Slowly crafted by hand using largely botanical ingredients foraged and found in nature or their own garden, we are lucky enough to have Silk and Bramble silk ribbons in our showroom and online.These silks are truly heirloom pieces, designed to adorn your bouquet, hair, wedding table, cake, invitations or anything else you desire, as treasured reminders of your wedding day.
We sat down with Lauren, founder of Silk and Bramble, to chat about her unique, mindful process, and what it means to her to have her silks part of a couples special day.
NMJ: Tell us a little bit about yourself... Where are you based and what journey did you take to become the maker that you are today?
Lauren: I work out of our little workers cottage right on the edge of the sea in Sandgate, just outside of Brisbane, QLD. I have always been very creative but it has taken some time to find how I wanted to channel that energy. During my earlier years I put my heart and soul into architecture. I thought I would love the big city life and the rush of it all (being young and from a sleepy seaside town, it seemed so exciting).
I got my Masters in Architecture and enjoyed it but the fact is that I more of a dreamer than practically minded, and this always hindered my ability to love this profession. No matter where I worked it could never fulfil me. After travelling abroad for months I realised what I thought I wanted was very different to what I actually wanted. I longed for the countryside, for slowness, open spaces and quiet beaches just like how I grew up. It was then I knew my creative mind needed something different. I would never be about climbing the corporate ladder.
I stumbled into natural dying when trying to source unique pieces for our wedding. I thought I would try my hand at it and fell in love with the slow artisan process of natural dying instantly. Nature is a magical thing, the process is part science, part art, part luck. There was an undeniable joy in it for someone who always felt so restricted, creatively, in the architecture profession. From there my hobby just naturally evolved.
NMJ: What influences and inspires you?
Lauren: The ocean, nature and travel. Plain and simple. I am always energised and inspired when I am by the water. The places I long to visit again and which seem to open up my mind and remove all that ‘busyness’ (of being a first time mum and juggling running my husband’s electrical business), are always by the ocean. I am lucky to live by the water and we often travel to Noosa or the coast to recharge and reset and bring new exciting ideas home.
NMJ: What does a typical day look like to you?
Lauren: My days have changed drastically in the last year since we welcomed our baby boy into the world. What used to be slow mornings with coffee and the laptop on our front deck planning my days and endlessly creating, have turned into busy mornings of playing and park trips and walks by the water before nap times.
As soon as our little one is down for a nap I am straight into emails and orders for the day, picking, ironing and packaging. Not glamorous but efficient. I prepare as much as I can during his first nap to ensure nights are more free. It’s back to mum duties until the next nap. I often complete most of my work at night now, as I have both my own business and my husband’s business to run, so we are very busy these days.
If I’m lucky I will have a dye pot simmering away in the day. Despite the bustle of mum life, a dye pot on and cooking is wonderfully calming to me. Dye days are now sacred days, a family member might come to watch the little one, and I get to immerse myself in the slow process.
NMJ: Tell us more about your traditional, slow approach to your craft, and how this has driven you since the beginning of S&B.
Lauren: When I started I had no idea what natural dyes could do or that it was even possible. It is wonderfully complex and quite simple all at once.
My first dye pot took weeks to complete and typically still does. The process is incredibly slow and delicate. I love this about my work. I was so used to rushing, impossible deadlines and restrictive budgets in architecture that this was such a welcome change. Natural dying cannot be rushed, no matter how eager you are to get to that last part of the process.
The first two parts of the process, there is no colour involved at all. It is all about preparing the fabric – cleaning it, rinsing it, mordanting it (preparing the fabric to bind colour) rinsing it and finally working with the colour. There may also be a whole host of other processes in there too, depending on how you are extracting colour and what from, and whether you use another bath at the end to shift the original colour. It is quite magical, and oh so satisfying when you hang it out to dry.
NMJ: At NMJ we are all about the handmade artisan object and understand the love, time and effort involved in creating. What does it mean to you to have your silks and silk ribbons become a part of people's special day?
Lauren: It is still surreal to me that my silks are out there in the world and I get a little kick out of every time someone chooses one of my pieces. It means the world to me that others value the artisan nature of my products and choose to purchase a naturally dyed ribbon, and one which is Australian made and crafted right here at home, or fabric over a synthetically dyed product.
Silk Ribbons for weddings may be a small detail but I love the romance around them and love that my clients do too – that they can be kept long after the day has passed, as a beautiful keepsake while also having a positive impact on the environment - to me it is all very poetic.
NMJ: What is your most treasured piece of jewellery in your jewellery box?
Lauren: My engagement ring. I will never forget where my husband proposed. We were sitting on the rocks at Tea Tree Bay in Noosa watching the sun come up behind the surfers as they caught the waves rolling in. The air was salty and cool and all I could hear was the crashing of the waves on the rocks. I turned around to see my husband down on one knee asking me to marry him. It was pure magic, I remember feeling like I was floating on air the rest of the weekend.
The ring he chose was perfect and is a reminder of our simpler days. We try to get there every few months for a long weekend – it’s a very special place to us.
NMJ: How do you envision your precious silks playing a part in your brides and clients lives? Can you share a special client story with us?
Lauren: I love to see our silks used for a wedding, but I equally love that they don’t go in the bin after either! Silk Ribbons are such a beautiful keepsake, often we have brides hang them from a wreath (made from the dried florals of their wedding bouquet) or they will tie them around their wedding book and they become treasured family heirlooms.
A little story about a beautiful bride of ours: sometimes finding that something ‘blue’ for your wedding can be quite difficult. A few years ago, a bride came to us asking whether we could make ‘something blue’ as she loved that tradition. We crafted a very pale blue piece, which she tied in her hair and used one for her bouquet.
Ever since, that colour has become a signature piece and one which we will always stock. It is now named our ‘Seychelles’ Ribbon. This gorgeous bride then went on to use the blue ribbon in a newborn shoot with her baby boy when he arrived and they took on another life again.
NMJ: Do you have any advice on how to turn your passion into a living?
Lauren: Follow your heart. Not everyone will understand, it may be scary but I believe hard work and 200% passion is what makes a person succeed – success looks very different to everyone.
I tried to follow my head, choosing a profession which was ‘practical’ and the ‘right thing to do’, yet no matter how much I tried, even after graduating with honours and throwing as much of myself as I could into that life, I wound up following my heart anyway.
The heart always wins! Go with what makes you happy as long as you are willing to work for it. I find that even though I end up maybe working harder and maybe even more than I would have before, I am so much more happy to do it and I get so much more out of it, because I love it.
Feeling inspired? Discover a curated selection of Silk and Bramble Silks in our showroom in Avalon Beach, Sydney or online here.
Images for Silk and Bramble by We Are Origami Photography.