Tina of BillDan describes her products as tools for kitchen survival and productivity. Located in north west Auckland BillDan‘s focus is on offering unique, substantial and lasting kitchen products, with lashings of Kiwi ingenuity.
What do you make?
I design and build magnetic knife racks, knife blocks and chopping boards.
What inspires you?
My surroundings – I’m lucky to live in the countryside, inspired by the natural beauty of where we live. It is such a peaceful and relaxing place to live and work from. I love recycling timber such as the old ABC beer crates, railway sleepers and old fencing battens – giving them another life and purpose is cool. And I love to invent stuff.
How did you get into your craft?
Well, I’ve always loved making things and one Christmas a few years ago my sister asked for a piece of timber so she could make a knife holder to get her sharp knives out of the draw. I decided at that point to design and build this for her as a Christmas pressie. I can’t say it was the most spectacular piece of work I’ve done but it went down a treat!
I thought about the idea of this and pottered away in the shed refining the design. I made one for my kitchen and people loved it. So here I am today – my range has grown quite a bit since then. Here’s a picture of the first BillDan knife block, and some examples of what I’m producing now…
Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
No. I’ve just learnt as I’ve gone along. But I’ve always been very handy. I love to fix and build things and timber is such an amazing and rewarding material to work with.
Is there a philosophy behind your work?
Hmmm! Have fun, create and use your imagination because everything is possible!
Describe your workspace
I work from home and I have a beautiful shed that is lined and insulated. Natural light comes through the skylights and the windows that look out over the surrounding farmland. Little birds come in and visit and poop on some of the work-benches (bit annoying) but oh well!
Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
My favourite tool is my sanding machine. This can turn a motley piece of timber into a work of art in a few minutes. Clamps – you can never have too many of these as the process of building a chopping board involves precise clamping and gluing. It’s very satisfying when you get everything lined up perfectly.
Five words that describe your mind:
Purposeful, determined, motivated, tidy, organised.
Your favourite feedback from a customer:
“I just wanted to tell you how much Mum and Dad love their new knife block! They both think it’s perfect and are very stoked! I can tell it’s going to get lots of use, haha. We found a great spot for it, and it looks really good on the wooden walls. I’ve attached a couple of pictures so you can see how awesome it is! Thanks again so, so much.”
Your favourite childhood book.
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Seuss.
What are you reading now?
How to make home brew beer…
Who is you hero/heroine?
Currently its Scott Donaldson – the crazy dude who rowed his kayak from Australia to NZ this year! What a amazingly brave man!
A favourite quote?
If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well…
Do you have any pets?
Yip! Three dogs, one cat, six chickens and one hundred cows!
What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
Some beautiful wooden butter knives – I loved their shape, smoothness and natural timber grain.
You can see more of Tina’s stylish BillDan knife holders and kitchenwares in her Felt shop here.
Tina has very kindly offered this gorgeous white oak chopping board (above) to one lucky Felt blog prizewinner, an absolutely beautiful piece. If you’d like to be in the prize draw, just leave a comment below telling us what inspires you about BillDan and Tina’s story and products. The draw will be made on Friday 26 September and is open to New Zealand residents only.