These brooches fell to earth after a mid-air collision of ideals. Bushcraft, in the Australian author and craftsman Ron Edwards͛ sense, is both idealistic and pragmatic. As a cult of sorts, it greatly appealed to a younger me who dreamed of independence and making stuff in nature. So what happens when ‘Bushcraft’ ideology absorbed during one’s formative years is reawakened 20 years later with a move from city to bush to start a family?

Living off-grid at Stoney Edge Nature Refuge has provided almost as many opportunities to be resourceful as fallen sticks and branches, many of them landing conveniently across the road at my feet. These tree offerings, with their twisted forms, luscious endgrains and rustic textures, are impossible for a fossicker/maker to ignore and I began to play: collecting, sawing, sanding, burning and drilling.

I fantasised about living in a hut whittling sticks, blissfully creating a progressive series of brooches about individual resourcefulness and increasing folly. However, like my original dream of living in splendid isolation and making useful things in the bush, things went awry. Not only did it appear that I was at the centre of a family of noisy loveable people, but also that my singular series of brooches had turned into a collection of odd family groups, some strangely familiar.

Together these stick families form a community which, as it turns out, has been as important for surviving in the bush as any of the skills listed in Ron Edwards’ books.

Rebecca Ward
Made from hardwood sticks (mostly greygum E.propinqua) with stainless steel pins.

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