines etc 

We make unique wooden hand carved scoops, spoons, and trays. We collect freshly fallen wood, split it and saw it into manageable sized pieces. We then carve it while green using a small selection of hand tools - usually just a hook knife and a straight knife. When we are happy with the piece we leave it to dry out slowly (too quick and it may crack!) before doing finishing cuts with a sharp knife, which leaves a polished surface - smoother than if sanded. After this the spoon is branded with our makers mark and finished with a few coats of a blend of locally sourced beeswax and sustain-ably sourced coconut oil. 

What materials do you use to make your items? Where do you source them from? 

We use predominantly green wood to make our items – this means that the wood is fresh from the tree when we work with it. We source our wood from an arborist friend, individual’s gardens, windfall from storms, and occasionally through a swap or off-cuts from another maker. We chose to do it this way because we don’t want to be contributing to the logging of forests to get our creative fix. 

How long have you been creating for The Mulberry Two? 

The Mulberry Two came into being at the start of this year. 

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Where do you create your items? 

Everywhere! Spoon carving is extremely portable, so once the wood is at a manageable size all you need is a handful of tools and some free time. We’ve carved at markets, while camping, at friends’ houses, on holidays - all over the place!  Mainly though we create at our homes – I (Lucy) have a section of my garage set up as a workshop, as well as a little corner of my house so I can try to get some carving done while supervising my small tribe of toddlers. 

What is your favourite item design? 

Lucy – I’m really enjoying geometric shapes at the moment - they drive my husband mad because they aren't 100% perfect (I do them freehand, no rulers here!) but I think that is what makes them unique and gives the user a connection to the maker. 

Rosalie – At the moment I’m searching my creative capacity to make the perfect moon scoop, with a handmade twist.  I think they are so great for scooping tea leaves and as an avid tea drinker I won’t stop until I’ve made the perfect one! 

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When and how did you learn the art of wood carving? Who taught you or are you self-taught? 

We are largely self-taught – Lucy started her first spoon one evening at a “spoon club” - with a plank of wood and some semi blunt tools and from there she was hooked. She quickly recruited me (Rosalie) to the craft and from there we both watched videos, joined Facebook groups, read, and learned through trial and error. Along the way Lucy had a chance encounter with some other spoon carvers when collecting a bird of paradise plant from Crop Swap Sydney and more recently did a mini workshop with “The Spoonsmith”, Jeff Donne (a spoon genius). Our technique and process has come a long way since that first spoon. 

What do you love about this particular craft? 

The endless possibilities, the connection with nature, the challenge of the grain in each piece of wood, and the practicality of the finished piece. 

Have you had any disasters in the making process? 

No huge disasters (yet!), but the odd failed spoon – a crack that opens up during drying – or once I got so excited by how well I’d sharpened my knife that I lost focus and carved right through the bottom of the spoon! 

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What do you love about having a handmade creative business? 

So many things! We love that it encourages us to create constantly – with full time jobs or small children it can be easy to forget to spend time doing creative things for you but we believe it is really important to have that creative outlet.  We also love doing markets – hearing people’s stories, seeing which spoons they pick, seeing their delight when they find the right spoon. 

What are your thoughts on the ‘Handmade Movement’? What do you love about handmade items and shopping handmade? 

I love the individual care that goes into each piece; that the when buying handmade, the money I spend goes towards a real person who is passionate about doing what they love; and that each piece is unique. 

What do you enjoy about living and creating in the Blue Mountains? 

There is a brilliant community of makers and everyone we’ve met since starting The Mulberry Two is so kind and helpful.  We have a BOSS community up here in the Mountains of genuinely wonderful, creative and quirky people! 

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You can shop The Mulberry Two’s wood carved spoons at at the Etsy Made Local Blue Mountains Christmas Artisan Market, Saturday 24th November, 9-3pm, Norman Lindsay Gallery, 14 Norman Lindsay Crescent Faulconbridge.

You can find the Mulberry Two Etsy Shop here. Follow The Mulberry Two on their handmade journey on Instagram and Facebook.

The Etsy Made Local Blue Mountains market is hosted by the Blue Mountains Makers Etsy Team.

Feature Maker: Moss Dolls at Etsy Made Local Blue Mountains

The Etsy Made Local market gives the local community of the Blue Mountains and surrounds a chance to meet and interact with a whole host of local makers and artisans. It’s a wonderful way of discovering new local businesses whose work is centred on being original and handmade.


This year we are excited to have Moss Dolls debuting at her first Etsy Made Local Market. Monika Victoria is the designer and maker behind Moss Dolls. She launched her first creation, the Singing Bryophyte, in early 2017 as a Kickstarter Project, ‘I was overwhelmed with the positive response, and was able to bring my first toy into being through the amazing support of friends and toy collector’s worldwide.’ Monika also illustrates her ‘cast of characters’ using watercolours, blending scientific observational illustration with fantasy and imagination. 

We asked Monika to share a little bit more about her creations, the processes she uses and what sparked the idea to start Moss Dolls.

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Where did the name Moss Dolls come from?

I am a huge fan of moss! The first toy I designed, the Singing Bryophyte, is simply named after the scientific term for Mosses and Lichens. I wanted something that reflected the cast of characters that I would be creating - inspired by mosses, ferns, mushrooms, and insects.

What lead you to start Moss Dolls?

The first spark of inspiration for Moss Dolls was when I was hiking through the Primeval forest of Mt.Kasuga in Japan. I kept imagining little spirits hidden amongst the lush foliage, and filled my sketchbook with doodles of mossy creatures. It was shortly after this that I decided to turn them into a reality, and began heavily researching how to make this happen. I'd been customising designer toys and dolls for years already, it seemed a natural step to start designing my own.

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Can you please describe what you make and the processes you use to create your dolls and artwork? Do you use any particular methods, tools etc?

It always starts with sketches. I have been doing the 365 Day drawing challenge for 2 years now, and it means I get to explore a huge range of characters and see what the response is for each one. After settling on a character, I will work out the jointing and posing functions, and plan for any internal fixtures. Finally I'll sketch the toy from the front, side, and back views, ready to be sculpted. 
My paintings are more organic, I start with a loose pencil sketch, then paint in all the little details and build up a mossy look through many delicate layers of translucent watercolours.

What materials do you use to make your items? Where do you source them from?

I employ a variety of materials depending on the design and function of each toy, whether the toy is going to be a solid statuette, or a poseable figurine with many complex joints. I have used poly-resin, Japanese premier clay, incorporated recycled toys, 3D printing, and am working on producing a toy in Japanese Soft Vinyl, known as Sofubi. 

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How long have you been creating for Moss Dolls?

 I have been customising toys and dolls for well over 10 years, painting and illustrating since I was a child, but only began Moss Dolls in 2016. So it is fairly fresh!

Where do you create your items?

In my home studio. They end up spreading all over the house though - I will find myself airbrushing parts at the kitchen counter, spraying sealants in the garden shed, sorting paper dolls into packaging on the couch, with a cat on my lap. I often turn my 2.5 hour commute on the train into town into a mobile studio - embroidering miniature mossy outfits to make the most of my time.

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What is your favourite item design?

I'm going to say the Singing Bryophyte - my first internationally successful toy. I got to make an edition of 100, and it was an absolutely mammoth task. Each one was individually painted by me, packaged, and numbered. I designed the packaging myself, and had a friend and her dad help by hand-turning 100 wooden magnetised specimen stands. I only have a few of the edition left - it will be strange once they are completely sold out!

When and how did you learn the skills required for your art and dolls? Who taught you or are you self-taught?

I am entirely self-taught. I studied Fine Art at the National Art School, but in an entirely different medium. I then taught myself watercolours, and began experimenting with customising and repainting dolls like Blythe, and BJD. I am still very much learning through trial and error every day!

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Have you had any disasters in the making process?

Sometimes it feels like disaster after disaster! Lots of things can go wrong. I have one design who has been going through various hiccups in the prototype and revision stage for over a year and a half already. She's still no-where near done, as each stage brings up new problems or obstacles to smooth out. I just have to remind myself to keep focused on the end goal, no matter how long it takes to get there.

What do you love about this particular craft?

It's very multidisciplinary, requiring many different skill sets and approaches. I can be painting delicate mushrooms in the morning, drilling holes into miniature limbs in the afternoon, then sewing tiny outfits in the evening. The next day could have me sketching a cicada husk for inspiration for a new design, gluing tiny plastic leaves over a discarded doll, then sculpting several different moth "noses" in epoxy. Every day is different, it never gets boring!

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What do you love about having a handmade creative business?

I have always been artistically inclined and drawn to creating. I cannot imagine who I would be if I didn't constantly have several projects in the works. Sketching every single day of the year is so integral to how I live my life. I feel lost if I realise I've left my sketchbook at home and I have new ideas popping into my head. It's this burning passion for creating that has helped keep me focused and dedicated through the hardships of trying to run and market your own business - its tough work! 

What are your thoughts on the ‘Handmade Movement’? What do you love about handmade items and shopping handmade?

I love seeing what other artists come up with. I always try to go to as many handmade markets as I can throughout the year, to congratulate the artist's I have been following on their progress, and choose something special to show my support. I love that each piece has been created with time and care by an artist, working on their passions.

What do you enjoy about living and creating in the Blue Mountains?

The ability to have enough room to have a studio at home is amazing. I would not be able to do this in a cramped share-house in the city, commuting to an expensive studio. I enjoy being able to walk to the Leura Cascades, immersing myself in the very type of environment that so heavily influences my designs. I'll take my toys on long bushwalks, to photograph them in their element.

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You can shop Monika’s dolls and artworks at the Etsy Made Local Blue Mountains Christmas Artisan Market, Saturday 24th November, 9-3pm, Norman Lindsay Gallery, 14 Norman Lindsay Crescent Faulconbridge.

You can find the Moss Dolls Etsy Shop here. Follow Monika on her handmade journey on Instagram and Facebook

The Etsy Made Local Blue Mountains market is hosted by the Blue Mountains Makers Etsy Team.