Creative Business Owner & CBS Workshop Facilitator Liz Doust will be facilitating two upcoming “Learn to Screen Print in a Day” workshops. The first one on 4 AUGUST is SOLD OUT (!) but we’ve just listed another  one for 21 September: Click here for details. In the meantime, here’s more about Liz and her creative practice. (For current listings: CLICK HERE)

Liz Doust

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.

Hello, I’m Liz. Aargh! I always struggle with this simple question for some reason – most likely because I don’t fit into a neatly defined box. I probably need to work on my ‘elevator pitch’!

I grew up on a farm in central NSW, then spent 4 years in Wagga studying Biomedical Science. After that, I moved to Melbourne to find work, and spent the next 8 or so years working in medical research labs. While all this was going on, the right hemisphere of my brain was slowly withering away from disuse, and I’m not sure what prompted it, but one day (almost 5 years ago) the right half of my brain decided it had had enough of being neglected. To cut a long story short, I taught myself long list of creative skills and started up a business (ambette). Since then, my products have been spotted in magazines like Frankie, and House & Garden, and I’ve also exhibited at Design:Made:Trade and had stalls at various Melbourne design markets. Not too bad for someone with no formal arts training!

These days, I’m still running the business, but also teaching creative workshops, which I’m planning to do more of. Apart from that, I’m often experimenting with other bits and pieces: textile design, screen printing, graphic design etc.

Describe your creative practice:

Under the label ambette I design a range of colourful cases for portable gadgets (MacBooks, iPads, Kindles, iPhones etc) from 100% wool felt. I’d describe them as a bit retro-modern, fairly minimal, but also pretty different to your standard black neoprene fare. I make everything myself in my home studio, and I have to say I’m a bit of a perfectionist about my products.

On the teaching side of things, I’ve recently started a new venture called Make.It which is the name all my creative workshops will operate under. I’ve run other workshops in the past, but Learn to Screen Print in a Day will be the first to operate under the new Make.It brand. Although a lot of my workshops will revolve around screen-printing, I am definitely planning to offer a diverse range of short creative workshops, as I have a lot of other useful skills to share.

Papercut cards workshop with ambette at Colour Box Studio.
Paper-cut Cards by ambette.

How did you come to you creative practice?

As I mentioned earlier, ambette was started in an attempt to fill the creative void in my life. I started out making bags, but moved on to MacBook sleeves (and eventually other gadgets) when someone suggested I add some products that were a bit more unisex. At some stage I’d like to go back and do some bag designing again (featuring my own fabric designs), but would probably get them locally produced rather than sewing them all myself.

The teaching part of my practice came about as I’d taught a few friends to screen print in the past, and also a bit of sewing here and there. I really enjoyed teaching, so it was always in my plan, but never really had a venue to do it at. It all clicked into place when I was volunteering at Colour Box Studio and the opportunity to teach a workshop presented itself – hooray!

ambette MacBook sleeve
ambette MacBook sleeve

Tell us about your past projects. What has been your most treasured creation?

I really loved my original line of hessian & canvas MacBook sleeves, but they just became too difficult to produce. Often my favourite creations are things that I make just for myself – I have a pair of cushions on our couch that I designed, printed and sewed. I love them because they’re just for me made exactly how I wanted them, and nobody else has any the same.

Where did you grow up and has it influenced what you create?

As I mentioned, I grew up on a farm. It probably hasn’t influenced what I create so much as how I create. I grew up with a brother and two sisters (all younger) – we lived some distance out of town, and as a result, spent most of our weekends and holidays at home on the farm. We weren’t very well off, so didn’t have things like video games to keep us occupied. We also had a pretty small house, so were encouraged to be outside a lot (probably to keep my Mum sane). We had access to a lot of building materials and tools from a young age, and were more or less free to roam around with virtually no supervision. To stave off boredom, we came up with a lot of ambitious building and engineering projects (tree houses, flying foxes, billy-carts etc) – and because we were left to our own devices, we worked out how to make things on our own through trial and error. We also weren’t afraid to have a go at projects, and because there was nobody watching us, it didn’t matter if it was a monumental failure (there were plenty).

What is your current project?

I don’t know if you’d call it a project, but I’m studying interior design at the moment. I’m also working on getting Make.It up and running, and have a few ideas for a some new projects floating about in my head. I’m also looking for work (*hint hint* – if anyone out there is looking for someone, I’m available!)

Who or what was your inspiration?

I don’t know that there is anything/anyone specific that inspires me. I get inspiration from all over the place – the brain is always soaking stuff up and storing it away for later use.

Where do you feel most creative?

This seems to be a pretty common answer, but most often just after I go to bed when I’m trying to shut my brain up so I can go to sleep. I’ve been known to have a great idea and reach over with one eye open and grab my phone to jot down some half-garbled reminder. Fortunately I can usually work out what it means in the morning!

What can visitors to expect to see from you through your involvement at Colour Box Studio?

More workshops! There has been a really great response to the Learn to Screen Print in a Day workshop, so you’ll probably see some more of those in the future, and maybe some new ones at some stage… who knows!

Where can people find more info about your creative practice?

For more information about Liz Doust’s upcoming workshops: Click here

learn to screenprint with Liz Doust at Colour Box Studio
Learn To Screen Print in a Day. Workshop with Liz Doust at Colour Box Studio.