BLANKET MAGAZINE {Uncovering Artists + Designers + Photographers}

Meet the Creators Gracia & Louise (formerly Hammer & Daisy)
Issue 2: The Urban Issue
February, 2007


Louise, wrapped in Thelma's Handmade

Tell us a little bit about your backgrounds?
Hmm, lets see. We're both from Melbourne. And we each harbor the desire to travel more often and further afield.

How did you meet?
We met at RMIT whilst both studying painting… over ten years ago now, in a building ripe with the smell of oil paint, turps and dreams.

Hammer & Daisy is a brand of stationery you sell in Australia. Tell us a little bit about your product range?
Our line of hammer & daisy handmade goodies initially began with one style of handmade journal in three, familiar to all, sizes; A6, A5 and A4. A square knot journal bound with an exposed spine held together by a series of small square knots over and through brass wire and rods, with a fabric cover. The idea was to make a journal we ourselves would use, one that would lay flat when open and that had a flexible, workable spine. As each journal is made completely by hand and in stages, we found we were able to use different fabric combinations ensuring no two journals were the same. A concertina journal was later added to the brew, using the same idea of clashing, matching fabric combinations, candy stripes on the front and galloping horses on the reverse.

From this Hammer & Daisy has since evolved to include not just paper goods but other fabric creations; fabric pencil cases and A6 journal pouches ideal for the carrying of daily essentials such as pens, the odd gluestick, lip balm, spare camera chip and other like companions, and even a small chocolate brown owl pincushion ideal for crafty creations. Lately we have even added Thelma’s felt pins to the Hammer & Daisy line up; small to large handmade felt blooms and organic shapes ready to be worn or ready to adorn any bag or bare space.

Where do you find your influences for the designs you come up with?
The square knot journal is based upon a design we learnt at the Centro del bel Libro, a specialist bookbinding school in Ascona, Switzerland, in 2002 (we were fortunate enough to be able to study there as part of the Freedman Foundation Traveling Scholarship for Emerging Artists). Each step of the process appealed to either one or both of us, from the hand folding of each page to the tying of several square knots which make up the spine (a single A4 journal requires 168 small, tight square knots). Seeing the craftsmanship and the skill of the individual bookbinders, their willingness to share techniques, ideas and various tricks of the trade, was delightful and remains to this day, a huge influence. The experience resulted in us not only being able to bind our own collaborative artists' books but also to start Hammer & Daisy, which has grown from a line of handmade journals to encompass an army of owl pinnies and felt stuffies and more.

Every piece you create is unique and you endeavor not to use the same combination of fabrics. Where do you find the fabric pieces that you use?
We are always on the look out for new fabrics to use and given that the actual fabric size required is rather small, we can be quite inventive with our sources. An old curtain no longer used and covered with age spots may have one or two sections that can be cut down, washed and ironed, and turned into a journal cover. Most fabrics, be they favourite t-shirts, tablecloths or kimono sleeves can be fashioned into suitable covers or owl backs. We mix these fabrics up with various quilting fabrics and other finds. It is a fun part of the process, collecting, hoarding and storing fabric gems.

Everything is also completely handmade, what do you think is the appeal of this?
Handmade items, where the work the hand has done and can clearly be seen, appeals to us, as does the process behind it. This direct link to the person behind the work, the labour involved, the skill, all of these elements can’t help but make a handmade item appealing.

How did you come up with the idea of these products?
Generally from something we ourselves would like to use and would enjoy making en masse in our home based factory. The idea behind the owl pinnie came in part from a family heirloom made of felt and out of our own personal need for a pincushion. That said most folk tend to keep their pinnies as small stuffed companions. Other pieces come about after making one of a kind presents for friends. The small bluebird stuffies (similar to the limited edition canaries we made for Craft Victoria's Yellow Christmas) were initially made for friends and we’ve since decided to make them commercially available too.

How long have you been in business?
Hammer & Daisy, in its current guise as journal makers and owl stuffers, began in 2003. Before that, we tended to gardens and odd jobs, hence the name. Our career tilling the soil lasted barely a year before we came to our senses and elected to work with our primary loves, paper and fabric.

You're both involved in many other creative projects apart from hammer & daisy, tell us about these.
We set up Hammer & Daisy for many reasons, one of which was to fund the making of our limited edition collaborative artists' books and other works on and with paper, as well as low-tech zines whipped up on the photocopy machine. At present, the two sit well together, and they feed off one another.

I love the artists books that you have created, your first zine started in 2000. How did you come about creating these books?
We both love working with paper and in book format, so the idea to create a series of limited edition, hand bound, collaborative artists' books seemed like something we would, and still do, enjoy. Having to consider how the pages will lie next to one another, as well as various technical aspects, appeals to us both. Were money no obstacle, we'd happily print many more. The Dubious Clue, The Case of the Lost Aviary, By the Pricking of My Claws, and Trouble at Sea, our four most recent, featured a host of extinct animals in search of new lands, with a distinct nod (in the title) to Agatha Christie. The quickness of a zine is the perfect companion to the slow process of the artists' book. A zine can be whipped up almost in a day, the complete opposite to an artists' book that can find us hand colouring the wings of a Passenger pigeon for hours on end.

Between the two of you, there have been many collaborations, what has been your favourite one to date?
No favourites, we love them all. Perhaps the ones swimming around in our minds, waiting to come to fruition, are our favourites. The ones we are most keen to set to work on. Collaborating with others, especially with the zines, is also thrilling as the other person will have such wildly different ideas to you. We could only have made Geschlecht und Schoklade (2006) with Gaby bila-Günther or Where does the muskrat keep his musk? (2003) with Elaine Haby. We’ll definitely continue to collaborate with each other and also with others in the future.

You've both done quite a lot of travelling, how has this helped to shape you as artists?
We are both homebodies and travelers all at the one time. We love to travel, to see and discover new things. To see works in museums and galleries that you had previously only seen on the printed page or made up of many pixels on the web. Travel, of all kinds, inspires almost everything we do. To see how other people live, to experience a new city or country, to be a tourist, to be a visitor, all of these things and feelings, can't help but to inspire. With no grand travel plans on the cards for the next little bit, we are traveling vicariously through characters in novels and film.

You have both received a few grants/scholarships, tell us how this has benefited you as artists?
To receive that reassurance that other people like what you are on about is invaluable, and the financial assistance enables you to bring some of your bigger ideas to completion. The making of our first six artists’ books in such a short time span would have not been possible any other way. The options it made available were huge.

Lastly what has been your favourite job or piece of work to date?
Our favourite would have to be what we are working on at this very moment. For an exhibition in late February, at Mailbox 141 in Flinders lane. Inside the small letterboxes we will be placing some of our most recent watercolour drawings and collage works. An exhibition later in the year at Imp Gallery (above the Greville Street Bookstore) has us heading to the printers this January/February to create a series of limited edition lithographic offset prints. For the first time we will be printing in four colour (as opposed to single) and we couldn't be more giddy and thrilled at the prospect if we tried.



Blanket magazine, Issue 2
The Urban Issue:  Jeff Kleinsmith, Jesse Le Doux, Simon Hogsburg, Nate Williams, Sarah Sculley, James Gulliver Hancock, Ollie, Apple Moshberry, Gracia & Louise (formerly Hammer & Daisy), Seth Reider
(All past issues are available as PDF download)

Blanket magazine



Pattern Pulp
2nd December, 2011

Unproductive Wednesday blues be gone! be shaken! With this here fourth coffee brew be banished. My feet they're wet from landing in puddles.

Gracia Haby and Louise Jennison met while they were students at RMIT University. They soon formed a collaborative practice called Gracia + Louise, where they create artists' book, prints, zines, postcard collages, and other small projects from their home-based studio in Melbourne, Australia.

Their work is abundantly whimsical and magical as they create a bevy of delights from their free-flowing imagination and abundant source of creativity. Their twitter feed is a great place to step into the delightful world Gracia and Louise have created together as well as get glimpses at the women behind the work.

Pattern Pulp tracks ideas and emerging trends that expose, celebrate, share and connect pattern design across all creative platforms, and was founded by Shayna Kulik, a New York based designer and trend forecaster, in an effort to understand how physical and digital forums embrace decorative repetition.