Traditional crafts revived in Orange

The art of craft is very much alive as thousands walked through the doors of the Orange Function Centre over the weekend.

More than 3000 people attended to be inspired, to learn and to see what’s new.

Visitors saw first hand how technology has started to change traditional crafts.

Orange’s Carolyn Russell demonstrated a new sewing machine with a touch-screen interface and internet connection. Mrs Russell operates Hidden Talent in Lords Place.

“It has changed everything,” Mrs Russell said.

“It’s like the difference between using a map and a GPS (device) in a car. Anybody can use it.”

The machine’s memory banks contain thousands of stitches for sewing and embroidery and it can operate autonomously.

“It’s not just a way for young people to get into sewing, but it makes it easier for older people,” Mrs Russell said.

“I learned on a treadle sewing machine, which only sewed in straight lines or zig-zags. You had to push the pedal to make it work.

“Now, you can sew photographs which can be digitised through the machine.”

Meanwhile, not everyone is looking for latest technological wonder, with Sydney’s Margaret Kirby encouraging visitors to take up patchwork.

Mrs Kirkby operates a specialist online patchwork shop but she said people in patchwork had to work together because when a shop closed the knowledge and talent was lost.

“We’re showcasing what people won’t get locally, we’ve all got to work together,” she said.

“No one shop could offer the entire range of what you could use. I like to think we inspire people, we encourage people to join a local patchwork group and visit their local story.

“It’s a way of life.”

Craft Alive event co-ordinator Tess Gutnecht said the event had the largest number of workshop participants ever, with 20 people in 12 classes each day.

“People are very keen to get hands on,” Ms Gutnecht said.

“We’re finding with the generation gap grandparents and grandchildren are arriving and inspiring people under the age of 20 are getting involved with traditional crafts.”

She said several visitors committed to making quilts for Quilts of Hope, which are then donated to children diagnosed with cancer.

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