Fear and Euphoria

A recount of my most memorable session.

Words by Louie Hynd & Photos by Darcy Ward


I arrive bewildered and exhausted in the middle of nowhere after 24hrs in transit. After two flights and a lengthy overnight drive, I found myself at the location of a wave that should be lighting up according to the charts. The harsh afternoon desert heat blared down on me as I dragged my feet through the orange dirt toward the edge of the cliffs.  As I stood on the edge of the crumbling cliffs, I look out at one of the most notorious surf spots in the world.

The full brunt of the southern ocean was detonating onto a shallow slab of reef. The conditions didn’t look perfect, the solid swell washing through on the sets and a light onshore wind causing ribs and chop on the wave face. Far from the ideal combination at a wave of such consequence. But I thought I may as well give it a go anyway. Just to tick it off the bucket list since I’d come so far.

As I was getting ready, I couldn’t help but feel a strange energy. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up and my heart beat a little quicker. It may have been the prior knowledge of some of the dark history that surrounded the place. Standing on the same cliff where a group of early settlers apparently drove 260 aboriginals towards the edge and forced them to jump, or be shot. Maybe it was the fact that the spot is notorious for great white sharks and not too long ago, a man was devoured whole by a great white while surfing the break I was about to paddle out at. The incident confirmed by two eyewitnesses who each then and there, took a vow to never step foot in the ocean again. A pub horror story that remains well versed by many of the locals that call the desolate lands home.

Regardless of the bad juju in the air, there was still the potential for a few crazy rides. The sun was starting to dive and I knew that I didn’t want to stay out too long as the day was fast approaching PST (Prime Shark Time).

The first challenge is attempting to reach the sand to paddle out. No beach access stairs around here. How about traverse your way down a steep, loose-footed rock and dirt cliff instead? Okay! With nobody around to tell me the right way to get down, I decided to go with my default navigational and problem-solving strategy; just wing it. I cautiously and ungainly slip slided my way down the slope. Each wary footstep causing mini avalanches of dirt and rock larger than the last. After a treacherous descent of the cliff, I eventually make it to the beach, but not completely unscathed. Kicking a rock toward the end of the trip down resulted in a ripped wetsuit bootie and bleeding cut. Great, now I was going to be attracting sharks and have numb toes.

My Anxiety had since taken form as a tiny red devil on my shoulder, whispering in my ear, tantalising me with its persuasive allure.

‘This isn’t worth it, the waves don’t even look that good.”

“It’s way more risk than reward.”

“Fuck this. Go back to the car,” the tiny red devil persuaded.

A few deep inhalations later and an empowered ‘Fuck it’ rebuttal from the tiny white angel on the other shoulder gave me the attitude adjustment required to get me out there.

Feeling equal parts anxious and exhilarated, I paddle out through the deep channel behind the wave. The eerie darkness of the water perpetuated the already spooky vibes. Not eager to sit on my own, I paddle straight up to the two guys that were already out to exchange pleasantries.

Being an outsider hunting waves in a heavily localized area of the world means you’re constantly walking on eggshells. And don’t even think about pulling out a camera. I crossed my fingers and hoped they weren’t two gnarly locals ready give me an earful; especially if they’d already detected the not so disguised tripod amongst the cliffs…  Luckily for me, they’re just two men on a road trip from Wollongong. Phew! Bullet dodged.

I always like to take off on a wave as soon as possible. I find it helps me tune in with the energy of the ocean. When the waves are intimidating, the longer you sit and over analyze the conditions and waves, the less confidence you gain and the more fear you begin to develop. My preparation consisted of surfing 2ft, 3-second period wind slop on the Gold Coast for the past two months. It’s a real shock to the system when you're suddenly thrown into a large long-period southern ocean swell. (Period of swell is the time between each wave. The longer the period, the more power and water in the wave as it folds over the reef).

A reasonably sized in-between set wave appeared. I turned to the bloke beside me and probed for a hint to what a good one should look like. He gave a hesitant remark that didn’t exactly give away the answers to the test paper.

Any spot you surf, good ones are the kinds of waves you see break and think fuck, I wish I were on that!  Picking a good one comes down to your ability to read the ocean and identify waves with the right look. At waves of consequence like this one, recognizing the look becomes less of a calculation and more of a spiritual connection.

For me, a swell line with the look emits intangible euphoric energy that connects with my intuition, giving me an instinctive sense of, that’s a good one and you should probably start paddling.

You’re essentially reading the ocean and coming up with a hypothesis on how that particular swell will hit the reef and break. The angle the swell is coming in, how much energy there is in the wave, and numerous other small factors are added up to create your hypothesis. Reconciliation between the scientific calculation and spiritual connection is how you ultimately make your decision to commit or let the wave go.

Surfing this spot, the ability to feel this connection would mean the difference between getting blown out of a crazy tube or being slammed on the reef and ferociously rag-dolled under the water for an uncomfortable amount of time.

Energy doesn’t lie. The result of trusting this intuitive connection and your skill to ride the wave is when you get to experience what I believe to be one of the most incredible natural highs that life can give.

It’s why passionate surfers have that insatiable desire and dedication to search far and wide, hunting new and different waves.

We’re chasing the dragon for another hit.  Each wave is different, making every high unique. That’s how surfing becomes such a strong addiction.

I swing around for a wave and paddle my heart out. So much water is surging off the reef; it feels like I’m not even moving. Eventually, I feel the wave start to pick me up. Time to try and take off on this thing. Hands leave the rail and my feet jump onto my board as I knife down the wave. There is so much power and speed in the wave, I could see it already starting to run off on me before I even got to the bottom. Too late to turn off the bottom I was forced to straighten out. I made it safely out the front of the wave away from the lip; only to be mowed down by an avalanche of white water. One deep inhale of air and I pin dropped off my board.  Despite jumping off in the safest place, I still get absolutely flogged.  Surfacing a little while later, way on the inside of the break. It was time to face the part of the surf I’d been dreading; the long, very lonely paddle back to the take-off spot, through the deepest, darkest, sharkiest water you could ever find yourself in.

I cop a few more waves on the head before I reach the channel. Rattled and dizzy, I take a moment to compose myself. 

“Deep breaths Louie, deeeeep breaths,” I whisper to myself in an attempt to calm my racing heartbeat.

I start paddling as fast as I can without splashing around too much. The feeling reconnected me with my childhood irrational fear of being in the deep end of the swimming pool.

You’re not scared of the water, you’re afraid of the unknown.

“Don’t look down, keep looking forward and keep moving those twigs you call arms. There’s safety in numbers, just reach the lads at the take-off spot and you’re in the clear”, I reassured myself.

Halfway there and I’m quickly heating up. I shouldn’t have worn the 4/3.  I eased off the gas knowing if I try to keep up that sort of record pace for the whole session, my arms would end up turning to jelly very prematurely. With the lads now within close range, I feel more comfortable and reach them pretty soon after.

One of the guys yells out, “Hey mate, just letting you know we’re gonna head in. Not getting that many and it’s getting kind of late. You gonna stay out or head in too?” I’d only had one wave and it was a flogging, no way I was wrapping up my session like that.

“No worries lads, I’m gonna stay out, wouldn’t mind just trying to get one decent one” I reply.

Gone, taking with them the safety of their presence. An involuntary solo sesh is upon me…


As I sit there alone, scanning each swell rolling through, I notice the wind slightly drop off and swing offshore. I’m in luck, it’s the beginning of the natural phenomenon much appreciated by surfers - The LAGO (late arvo glass off).

The ocean cleaned up and the wind started to swing lightly offshore, meaning the absence of a chandelier falling through the barrels. 

An opportunity for a stand tall pit was now truly on the cards.

A set approaches and I feel the instinctive feeling to go. Learning from my mistake earlier, rather than paddling out and waiting for the wave to jack up, I immediately swing and start paddling in as hard as I can.

Paddling feels like I’m battling with the opposite direction on an escalator. As the wave starts to pull me up the face; I grab the rails and jump to my feet. The bottom is dropping out faster than I can get down the face. I freefall for a split second and then land.

I look up and see the golden afternoon light beaming through the lip as it throws over me, illuminating the emerald green tube I’m standing in.

I stand there for a moment, truly present. Mouth wide and eyes beaming in sheer awe of the beauty and energy I’m experiencing. The intense natural euphoria of this moment seems to slow your perception of time, gifting the chance to enjoy a completely unique experience for much longer compared to someone watching. All senses are in overdrive, absorbing and reacting all at the same moment. I come flying out of the tube hooting myself and kicked out into the channel. That’s what I came I here for.


I lay down on my board and start the paddle back out. My body suddenly jolts when a dorsal fin emerges just inside my peripheral vision.

It’s just a dolphin, thank god. I’m suddenly surrounded by a whole pod of dolphins that are just out of arm’s reach. It’s pretty common to see dolphins in the ocean, but to be paddling alone with an entire pod in the wild is something else. I feel safe with them around me, like they are my security convoy, protecting me from harm.

(I later heard an alternative opinion that when a pod of dolphins does this, they are actually drawing the attention of a predator away from them and towards you. Oh the naivety!)

In true ignorance is bliss fashion, I take the experience as a spiritual connection as they swim with me all the way until I get back to the take-off, where they too begin catching waves themselves.  Scoring pumping waves with only a pod of dolphins challenging for priority. There was no way I was heading in now.


I traded a few more waves with the pod until another surfer eventually joined me. I threw him a wave and received one back. I recognised him, it was the underground surfing world core lord known only as ‘Camel’. I’d met him once before but, I still felt slightly star-struck in his presence. His dedication and passion for surfing, especially large tubes, is second to none.

He’s a man who has lived an extraordinary life fuelled by nothing other than the desire of chasing that feeling.

A true inspiration to living life the way you see it. We exchanged tales of epic sessions we’d experienced and I listened in awe as he shared details of some of his wild escapades.

He was coming off a major injury and was just happy to be in the ocean again. He belly boarded a few waves off the shoulder, but his real stoke came from calling me into sets. His mind is so analytically dialled into the ocean after a lifetime studying it. Explaining why a wave was doing with pinpoint accuracy and detail. I had complete confidence in his wave selection whenever he said ‘go this one’. Wave after wave I kick out into the channel to see him claiming it in the distance with pure froth!

As the sun neared the horizon, I decide to wrap the session. I let Camel know my decision and he responded in sigh of relief. “I was hoping you’d say that soon, I was only really staying out to keep you company.” We paddle with purpose back around the top of the wave and make it safely to the sand. One last burst of effort to scale the crumbly cliff side and I make it back to solid ground.

I sit and watch perfect empty waves continue to roll through under the pristine sunset. Revelling in the euphoria of having just experienced one of the most memorable sessions I’ll ever have.


Check out Louie and Darcy's latest clip: IMAGINATION ROULETTE EP003

IMAGINATION ROULETTE EP003 from Darcy Ward on Vimeo.



Instagram:  @louiehynd 

Instagram@darcywardvisuals   Vimeo@darcywardvisuals

Rebuild Together - Bushfire Volunteer Platform

Rebuild Together - A Platform to connect volunteers with people who have been affected by the recent bushfires.



When the fires broke out across Australia, I had an overwhelming feeling of helplessness. I wanted to help, but I didn't know how or where to start.

We don't all have a bunch of money to donate but we do have the time and skills that are really needed. Whether it's cleaning up, dropping off supplies, caring for injured animals, trades, or just lending a much needed hand.

Which is why we built Rebuild Together. A platform for people who want to volunteer to help those who need it most.

  1. If you want to volunteer your time and skills - Become a Volunteer and help those who need it.
  2. If you have been affected by the fires - Create a post and connect with local volunteers.

The platform has just launched - if you would like to volunteer, please jump on the site and create an account. If you need help (or know anyone who does), create a listing and get connectd with local legends.


If you have any questions or would like to get involved please email me on:



Keep on keeping on,


Is Film Photography.....

When setting about writing a feature, it’s always best to research the subject you’re writing about… obviously. Sure, I’m a photographer and I know a fair amount about film photography. But not as much as Google. 

I begin punching the search term in: is film photography … Google being the handy bugger it is spits out a bunch of suggestions:

is film photography

Interesting results… Is film photography vegan? Umm, no idea. But is film photography dying/dead, making a comeback/coming back? Yes, but also no. It’s a tricky one. Let’s look at the facts and then you can make up your own mind. 



The film photography debate is rooted in hipster culture. Those of us wearing black skinny jeans ten years ago (***quietly raises hand***) are probably now wearing pants baggier than an airport windsock. We’re the same overalled folk slinging op-shop bought, leather-strapped point and shoots around town. But trends come and go and often, there’s no sense in what’s cool and what’s not. It takes one person or an influencer to make a trend — like the topknot or manbun, a historically prevalent haircut of Samurai and other cultures. Further to my point, do a quick Google search for famous people with cameras. The only digital camera I can see on the results page was Barack Obama with a Canon 5D. Funnily enough, this was the only colour photo on the results page, too. Then in black and white there’s Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, Kate Moss, you name it, all holding medium format film cameras they probably don’t know how to use. Famous people, have in part, romanticised the idea of shooting on vintage looking cameras. 

So, the question’s raised: is film photography just a trend? Yes, but also no. Fair warning, you’ll probably get that answer a bit in this feature. There are photographers in this world whose genetic composition is comprised of as much grain as T-Max 3200 and regardless of what’s cool, these photographers choose to shoot film for technical reasons, not aesthetic ones. More on this later. To these photographers, film photography is not a trend.

The trend of film photography however, is heavily imbued in aesthetics, which can easily be replicated digitally. This aesthetic has been adopted by hipsters. Hipsters like to harness the counterculture narrative and at times, claim they’re bringing something back, like single fin surfboards. We’re seeing more and more hipsters championing film in digital spaces like Instagram which has perhaps led to the assumption that film photography is experiencing a resurgence. (This is great, don’t get me wrong. We need every hipster out there buying film if Kodak and Fujifilm are to survive). But maybe the only true testament to this alleged resurgence is cold hard facts, not the rhetoric I’m tossing around.


Here are just some of the defining moments and incredible fluctuations seen in the film market in the last 10 years:

  • Frontier stops manufacturing scanners (2004… I think)
  • Kodachrome was gradually discontinued (2009)
  • Kodak discontinues Ektachrome (2012)
  • Kodak emerges from bankruptcy (2013)
  • Kodak reintroduces Ektachrome (2018)
  • Noritsu stops manufacturing scanners (2018)
  • Fujifilm announces return of NEOPAN 100 ACROS II (2019)
  • Fujifilm announces minimum 30% increase in film cost and photographic paper (2019)


Olivier Laurent wrote in a TIME article that, “... in the last three years, companies like Kodak, Fujifilm and Harman Technology, which manufactures the popular Ilford Photo black-and-white films, have been experiencing a comeback.”

Great. That’s awesome. All our favourite film stock is being produced (bar Kodachrome) and on paper, it’s evident that film is undergoing some kind of resurgence. But sales are a far cry from its peak in 2003 with 960 million rolls of film purchased globally. This is in actual fact the first time in ten years that film sales are on the up. But much to the displeasure of committed film shooters, Kodak and Fujifilm have whacked an additional 30% on their price tags. 

Manufacturing film in a digital world is no easy game so the price hike was inevitable. Doesn’t make it any easier on the avid film community to keep shooting. Film is getting more expensive, and all the bits and bobs surrounding this medium are out of production, like Noritsu and Frontier scanners, or on their way out of production. It’s a very strange space.

Another fact worth mentioning is how film processing labs are dropping like flies. I came back from a trip last year with a bag of rolls and my local lab had closed its doors in the time I was away. But when one door closes, another one opens.

Shibui Film is the Gold Coast’s home of film photography. Its owners, Josh and Brooke are experts. And with an engineering background, I’ve seen Josh do some pretty tech and innovative stuff in the lab. You’ve got to have a certain mind to work strictly with aged software and machinery, without manuals. I’m also pretty sure Josh has some kind of weird film fetish and spends his nights by the cold blue light of the computer monitor trawling online forums for additional processing equipment.

Straight from the horse’s mouth… Josh, mate, as a film lab owner and operator, what do you reckon about film photography? Trend? Coming? Going?

“It's an opinion that varies depending on who you ask,” Josh says. “There is 100% a resurgence in film photography and there’s no questioning that. Fad? I don't think so. Otherwise I wouldn't have started this business. I think it's become so popular with the younger crowd simply because it's diving into something they might have missed out on as a kid. Where technology has taken over their life and everything is at their fingertips with the swipe of a thumb or the press of a key. Shooting and expressing yourself on film is a much more intimate and personal experience. There's so many hands-on variables affecting the outcome. People appreciate the unexpected.”

Amen. So, let’s say film photography is experiencing a resurgence. How do we ensure it sticks around for good? 

“As long as there are companies who are willing to update and get onboard with this resurgence then film photography is a safe art. And of course, the passion for creativity among photographers is needed.”


Another idea of film’s resurgence perhaps stems from the advent of the cultural tether that is smartphone technology. These palm-sized, omniscient overlords are most likely the cause of digital camera sales declining every year since 2007. I wrote a piece about our addiction to handheld devices in Issue 1, and some of the sentiments I expressed have never been truer. I’ve also run film photography workshops in the past and without fail, they turn into a smartphone photography workshop. There’s nothing stranger the presence of 30 smartphones at a film photography workshop. Because if it wasn’t captured on the phone, it didn’t happen, right?

But, in all fairness, the smartphone is pretty smart. When shooting medium or large format, and when needed, I’ll use a light meter and reciprocity failure calculator app on my phone. There’s an app for everything! The HUAWEI sports a Leica lens, arguably the best glass in the industry. Again, I just did a quick Google search and found out that the HUAWEI P30 has a “combination of a SuperZoom Lens and 20 MP Ultra Wide Angle Lens, a 40 MP Super Sensing Camera and a unique HUAWEI TOF Camera (Time-of-flight camera).” The fuck? 40 MP? 

iPhone cameras are pretty good, too. So why do we need digital cameras at all if our phones can do the trick? Truth is, we don’t, depending on what you need it for. It seems most are happy to wheel a 35mm film camera and keep a smartphone in their pocket for those moments that are nice to hoard in the Cloud, but not nice enough or worthy enough to waste on an expensive negative. 

In a digital versus film conversation, it’s a wonder anyone shoots film at all. There’s an unnerving amount of film emulation presets out there, like VSCO, who do a bang-up job cut and pasting favourite colour negative, reversal and black and white films. Most Fujfilm digitals now incorporate film filters so fluctuation between Velvia, Provia, or Acros is all at the flick of a button. Getting Velvia jpegs straight out of camera is pretty neat.

With all the technology and ease of achieving film aesthetic available, why would anyone in their right mind spend $10+ on a roll (nearly $20 for a roll of Kodak Ektachrome), and then $10-20 on development and scanning? As you probably know, the answer is in creative control and process. When I shoot medium format, I’m looking at around $3 a shot after purchase of film, development and scanning. Seems expensive. But it’s the price I pay for one photo because (most of the time) it’s just one photo. I’ve given that one photo some serious thought. It’s an artistic and intimate process that often directs your eye towards what you feel, not what you see.


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The thing is… film photography was perfect before the invention of digital cameras, which still can’t match the quality of 4x5s and 8x10s. Yeah, the process is slow, but that’s the beautiful part — making considered images with intent and feeling as opposed to the trigger happy jpegs coded with metadata. I’d like to know how many film photographs are taken daily, versus the 95+ million images uploaded to Instagram every day. That’s a disgusting amount of noise. We don’t have to see the images to know who’d win the point of quality.

Film photography creates moments of permanence. Even though the digital element is and always will be apparent, overall, film photography offers a brief respite from the digital juggernaut and desire for instant gratification that governs our lives.

In answer to one of the many questions Google set forth at the start of this article, yes… film photography is expensive. But it’s worth it. Is film photography coming back? Yes, it is, and hopefully it’s here to stay. 

is film photography … film photography just is. 


Words and Photos by Aaron Chapman. Feaure illustration by Inkten.co

Slow Space - The rise of the Slow Space Movement in Architectural Design

Slow Space

The rise of the Slow Space Movement in Architectural Design

by Bridgette Ford


The world is fast. Acceleration, in terms of speed and growth, is the conduct of our modern age, and success has come to be synonymous with speed. Speed implies progress, so in turn, slow holds the implication of stagnation and unproductively. We live in a time where designs are accelerated and architecture no longer stands still. Poor quality, made with cheap materials, bloated with fillers and chemicals, depressing to be in, built fast and without a thoughtful design. (Aamodt/Plumb. 2018.) - This could well define the current circumstances of contemporary architecture and construction practices. Wooed by the charm of increasing speed, we overlook the inherent slowness required for design and craft. Constantly hurried, we lack the intellectual space for reflection and perspective and the temporal space for experience and skillbuilding. This fast-paced tendency is mirrored by modern society in general, with faced paced lifestyles and the search for quick gratification, not allowing for meaningful connections to be built, to deepen experiences.

You can think of contemporary architectural development as being like fast food - designed fast and built even faster, to satisfy our need for immediate gratification, feeding into our fantasies of a glamorously modern life, not one that's necessarily easy to live in or easy on the environment. - (Aamodt/Plumb. 2018.)

The Slow Movement is a quiet resistance to the fast-paced pressures of modern life, a cultural shift to slow down life’s pace and revive the sensual pleasures of a sustainable and healthy existence. When applied to architectural design, the slow movement has shifted to the Slow Space Movement, a concept that fundamentally, promotes the highest quality buildings, made with clean healthy materials and built with fair labour, experienced craftsmanship and has a holistically healthy design approach.

Slow Space is for the built environment, what slow food has done to the food industry; what slow sex has done to sexual stigma; and how slow living is adjusting our contemporary lifestyle.

The following examples will uncover the immense potential in utilising the slow space movement principles into architectural designs, and the implications that the slow space movement has on the present and future of all facets of human-orientated design.

The Modern Texas Prefab home by Aamodt/Plumb Architects is situated in Texas, USA. The design concept for the prefab home come from the Aamodt/Plumb’s notion of creating rich, beautiful spaces through simple forms, materials, and procedures. The design is authentic and straightforward, letting the form be inspired by the nature of the site and the functionality be designed for user happiness and enjoyment.

“The Modern Texas Prefab home is based around the idea of slowness, to create a space that elevates the modern problems of stress and overwhelm, for a positive human experience within.” - Aamodt/Plumb

The rich materiality of the project is visible in the aesthetic qualities of the build, with minimal, quality materials showcased authentically, giving a timeless, minimalistic feel to the design. Spatial intrigue appears in the interplay between volumes and the use of simple, warm materials. The design incorporates the eco-conscious traditional, Japanese technique of burning (Shou-Sugi-Ban) to char the surface of the external timber cladding.

Internally, the home incorporates locally sourced, sustainable and chemical-free materials, finishes and furnishings, from the bones of the sustainable sourced building frame, right down to the ornamentation of repurposed woven floor rugs and vintage furniture. The use of sustainably sourced, natural and repurposed elements of the design not only physically showcase the slow space movement, but the architecture begins to take on a harmonious spirituality and more human-like qualities.

The building, like a body, has bones, skin and systems. Interior decoration is clothing; it is fashionable and mutable. The space inside is the soul. It is the intangible feeling that is difficult to describe and impossible to photograph.’ - Aamodt/Plumb

What has been achieved through a holistically slow design process, is a home which encompasses the qualities of good, clean and fair, into a design that challenges the stigmas of slow-paced construction practices, while not costing the earth.

Dreamt up by Australian designer George Gorrow (founder of Ksubi) and model/creator Cisco Tschurtschenthaler, The Slow is a immersive experience of island-luxe design, slow culture and artistic celebration. George & Cisco’s creative and holistic lifestyle backgrounds are woven into the tapestry of The Slow, which weaves itself into the Canggu, Bali community.

The pair collaborated with GFAB Architects to create an interpretation best described as ‘tropical brutalism’. The Slow was intended to be more than just somewhere to rest your head, instead, it’s an all-immersive experience. Serving the community through common, semi-public spaces, as well as and private accommodation, the slows doubles as a retreat style resort and community hub, embracing a new wave of living slow.

‘(It is) a place to rest your bones, stir your senses and expand your mind’ - George Gorrow

The communal spaces are where The Slow’s concept thrives, from the gallery spaces, a slow fashion and sustainability concept store, and Eat & Drink, and an all-day dining venue inspired by the slow food movement. Simple, usable public spaces allow retreat guests and locals alike to congregate, switch off or be inspired. The spaces are multifaceted, allowing each user to respond differently. The striking repetition of the native Bangkirai hardwood screen facade envelopes the individual spaces into a whole, while repelling the tropical climate.

“It’s somewhere you can go, disconnect and reconnect …get here fast and take it slow” - George Gorrow

The eclectic interiors are created through the balance of rigid, exposed, concrete and stone structure of the building, and the softness and warmth of native and sustainably sourced timbers, and textiles. The emphasis on locally sourced materials is further reflected in the local sand mixed wall renders and tiles, complemented by the polished concrete and exposed block-work. Locally produced homewares and fixtures, alongside the designers’ personal art collection, finding an aesthetic and cultural harmony between the site location and the personal aesthetic of the designers.

The slow is the antithesis of the fastness of the modern world. It subtly pulls the user into a stage of rest, unwind and peace.

Palace Electric’s Hopper Street Apartment renovation in Wellington New Zealand is an ideal example of taking the movement of slow space, and implementing it on a small scale. When it comes to the success of such a major shift to slowness in the design and construction industry, operating at an intimate scale can have a major impact over time, as small, successful projects gain recognition and respect from the architectural community.

Somewhat of a protest to the current development norms, Ben Daly, the architect and founder of Palace Electric, created an apartment with emphasis on quality, involvement and intimacy. The aim was to create a home that others would feel drawn to and appreciate for its bespoke, handcrafted style and intimate feeling that a building only obtains through a thoughtful design and construction process. Daly sees such a process as a sustainable version of development, what he considers to be the foremost principle of slow architecture.

“Everyone’s into trying to do something where you have more involvement with the process. For me you should do that in every way now, not just what you eat, what you drink, what you wear, but where you live, and how you live.” - Ben Daly

‘Slow’ is a movement, that when considered in a holistic sense, begins to embody one’s ethics, outlook and routines, which in turn redefines how one lives in and engages with the spaces they design. Daly’s attitude towards human orientated design is mirrored in the apartment, with the thoughtfully detailed interior spaces being created with such understanding and empathy for the human relationship within minimal space.

All new building work is seen as a rich palette of locally sourced timbers, while existing walls were paired back and painted white, to exhibit contrast between the old and new. The repetition in the ply timbers and sawn pine boards, give a harmonious, calm and quaint feeling throughout. Any additional materials needed for the project were either collected from local producers, local merchants or found secondhand. The attention to sustainable detailing and specifying of not only the materials but the finishes is a testament to the design’s dedication to sustainability, with paint finishes being low VOC (low-chemical), floors sealed in a natural oil and terracotta tiling. Furthermore, much of the building work was performed using hand tools, with limited used of electric devices, limiting the embodied energy in the materials and construction.

The three projects showcased are prime examples of how when the principles of the slow space movement are used unanimously and are ingrained in all elements of a design, the architecture takes on a richness, that can only be achieved through utilising the contemporary sustainable technologies of the present, and the rich fundamental knowledge of the past.

“Fast and Slow do more than just describe a rate of change, they are shorthand for ways of being, or philosophies of life.” (Carl Honoré, In praise of slowness, 2010)

Photography Credits:

Modern Texax Prefab: Casey Dunn , The Slow All Images : Tommas Oriva  & theslow.id, Hopper Street : Sam Hartnett 

Unlearning by Bike Cycling solo from Thailand to Spain Words by Nicole Heker & Photos by Jeremy John

Unlearning by Bike - Cycling solo from Thailand to Spain

Unlearning by Bike 

Cycling solo from Thailand to Spain

Words by Nicole Heker & Photos by Jeremy John


It’s remarkable to hear the stories and wisdom from someone with a mere quarter century of birthdays under their belt. When many twenty-somethings are just becoming their own person, falling into the capitalism cog and finding joy in the form of baggies and beers. Nicole is outside, exploring, learning, unlearning and making a difference to those she cares about. And cycling from Thailand to Spain. 

Nicole Heker has been living and travelling through Asia for the past 3 years.  Managing the Happy Kids Centre in Bhaktapur, Nepal since she was 23. Now she is on her biggest adventure, cycling solo from Thailand to Spain. An unassisted bike trip to raise money for the Happy Kids Centre. Her goal is to raise $12,000 - enough to cover an entire years worth of costs for the centre.

We caught up with Nicole to chat about the best and worst parts of the trip so far and we dive into her philosophy on life. 

Unlearning by Bike Cycling solo from Thailand to Spain Words by Nicole Heker & Photos by Jeremy John

Unlearning by Bike Cycling solo from Thailand to Spain Words by Nicole Heker & Photos by Jeremy John


Why and when did you decide to do this trip? 

I was working as a deck-hand on a sailboat that would circumnavigate the world. The captain of Mr. Percival is an Australian man who decided to leave Australia for the first time and see the world. I was fortunate enough to get a gig working on his boat for a short period of time, crossing the North Java Sea in Indonesia. At this point, I had been traveling for almost two years throughout Asia and had thought that I had a good grasp of what it meant to be an independent traveler. Then, I met Tiphaine and Marco, two cycle tourers who had cycled all the way to Indonesia from France for over 3 years. They rocked up to the boat with two bicycles and all of their gear. They looked tanned and rough and adventure-worn. Over the next three weeks on the boat, they shared their stories, showed me photos and videos and explained the sense of freedom and autonomy. Their stories beguiled me but it was how they carried themselves that sold me. They were so comfortable in their skin, so confident and strong within themselves. They were resourceful, and independent and were quick to fix things that were broken or take on any new task on the boat that needed handling.

It was their inner-state that captured me and brought this trip to the forefront of my brain. But it had to wait. I had 0 funds left and had already signed a contract to work in Korea for one year as an English teacher. Over that year, I saved almost every penny I could. I did the research, followed all the blogs and Instagram accounts I could find and moved toward this goal–riding my bike from somewhere, to somewhere else, far away. I didn’t know where, but I knew what I wanted out of it. Cycling every day gives one a sense of purpose as it is, but I wanted to have a driving intention behind what I was doing, and I wanted to use whatever platform would form from this trip to make a positive impact.

The cause was easy, I have been working as the Director of Development for a Nepali NGO for three years now, we’re a small organization, but our impact has been huge over the past three years, but like any organization, we needed more funding. This is the impact behind my trip.  The intention came a little bit more slowly until I started messaging with an old sociology professor from Penn State University. That’s when I remembered his words on the final day of class. He challenged us to “unlearn everything” and so, Unlearning By Bike was born. I was going to pay attention to the stories around me, the stories that I carried within me, all of the judgments that I harbored and I was going to try, to see as clearly as I could, the truths of the world and of myself. 

Unlearning by Bike Cycling solo from Thailand to Spain Words by Nicole Heker & Photos by Jeremy John


What does, 'its the inner journey that I’m after', mean? 

In short, it means growth. We live in our self-made cages of perceived limitations, fears and redundant stories that for the most part do not serve us. On the bike, I try to observe what's happening, what kind of thought patterns have become habits, and what fears dictate my actions. So often, people travel in search of themselves. While traveling can be a great catalyst for growth, everything–every journey we need to take, every facet of ourselves is already inside of us.

I guess my version of the inner journey is outgrowing my cage by taking responsibility, wandering into the unfamiliar, conquering my fears, and integrating new skills and tools. We are ruled by so many things from our genes to our environment, but, I don’t believe that they have the final word. We have space for growth, improvement, and change. Not just through reading books, or making a Pinterest board of inspirational quotes, but by putting some serious work into breaking down what those limits, fears, and stories are and taking ownership over them. 


What has been the most uncomfortable/scary experience of the trip so far?

Mongolia is a place of extremes. I would easily say that it's one of my favorite countries that I’ve cycled in but it was also scary and uncomfortable at times. One time, in particular, was in a very small town called Ulziit. It was exactly what I imagined the old Wild West to be like–dusty, lawless, streets were strewn with horses, drunk men, and shattered glass. The buildings were short, square and colorful. My three cycling companions at the time, Claudia, Oliver and Jerry, and I rode in on a fair day. The fair happens once a month there and nomads come from all over the region to raffle for a motorbike or some sheep. Everyone was wasted and rowdy, barking at us as we rode in, intimidating us by riding their motorcycles straight for us and then turning at the last second, making sexual gestures towards Claudia and me. We were supposed to be there briefly, just to restock on food and water for the road and then we heard it, “crunch.” It was Oliver’s rim. It was broken. This was a catastrophe. We were stuck in a town where everyone seemed like they wanted to rob us or harm us in some way.

It felt anything but safe, but we were stuck. Jerry and I found a hotel and barred the door with some chairs and Claudia and Oliver got a ride back to Ulaan Baatur where they would buy another rim and meet us back in Ulziit. It took two days. Jerry and I only left that room to pee in the ditch outside, one at a time, while the other stood guard at the window to make sure nothing happened. When we were leaving the hotel owner begged for money and started trying to grab at all of our things laying around the room until finally, my face made its point and she left. Sufficit to say, we did not enjoy our stay in Ulziit. 

What has been the most memorable/enjoyable experience of the trip so far? 

Before this trip, I had never really heard of Tajikistan let alone knew where it was. This small country, surrounded by Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and China, exceeded all my expectations. The landscapes were surreal, epic mountains were the backdrop to this incredible stretch of bike riding. Being very unpopulated, I felt like I had the world to myself. All of my camp spots became home, the roads were mostly paved but led us up, up, up incredible passes that gave me a daily sense of accomplishment. We were dirty and rugged and resourceful. We built campfires and bathed in rivers and when something broke we had to fend for ourselves, getting creative as we patched up tires or adjusted chains. Every evening, it was just us, me and the couple other cyclists I met on the road and the stars.

When we did come across the occasional nomad or mountain family they treated us like family, inviting us into their homes and showering us with hospitality, usually in the form of many cups of tea and a place to sleep. There are countless moments, in every country that has touched me in some way, but Tajikistan as a whole was just a wild and adventurous time that tempted my imagination and left me a different person as I exited out the other side. 

Unlearning by Bike Cycling solo from Thailand to Spain Words by Nicole Heker & Photos by Jeremy John
Unlearning by Bike Cycling solo from Thailand to Spain Words by Nicole Heker & Photos by Jeremy John

What do you mean by "designer of my fate"?

Being the designer of my fate is about living with intention. Without awareness and intention, it is easy to get swept up into the crowd and end up living a life where you never question what you want or what makes your heart dance but just follow the herd. It also has to do with circumstance. For example, the night can be dark, and storms can rage, but by taking responsibility as the “master of my fate” and captain of my soul” I’m giving putting my confidence in myself to change the direction of things. My philosophy on living life is ever-changing haha! But at the base of it all is “Follow your heart/bliss/curiosity” whatever that may mean for you and LOOK INSIDE. See what drives you and ask yourself “Is it fear or is it love?” When I’m 70 years old I would be proud to say that I lived–that I tasted and tried and wondered and that I left this world a little better than when I found it.  

What books are you currently reading and what is your favourite book? 

I am currently reading Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut. I really love his works, particularly his short stories from Armaggedon in Retrospect. It’s so difficult to choose a favorite book but Siddhartha by Herman Hesse is a short read that I keep coming back to before starting any journey. It demonstrates the non-linear path of a Siddharta’s journey to enlightenment. I keep going back to that book because every time I read it, no matter how different my life circumstance has become, it sings true and teaches me new lessons. 

Unlearning by Bike Cycling solo from Thailand to Spain Words by Nicole Heker & Photos by Jeremy John
Unlearning by Bike Cycling solo from Thailand to Spain Words by Nicole Heker & Photos by Jeremy John

When you were a child and at college, what did you want to do with your life? 

I have always been someone who felt drawn to the margins. When all my friends were checking out the flowers, I was turning over the rocks, looking for something else. I was always pushing the rules and sometimes, I took them way too far, but I had this insatiable curiosity and thirst for experience-based knowing. I wouldn’t say that I thought I was unique in any way, but I knew that I questioned everything and that I had little regard for doing what was expected of me. I’ve never really had a clear image of what I wanted to do with my life.

I’ve always had an idea of the person I wanted to be though. I remember being around 10 years old and going over to my friend Caylin’s house. It was different from any other house I’d seen. It was a Victorian style and painted yellow. Her kitchen was colorful, with orange floors and yellow walls and they had their own garden outside growing strawberries and cherry tomatoes and giant sunflowers. Caylin’s mom had a tattoo, she skinny-dipped in the pool outback under the moonlight, and she went deep water swimming, encouraging me to do the same, something that my parents usually forbade. Her job was in construction and on Caylin’s birthday one year, she put a hammer in all of our hands and taught us how to build. She was different and I knew that when I grew up, I wanted to be radical and draw my own lines as she did.

As I grew up, I tried to fit myself back into the mold. I went to university, still not knowing what to do with my life, and thought what office job I would get when I graduated. After studying abroad, something reawakened. I decided to trust myself and just follow my curiosities. That brought me to Thailand after graduation, where I started to really ask myself questions about who I was and what I was interested in. Now, I plan on having many careers! I want to write a kids book and be a yoga teacher or start an eco-cafe somewhere. I want to live in a treehouse and a van for a while and get good at using my hands by practicing ceramics, wood carving, and leather-work. But I find its best not to plan too much. I’ll just keep following my curiosities for now. 



If you would like to donate and keep up to date with Nicole, check out www.unlearningbybike.com

And check out more of Jeremy's work www.jeremyjohn.co.uk and @jeremyj0hn

morgan wood spooked kooks surfboard recycled plastic

Spooked Kooks - No Hard Feelings

Photos by @morgan.e.wood

I was heedlessly scrolling through my instagram feed one day when I stumbled across a surf video. The surfers were in a world of their own. No sexy snaps or smooth cutbacks. Just a couple of guys in 2ft mediocre chop, sliding aimlessly on finless foamies. Raw, uninhibited fun. Just what surfing should be.

But it wasn’t just the surfers that grabbed my fleeting attention span, it was the boards. The boards were created by a group of mates from Bondi who are dead serious about ocean plastic and just as serious about puns. Fittingly named, Spooked Kooks, softboards made from recycled plastic. They started Spooked Kooks with a mission to make the best performing and most durable softboards containing as much recycled plastic waste as possible.

We had a chat with them earlier this week.

Hey team, who are you and how do you know eachother?

Tom, Tommy and Ru are the three kooks behind the operation.

We grew up surfing together.

When, how and why did you come up with the idea?

During a boat trip to the Mentawaii Islands in early 2013. We were in this incredibly beautiful and remote part of the world and yet plastic waste was everywhere - floating through the lineup and washed up on beaches. We thought soft top surfboards, being mostly plastic, would be a great application for plastic waste.

morgan wood spooked kooks surfboard recycled plastic

Rupert on the FRANKENFISH
Rupert on the FRANKENFISH

I love the apocalypse theme of your brand - who thought of that?
Ru. It’s based around the (World Economic Forum’s) statistic that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. If that’s not apocalyptic then we don’t know what is.

Where and how are the boards made?
The boards are designed in Bondi, Sydney. The post-consumer plastic waste is sourced from the Phillipines (which is one of the largest sources of ocean plastic in the world as it lacks waste disposal infrastructure).We set up a small operation in China where the plastic is turned into the component parts of the boards.

Have you noticed a renaissance with soft boards? It feels like every time I paddle out there is someone having a blast shredding a finless foamy. Why do you think people are getting into it?

There is definitely a renaissance in foamies. They are the best gateway to surfing and far safer for both the learner surfer riding the foamie and other people in the lineup.

More generally, most people surf for fun and foamies are all about fun. They can also transform mediocre waves (which is what we get most of the time, especially during the summer) into super fun sessions!

morgan wood spooked kooks surfboard recycled plastic

morgan wood spooked kooks surfboard recycled plastic

Is there any likelihood of making performance boards from recycled plastics? Is this something you would like to look into?

Possibly - we’re constantly thinking of other applications for plastic waste. There’s a lot of plastic waste out there that isn’t going anywhere, so we need to find good ways to give it a second life.

Why did you choose to partner up with Plastic Bank and Grom Nation?

We chose to partner with Plastic Bank because its model is truly incredible - it is attempting to create a currency in plastic waste and improve the lives of people living within impoverished communities inundated with plastic waste by paying those people to assist in the collection and processing of that waste.

We partnered with GromNation because they are also doing amazing things to improve the lives of children in Siargao Island, Philippines, through surfing! Children are incentivised to attend classes run by GromNation in return for surf lessons and access to GromNation’s cache of surfboards.


What is your favourite board?

It’s difficult to choose a favourite because the different models are suited to different waves. However, given we mainly surf Bondi, the 7’0” DEAD HIPPIE gets surfed the most - it’s so darn easy to catch waves on and super smooth to ride!





Fast Fashion No More

By Tyla Els

It’s no lie that many of us are addicted to buying new clothes, even more so if it’s cheap and easy. But too many people are failing to recognise the importance of buying and supporting sustainable and ethically-made clothing from brands that are doing their best to help our environment. 

With a constantly increasing customer demand and more people looking further into the process behind the clothes they wear, many Australian brands, both giants and smaller independent companies are following the trend of sustainability in manufacturing, packaging and creative processes. 

Recent statistics show that on average, each Australian buys more than 27 kilograms of textiles annually with approximately 23 kilos of this landing up in the landfill, some taking up to 50 years to break down due to synthetic fibres and petroleum that is in most ‘fast fashion’ (ecowarriorprincess.net). This has huge environmental consequences, including increasing amounts of greenhouse gasses, energy, and water.  




The Social Outfit


We spoke to Camilla Schippa CEO of sustainable Sydney brand, The Social Outfit’, about what she calls her “social enterprise celebrating multiculturalism and creativity and a fashion label with a difference”. 

What was the inspiration for creating a sustainable & ethical brand?

For us, ethical fashion is a vehicle for social change. Our key aim was and continues to be, to support people from new migrant and refugees communities, especially women, by providing them with training and employment. We knew that refugees often come with incredible sewing skills, along with creativity and motivation. As such, we set out to build on their existing skills so not everything has to be new for them. We expose them to Australian workplace standards and practices, ensure they improve on their English skills and build their confidence thereby increasing their future employability. 

How is your brand sustainable? 

At The Social Outfit, we work hard to contribute to sustainability in as many ways as we can. 

Because we manufacture on-site, we can let customer response guide our production, meaning less wasted materials, and very small amounts of excess stock. Our clothes are of high quality, made to be loved and worn for a long time.

We are lucky to have partnered with Australian fashion greats like Romance Was Born, Carla Zampatti, Bianca Spender, Linda Jackson, Easton Pearson, and many more. Our industry supporters donate end of roll fabrics and leftover trims, which we then incorporate into our garment production and sewing school. This enables us to make really special, limited edition pieces while helping the environment. So far, we have been able to save over 4.5 tonnes of textile waste from landfill!

Another large part of our work is creating exclusive print collaborations with the refugee and new migrant community. This involves printing onto new materials, so we work with Ethical Clothing Australia accredited suppliers to do so. Next State Print provides our organic cotton and Think Positive Prints provides our silk crepe de chine (printed just a few suburbs away from us in Sydney!) Of course, our own work is accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia, too.

We prioritise recyclable and compostable packaging both in store and for our online sales. 

Last but not least, our own store features a floor made of marble and exotic stones off-cuts. They were left over from residential jobs in the industry, which would otherwise have been destined for landfill. And our display pods and sales counter are made out of converted cardboard fabric rolls. 

Are there any concerns or challenges with a sustainable brand?

The demand is growing but the challenge is pricing. Consumers need to learn that by spending more for an item of sustainable clothing they are ultimately saving because we all pay a high price for the low cost of fast fashion. The food industry is slowly leading the way, fashion is next in line.

Organic Crew


Mel Lechte, founder of sustainable brand, Organic Crew, spoke to us about the importance of educating others about ethical clothing and the consequences that fast fashion come with. 

Mel and Organic Crew co-founder, Bannie Williams
Mel and Organic Crew co-founder, Bannie Williams. Photo: Estliving


What was the inspiration for creating a sustainable & ethical brand?

I directly saw the impact of fast fashion. I visited factories and saw the impact on the people. The impact on the environment is devastating. We cannot continue to consume the way we are and expect the planet to go on .. something has to give. Education is my biggest motivation in starting this brand, to make a small difference in creating change. 

Is your brand sustainable / environmentally friendly? 

Most of it.. we are 95% organic - besides some linen (which is a sustainable fabric) and certified GOTS. We are certified by Ethical Clothing Australia. I can trace the clothing from seed to store.. I have visited the farms in India that grow our cotton, I see the people who sew our garments and we value transparency. Many people don’t realise that organic cotton only uses rain water.. not irrigation. It is very environmentally friendly, chemically free and natural. Zero plastic! 


Just how important do you believe it is that the fashion industry thinks about sustainability?

Critical - we cannot continue to dump into landfill in third world countries. We need to be mindful consumers not mindless, wasteful polluters! The fashion industry must lead the way by creating more sustainable, natural products as it’s harmful to us and the environment- we are all consuming plastic in water, in our food and in our clothing!! 


As we hopefully begin to bid farewell to fast fashion it is important to know the difference that can be made by shopping sustainably. Not only is the environment being saved from toxic waste and pesticides. Your carbon footprint will also be reduced,  your clothes will be unique and of only the best quality fabrics. 

Chronicles of a Skateboarder


Chronicles of a skateboarder
Made by @cyrilafonso ✍🏻


How To Build a Bowl


How To Build A Half-Pipe



Check out more adventures @the_fantasic_sam

The Power of Film

Words and Photos by Alex Lostak

In 2013, Ben Stiller released his second film as a director, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. What to many was a feel-good movie for the 2013 holidays, for me, ended up being a demonstration of the catalyst film can be for action, and changed my life forever. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a story about Walter Mitty, a film asset manager at Life Magazine, who spends his days daydreaming fantastical scenarios around him, as he muddles through mundane everyday tasks, but the daydreaming began to fade as Walter is sent off on an unexpected adventure, that brings the excitement right in front of him.


As Walter is sent off on an adventure around the globe, chasing down a missing photograph from a roll of film sent into Life by renowned photographer Sean O’Connell, the daydreams stop as Walter begins to experience adventures of his own. He fights off a shark, gets caught in a volcanic eruption, and pays off warlords on his hike through the Himalayas. At its core, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a story about growth, about taking what life puts in front of you and creating your own adventure. Walter spends his life up until this point creating adventure in his head, but when the time comes, he seizes the opportunity and lives out his adventure in the real world.


Watching this film as a teenager lit a fire inside of me. It was something I could relate to more than any film I had seen before. Walter constantly imagining being in another world, doing incredible things and living a lot of his life in his imagination, is something that I did a lot of my adolescent life. I spent a lot of my childhood imagining being in other worlds, in every way from writing to daydreaming. I longed for adventure, to set off on an epic like Frodo or hunt down long lost civilizations like Nathan Drake.

When the opportunity presents itself Walter doesn’t hesitate to venture out for himself, and take on this big adventure, and that struck a cord with me, it lit a fire to go on my own adventure. Sure I wouldn’t be tracking down a world renowned photographer, chasing one image across the globe, but I wanted that adventure. I wanted to stop dreaming about the crazy places and scenarios I would be in, but to go and live them myself.

In addition to the story, the setting of the film was almost as inspiring to me as Ben Stiller’s character. The mountains along the ocean, the waterfalls, the open fields, the volcanoes, it all seemed so surreal. It was astounding to me that these settings were on our planet, but what truly shocked me was they were all in one country: Iceland. I knew that I had to get to Iceland. I knew this was the adventure I had to take. The problem was that getting from Houston, Texas to Reykjavik, Iceland for an incredible adventure wasn’t the easiest thing to pull off as a high schooler. Thus, my dream of venturing to Iceland had to wait to be fulfilled, but all that did was continue to fuel the fire.

In the spring of 2018, five years later, I graduated from college with a little over a month until I started my first job. In that short gap appeared the opportunity to make that adventure a reality. Two and a half weeks split between Northern and Southern Iceland with my girlfriend and longtime friends: that would be my adventure.

For two and a half weeks we drove around exploring the multitude of awe-inspiring locations Iceland has to offer. Every day our schedule was pretty much the same. We would wake up early, draw back the blackout curtains that blocked out the ever-present Icelandic summer sun, then set off in our car to explore until midnight, coming back to crash from exhaustion and do it all over again.

There’s an untouched, natural beauty to Iceland that is getting harder and harder to find in our modern world. A single highway that will take you around the whole country, called the Ring Road, acts as a Sherpa to see everything from iceberg filled glacier lakes to enormous waterfalls. It’s a destination for photographers for a reason, traveling throughout the country you’d find it difficult to take a photo that couldn’t be described as epic.

But it’s not the beauty alone that gets you, it’s the uniqueness of the landscape. Iceland is an island who has been bent to the will of volcanoes, volcanic rock covers vast landscapes that makes it difficult for any sort of farming to occur. Valleys are filled with structures of cooled magma. The heat from the volcanoes powers much of the island and bleeds through the surface through geysers and steam. It’s obvious driving around why everything from Game of Thrones to Oblivion has been filmed here because it truly feels like you’re exploring another planet, a land of fire and ice. One year later, in the full swing of post grad life, that journey feels like it was long ago. But the fire that Walter Mitty lit inside of me six years ago, still burns brighter than ever. The ending of each adventure transitions into the planning of the next. Filmmaking and storytelling are incredible gifts, they transport us to different worlds, get us attached to incredible characters, but perhaps their most powerful ability, is the ability to inspire action in the real world. If I hadn’t seen Walter Mitty six years ago, I may have never taken my adventure. That journey will remain a testament to the power of film to catalyze action and bring moments on the big screen into reality.

Bud Heyser - 13 Knives - Knife maker - Photo by Laurence James

Bud The Knife Maker

I walk down an alleyway and into a fluorescent lit workshop. Behind an assortment of half-built motorcycles and benches is a man in an apron and gloves, pulling a piece of metal from a furnace with a pair of dramatic tongs. He looks like he’s in his element.

He sees me from the corner of his eye, removes his goggles and turns the furnace gas off. Reaching out to shake my hand with his scarred knuckles and a welcoming grin beneath his beard.

I ask him if I was interrupting his flow.

“No, not at all. I was just making a spork for my buddy upstairs.”

I admire a man who orders a custom feeding utensil usually reserved for toddlers.

His name is Bud. He’s a modest man. An adventurer at heart with a love for winding down roads on his motorcycle. He even went to architecture school but I certainly can’t imagine him in a collared shirt slouching over a desk. Now he forges custom knives with intricate handles made from wood and bone.

Bud spent his whole life in Kentucky before packing up and moving to Melbourne a fews years ago. He worked as a furniture maker when he first arrived but it didn’t last long.

“I couldn't handle the clients… it's so wanky haha. That's why I got away from it. I just wanted ideal clients - people who I could relate with. I was already making some knives on the side and everyone I made a knife for was cool. I met some of my best friends by making knives for them.”

Now he forges out of a workshop on Easey street in Collingwood - sandwiched between a bar (Paradise Alley) and a screen printing shop ( While You Sleep ), surrounded by vintage choppers (BITZER). A photo of his manager is mounted on the wall to make sure he stays in line and doesn’t duck next door for a cheeky midday pint.

All kinds of people walk through the door. Some are knife collectors, others are tradies or hunters. He even made a bunch of throwing knives for a guy in the circus.

Heating and hammering metal has always been in his blood.

“My Grandpa ran a forge and foundry called International Harvester and my dad was a machinist; he made some knives as well. I played around when I was younger but didn't really make any knives.”

“Grandpa would always give me a knife on my birthday. Actually, even if it wasn't my birthday. Whenever I went over to his place he’d be like, “do you want this” and hand me a knife… or a BB gun haha.”

Yet, Bud didn’t learn much from anyone else. No fancy knife making school and limiting his internet use as much as possible. Just some helpful pointers from his old man and an old book.

“My dad taught me a bit but I bought a book from 1906 called The Farm Blacksmiths Handbook. That’s it. I try stay away from the internet. People that know how to make good knives generally don't know how to make good youtube videos haha. So you see a lot of bullshit online. I like it this way. It keeps my head down, playing with what works and realising what doesn’t.”

Knife making wasn’t something he planned for as his career - it just fell into place.

“I just wanted it to be a hobby that paid for itself. I rented a space so I had to be doing something in it. So I built the forge and started making knives - I can’t believe it didn’t blow up haha. I still get scared sometimes when I start it.”

But his current workshop in Collingwood wasn’t his first. He got kicked out of his last workspace.

“I went to this knife symposium up in Tharwa Valley. I spent 3 days riding a motorcycle there, 3 days forging with some of the leading experts in knife making and then spent 5 days riding back. I had no cell phone service and no clue where I was going.

"Once I finally got service I checked my emails and one was from the owners of the studio saying that I had to move out because I was being too loud. It sucked haha. I came from such a high from the past week with so many great ideas. And now I had to find a new place to work.“

I guess it was a blessing in disguise. Otherwise, he might never have found Paradise Alley.

We looked through a bunch of his creations; knives the size or my arm, counterfeit coins, cutlery and vertebrae shaped knuckle dusters. With knowledge of metallurgy, alchemy, chemistry, woodwork, fabrication and everything in between, he can create almost anything he thinks of.

“I get obsessive over things and then never do it again. Recently I had this weird fascination with making counterfeit money.”

“I’ve been second guessing calling it 13 knives. Cause I'm also making silverware and jewelry. So I might have limited myself. Now I'm calling it ‘13k, Quality Goods’. So that's the transition. I just want to keep it open ended, making knives and whatever else I'm interested in.”

He hands me a couple of the knives from the cabinet and starts rattling off the different types of bone in the handles.

I was a little skeptical. Is this crazy knife-wielding bloke getting black market animal parts from African poachers?

He doesn’t. Relax.

“I get water buffalo horn, zebra bone, warthog tusk. There's an organisation in Africa that go around and pick up the bones from reservations when an animal dies. There not poachers. The money goes back to the reservation for conservation. Bone lasts for ages when it's treated properly. These knives will last a few hundred years, I hope.

“The handles are a lot of fun to make. But so is the blade... Actually, it's all fun haha.”

These knives aren't mass produced. It takes a lot of time and effort to make a single knife.

“A knife takes around 40 to 50 hours to make. I start with a block of steel, heat it, beat it into shape, harden it, treat it, temper it, and then start doing handle work. The handle work takes forever.”

“I go from one day, brutally bashing out steel to make the blade and then the next day making hidden pins for the handles. There are so many different skills involved in making a single knife. A lot of engineering is involved just to get it all to meet up and feel nice. “

I noticed that he still had 10 fingers.

Which is impressive with all of this hammering, grinding, melting, and fireballs around. I asked Bud if he’s had any accidents.

“Yeah, I ran my finger through the grinder last year. That was pretty bad. I went to the doctor and asked him if it was that bad. He was like ‘yeah, go to the hospital’. They wrapped it in gause really big and told me to take a month off work. I went back to the workshop that afternoon. It was hard though because every time I was grinding, it would shoot sparks straight onto the gause and set it on fire.


He then made a passing comment about getting metal fingertips to prevent it from happening again.

“Not like removing my real nails. Just like attachments. You could do anything with them. My nails are always getting hit on the grinder. That and an exoskeleton and I’d be set haha.  I’d be unstoppable, taking over the world making knives.”

I ask Bud what his next line of metal creations will be.

“I really want to make a steam engine haha. That’s my next thing.”

I could get around that. Petrol is way too expensive anyway, I’d much rather buy a bag of coal and a jug of water. Maybe we should start a new series called ‘What’s Bud Making this week’. I think it has legs.

Check out some of Bud's creations: @thirteen_knives / www.13knives.com.au.

Also, how epic are those photos? I know right. Insane. Make sure you check out their other work: Laurence James -@laurencejamesphotography www.laurencephotography.com.au and Alberto Zimmermann -@betozimmermann


Check out this interview with Bud by Jack Sprenger: