HANDMADE IN MELBOURNE: Beautiful things from 80 creative people
Handmade in Melbourne
Jan Phyland & Janet de Silva
Photography by Dean Cambray
Geoff Slattery Publishing, 2006
Gracia Haby & Louise Jennison
Journal makers / Artists
As two of the Melbourne art scene's emerging talents, Gracia Haby and Louise Jennison have filled hundreds of sketchbooks with their drawings and notes. Known for both individual and collaborative works on paper — mainly drawings and collages featuring subjects as diverse as extinct animals and everyday garden scenes — each has had work exhibited in galleries around Australia and overseas.
But it was the pair's search for the perfect journal — one that would lie flat, enabling sketching right into the spine — that led to the creation of hammer & daisy. Using skills they learnt during a month-long scholarship at the specialist bookbinding school Centro del bel Libro in Ascona, Switzerland, Gracia and Louise started their journal making business in 2003.
Today, they create not only journals but complementary accessories such as journal pouches and pencil cases. Prices range from about $5.50 for a fabric-covered notebook, to around $180 for a limited-edition display album. Louise and Gracia make journals in three sizes, each with 25 sheets of archival-quality paper that are bound using a painstakingly slow, traditional method of tying small square knots — 164 knots for an A4 journal — over and through brass wire and rods to form a flexible spine. They go to great lengths to source unusual fabrics to cover the journals, ranging from a 1950s Hungarian tea towel discovered in a secondhand shop to a vintage skirt unearthed at a local market. Each journal takes about three weeks to complete. But in sharing the workload, the pair might have up to 40 journals underway at a time in their inner-city studio. Devotees of the journals include fellow artists, who use them as sketchbooks, and new mothers, who record special memories from their children's early years in the carefully bound pages.