Woodworker and designer Gwyneth Hulse comes from a creative family and has always made things. Her modernist, geometric jewellery and interior decor items have a cohesive, strong design factor and a simple elegance that is as distinctive as the locally-sourced native timbers she uses for her work. As well as showcasing her woodworking skills in her Felt shop GH Design, she also runs Little Lambs, where she sells her beautiful handcrafted finger puppets and other items for children.
What do you make?
I make wooden jewellery and items for your home. Every piece is handcrafted and unique.
How did you get into your craft?
I was at intermediate school when I first realised I could earn a bit of pocket money using my creative skills, by making and selling Fimo beads and jewellery to other students.
I began making things from wood when I was a poor university student. It was a way of getting good quality furniture cheaply — made possible because my father has a woodworking shed, wood and was willing to teach me.
Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
I completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts majoring in graphic design and then trained as a teacher. It was while I was doing my Fine Arts degree that I was introduced to design eras such as modernism, de Stijl, Bauhaus and constructivism. These styles definitely influence my woodwork.
Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
All the wood I use is sourced locally in Northland and much of it is from our family farm. It all has a story. I use mainly totara and swamp kauri. I use totara for the bangles because of its strength, fine grain and stability. I use the more temperamental swamp kauri for items which are solid and unlikely to warp, like the candle holders and succulent pots. As a New Zealander I think there is something special about owning items made with native timber.
My new favourite tool is a saw tooth drill for cutting out the centres of bangles. It does such a lovely job and leaves a smooth inner surface.
How do you get past a creative block?
Move on to a totally different project and then come back to the block at a later date.
What inspires you?
The look, feel and colours of different timbers. My husband thinks I’m a bit mad but I like to stroke wood. I love the feel of it when it is beautifully sanded and super smooth, particularly hard, dense woods like puriri and pohutukawa.
The shape of individual pieces of wood is also inspiring. The shape of the vases and necklaces are dictated by the contours of the wood. They are unique pieces made in response to the wood as I cut and shape it.
Describe your workspace:
Quite messy! I try to spend as little time as possible on the not so important aspects of the business and unfortunately this is often reflected in the un-tidiness of my workspaces. I dream of a super organised minimal space with white walls and perfectly organised shelving systems and labels… At this stage of my life it does not quite work with young kids and sanding dust, but I live in hope.
Five words that describe your mind:
Creative, organised, chaotic, full, determined.
What are you currently listening to?
Whatever my children have on during the day, Levity Beet is a favourite. I like to keep the evenings, when my kids are in bed, noise free. Silence is bliss.
Do you have any pets? Two guinea pigs and an adopted cat called Mozart.
What was the last handmade item you bought?
A handmade kaleidoscope from the Paihia Craft Market.
What would you most like to learn, if time and money were no object?
I would love to do pottery. I’ve attempted it in the past but not enough to feel like I know anything.
You can see more of Gwyneth’s elegant jewellery and decor pieces in her Felt shop. Gwenyth has very kindly offered one very lucky Felt blog reader the chance to win a pair of her gorgeous Geometric Wooden Bangles (size small). Just leave a comment below, telling us what inspires you about Gwyneth’s work and why, and you’ll be in the draw. The draw will be made on Friday 28 March and is open to New Zealand residents only.