Patchwork provides path to life of work and travel

Tuncurry's Gai Taylor shows off some of her internationally respected handiwork.
Tuncurry's Gai Taylor shows off some of her internationally respected handiwork.

The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly brought added stress and pressure to the lives of many, but for some it has also provided an unexpected chance to catch their breath.

Take Tuncurry business-owners Gai and Elwin Taylor, for example.

Since 1998, the pair has spent up to 16 weeks a year exhibiting and teaching at craft and quilt shows across Australia and abroad.

Showcasing Gai's patchwork skills and promoting their Manning Street-based business, Just Patchwork, it has given the couple a great opportunity to combine work and travel.

Patchwork was what excited me.

Gai Taylor

A lifestyle they both thoroughly enjoy, the sudden halt to international travel has seen them grounded in Tuncurry at a time when they would usually be attending the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, England, but the disruption to their schedule hasn't been entirely unwelcome.

"This is the first time we've had a winter in our own home for quite a few years," Gai said.

"It's been quite nice."

More than just an opportunity to unwind, the time at home has also given Gai the chance to work on a range of new designs, which will come into play when her and Elwin do resume their travels.

And that is definitely on their agenda.

"It's all part of enjoying ourselves and doing business," Gai said.

"We'll do it until our health fails."

With her mother and grandmother owning a florist shop in Taree when she was a child, Gai developed a love for colour from a young age, which in turn led to an interest in knitting.

However, it was when she discovered patchwork that she really found her passion.

"Patchwork was what excited me," Gai said.

"It still excites me."

Years of developing her craft have seen Gai become a respected teacher, with up to 100 people at a time attending her seminars at the various shows she frequents.

More recently, Gai has focussed on a style of patchwork known as wool felt applique, where her designs have proven popular in the UK.

"It's a different style than they have seen in the UK," she said.

"I work with a lot of colour and they get really excited by that."

Writing out her patterns and putting together the necessary materials, Gai and Elwin then sell kits so keen patchworkers can replicate her designs around the world.