The Cheek Pinchy range of jewellery is designed and made by Kirsten Turnbull – a small town southern lass currently living in the big smoke of Auckland. With a passion for colour and all things whimsical the Cheek Pinchy brand was formed. When Kirsten isn’t industriously creating, she’s adding to her vintage deer collection and reliving the heady days of 80s pop music. You can often catch her singing along in her little square car, cruising around the city hunting down Op shops to plunder.
What do you make?
Handcrafted jewellery that seeks to transport the best of the past into the present day. Cheek Pinchy has a classic range that uses upcycled vintage images as well as a seasonal fashion range. My 2013 Summer Mod range is all inspired by the 1960s mod era. This range features classic ’60s patterns like harlequin, houndstooth and daisy alongside chalky pastel colours reminiscent of ice cream dripping down the cone on a hot summer’s day.
How did you get into your craft?
For years I had been collecting vintage fabric with ideas and dreams of getting into sewing. My sewing skills were hopeless and I got horribly frustrated! One day it dawned on me that what I was really passionate about was not sewing itself but rather the thrill of combining colour and pattern. I wondered what I could do with no skill whatsoever and decided I could cut and paste images. I started making one-off collage cards using vintage images. One day I pondered how I could create a brooch using the same idea, and things have gone out of control from there!
Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
Not at all! In fact I had always perceived myself as someone without a creative bone in their body, and was too under-confident to study art at school even though the teacher specifically asked me to. The journey of Cheek Pinchy has been as much about me overcoming my own self perception as anything else.
Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
My favourite materials are definitely vintage books. Rifling through the yellowed pages, reading the cute inscriptions and being transported back into another time. I also love playing with new paint colours for each new range. Flicking through colour charts is weirdly exciting for me and one of my favourite things to do!
What inspires you?
Cheek Pinchy was inspired by the legacy of my precious grandmother who talked about the 1950s and 60s as ‘the golden years.’ The name Cheek Pinchy refers to a time when children were greeted by a good cheek squeeze and nice girls didn’t wear rouge! Going forward, I am constantly inspired by colour and the way colours interact with each other. I have a love of all things vintage – movies, music, fashion and quirky household items. I like the way the past can be reinterpreted into what’s relevant for 2013.
Is there a philosophy behind your work?
With my Classic range I really wanted to bring back to life the vintage images found in books that were otherwise going to be thrown out. By upcycling these beautiful old books they found new audiences and new adventures. With the new geometric range I think my feminist philosophies have come into play. I wanted to make jewellery that was edgy, strong and bold. Jewellery doesn’t have to be ‘pretty’, dainty or made from diamonds to represent or define you as a woman.
Describe your workspace:
I would desperately love the space to have a studio but at the moment I work all over the house depending on what part of the process I am on. Most of my work happens at the kitchen table so I can remain in the hub of family life and not feel trapped away.
Five words that describe your mind:
Full of songs and colour. At times cluttered but often melancholic and pensive.
Your favourite feedback from a customer:
It is so lovely having people say that their new jewellery puts a smile on their face or has exceeded their expectations, but the most satisfying moments have been making special custom pieces for people, e.g. honouring a special baby who has passed away or using one-off illustrations for custom engagement rings.
What are you currently listening to?
I listen to a massive variety in music in terms of genre and era but my work music often reverts back to the ’80s – David Bowie, The Cure, Talking Heads and a smattering of the most ridiculous of ’80s pop. So great for its pure kitsch value!
Recommend an album:
Home-grown Kiwi album Me and Moon by Lydia Cole. It is gently whimsical and feels familiar like a favourite old jumper. Plus her Kiwi accent is so darn great!
Your favourite childhood book?
The classic Anne of Green Gables series were absolute favourites that were of course cemented by the 1980s TV series which brought it all to life. A few years ago I collected vintage copies of all the books and they are among my very favourite things.
What are you reading now?
Just found a lovely vintage copy of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poetry, so I have been revisiting some of the works that I studied a few moons ago.
A favourite quote:
“To thine own self be true,” from Shakespeare’s Hamlet (my favourite Shakespeare play).
Do you have any pets?
Yes we have three crazy cats – Luna, Bojangles and Sailor. Luna and Bojangles are old girls now (we have had them nearly as long as we have been married) and Sailor is a spunky Tonkinese kitten who is always getting into mischief!
What was the last handmade item you bought?
A few bits and bobs over the last while – a new cushion, a skirt for my daughter, and my husband bought me a beautiful carved pounamu pendant.
Don’t miss checking out Kirsten’s Felt shop to see her full range of distinctive jewellery. Kirsten has very kindly offered one lucky Felt blog reader a prize of one of her fabulous “The Who” necklaces (consisting of three stacked triangles in a range of striking designs), to be chosen by the winner from the those available in the Cheek Pinchy shop. To be in to win, leave a comment below telling us what inspires you about Kirsten’s story and creations. The draw will be made on Friday 27 September and is open to New Zealand residents only.