Tanika Reed for reedsmithco.com

River Bennett (Photgraphy River Bennett)

I got out of my car and was immediately surrounded by the thriving green hills of the Jerrara valley. I'm not going to lie, I was so happy. I had a smile on my face as big as a sailing canoe. It sure beat the school traffic I would usually be sitting in at this time of day. 

A huge vegetable garden lay flourishing in the sun to my left, and I could hear the playful murmur of two little girls in the distance.

Tanika Reed, a young Australian fibre artist and mother of two, met me on the driveway. She was beautiful, with long blonde hair that went on for days and a warm smile that made you feel immediately at home. As we talked about the love and inspiration the countryside brings with its wild grasses and flowers which can be dried and hung around the home, and a passion for Scandinavian Folk art, we headed into her home, sat down at an old wooden table and drank from beautifully handcrafted wooden cups. I was keen to hear about Tanika's journey with her craft and how she came to be one of the most sort after artists across Australia.

When I was a little girl I was obsessed with... stationery. Mum and Dad did the majority of the bookkeeping for their building business from home when we were growing up, so my sisters and I found paper clip necklaces and typing "BOOBLESS" into calculators a lot more entertaining than Barbies and doll houses. We were encouraged early on to make our own fun. We would eagerly await Dad’s arrival home with cardboard boxes from building sites, drawing up plans for new cubby houses, and cutting up our nighties to make little window curtains. We had an awesome childhood. 

I knew Art was in my blood because... our whole family is like one big well-oiled creative engine. Both of my Grandmas sew, my Pop is an engineer and inventor {he designed the jet ski years before it ever came out in the market!}, my Pa is an avid gardener and can grow different fruits on the same tree. I have five sisters, all with their own creative flair; one can sculpt animals from wire, one draws and is off to Art College next year. I didn't stand a chance really. The creative juice is thick in our veins.

I want my home to be... full of who we are. A giant, unforced, creative mess. At the beginning of this year Ash and I decided it would be an opportune time to become "minimalists" and try out the simplistic clean white lines of modern Scandi style. I've always had a weakness for anything out of that part of the world so I was hoping we might be able to mold ourselves into their beautiful white modern ways. But it just didn't feel like our home for me. I am so surprised my husband hasn't suffered a mental breakdown yet from the amount of changes our home has gone through over the past few months! I really feel like where we are at now with style etc. is a true reflection of what's in my head. And it actually has a name! Apparently there's a whole other side to Scandinavian style I never even knew existed . . . ‘Scandinavian Folk’!

This is basically a whole lot of contrasting floral wallpaper, woven textiles and dark wooden antique furniture; ah my happy place. {cue: husband’s laughter as he mutters, "Yeah, and it will probably change again next week!”}.

I love that our home is a place where our girls have creative freedom to play, make and create every day. I love that we wake up inspired. My Pop walked in the other day, and he stood in our lounge room, hands on hips and said, "This place is so full of life, everywhere I look there is something to look at." We are so incredibly blessed and thankful to be living on our parent’s property in this crazy, magnificent valley. It is a slice of heaven here. Even head colds don't last that long out here. We still pinch ourselves every day. 

Before I was a mum I thought.... "I really don't know what I'm doing". My hubby and I married quite young and I love that we have "grown up" together. I think I didn't really start to figure out what I wanted to do until after we had our kids. They say you really grow as a person and form your identity between the ages of 18-25. I think that's true for me. A lot of who I am, and love now I've only come to realise in the past 2 years or so. 

Now I know... a lot more about myself. Our girls have played a massive part in my own self-discovery and who we are as parents and as lovers. Being a stay-at-home mum too, has definitely encouraged me to be more creative with my time at home {and how to not go insane being home every day with two toddlers!}

My girls are... pretty darn cute. Their names are Dympnah Elki Eve {Dymi for short} who is nearly 3, and Charlo Arlie Jay who just turned 1. The acronym of Dymi's name is D.E.E.R which is the meaning of her name Dympnah {Welsh for "young deer"} and is also our surname backwards "Reed". They are hilarious characters and love a good chat {just like their parents!!}. 

I want them to always know... they were created by a Magnificent Creator and that Heaven is our true home. I want them to know we are their biggest supporters; we will always love them no matter who they are, or what they do. 

I started weaving when... my Nan gave me some of her old macrame books around 6 months ago. When our second daughter was born, I was annoyed at trying different crafts to keep my mum-sanity, and growing tired of them so quickly. I felt like I didn't have the patience required for quilting and clay rolling. I was no good at abstract art {many a night spent scrunching and flattening canvases with snapped paint brushes flying all over the place}.

So I gave macrame a go - knotting plant hangers, but I knew I still had not found my "thing". You know that "thing" where, once you find it, you feel like you were made for it, like you could spend every waking moment immersed in it and not grow bored of it after a few days? My hubsand encouraged me to give knotting another go as he noticed how quickly I picked it up. He told me to ask God for divine inspiration to use a traditional craft to design and create something unique. 

So I prayed. I asked God to show me what it was I knew my hands were missing. And then one day I felt like He whispered to me in my heart, "Watch your daughter as she draws." So I walked over to where Dymi was sitting with her markers and pencils and watched. She picked up the thick black marker and drew large bold shapes all connected into one big shape. Then she filled in these shapes with quick, thin vertical lines with her colouring pencils. I felt like God said to me, "Now do this with rope and string." And so I did. This is where my weaving technique stemmed from.

An Australian artist that I really admire was one of the first people to notice my work and buy a wall-weave for her daughter. She told me to keep going as she had not seen this style of weaving before and at how unique it was. That was such a great encouragement when I was just starting out.  Now I work really hard {I don't really sleep anymore!} and weave for hours every day. I absolutely love it. I have not loved any other craft as much as I love to weave. I still have moments where halfway through a big weave I have been working in for a week or so, I take a step back and think, "Far out, is this really worth all my time and effort?" - but then a beautiful email with the kindest words pop up, or the gentle supportive words of my hubby will give me a push and off my fingers go again! 

Starting a business was... sort of a natural step. I still like to think of it as a hobby, keeping it small and only taking on as many orders as precious time allows. I am just as surprised as everyone else at how quickly it has picked up! I am so appreciative of every single person’s genuine interest in the weaves. It is so beautiful knowing the little combo of divine inspiration and a part of me is travelling all over the world! 

One of the biggest challenges is... definitely time allocation. I love working on multiple projects at once {you'll notice this as soon as you step into our home!}. My hubby is great at reminding me to finish orders and keep people updated with my progress! Some days I know are days where our girls need my full attention. So I take rest days now and I'll only weave at night when they are asleep. Other days I'll weave whenever I have the opportunity, while they are eating, playing outside or having naps. I think I'll never have it fully balanced {creative people are up and down a lot apparently ha ha!} but we are getting into more of a "routine" now which makes it all a little bit easier to manage. 

I get a buzz when... a new idea evolves in my head or in a convo over tea with Ash. I love how we get excited about it together. Some ideas have caused serious sleep deprivation! If only there were more hours in the day! I decided to tack paper all over our walls in our home with pencils nearby so we wouldn't lose an idea or thought in the heat of the moment. Hopefully this solves that problem! 

My studio is... always changing! I feel a little sorry for my Instagram followers actually! If they have OCD they will probably need something to relax after scrolling through my feed! The studio has been changed around THAT many times! I want it to always feel full of life and inspiration. Hanging flowers and grasses to dry, old bottles and apothecary jars full of our adventures, layered rugs and vintage Scandinavian textiles on the walls and floor. I recently stumbled across Sibella Court's book "Ecetera" and boy, it was a light bulb moment! Ash and I love collecting and finding things {and it looks like our girls will follow suit!} and I realised just how important and special it is for this to be reflected in our home. Sibella nails the homely eclectic-mess. And instead of me trying to "tidy" this aspect of us away, she has helped me realise how to embrace it and give it freedom in our home. 

Living on the south coast is... an absolute dream. It really feels too good to be true some days. Some days we battle with the thoughts that it doesn't seem fair to live in such a beautiful free place when so many in the world aren't as fortunate. I hope we always live lives that are effective and impact those around us for the better no matter where we are. 

The older I get... the more I realise how important it is to not take yourself too seriously, but to take life very seriously. To be able to laugh at yourself every day, to always think less of yourself and more of others. Who I am and what I do is no more important than anyone else and what they do, and to live each day from Heaven’s perspective.   


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