With sustainable design practices gaining momentum, basket weaver Sarah Powell is bang on trend with her new venture, Find Your Happy. “The majority of my designs start with rescued or found materials,” she says. “I love giving materials a second life. I can often be found scouring op shops, recycled centres and even my husband’s shed for ‘potentials’.”
While many basket makers work with natural materials, Sarah laughs that her preference for manmade materials stems primarily from laziness, as natural materials require preparation to work with, whereas manmade materials such a rope, wire, nylon, and paper are all readily available.
“By working with recycled, manmade materials, it allows me to also address sustainability and the fact that we continue to over produce things. I like to think by rescuing materials for my baskets I’m doing my very small bit in helping reduce landfill.” Having studied textiles design at the University of Wollongong, Sarah was drawn into the world of photography, and initially chose to pursue this medium as a career. She spent most of her twenties travelling the world, documenting what she saw with her camera.
“After my last long haul trip to South East Asia I fell in love with textiles all over again. The basket makers lining the streets of Cambodia, the weavers and their makeshift looms in Laos, and the woven fisherman’s baskets in Vietnam all kindled my desire to create again. I found myself forgetting to take photos, and instead wanting to explore how these objects were made.”
Knowing it was time to ignite her textiles work again, when Sarah returned from this last trip, Find Your Happy was born. She finds the repetitive and structured practice of basket weaving mediative, and has a number of projects at various stages on the go at once; “I find it breaks my attention between the projects throughout the day or week, and helps sustain my creativity and energy across larger projects.”
Like most creative types, Sarah sources inspiration from the world around her, but of particular note is her husband, Paul, whose practicality is a good balance. “When I run away with my creative impulses, he looks at me and says ‘the weight of that will never hold in that form’. I recently came home with a mound of shipping rope and when Paul walked in, he laughed and immediately said, ‘what do you plan to do with that? Tow a 20-tonne fishing boat?’
“With Find Your Happy I want to give shape to my ideas and create an outlet where I can share my textile work. While basketry is my current medium of choice, I’m looking forward to exploring other weaving practices – so stay tuned for more!”