The charming little wooden birds and houses crafted by Malady Designs stir up emotions of hope, happiness, affection, and safety.

We recently had the pleasure of interviewing Tracey Malady, the founder and maker behind Malady Designs, who was born in Geelong and now resides in Melbourne. Here’s what she shared with us.

What inspired you to become an artist/maker? How did you learn your craft, and what drew you to it?
My original career was as an Interior Decorator so I’ve always had a keen
interest in design and architecture and I’ve always played around with various arts and crafts. It wasn’t until I hit middle age that I realised it was woodwork that I was most comfortable with and I feel like my current work (birds and houses) interconnect my design interests with my creative needs.
My father was my initial woodwork teacher and thereafter I joined a club.

Can you please describe your typical process for creating a piece?
There is a lot of research and development that goes into each new idea. I come up with a rough idea which I sketch out and then I make a prototype, then another and another, until I’m happy with the proportions of each item. I will then make a template (for the birds) and record the exact measurements for the houses so I can replicate them. There’s always a little bit of variance in each piece though and that’s what I love about anything handmade.

What themes or messages do you try to convey through your art?
If I make something that produces a positive reaction then I’m satisfied. The houses often trigger an emotional response from people because the house motif is connected to warmth, security, love and comfort. The birds have
been made with an intent to spread optimism, such as peace, hope and

What sets your work apart from other makers in your field?
All of my pieces have been made by me. Each little piece of wood has been measured, cut, glued, sanded and painted. This is what I enjoy doing and I hope that my work looks handmade rather than just ‘made’.

What has been your proudest achievement as a maker so far?
Reaching the ‘Open’ category in a highly regarded woodturning exhibition and being able to call myself a ‘woodturner’. Although now I am more of a woodworker than a woodturner.

Who are some of your biggest artistic/maker influences, and why?
Well my father is my first major influence (and he’s still my biggest fan) along with a woodturning mentor in the club I joined. There’s a number of wonderful female woodturners whose work I admire but also the fact that they forged
their way to the top of what was a predominantly male industry.

All of Malady Designs’ handmade pieces are available to purchase and can be found here.