Creative couple Maggie May and Josh Kelly like to distinguish between the words “talent” and “skill”.
“Talent infers you’re born with a natural gift and that isn’t how we look at,” says Kelly.
“People can feel discouraged believing they’re not naturally talented or creative, but skill takes work and you can really learn anything you put your mind to,” May adds.
May is a macramé maker, graphic designer and stylist, which she does day-to-day for her business The Middle Aisle. Kelly plays the saxophone for various Melbourne bands, most recently supporting The Teskey Brothers.
“My practice is in music, but it’s so beneficial to gain a wider skill set and learn techniques from other disciplines,” says Kelly. “You can apply what you’ve learned from one art form to another.”
The pair’s new store and workshop space, Think Thornbury, evolved after years spent running creative workshops at home.
“I was teaching The Middle Aisle macramé classes from the living room of a sharehouse and after two years the classes grew too big and we needed a studio space,” says May.
May and Kelly moved into this double storey site in Thornbury earlier this year. It was previously a women’s yoga studio called Eve, which outgrew the space.
“We share the same customers actually, who make nice comments about how we’ve maintained the beautiful energy in the shop,” says May. Rattan pendant lights hang above, which intentionally tie in with the texture of May’s macrame and other crafts.
“It’s homely, welcoming and honest with all its imperfections on show, such as the cracked tiles and shelving built around the gas meter,” says Kelly.
On the ground floor, shelves are stocked full of locally made dog leads, nail polish, cards, craft kits, books, beanies and ceramics. An effort is made to support small-scale makers, such as Bon Lux candles, Wolf & Mishka handmade clothing and Ethical Clothing Australia-accredited garments by Vege Threads.
There are a variety of workshops for would-be creatives to learn to make ceramics, polymer clay earrings or printed totes, or take portraits of their dogs, or learn about subjects ranging from skincare to tea to naturopathy to experimental painting.
Artists with work on show, such as Dawn Tan (customers can buy her illustrated prints), Christina Luo of Fox and Flourish (she completed a decorative mural on the wall) and ceramics-maker Clay by Tina run workshops upstairs. Tan, for example, is hosting a watercolour workshop in October.
Through teaching her macramé workshops, May discovered the positive impact of building creative confidence beyond the class. “I often received feedback from students who felt more inclined to try other new things, even going for a new job or position at work,” she says.
The name, Think Thornbury, was inspired by a quote Kelly read in New Philosopher magazine, which is stocked in-store, alongside sister publication, Womankind.
“I’m paraphrasing, but it read something like, ‘instead of teaching people how to do something, education should be about teaching people how to think’,” says Kelly.
The space is “not about replicating the work of the teachers though,” May adds. “It’s about creative empowerment with a strong emphasis on originality.”
Think Thornbury’s workshops can be booked online, with a maximum of 12–15 people per class.
800 High Street, Thornbury
0402 294 809
Wed to Sat 10am – 6pm
Sun 11am – 5pm
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