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ANGELA BETHERAS ALPACA BREEDER & DESIGNER

angela-betheras

In Conversation with Angela Betheras

“Victorian Rural Woman of the year 2011”

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What made you decide to place alpacas on your farm?

I grew up in Labertouche, my parents had beef cattle, I couldn’t handle them on my own nor could I afford the acreage. Since I was interested in textiles I wanted a fleece animal. Sheep are not that enjoyable and have too many jobs to be done. Met an alpaca, met the alpaca industry, fell in love with both and purchased my first alpacas in 2004

Can you explain some of the ‘special’ charm of your girls? – they are all girls?

No not all girls, sometimes you get boys! I could go on all day about the special charm of the animals. Their charm is intelligence, personalities, their love of being part of all that is happening on the farm, and their calming influence.


What can you tell us about the fleece and it extra qualities of alpaca for both weaving and felting?

Alpaca fleece is softer, warmer, and lighter than sheep wool and it doesn’t prickle. Weaving creates a very soft weave as it does with the felt. The felting can be a little hairy and many will want to mix wool with the felt and so with all the textile work it can be combined with other fibres such as silk and cotton.

 

My signature Zoneone Arts question – what are the most important design elements?

Being a photographer by profession, I would say that the negative space is the most important design element in the composition.


Tell us about your design work in alpaca?

I felt, knit and crochet for my shop therefore it has to be a bit more conservative in order for it to sell. I must pay the mortgage. I do mainly accessories such as scarves, bags, wraps (large and small),

I studied millinery for 12 months at the Melbourne School of fashion so I can get carried away with my hats. I am just starting to work on coats both long and short

 

Can you expand on the winning of the Victorian Rural Woman of the Year and your current involvement with alpacas and China?

2011 was a wonderful year. RIRDC Victorian Rural Woman of the Year, must winners tend to come with an agricultural background.

It is an award given for a future project to enhance your industry rather than being based solely on what you have done in the past.

My project is investigating the possibility of taking my textile art and art done by other female alpaca breeders to China to sell in their boutiques. The year also involved over 30 speaking engagements so it didn’t leave me much time to plan my trip to China. Those engagements don’t seem to be stopping but I hope to get to China before Christmas 2012.

 

Tell us about a place you have visited because of your award in 2011?

As a Black Saturday survivor I hosted a morning tea/afternoon tea at my business donating all the food and coffees and a percentage of my sales for the day to raise funds for the women who were flooded in Charleton in 2010. I won the award and soon after that, the Charlton community invited me to visit their region and to speak at a Ladies Day. It was a great couple of days.

Tell us about your green packaging?

I am part of the “Leaf Program” in Baw Baw Shire. This means my business has been assessed to be environmentally sustainable business, not just about the green packaging. Nickelby at Darnum and four other businesses who are Creative Yarragon, don’t use plastic bags or paper bags (none made in Australia). I use acid free tissue paper and since my customers just have their cars in my car park I often don’t wrap items such as creams, cards and sometimes the smaller garments, I encourage them to wear those home.

You have become one of the West Gippsland representatives please tell us about your area.

West Gippsland in my opinion is one of the most beautiful areas in Victoria. We are known for our rolling hills and green. 1 hour from Melbourne, 1 hour from the beach, 1 hour from the snow. It is a small country community so it means you can be in Collins Street at 9am for a business meeting and back home on the farm by 2pm.

Once you leave Melbourne and get on the freeway you can make it to West Gippsland without having come across any traffic lights. We have wonderful schools, the largest regional arts centre with the largest stage outside of Melbourne. We have a huge artist community and when we hold our arts month in May it is larger than anything else in Victoria.

We have wonderful wineries and fabulous restaurants and beautiful 4star and above B&B’s to welcome you and of course we have Nickelby At Darnum!

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