Leaving Auckland and relocating to Mount Maunganui for a lifestyle change was the move that helped Tanya Austen on her way to working full-time on NZFINCH. She sells in stores around New Zealand, online, and is a permanent stall holder at The Little Big Markets in the Mount.
What do you make?
I make cushions, jewellery, bags and wallets using second hand materials. I also like to sketch and sell prints of my work.
How did you get into your craft?
I’ve been creative for as long as I can remember. I chose to do mostly art subjects throughout high school – painting, design, photography, graphics. I’ve just always loved making stuff!
Do you have formal qualifications or training in your craft?
I studied at Auckland University doing a Bachelor of Visual Arts, but I wouldn’t really credit that to where I am today.
What are your favourite materials, tools and processes?
I’m really enjoying working with leather at the moment. I get all my leather from an upholstery company and a fabric shop that sells off-cuts destined for the bin! I’m completely self taught and figure things out through trial and error but it’s exciting to see how many different uses I can come up with.
What inspires you?
People doing what they love for a living is so inspiring to me. As the years pass more and more of my friends are ditching their day jobs and making their passion their career. I’m a big believer in chasing your dreams and not just doing what’s expected.
Is there a philosophy behind your work?
It’s all about recycling and reusing. It’s amazing what a little bit of love can do, a touch of paint or an added piece of fabric. I recently revamped my handbag, which I was getting bored with, by sewing some bright vintage hmong fabric onto the flap and I love it!
Describe your workspace:
I work in an organised mess. There is usually leather and fabric all over the floor and my table is usually COVERED. But in my defense I’m such a visual person and I like to see things together, layered up, folded over, and it gives me ideas. So much of what I have made has happened accidentally like that.
galleryYour favourite response from a customer:
One of my first online sales was to a woman in America. She bought a howling wolf wool cushion cover and thought it was “strange and unique but beautiful.”
What are you currently listening to? My husband and I have been thrashing SBTRKT, especially the song ‘Hold on‘.
Do you have any pets?
We have a super cute six month old SPCA rescue pup called Kaya who keeps me company now that I’m working full time from home. And she’s an excellent excuse to go the beach everyday.
What was the last handmade item you bought?
A beaded shell and crystal necklace from Australian maker Roadtrip Jewellery who I discovered on Instagram. We did an old-school trade, which I love.
Tanya would like to give one lucky Felt customer this NZFINCH Samsung Galaxy s3/iPhone 5 tan brown leather wallet with lace trim and zip pocket. (Thank you Tanya!)
“I love a good clutch to use when you don’t want to carry around a bag, but sometimes you really want something a little smaller to carry your money and your phone in. This smart wallet is the answer! Made from upcycled leather, it has two compartments: one secured with a snap closure and one with a zip. The front compartment has lace detailing sewn onto the flap. Slot your phone into the front and keep your cards and cash in the back.”
To be in to win this fabulous NZFINCH piece, leave a comment below and we’ll draw the winner on Friday 29 March. The draw is open to New Zealand residents only.