MAKING a handbag out of your dog might bring the RSPCA knocking, and the matching hat’s likely to have PETA protestors camped outside your front door.
But local wool artist Debra Corbett is unrepentant; after all, what else could she do with the lovely apricot wool clipped from her beloved labradoodle Dougal.
The award-winning artist gave up her paint brushes and turned to the spinning wheel a few years ago: “It was my dog that got me started,” the Fremantle local says.
Having taught herself to paint, teaching herself to spin on a wheel brought purely for decoration wasn’t a big ask, she says.
Soon she was addicted: “When I’m not spinning I’m knitting,” she says, picking up her other addiction — crochet — as we talk.
Her shop is appropriately located at the tail end of the Woolstores shopping centre on the corner of Queen Street and Elder Place and its wares show the eclectic nature of Ms Corbett’s passions.
There’s rescued furniture rebadged as shabby chic desirables, candles in a multitude of receptacles including a tea cup and saucer, and artworks made from old books.
“I saw those at a market in Tasmania and thought ‘I could do that’.”
She no longer sells wearables from Dougal but you’ll find hats, shawls, jumpers, beanies and scarves from a variety of material, including incredibly soft yarn from angora rabbit. Some gossamer-light silk items are fused with felt.
From spinning and knitting to felting and candle-making all the products are made at the shop or Ms Corbett’s heritage-listed home, Lenaville, on the corner of High and Ord Streets.
The historic building was originally home to Fremantle prison’s chief warden.
She even dyes her own materials there: “Everything is natural, even the dyes I use.”
Ms Corbett fell in love with the port city after holding an exhibition in Fremantle: “I thought I could live here, and then Lenaville became available and that was that.”
Tourist and locals are enthusiastic about being able to purchase locally made items, she says: “In this day of mass production from China, I’m proud to offer a product that is unique, stylish, original and affordable alternative, made right here on the premises by me.”
by JENNY D’ANGER
Debra Corbett Studio
5 Elder Place, Fremantle
open daily 11am – 3pm
0438 305 236