Crochet king Trevor Smith on the inspiration behind is amazingly unique tea cosies
Forget granny squares, Trevor Smith’s crochet has more in common with sculpture than a simple blanket. The Australian textile artist creates tea cosies, not only intricate in their design (which is all done without a pattern!) but they take on the forms of everything from historical figures to a blue fin tuna.
From his sofa in the quiet country town of Portland, Australia, Trevor admits he tries to stay under the craft radar so his innovative hobby never becomes a chore. However, while Trevor usually prefers to let his hooks do the talking, we managed to catch up with the crochet legend to discover how he turns the humble tea cosy into a work of art…
Two images above © ABC Open
Why tea cosies?
They are functional and decorative. I occasionally do purely decorative (sculptural) work as well.
Can you describe the process for making one of your tea cosies?
I don’t use patterns to make my tea cosies, but that doesn’t mean I make a lot of mistakes. Sometimes elements may need to be remade, but usually they can be manipulated to work how I want them to be. They start out with the base or cover for the teapot, then the decoration is added. It’s hard to describe the process as they are all so different. The elements for the top part are made individually, then sewn to the bases and the details added after that.
How did you learn to crochet?
My mother taught me to crochet when I was a child. I think I was probably eight years old and I enjoyed it straight away.
What’s the first thing you ever made?
Probably a crochet rug. I also made a lot of Barbie doll clothes for younger relatives too.
Why do you love crochet over other crafts?
I’ve always worked in textiles and since 2009 crochet has been my obsession. I find creativity is good ‘therapy’ outside my day job. I studied visual arts in the early 80s and since 1985 have worked as a curator of public art collections in Victoria, Australia. Initially at art galleries in Ararat and Horsham, and since 2007 in Portland, Glenelg Shire working with an art and historic collection.
Describe your workspace and why it works for you?
I work in my living room, on the couch, in front of the TV. However, I do have a spare room set aside for the wool and teapots!
Does where you live affect your work?
I work in isolation, so where I live doesn’t really change that. I buy the wool online from Bendigo Woollen Mill and always stock up on teapots when I travel, so really I could be anywhere as long as I have somewhere comfy to sit.
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by the usual really, colour and texture. What inspires me most of all is always the challenge to replicate something in wool.
Who are your favourite makers?
Three images above © Bellwether Wines
What has been your proudest project?
It has to be my recent exhibition ‘Limestone Coast Stories’ at Bellwether Wines in Coonawarra – it was a sellout!
Name three things you can’t live without?
An endless supply of wool and teapots, a project to be working towards and a cup of Twinnings tea.
What are your top three crocheting tips?
- Be prepared for your plans to change midway through the project and don’t worry if they do, there’s always a way to make it work.
- Make do with what you have, don’t stress if you don’t have the exact colour. People will never know.
- Be generous when stuffing three dimensional projects, stuffing and wadding always settles over time.
Watch ABD Open’s interview with Trevor to see more of his crochet creations.
Locally, Trevor and his teapots are very popular, and often his artworks are in high demand, which is a big reason why Trevor tends to stay pretty much under the radar. This is the first film made about Trevor and his work to date.