IT IS NO secret that the Sunshine Coast is home to many artisans, from painters to jewellery creators.
There is no shortage of inspiration for these local makers, from the dark blue ocean to the rolling green hills of the hinterland – and all the beauty in between.
The never-ending natural palette of colours, the ever-changing landscapes and the shifting tides call to be captured by paintbrush or masterful hands.
For Sally Gray and Marc Ringuet, the unique beauty of the sea is the inspiration behind their beautiful jewellery collection, Kaikoa Designs.
Kaikoa, which means ‘guardian of the sea’, is the lifeblood of these two environmentally-conscious creators.
As Sally explains, they have creative blood rippling through their veins.
“We both came from very different industries,” she tells salt. “Marc grew up idolising his grandfather’s craftsmanship and followed his footsteps, becoming a carpenter. I grew up with the influence of my mum’s artwork.
“When we met, we decided we wanted to do something for us, to express our passion of the ocean and work together as we knew how well we could do this.”
Sally decided to take up jewellery making as a hobby and see where it led. It took on a life of its own and soon Marc began learning the techniques and processes.
Four years on, they have designed and handcrafted hundreds of unique pieces from their home-based workshop located at the base of the Glass House Mountains.
“All of our work is inspired by our beautiful coastlines and oceans that surround us on the Sunshine Coast,” Marc says. “From the delicate coral reefs to the textures of the volcanic fossils on the beaches. We love to incorporate the majestic animals that we are so lucky to see.”
“There is so much beauty in our oceans and it is such a passion of ours, we spend all our spare time and family days taking it all in,” Sally adds.
Marc’s passion for the sea stems back to his childhood when he spent days sailing with his father. When Sally moved to Australia from the UK in 2012, and the pair met, Marc introduced her to the skill.
The pair says that the ocean is the one place they love to be and can’t be without. It’s no surprise then, that they decided to take their passion one step further.
“Through our business, we contribute to a wonderful charity called Tangaroa Blue Foundation,” Sally says. “They are dedicated to removing and preventing marine debris from our beautiful oceans. As lovers of our oceans, we want to give back – we try to join beach clean-ups whenever we can – and contributing to this wonderful charity means we can help just a little in saving one of the most magical places.”
Between championing for the environment and designing their jewellery, Marc and Sally are regular stallholders at a range of markets, including The Original Eumundi Markets and the Caloundra Street Fair.
They are right at home amongst the various makers and artists who frequent the Sunshine Coast’s many markets to sell their handmade products.
Take creator Hanna Evans, for example. Markets are her favourite way to sell because she gets to meet and chat with people who love her creations.
Hanna is the woman behind Me You & Betty Lu – a polymer clay jewellery business.
Between raising three kids and managing family life, she spends her days designing and handmaking the most colourful and fun range of earrings. She had commandeered one-half of the family’s second living room, and her work table is laden with clay and her creations, mostly floral designs.
From whimsical petals to everyday items – swimsuits, gift wrap, greeting cards – Hanna sees colour and inspiration everywhere.
“My husband is a horticulturist and we have an amazing garden. I always come back to nature. Mostly flowers, birds sometimes,” Hanna says.
“I was originally a florist, pre-kids. After having my third child, I realised I was missing that creativity, so at the beginning of the 2018-19 school holidays, I picked up polymer clay and tried it. I loved it.”
Hanna was drawn to the textural elements of clay and drew on her natural ability to mix and match colours. She began by making earrings for friends and family. Her grandmother Betty was her biggest supporter and Hanna’s original inspiration.
“My middle name is Betty, after my maternal grandmother,” she says. “She was vain and immaculate. A real glamourpuss. It was always a family joke, ‘What would Betty Lu be wearing today?’. She used to wear some of my pieces. She actually got her ears pierced in her eighties. Until then she had worn clip-ons and was always complaining about it.”
In the beginning, Hanna created so many pieces that even her family couldn’t keep up with the supply. Finally, her husband asked what she planned to do with the multiple creations that had taken over the Evans’ home.
Hanna now sells her range through her Instagram page and at markets around the Coast.
“For me, making is really a form of self-care,” she explains. “Everyone loses their identity in motherhood to some degree, and this is about carving time out for myself. I find, from the beginning to the end of the project, I can work through a lot of emotions and thoughts. It really is an outlet.”
Sometimes, these outlets can take on a life of their own.
Just ask Nadine Clark, the creator of Crackling Candle Co.
What started as a hobby turned into a full-scale business. At its peak, Nadine and her husband Cam were selling candles at eight markets a week and creating thousands of products from their home-based factory.
Nadine first tried her hand at candle-making 11 years ago. She was pregnant with baby number two, and, just like Hanna, she wanted to find a way to make money while being available for her family.
She spent 12 months testing, researching and trialling candles on her kitchen bench before taking the step into the public arena. Within six months, Cam had resigned from his management job and joined the business.
“We transformed our garage into a candle-making room and that was our factory,” Nadine tells salt. “We were doing markets, as well as working with international buyers, shipping to Hong Kong wholesalers.”
Today, the pair has graduated from their garage and has a single-level factory under their home. They have scaled back the business slightly to ensure a good work–life balance. They still buy all of their raw product from Australian companies and handmake each product, which they sell from the Eumundi Markets.
Their range, which also includes car scents, features a delicious array of combinations, from coconut and lime to lychee, peach and peony. The Christmas range is also popular, with a new scent launched each year (this year’s is pine and orange).
Developing scents is a lengthy process, as is the making itself, says Nadine. “Every jar is hand-cleaned by us; every wick is handcut by us. Every single process we do ourselves. We treat every single candle like it’s special to us. If it’s not perfect, it’s not sold. We still have a passion. I feel like the reason we are still at the markets is the relationships with the customers.”
Taking a passion and turning it into a career is a mindset fellow creator Jodi Casey knows well.
She is the recycle and repurpose artist behind Raw and Unique Art by Jodi. Her inspiration stems from her childhood, visiting car yards with her dad as he scouted for all things rusty and relic. Four years ago, Jodi turned her passion into a profession. She now works with clients to create meaningful pieces from antiques, brass, tools, jewellery – you name it, she can probably turn it into something beautiful.
“I have people send me jewellery from someone who has passed away and I create it into something that reflects their lost loved one,” she tells salt. “I love that nothing can ever be the same. I use different recycled pieces, either from op shops or donations from people’s sheds. Nothing is new, even down to the timber. I have a real passion for creating something out of something that was going to be rubbish.”
For her latest piece, which is featured in the Sculpture on the Edge exhibition, Jodi has shaped a pelican from a machete.
“I love how it develops. I just let it flow and see what a piece becomes. My shed is overflowing with bits and pieces; I have jewellery falling off my workbench,” she laughs.
“It surprises me the direction that my interest grew into. It morphed into a new avenue and a love.”
You can view some of Jodi’s work at the Stevens Street Art Gallery in Yandina.