Sycamore Q&A: Tanika Reed, Fiber Artist | New South Wales, Australia
Everything we do at Sycamore Street Press is with the goal of living a simple, beautiful & creative life, and in helping others do the same. There are so many people who have inspired us on this path, and we'd love to learn more from them! So we decided to start an interview series on the topic. Today we'll hear from Tanika Reed, an Australian fibre artist based in her small home studio on the South Coast, New South Wales.
Tell us a little about how you got started doing fibre art.
I fell in love with knotting early last year when my nan handed me her much-loved vintage macramé books. I have had an inherent desire to make and create from a young age, my creative family has influenced me a lot. I began to knot plant hangers and simple designs because for some reason I believed that’s all you could do with knotting rope and string. I felt unchallenged and grew bored of it pretty quickly, so I began experimenting with other mediums. (I thank God for my husband Ash’s strong support and encouragement as I trialled clay, weaving and abstract painting -- spending A LOT of hard earned money on craft supplies…whoops!) Feeling unsatisfied and doubting my crafting ability, I decided to turn back to rope and string on Ash’s advice as he noticed I had picked it up so quickly (and it was also a “cleaner” hobby to have with little kids around!). As I lay in bed one night, I began thinking about my daughter’s love for colouring in between the lines in her colouring books and for some reason I could then imagine transferring the concept into knotting between the lines of rope. The next day I was eager to test out this weird idea and that is where my technique has evolved from. I knot large fibres and then use smaller fibres to knot in between the spaces, adding layers to create texture and a three-dimensional effect as the piece unfolds.
Can you describe a “typical” day in your life?
A typical day: Waking up anywhere between 5:30 - 7:30 AM depending on which child wakes up first! (Or if my husband’s surf alarm wakes me up!) Cracking eggs from my mum and dad’s chickens (we live on their property) for breakfast. Cleaning up said eggs from the floor after my two year old misses the saucepan. Checking email while kids eat. Clean up, get dressed and brush teeth. (When I remember, haha!) Play outside with the girls, watch them play in the sand as I weave from a nearby tree. Put my one-year-old daughter down for a sleep, have lunch with my two-year-old and watch Playschool on TV. Feed-one-year old lunch when she wakes up. Spend the afternoons weaving as I watch the girls play inside or outside (depending on the weather of course!). Change nappies, change clothes, change more nappies. Get ready for dinner. Shower and PJs. Husband comes home from Uni and plays with the girls while I cook dinner. Have dinner, clean up, and put the girls to bed. Weave as my husband studies at the dinner table. Hop into bed! Pretty much sums up most days!
How do you make sure you have time with your family/loved ones?
I try to include them in everything I do. My two-year-old helps collect wild wood for my weaves. They play with the empty rope rolls once I finish a spool. There is no such thing as a solid block of work time for me. My time is here, there and everywhere, playing with toddlers and feeding little mouths -- that's why it is so hard for me to calculate how many hours I actually spend on one weave.
How do you carve out time for yourself?
I’ve only recently started running again while my husband minds the kids in the afternoons if he is home early. I realised recently I needed this little bit of time away from weaving and the home to refresh and recoup. I'm very grateful for Jose Gonzales who has been my favourite running companion lately.
What are some favorite activities that you and your family like to do together?
We love to go on little drives and adventures on the weekends -- up the nearby mountains or along our amazingly beautiful coastline. We definitely treasure these weekend drives and adventures. We recently visited our friends timber mill in the Highlands. It was a slice of heaven.
Do you have any tips for simplifying?
Do not overcommit. We have definitely learned lately that saying "no" to invitations and requests isn't selfish; it is sometimes a must to keep your sanity! (Especially when there are little kids keeping you up at night and you are running on little sleep!)
What’s your favorite way to bring a little beauty into your home?
I love our vintage sheets and wallpaper that are always moving around our home on different walls, depending on what weaves I have hanging for our photography. I am always changing my mind so all of our walls are temporarily covered haha! My two-year-old and I love collecting and foraging for beautiful wild flowers and grasses to put in our ever growing handmade vessels collection.
What are you looking for in products that you choose to spend money on?
I absolutely LOVE buying handmade. I currently have an obsession with mountain and forest scape oil paintings.
Where are your favorite spots to find items for your home?
We have bought a lot of our furniture and kinfolk pieces from my mum’s antique and restored furniture store called "Restor'd Worthy Goods,” which is close to where we live. We have also collected a lot of pieces over time from thrift shops, markets and holidays.
What does living a “simple, beautiful” life mean to you?
I think to live simply means to be content with where you are in life and what you have. Not striving for the biggest and best, but finding beauty in the everyday, no matter where you are. (It is easy for me to say this at the moment though as my parent’s property, where we currently live, is seriously the most beautiful place on earth! We are extremely thankful every day to wake up here in the valley.)
Thank you, Tanika. What an inspiration, and we'd love to visit someday!
All photos by Tanika Reed.
You might also like our #SycamoreReads book club on Instagram. We choose a book each month and discuss it Monday mornings on our feed. Find it on @SycamoreStreetPress.