For most people, tinsel is something strictly reserved for the month of December; adding a finishing touch to the Christmas tree or draped over a banister. But for Brisbane designer and artist Rachel Burke, it’s become a way of life.

Living by the motto ‘more is more and mess is best’ Rachel has worked with major clients such as The Gallery of Modern Art, Etsy, Bonds, Uniqlo and Queensland Ballet. Her most recent project saw her tinsel jackets featured in the latest video clip of Brisbane band, Shepphard.

We caught up with the crafty lady to find out what the fascination with tinsel is all about…

I’m obsessed with your tinsel coats. When did you start making things from unexpected materials?
My first tinsel jacket was made for my good pal Patience Hodgson (The Grates) to wear in her Splendour in the Grass performance. I received such an amazing response from the costume and decided to begin experimenting with how I could make a simplified, more wearable version. I began uploading my designs to social media and the response was crazy! This enthusiasm really inspired me to keep making more and from there I just haven’t stopped. My next collection is a little more complicated in terms of design and pattern…I’m so excited to share it!

Previously I have experimented with paper, pom poms, glitter foam, fake flowers, and really any kind of embellishment that might offer an interesting effect. I have always loved using tactile (often crafty) materials in my designs, it has just naturally appealed to me.

Why the fascination with tinsel?
Years ago, I used to make the occasional jacket out of leftover Christmas tinsel. This was just for fun, and I really never thought much of it, until one day I had some leftover lametta strips lying around. As soon as I began experimenting with the tinsel and realising the effect it created, I just became obsessed with the silhouette it made. The more I used the material, the more I became hooked. It’s become somewhat of an obsession now. In a past life, I was a performer, and I guess I just really connect with the drama and spectacle that wearing one of these pieces seems to create.

How long does a typical garment of yours take to create?
The average tinsel jacket takes around three hours to make. The larger and more complicated jackets can take anywhere from six to ten hours depending on the complexity of my design.

Where do you do all your work?
It’s usually me sewing alongside my sausage dogs, Daphne and Daisy, listening to a podcast or watching something fun on Netflix. Sometimes my husband will come and work in the studio too. He is a lawyer, so we jokingly call it the ‘Craft and Draft’ room. It’s a name that has really stuck!

You’re also an author and TED X speaker, where do you draw inspiration from?
I really do just draw inspiration from my life and my experiences.  I work with what I know and try to explore that to the fullest.  My Apomogy project (which I did my TED talk about) really started from a personal experience involving apology…and has just snow balled from there!

Who would you most love to see wear your designs?
Karen O, Tavi Gevinson, Petra Collins, Lorde…oh gosh, just so many powerful ladies! It’s hard to pick a favourite!

Follow Rachel @imakestagram

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