• Your Hunter Valley Magazine

Meet the Maker - Mudlark Studio

Penny Davis is a Hunter Valley creative living with her three dogs – The Monster, The Horror and The Terror (but that’s a whole other story) in a little village called Blackalls Park, close to Lake Macquarie.

She is also the proud owner of Mudlark Studio – a regular at Handmade in the Hunter Markets and much loved by market enthusiasts due to her broad range of highly unique products (think beanies made from yak or baby camel fibre). We caught up with Penny this month to find out a little more about her creative process.

We love the name of your studio - please tell us what it means and how you came up with it?

I decided on Mudlark as I work with clay and try not to take myself seriously!

Please tell us what you create – and provide our readers with some details about the designs, materials used and process? Mainly, I like to make things that people enjoy using. As well as working with clay (I have been making pottery professionally for about 30 years) and making soap, I can spin a good yarn. It was less costly to set up spinning and easier to learn. Years ago, I used to have a few sheep in the backyard, and I'd shear them with scissors then spin their fleece and knit jumpers for my family. You could say I grew my own jumpers!

I love the range of colours found in natural fibres and enjoy spinning many different fibres, including wool, alpaca, silk, camel, yak, mohair, angora rabbit, synthetic fibres and clients' pet fur. I use mainly alpaca as it's such a luxurious fibre and is much warmer than wool, and comes in a great variety of natural colours.

You also have a fantastic array of soaps - can you please expand on the soap range - in particular, we’d love to know about the dog soap, jelly soap and playdough soap? They are all very unusual - how did each variety come about?

That answer could take forever to answer! I have dogs, one of which has sensitised skin. All my dog soaps are medicated, and I've checked with my local vet about any adverse reaction to the medications I use in the soap. With the jelly and playdough soaps, I wanted something different for kids to have fun with. I also have Donkey Milk soap which is supposed to be better for your skin than Goat's Milk soap. I came across that based on a special offer from one of my suppliers. It was close to Christmas, and I bought some as a joke/fun possible present. It turned out to be popular. The Gardeners' soap, Orange Peel soap and other exfoliating soaps again came about because I was looking for something different.

Where does the inspiration for your designs come from?

Inspiration can come from anywhere, really. You just have to be open to it.

You can check out Penny’s unique creations for yourself at upcoming Handmade in the Hunter Markets at Sobels Wines on Broke Road on 15, 22 and 29 May, followed by markets on 5, 12 and 13 June 2021.