CraftAlive: Bringing Creativity to Regional Victoria

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CraftAlive: Bringing Creativity to Regional Victoria

There’s something about the colder months of the year that inspires creativity. The temperature drops and we hunt through draws of old bits of fabric, buttons and sheets of paper to make something while we’re stuck beside the heater. And that’s exactly what touring craft event CraftAlive is all about: to inspire and teach those on the benefits of getting crafty.

For the fourth year in a row the largest regional craft event in Australia will take place in Bendigo with a weekend of patchwork, stamping, scrapbooking, quilting, jewellery, homewares, and more on 17-19 June. The team will then pack everything up and head to Ballarat for a show 1-3 July.

“There is craft of all ranges and craft for all ages at both of the shows and plenty of classes to get hands on. Classes at the shows cover everything from card-making, to jewellery, to the latest patchwork techniques from tutors around the world,” Event Coordinator Tess Gutknecht says.

“Last year was our first year in Ballarat and it was a fantastic show. This year we’ve moved to a bigger and better venue and filled it completely – it’s packed to the brim. There are exciting demonstrations, make and takes, more exhibitors, and plenty of parking too.”

If this may sound like something that’s reserved only for your nanna, think again, as craft has made a resurgence across all generations. And there’s nothing more satisfying than creating something from scratch.

“Especially with certain crafts; baking, cake decorating and hand-sewing, we see these crafts are really sparking the interests of the younger generations who are taking them to new levels,” Tess says.

“It’s really beautiful seeing Grandparents bringing their grandchildren and sharing with them what their passions are – whether it be patchwork, scrapbooking, or something new. The younger ones are impressing the professionals as well with award winning 10-year-old quilters teacher at CraftAlives in the past. We’re getting everyone involved across the generations which is very inspiring.”

The event first began 27 years ago, and since being taken over by a new owner (who was also a past exhibitor), CraftAlive has stepped outside its origin state and increased those it influences through craft by tenfold.

“It started very local and over the last five years we have built bigger and better shows far and wide across the country. We did our first shows in Toowoomba and Adelaide this year which were very successful, so it’s growing at a rapid rate. While that family feel is still strongly there – the quality of exhibitors and workshops keeps growing exponentially”

The growth of CraftAlive can be attributed in part to the smart planning and choices from the team, but more often than not its success owes a great deal of thanks to the support it receives from locals and dedicated stallholders and exhibitors.

“It’s great to have support of the locals in particular as they are a big part of our shows and understanding the regional areas history” Tess says.

“The fact we can bring the show to these areas, in their own backyard, is very satisfying. We love getting feedback from people thanking us for not having to travel several hours to the CBD, spending the money they’ve put aside on parking and travel.”

The Bendigo event over the past few years has quickly become the cornerstone event of the year for CraftAlive, and sees a line-up of events unlike anything on offer in the regional craft scene.

For this year’s instalment, acclaimed American tutor and fibre artist, Bonnie Sullivan, will make the trip to teach those visiting Bendigo. Holding two meet and greets, anyone visiting can say hello, but even more special is the 6 hour embroidery master class that will turn its students into experts! Denise Keeley and Sue Cherry will also be taking students through the process of creating their very own statue to decorate any garden or mantelpiece. Paverpol Australia’s classes will be held throughout the weekend in Bendigo.

This year also marks the relaunch of the charitable initiative, Quilts of Hope, which works in conjunction with CraftAlive while donating all proceeds to Challenge; a charity devoted to supporting children and their families living with cancer and blood disorders.

The Quilts of Hope event will be launched in Bendigo with Australia’s biggest Quilt-a- thon, in which will see crafters gather together and make quilts in only six hours – with the final products either donated directly to the children or auctioned to raise funds.

“Kids like having something tangible to hold onto and get them through the rough times that they’re going through, so we thought what better thing than a blanket or a quilt that they can cuddle up to,” she says.

A Silent Auction and Cocktail Evening will also take place at 6pm on June 18th in Bendigo to further raise funds for Challenge. There will be champagne and nibbles as well as a variety of craft items, restaurant vouchers, Bendigo experiences, and even a weekend away in Melbourne available to be bid on.

Written by Amanda Sherring

To find out more on classes, exhibitors or the event itself, visit Tickets to the Quilt-a- thon can be purchased from

When & Where: Prince of Wales Showgrounds, Bendigo – June 17-19 & Wendouree Sports & Events Centre, Ballarat – July 1-3.