Nestled in an elusive Ballarat street lies an ominous 19th-century Masonic Hall. And while it looks sinister to many a passerby, the building is endowed with a history permitting it to stand loud and proud amidst the city’s art and culture precinct.
Like most heritage spaces in Ballarat, the Masonic Hall acts as the perfect abode for a contemporary venture. In this case, The Lost Ones Makers Studio.
Home to three Ballarat makers (for the moment), the studio is a space of making, creating and sharing and is dedicated to the handmade and handcrafted.
“It is comforting to hear another maker tinkering away and creating,” says silversmith Rachel Grose referring to her fellow studio makers. Rachel found her way into the space in 2020 after she was approached by what was then The Lost Ones Gallery.
“Although 2020 was a very turbulent year and not without its challenges, having a space centrally in town has allowed me to expand and create a sustainable business.”
Rachel has been making jewellery for almost 20 years. Using traditional techniques, handpicked gemstones and precious metals, the process of creating, designing and realising her jewellery is what brings her most joy.
“My studio space is always small and beloved. Jewellery equipment does not have to take up much space. The quiet studio suits my nature,” she proclaims.
“Above all, I am meticulous and precise here. The tools I use need many years of practice and hard-earned skills to produce finely crafted jewellery. Here in the studio I have the time and space to create, develop and refine my techniques. A never-ending pursuit! The outside world, for a short time, vanishes.”
Rachel shares the space with leatherworker Benny Mitchell and multi-disciplinary creative Alex Bayley.
According to Benny, working in the Makers Studio has been a “magical” move. “The space has really changed how my work has progressed. I was previously working in a corner of a shed at home, which I did enjoy, and a lot of late nights spent there helped me to hone my skills and work on my craft,” he says.
Benny is the head leather man at Heaps Good Leather Work, which he founded in 2018.
“It was born out of my desire to continue my passion in creative arts, and to also provide people with high quality, handcrafted leather goods that are built to last and actually improve over time and with use,” Benny exclaims.
“We, as a society, have such a bad relationship with leather goods and I’m hoping to change people’s understanding and expectations of what good leather goods should be.”
Alex Bayley, the latest creative to have found their home at the Makers Studio, further emphasises that commitment to crafting joy-inducing and durable works shared by all three makers.
Making clothing, accessories and homewares based on simple, traditional and historical designs, Alex’s products are all made from natural and sustainable fibres.
Alex says the studio provides a space to focus one’s entire energy and heart on honing in on their craft.
“My mind is most alive and fizzing when I’m in design mode,” they say.
“I also have a deep sensory and almost visceral appreciation for the natural fibres I work with – the texture and drape of them and the connection I feel to the living things they’re made out of as well as the workers who produce them and the land they come from.
“A few months in, I’d say the best thing the studio has given me has been the chance to take my practice seriously, and to be taken seriously by others.”
The Lost Ones Makers Studio is open by appointment. To visit or shop the makers’ products, head to thelostones.com.au or email email@example.com
Feature image: Bowie Wallace