Scrapbag Studios

Scrapbag Studio is the creation of Margaret Berry, where she creates her funky, one-off pieces. It is situated in the hills north of Nimbin in the NSW Northern Rivers area.
 
Scrapbag Studios textile brooches
Northern Rivers, Photo by Max Riethmuller
Details from Margaret's handmade home
 
Margaret uses recycled fabrics, fibres and yarns - adding paints, dyes, inks and found objects to create amazing wall hangings, paintings, jewellery, quilts, collages and clothes.
 
Margaret is also my mother. My childhood memories of her are of a woman obsessed with creating; she always had a project on the go. She’s one of those few people I know who whole-heartedly live their  life as an Artist. Everything she does and touches is infused with a creative energy. 
 
She always encouraged us to be creative too, which I am grateful for. One of my fondest memories is sitting around the table as a child colouring-in with her and my siblings. All neighborhood children were also welcomed and gladly joined in.
 
One of my most treasured belongings is a blanket she knitted for me when I was a baby. It’s gotten moth eaten over the years, and she has repaired it in such a beautiful way that it looks like it’s part of the design.
 
In her own words:
 
My name is Margaret Berry. I live on a Community in the hills of the Northern Rivers area of NSW surrounded by forest. It is very quiet here, with lots of wildlife and wonderful friends and neighbours. I love it. I spend my time between my garden and my crafts/arts.   I knit, patchwork, free-motion machine embroidery, all sorts of mixed media work. I have three grown up children, and five grandchildren in Brisbane as well as extended family and we all get together at the slightest provocation. Occasionally I go on a trip, usually north in winter, and attend fibre forum workshops regularly. In 2010, I was part of a group who went to Alice Springs for the Beanie Festival. I fell in love with the desert and would love to go again. For the past few years I have been to the Woodford Folk Festival for the whole season and am really looking forward to it again this year. 
 
I was born in England during the war. My mother knitted, machine sewed and did the most beautiful hand embroidery. I learned to use a sewing machine at age 4 (my mum’s treadle had a pull-out handle on the wheel and that’s what I used) and I learned to knit so early on that at age 8 I was very competent and couldn’t remember learning.     I had knitted as far back as I could remember.
 
Throughout my childhood I knitted, sewed and embroidered, mostly for my dolls, and in my teens I made a lot of my own clothes and jumpers. I started making a blanket at this time with a big bag of wool, leftovers and unpicked, which was under my parents’ bed. It took me years but I did eventually finish it about 20 years later. At age 12, I found a box of  fabric scraps (I’ve no idea whose they were, they weren’t ours) and I started English piecing a circular skirt of hexagons.   
 
In my 20’s I continued to knit and sew, for myself and for my children and I taught myself to crochet, appliqué and I continued with the blanket started all that time ago.
 
In the 70’s I left my marriage and found myself in Nimbin. It was pioneer time – no power, water or anything else. No space either – living in a bus with three children doesn’t allow for a sewing room, or even sewing corner. I learned to macramé, which was all the rage, and my friend and I macramed our way through our adventures for several years – I made the most beautiful things with string and all kinds of found stuff, as well as beaded bracelets and belts.    I also knitted more blankets and crocheted a lot of ponchos in this period. It was overall a very meditative time. Since I’ve developed arthritis, I miss the meditation involved in spending hours and hours knitting, crocheting or similar.
 
Towards the end of my 30’s I acquired a treadle machine – this transformed my life. Although the stuff I made on it were fairly primitive by my current standards, it did mean I could sew again and this is where my later obsession with patchwork really started.
 
At the end of the 80’s I went to live again in S.E. Qld and finally was able to use a sewing machine and even have a sewing/craft room to myself. This was a very formative time for me.    
Naomi & Margaret
Check out Scrapbag Studios artefacts, including her textile brooches
here.