Katrina Johnson is a versatile Brisbane based creative, possibly best known for a stint with her husband Mark on The Block a few year ago!
These days, Katrina’s creative outlet is Floral and Hardie. Under this name, she creates a varied range of handcrafted products and homewares, including ‘Himmeli’ – traditional decorative hangings from Finland, handmade using wheat straw and string. From her Brisbane studio, Katrina creates her own contemporary versions of this traditional Scandinavian hanging decoration, with spectacular results.
You know those craft-obsessed multi-taskers who have no qualms about taking their half-finished crochet blanket to whatever social occasion they’re heading to? Well, Katrina Johnson of Floral and Hardie is one of those people. Only instead of crocheting, Katrina makes Himmeli mobiles, from wheat!
Himmeli are traditional Finnish geometric hangings that are used as decorations to mark special occasions. Typically they are hung in the homes of farmers from Christmas to mid-summer, to bring luck to next year’s crops. Katrina first discovered the Himmeli mobile when she was working part-time in a florist. A Latvian customer came into the store and asked if they could source some wheat to make Himmeli for her home. Katrina did some research and loved what she found. Shortly afterward, she started producing her own modern take on the traditional designs, and has since built up a productive home studio.
Katrina has always expressed her creativity through making things. In her twenties she spent time as an apprentice carpenter and cabinetmaker. Later she had her own business making concrete garden pots. After some years spent renovating houses with her husband, Mark, and a TV stint on The Block, the twosome started their own handmade object business called Floral and Hardie. The business aims to present an evolving product range that celebrates quality craftsmanship and attention to detail. Himmeli aligns perfectly with this ethos. ‘It’s so special to keep an old craft alive,’ says Katrina. ‘I use the traditional materials of wheat and string, but I often paint the wheat, for a modern twist.’
All of Katrina’s creations are made patiently by hand. Katrina weaves and twists the strands of string and wheat into her chosen arrangement, ties a knot, and continues on with this process until the mobile is complete. Each piece tales between one and three days to complete. Katrina says that the more she makes, the more she refines her techniques, and she hopes to one day exhibit her works in the near future. ‘I enjoy making things that take time, patience and thought. Himmeli is a craft that reflects the delicacy, perfection and repetition in nature, and I love it!’