I Feel Natty is a collaboration between friends Fiona Gibb and Cat Mckay. With two young boys each, and other jobs as well as running Natty, they were juggling a lot when the business began. At first having their own studio and removing the extensive Natty clutter from their homes felt like a pipe dream, but last year it happened and this year they are dedicating themselves full time to Natty! Although it sometimes feels a little scary, they say it has been a gradual process and they really appreciate how lucky they are that they can work for themselves, doing something they love.
What do you make?
Contemporary wooden jewellery, hand printed textiles and illustrated gift cards.
How did you get into your craft?
We are both makers, tinkerers, bakers, sewers, and fiddlers. Natty started when our kids were in the same class at school. We have a shared love of vintage shopping and we originally started out repurposing our vintage finds. Early on we would make jewellery from old books, sheet music and vintage wallpaper. We did a couple of local markets and it started to gain momentum. We reused an old Rimu kitchen that was removed from our house and turned it into jewellery – that wood lasted a year!
Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
The Natty illustrations come from the very talented Cat McKay who for many years used her drawing skills in architecture – hence the strong graphic bent. In terms of what we make we are self-taught and never let lack of experience get in the way of anything. There is so much information online and advice from others that has been useful in helping us work out how to do things. Whenever we do a market we have always benefited from talking to other makers.
Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
At the moment we love beeswax polish. We were using varnish but beeswax smells delicious and brings out the grain of the wood. We only use New Zealand reclaimed rimu. We also love natural fibres, in particular for our screen-printing – natural linen and unbleached cotton. We use only water based ink which means we are able to screen-print at home and everything just wipes off. In the tool department – we love our Dremel! Everything starts with a doodle, so a pencil or a Staedtler fine tip pen is always on hand.
What inspires you?
Old patinas, bold colours, a funny comment, something worn beautifully seen on the street, Pinterest, good music, functional objects, Scandinavian design, Mother Nature… there is so much to be inspired by.
Is there a philosophy behind your work?
We’ve always had a vision to create items that are stylish yet affordable, and to put a smile on someones dial is always a plus. We like to tread lightly and where we are using sourced materials we aim to find out that they are ethically made. We frown upon our consumerist society while quietly encouraging you to buy our wares! We need to do more as a society to keep middle aged, out-moded, decrepit, visually impaired labour forces employed.
Describe your workspace:
After a year or so of working from the kitchen table and the ensuing mess we are fortunate enough to have got ourselves to the point now where we have a studio space in Berhampore, Wellington. It is in an old butcher’s shop. We have a changing room in an old meat safe. People do a double-take when we tell them that’s where they can get changed. It’s a corner shop so it has great light. We share our space with our friend Christina from Scooter and Pearl so for most of the day we chatter. We are surrounded by sources of great coffee and food. It’s sometimes a bit too convivial. Our latest dilemma is whether we get a panini maker this winter…
Your favourite feedback from a customer:
We get lots of great feedback but over Christmas a number of people who were buying to send to friends and family overseas were saying our presents are a little bit of Aotearoa, without being overtly so.
What are you currently listening to?
Lake Street Dive who are coming to NZ for WOMAD.
What’s your favourite childhood book and why?
A Book of Milliganimals by Spike Milligan – such brilliant nonsense!
Who is your hero/heroine?
Bookhau… aaaah visual… calm.
A favourite quote?
Julia Child was full of useful quotes that can transcend cooking:
“Every woman should own a blowtorch.”
“A party without a cake is really just a meeting.”
“Always start out with a larger pot than you’ll think you need.”
If you were a crafty superhero, what would your name and superpower be?
Ink Winker. I’d like to be able to get objects to change colour with the blink of an eye. Handy!
What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
I bought a plane tree chopping board at the Martinborough Fair. I’ve always admired these trees, that are often planted along main streets – lovely wood.
You can meet Natty at the second Martinborough Fair on Saturday the 7th March and Newtown Fair in Wellington on Sunday the 8th March, or check out their gorgeous creations anytime in their Felt shop.
Fiona and Cat have very kindly offered a Natty prize for one lucky Felt blog reader: a fantastic Mr Fox and Frida Fox pillow case set worth $56. To win this lovely prize just leave a comment telling us what you like about Natty’s story and Fiona and Cat’s work. The draw will be made on Friday 13 March and is open to New Zealand residents only.