Amongst friends, Elizabeth Berge has earned the title of “zippy” with her exceptional eye for an interesting zip. She’s better known to the general public as Zippitydoodah and her quirky zip creations have featured at markets and fairs across the country, as well as on TVNZ7′s Hearts in Crafts.
What do you make?
Quirky things from vintage and retro textiles and notions, mostly zip flowers, and blankety things like my laptop covers, bears and homewares.
How did you get into your craft?
It all started with a zip that turned into a flower, which became a zippitydoodah, because it was a Zippy and well also a doo-dah (thing with no name), and so Zippitydoodah was born.
Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
I have a Bachelor of Design Arts with a major in Fashion. I’ve always worked in the fashion industry in design roles – mostly childrenswear, which could explain why I find it easy to make things for children.
What inspires you?
Life! I’m a very visual person. Everything I see triggers a creative thought, I’m always scribbling sketches in my visual diary, even if it’s just a note of a fantastic colour combination I saw in the florist’s window display! I love art galleries, the company of other creative people, photography (my husband is a photographer), traveling, books, live theatre, performance, ballet and music.
Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
I love working with vintage notions and fabrics I’ve found, I enjoy the challenge of turning something unloved into a new desirable object. In the winter I love working with wool blankets, and in summer I tend to do more with my embroidered linen collection. I have industrial sewing machines but I also like the slower pace of handstitching my zip flowers.
Is there a philosophy behind your work?
I try to use all vintage/retro and surplus textiles/notions in my creations, mostly because it’s eco and sustainable. Traveling and out of China in a previous role, I saw just how much pollution is caused by textile production, it made me think about “fast” fashion’s impact on the world. There are so many beautiful old fabrics stashed in wardrobes out there, imagine if we could liberate it all and make it into new things instead.
Your favourite feedback from a customer: I love hearing stories about where my creations end up, or how much they are treasured. I got a lovely handwritten card in the mail from a customer recently who wanted to thank me for making them a zipflower necklace in their favourite colours.
Describe your workspace:
I’m really lucky my husband gave up the garage and we transformed it into my studio. It’s bliss, we swapped out the garage door for French doors and added big picture windows, new wall linings and insulation! I love the natural light and having a space just for me to create in! I’m currently wanting to make some mason jar light shades for the studio, and I’m looking for some vintage/retro floral carpet for the floor.
What are you currently listening to?
My daughter practicing her drumming, I love that she’s following her passion.
Recommend an album:
Just the one? I have a very eclectic music collection. My favourite invention is the iPod – so much music on one little device, my iPod on shuffle – it’s perfect.
Your favourite childhood book?
Struwwelpeter – Merry Stories and Funny Pictures. I have my grandma’s copy of it, it’s very un-PC, the stories aren’t very merry but the pictures are brilliant. We didn’t have TV while we were growing up which lead to a lot of reading and imagining, and a lifetime of book hoarding.
What are you reading now?
The Book Thief, it’s a favourite, I love the book within the book.
A favourite quote:
“Every child is an artist, the problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” – Pablo Picasso
Do you have any pets?
We have a cat called Ruby who is very shy and spends most of her time in the garden or sitting in front of the fire. We also have a flock of homing pigeons that live next door and I love watching them each morning while I eat breakfast.
What was the last handmade item you bought?
Some of happygoknitty’s beautiful hand dyed yarn, that is my little reward for myself, a sneaky weekend knitting for pleasure. I’m very fond of knitting self striping socks.
Visit Zippitydoodah on Felt to check out Elizabeth’s full range. If you’re in Auckland, you’ll find her every month at Grey Lynn’s Kraftbomb, Devonport Craft Market and Crafternoon Tea in Kingsland. And as if all that wasn’t keeping her busy enough, Elizabeth will also be at Craft 2.0 in Wellington this Saturday!