Designs Inspired by Nature


Escaping from the fast-paced corporate world for a sea change in Nelson Bay has delivered more than just a new postcode for former Sydney-sider Liz McCarthy.


After finding that life “in the slow-lane” gave her time to re-discover a childhood love for fibre arts and macramé in particular, Liz launched Bay Trader Co. in 2016 to provide an outlet for her creative pursuits.


“Living life in the slow-lane gave me time and the opportunity to explore my creative side. I got back in touch with my childhood love of fibre arts, sewing, knitting and macramé,” she said.


 “One of the things that appeals to me about macramé is that it is a slow craft, knot by knot you build something that transforms before your eyes.”


Bay Trader Co. also sells a range of rope bowls and baskets, which Liz creates using cotton rope and stitches together with her sewing machine. Liz said she loves the tactile and relaxing nature of the work, which can take anywhere from a few hours to several weeks to complete.


“For me it’s my happy place, therapeutic and relaxing, letting your hands work the knots as a simple coil of rope becomes a piece of art that you can hang on the wall,” she said.


“Each macramé piece is entirely handmade with natural cotton rope, each knot tied by me with contentment and endless patience. Sometimes it takes only a few hours to create something small, to a couple of days for a larger piece. There have been times where it has taken weeks as I’ll start a wall hanging and hit a creative roadblock; at those times I hang it up in the living area unfinished, and I wander past it for a few days, contemplating, wondering, allowing time until the idea comes to me on how to continue.


Being surrounded by the coastal beauty of Nelson Bay, it is little wonder that Liz takes much of her inspiration from what she sees around her every day.

“I’m so inspired by the natural beauty of our stunning coastal region, I try and keep that theme through my work, whether it is with the driftwood pieces I use in a macramé wall hanging or the colours that I use. New ideas come from a range of different sources; sometimes new ideas come by experimenting, sometimes by making mistakes.”


With a huge list of design ideas and elements in the wings, Liz said she is not quite sure which she is going to delve into next, although she is passionate about her latest offering, which is allowing her to share her love of macramé with others. 


“I have this huge list that I keep on my phone of new ideas, I’m not sure which one I’m going to delve into next,” she said.


“What’s really exciting is that I have just launched my Learn to Macramé workshops where you can come along and learn how to macramé. It is a privilege to share the macramé love and see the enthusiasm as participants create their own piece.”


You can check out Liz’s creations and learn more about her passion for the craft at the Olive Tree Market, where she has been a regular stallholder for the past year.


The next market will be held at Newcastle Civic Park on Saturday, July 7 from 9am to 3pm. The August Olive Tree Market will complete the winter markets series – you can check it out on August 4 – also at Newcastle Civic Park.


The Olive Tree Market is also held seasonally, in the beautiful grounds of Maitland Regional Art Gallery (230 High Street Maitland). So if you’re looking for a day out in the Hunter Valley, then make sure you stop by the Gallery on Saturday, July 14 – where you’ll find the Olive Tree Winter Markets in full swing between 9am and 2pm.

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