Earlier this year Waikato couple JR and Dee Rolston took the massive step of pursuing their dream and making for a living. They started Needle & Nail in May, and after six months they haven’t looked back. JR is the genius with wood, while Dee is well-known for her beautiful dolls, created in between homeschooling the couple’s five children. Dee gave us a little glimpse into the story of Needle & Nail.
What do you make?
JR makes amazing wooden toys and I make fabric dolls.
How did you get into your craft?
JR trained as a furniture maker and doll making was a happy accident that completely snowballed!
A couple of years ago JR lost his job and felt so uninspired by the thought of just working to make money. While he was doing odd jobs we’d often talked about making for our living, but taking the step was always a bit too scary. We grew tired of waiting for “something to come up”, and at the end of 2013 JR had surgery on his back, so while he slowly recovered it was the perfect opportunity to start building up stock. We finally opened Needle & Nail in May this year. We are 6 months young and have already achieved so many things we could never have hoped or imagined.
Is there a philosophy behind your work?
We’re aware of trendy kids products that seem to be more of a decor item for the parent than an interesting item of play for the child. We insist on making items that look nice AND that a child will genuinely enjoy playing with. We love seeing kids using their imaginations and getting outside to play.
Needle & Nail is more than just a business, it’s our family and our lifestyle all rolled into one. We love this creative, flexible life. Spending more time with our young family was one of the strongest deciding factors in wanting to sustain an income through working from home. We are very aware that these years with our family – all together in one home – are so fleeting and precious, and we hope to never look back and regret time wasted.
Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
My favourite is being gifted fabrics from older women who used to sew all the clothes for their families. It’s so satisfying to lay out all those old fabrics into gorgeous combinations and to make them into dolls. I love knowing that the chances of anyone stumbling across the same fabric that has been used in a doll is very slim – it makes them even more unique.
What inspires you? Making beautiful things that our kids love inspires us.
Describe your workspace:
We’re so fortunate that our home has a workshop attached to the garage where JR does all his wood working stuff. The kids are constantly popping between the house and the workshop. I either sew at the dining table or in a small nook in our spare room.
What are you currently listening to?
John Legend or Bob Marley (I’m trying to convince summer to arrive).
Do you have any pets? We have so many animals! Too many.
What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
A tea towel by Little Laneway that says “I’m dreaming of a red Christmas” with a pohutukawa flower. I love that! (The Christmas=Winter association gets tiresome.)
Dee and JR have very kindly offered us this lovely mini doll (below), worth $65.00, as a prize for one lucky Felt blog reader. She’s a cute wee 25cm high with a hand-painted face and hair made from boiled wool. Her star-embellished dress features gorgeous lace from a vintage wedding gown. To win this little sweetie just leave a comment telling us what you like about Dee and JR’s ethos and creations. The draw will be made on Friday 5 December and is open to New Zealand residents only.