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Gemma Patford · Rope Vessels


29th April, 2013
Lucy Feagins
Monday 29th April 2013

Handcrafted Rope vessels by Melbourne maker Gemma Patford, photo - Sean Fennessy.

Handcrafted rope vessel and coasters by Melbourne maker Gemma Patford, photo - Sean Fennessy.

Today's post is another instagram discovery - what a total GOLDMINE instagram is for uncovering random amazing people.  We stumbled across these sweet handcrafted rope vessels by Melbourne maker Gemma Patford a couple of weeks back, and we just had to know more!

As it turns out, Ms Patford is quite the craft expert.  She has an ace little blog documenting all manner of creative endeavours - from macrame to sewing and even baking.  She has also been known to create enormous oversized soft sculptures of FOOD (many moons ago you might recall we fell in love with her incredible giant slice of cake at Dagmar Rousset). Perhaps most impressively, Gemma even knows how to smock. R.e.s.p.e.c.t.

We asked Gemma a couple of questions about her crafting prowess, and these recent rope creations -

Hi Gemma!  Tell us a little bit about your background and what path led you to what you're doing today?

After completing a science degree and feeling a bit unsatisfied, I decided to go back to school and study garment construction and pattern making. The course was hilarious, I met some wonderful people, and have never looked back.

I have been lucky enough to have shared various studio spaces with some truly talented artists who constantly drive and challenge my ideas. My partner Duncan will also tell me honest truths about the things I've created. For example, one time I attempted to ombre dye my bed sheets yellow. It looked as though I had wet the bed! Such a terrible, terrible idea.

Tell us a little bit about your rope bowls, plant hangers and potholders – when did you start making them, how do you make them, what inspired these creations?

I am always looking for new things to create. I went macrame mad for a little while there. I love incorporating little pieces of different mediums in my work. I was given a lovely hand made rope basket from a friend, and was totally inspired. I began playing around with different stitches on my machine, and using different ropes. Some of my early pieces were awful. Floppy and not at all practical!

I started working with harder, neutral rope which makes the vessels more durable and strong. During this phase I also experimented with watercolour, and started painting the rope. The cotton rope absorbed the paint wonderfully, and created the effect you see in the pieces now.

My hope is for people to use the rope vessels as kitchen items - clutter catchers, potato baskets, egg baskets, pot plant holders, table protectors. If I can figure out a way to make them 100% water proof I would love to also make them into vases!

Anyone who owns a sewing machine with a zig zag stitch can make one of these baskets. I have popped a little DIY tutorial here, they are so much fun to create!

Gemma works from her home studio in Brunswick, where she also hosts occasional craft classes called 'Home Schooled'!  She often pops up at craft and design markets across Melbourne - look out for her at the upcoming Markit at Federation Square, Melbourne on May 26th!

Meantime, you can buy Gemma's rope vessels and other creations from her online shop, and stockists including Mr KitlyDagmar Rousset and Michi Girl online.

Handcrafted Rope vessels by Melbourne maker Gemma Patford, photo - Sean Fennessy.

The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email