Archive for the ‘Meet the Maker’ Category

“My work is slow. Leather does not invite speed.” The contemplative craft of Honey Bird Leathercraft

Monday, February 13th, 2017

Max Jones of Honey Bird Leathercraft has a way with words as well as leather:

“Perhaps every man comes to a point in his life when he looks around at what he has created for himself and is thus afforded an opportunity to really consider the authenticity of it all. It seems we can so easily fall into roles and jobs that are not necessarily aligned with our true authentic selves. This was revealed to me a couple of years ago and there was no denying the truth of it.

I accepted my fate, and the challenge of following my destiny. Playing the Fool card, I leapt off the proverbial cliff into the relative unknown of becoming a leatherworker. I have not looked back since then. It has been such a fulfilling journey. And yes, it feels authentic; a true and inherent expression of who I am and what I “really” came here to do.

My love for the smell of leather, the sound it makes when being cut, the “ping” of a solid brass rivet being hammered upon an anvil, the energetic weight of a hand tool forged 135 years ago and the smiles on people’s faces who appreciate the quality they hold in their hands and wear on their feet, are a few of the ways that I measure the authenticity of it all.”

32443192071_c65525171f_o

honeybirdchaser
honeybirdchaser

honeybirdchaser matariki

What do you make?
I make things from vegetable tanned leather. At the moment, I am focusing on sandals, belts, and bracelets.

How did you get into your craft?
I needed a new lease on life. I really wanted to do something with my hands. Something noble. One day last winter, while I was polishing up a pair of old Italian leather boots, the idea came to me that I would like to work with leather. That was it! My “A-ha” moment. I just knew it was right. I just went for it! That’s my style. That’s how I roll.

Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
I have had no formal training. I am mostly self-taught. I did have the honour of spending five days with one of New Zealand’s oldest shoe makers. He taught me how to make a particular style of sandal, what we now call the WayFinder. Before this I had, as most people, only worn leather.

Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
My favourite material is the vegetable tanned leather that I use for my work. Prior to becoming a leatherworker, I was unaware that there were different ways to tan leather. In fact, 95% of the leather products on the market today are made from leather tanned using Chromium Sulfate. This is a rather “dirty” i.e. toxic way to go about it. I don’t want my children, or my customers, absorbing this “salt” into their bloodstreams by wearing my sandals. For this, and other reasons, I use veg-tanned leather exclusively.

My most prized tool is a Joseph Dixon Plough Gauge made in 1884. It allows me to cut straps up to 6” wide. I love just looking at this ancient piece of art.

One of my favourite processes is burnishing the edges of the leather. It gives a nice slick effect to my sandals.

honeybirdchaser
honeybirdchaser

32412912272_281f484de2_o

Tell us about the techniques involved in producing a pair of your sandals
I start with 10 ounce veg tanned leather. The upper is cut from this. I use a 7 ounce leather for the straps which I cut with my beloved plough gauge. These are saddle soaped and conditioned with a beeswax polish to replace some of the fats and liquors which are removed during the tanning process.

Then there is bevelling and burnishing before the dyeing takes place. The holes are punched in the soles for the straps to pass through. These are fixed to the uppers using solid brass rivets.

I use wooden shoe lasts to build the sandals around to give me a three dimensional form to work with.

I use a non-toxic, water based glue to adhere the uppers to the soles. I nail the leather soles on using brass clinching nails and for the rubber soles we sew them on with our antique sewing machine. The edges are hand burnished and everything receives one more lick of beeswax conditioner before they are ready for their adventure.

32443183761_cac86d6396_o

32443185981_6436e7d504_o

32186706090_138e0232d6_o

What inspires you?
I am inspired by so many things. My wife’s incredible artistic abilities. My children’s enthusiasm and zest for life. The smell of leather. The way water always finds the path of least resistance. The vocal range of the Tui. The timelessness of the mighty Totara. The flight of the kereru. Silence.

Is there a philosophy behind your work?
My work is slow. Leather does not invite speed. It demands that you are attentive and calculated with your movements. It’s a good teacher that way. It affords me a lot of time to contemplate the fact that life has gotten too fast for most of us. My intention with everything that I make, is that it enables the person who buys it to slow down; to be more attentive and connected to the Earth and their fellow humans, animals, and plants.

I don’t look for short cuts along the way. It’s those little, and often time consuming details, that make such a difference in the end.

Describe your creative process:
My creative process begins in the realm of The Visual. I “see” the finished piece and then work backwards. I don’t look for short cuts along the way. It’s those little, and often time consuming details, that make such a difference in the end. I enjoy the work. I am not rushed by the world around me. I am now in the realm of The Creator.

Describe your workspace:
My workshop is located on the Motueka River in the lovely wee hamlet of Ngatimoti. It’s in an old shed that was once used to make wind chimes. It’s got good vibes. I have old photos of my ancestors on the walls. They help me do the “mahi”.

There’s a huge table in the center that I can lay out a hide on. Some of these skins are over 2.5m long so its really nice to be able to accommodate them completely. My beloved outsole-stitching machine has a nice home here. His name is the Chief. He was born in Czechoslovakia in 1940. He’s a bit fat, weighing in at 450kg, but we love him just the same.

There’s always music. And yerba mate. Lots of yerba mate.

32412909302_92a3f6ef99_o

32412910622_89b26096db_o

Five words that describe your mind:
Ancestral, connected, open, deep, precise.

Your favourite feedback from a customer:
“Son, look at this. This is quality. This is going to last!”

What are you currently listening to?
Xavier Rudd.

Recommend an album:
Live at the Old Quarter by Townes Van Zandt.

What are you reading now?
The Wayfinders by Wade Davis. This is a great book about why ancient wisdom matters in the modern world. I’ve read it several times now. We named our first pair of sandals in honour of this book’s message.

Who is your hero/heroine? Why?
My heroes and heroines are all those who have walked this path before me. My ancestors enrich and enliven me. Their stories inspire me. I endeavour to make them proud. I am forever making more space for them in my life.

A favourite quote:
“The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell. Don’t go back to sleep.” – Rumi.

honeybirdchaser
honeybirdchaser

32565820225_f321dff280_o

If you were a crafty superhero, what would your name and superpower be?
I am Kitar Valentine. I am a World Bridger Extraordinaire. I journey to other dimensions, galaxies, and universes to seek out mystical nuggets, which I bring back to Earth in my Super Flash Time Capsule.

What would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty business?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. In the beginning I wrote to people all over the world asking for advice with various things. Virtually everyone I have written to has responded. And quickly!

I found my mentor this way. He lives on a tiny island in British Columbia and has been making leather sandals for 55 years! He’s awesome.

What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
I rescued a beautiful ceramic cup at an op-shop recently. It was on a table surrounded by heaps of mass produced coffee cups. I heard its cry for freedom. It was 50 cents!

What’s in store for 2017?
We will begin making wallets, journal covers, bags and camera straps. We will be saddle stitching these items together. We will refine our sandal making skills and be offering a few new designs. And we will enlist the help off others to achieve all this. We are building a website and will continue to offer our wares at local markets and festivals.

32186709750_a7f4e014ed_o

Made to be worn: the Christchurch jeweller sculpting life into silver

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

Sophie Divett is an ethical jeweller who has recently moved back to Christchurch from Wellington. Taking her inspirations from nature and antiquity, she specialises in bespoke pieces using sustainably sourced metals and natural gems.

What do you make?
I’m a jeweller, and I make a lot of wedding rings and bespoke, one-off pieces. I like to make jewels that hold sentimental value for the wearer and will be worn and treasured.

sophiedivett9

sophiedivett bark rings

sophiedivett remarkables

How did you get into your craft?
I studied Fine Art and always gravitated toward making tiny, delicate sculptural pieces. After graduating, something clicked and I started making jewellery in the evenings as a way to stay making and creative. Everything just sort of escalated from there.

Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
Aside from my Bachelor of Fine Art, I’ve just finished my Diploma in Applied Arts (Jewellery Design) at Whitireia last year.

Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
All of the metals I use are ethically and sustainably sourced, mainly recycled from industry waste. I work with sterling silver, bronze and gold, with gold definitely being my favourite. It is a beautiful material to work with. I especially love white gold- most of the white gold you see in shops is rhodium plated to look brighter and more silvery, but naturally it has a beautiful subtle golden hue which is so unique.

My favourite tools would have to be the few that I have made myself, and older ones that have been handed on to me. Some tools get so much better with age, and you can’t beat a tool that has been customised or handmade to fit a specific purpose. A lot of these are the ones I use all the time and you can’t buy them in a shop.

sophiedivett1

sophiedivett3

Tell us about the techniques involved in producing a piece of your jewellery
I like to use lost wax casting methods to make my pieces, because the wax allows for so much more freedom with organic shapes. I’ll usually create a model of a new piece in wax, before casting it in precious metal. After that, lots of polishing and finishing, and setting stones.

…the impressions left by the wearer as it takes the knocks of life and becomes polished next to the skin become part of the piece.

What inspires you?
I’ve always been very inspired by the natural world, and ancient artifacts. I am fascinated by the way centuries-old objects develop the marks of time through corrosion and decay, and it is uncertain where the original object ends and the hand of nature begins. I like to think about this when making many of my jewels- they are made to be worn, and the impressions left by the wearer as it takes the knocks of life and becomes polished next to the skin become part of the piece.

sophiedivett
sophiedivett
sophiedivett
sophiedivett

Is there a philosophy behind your work?
Make beautiful things for lovely people.

Describe your creative process:
Sometimes there’s an idea first, other times I just begin with a lump of wax and see where it takes me. Either way, the best things happen when they develop organically.

Describe your workspace:
I share a workshop with two other jewellers at the back of Form Gallery on Colombo Street, in Christchurch. My bench is usually the messiest, though I prefer the term ‘creative jumble’. It’s usually covered in lots of half-made bits and pieces, any commissions I’m working on, and a scattering of interesting objects I’ve picked up at some point- rocks, bones, seeds, leaves, insects. The bench itself was made by repurposing an old bankers desk and customising it to suit my needs.

sophiedivett8

sophiedivett10

Your favourite feedback from a customer:
I’m quite blessed with a lot of absolutely lovely customers so couldn’t possibly pick just one. I love hearing about the people behind the jewels, which is a bit hard when so much of what I do is online, so it’s always so special when people go to the trouble to tell me their stories.

What are you currently listening to? Shura – Touch.

Recommend an album: Furns – Furns (2014).

If you were a crafty superhero, what would your name and superpower be?
I’m not sure about superhero, but I am pretty good at hoarding gold and precious jewels. So I’d probably be a dragon.

sophiedivett
sophiedivett
sophiedivett
sophiedivett

What would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty business?
Be prepared to persist, anything really worth doing is probably going to be difficult. But if it’s what you really want to do, do it and you won’t have any regrets.

What’s in store for 2017?
Oh, so much. This will be my first year working as a jeweller full-time since graduating, so it’s going to be all go. Right now I’m working on a new collection of engagement rings, which is so exciting, it’s something I’ve been planning for a long time. I’ve just moved back to Christchurch so am very interested in getting involved with the Christchurch arts scene, events and exhibitions and collaborations with other artists.

sophiedivett11

Sophie has very generously offered an exquisite prize for one lucky Felt reader of a beautiful Sterling silver Annui necklace (see above). Annui in Latin means to favour or smile on, and this necklace embodies that feeling wonderfully.

To be in to win this elegant handcrafted prize, simply leave a comment telling us what appeals to you about Sophie’s story and her beautiful jewellery creations. The draw will be made on Friday 10 February and is open to New Zealand residents only.

 

Explore Sophie Divett’s ethical jewellery on Felt »

 

sophiedivett2

Meet our amazing Kiwi makers

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

Kāhore taku toa i te toa takitahi, he toa takitini. 
We cannot succeed without the support of those around us.

Felt is blessed to be supported by a truly fantastic community of makers and creatives. We’d like to extend a huge thank you to all our community members who took the time to share their stories with us this year, and of course another big thank you to all our makers for making Felt what it is – a showcase New Zealand’s amazing talent and creativity.

Here’s our cast of creatives from Meet the Maker 2016…

tat-upcycle

khadil

tabbyandmimi
gouldmarine
artnz
msmichelley

deansworkshop

SONY DSC

jillbutler
bcmagic
leatherart
teribear

stretched

tukituki

crownandfeathers
maisie-moo
reclectica
oreandwander

chaingang

soulyfibre

foxriverbathco
theartroom

feltedroom

Thank you again to our wonderful, talented Felt makers! You make us what we are.

Felt, buttons, ribbons and thread: the makings of a hand-stitched Christmas

Monday, December 5th, 2016

Christmas decoration aficionado Michelle Beagle of Ms Michelley is happiest when stitching – and every one of her cute creations brings a smile to her face. She says she has been lucky enough to be surrounded by very clever creative people all her life, and what she produces now is the outcome of all they have taught her.

msmichelley tree blog

What do you make?
I make individually designed and hand crafted felt Christmas decorations.

How did you get into your craft?
The same way many crafters do… by stumbling across it. I was in a store one day and looking at some mass produced, foreign made decorations and thought “I can make better than that,” went home and set about making it happen.

Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
None! However, creativity runs in our family. One Nan was a seamstress, the other a dance teacher, one grandfather was an artist (as is my brother when he has the time), Dad is a builder by trade and can turn his hand to all sorts of projects and Mum has been knitting, sewing and embroidering for as long as I can remember and has taught me all the skills for what I create today. As kids my brother and I were taught to be creative from an early age, and those lessons are still with us now.

Your favourite materials and tools?
Felt is my favourite medium to work with as it’s such a versatile fabric. It’s very closely followed by fabric, ribbon and buttons. I also adore using vintage cotton thread and am lucky enough to have quite a collection thanks to online purchases and very generous friends who have donated their collections to me.

msmichelley cover image blog

msmichelley
msmichelley
msmichelley
msmichelley

My favourite tools are my hands. They protest occasionally from being subjected to hours of drawing, cutting and hand stitching but a good rest brings them back as good as new again. I also couldn’t be without my scissors, sharp needles or my newly acquired specs… alas I have reached the age where my arms are growing shorter and my work is coming closer to my nose!

Tell us about the techniques involved in designing and producing your decorations
It usually starts with a vision that pops into my head at some ridiculous time of the night! I tend to work backwards – I can see in my head exactly how I want the decoration to look, so there begins the process of sketching it up, creating a pattern, then cutting out and stitching until it resembles how it looked in my head. It can take many attempts until I’m completely happy with the end product.

Once my design is up to scratch then I usually mark everything out on the felt and fabric and have a massive cut out session of each pattern piece. I tend to decorate each decoration and then have a big stitch together at the end. My slight (some might say more than slight) OCD tendencies dictate that everything gets done in batches of four or six… I’m just not good with odd numbers!

msmichelley plans blog

msmichelley pattern blog

msmichelley Michelle blog

What inspires you?
I am a December 1st baby and the lead up to Christmas always began on my birthday, when I got to help put up the tree. It’s memories like that, that have inspired me through the years with my decorating so I think for me it’s about creating something that will bring fond memories for other families for years to come.

Describe your workspace
My workspace is supposed to be in my office but the light isn’t suitable for hand stitching so I keep all my materials etc in the office and I work from the couch in our lounge. My side table holds my pin cushion, threads, buttons and bells and I work from three small boxes that contain my felt cut outs, fabrics, ribbons and anything else I need for each decoration. It’s all compact enough to be packed away out of sight at a moment’s notice.

msmichelley teacup blog

msmichelley hearts blog

msmichelley thread blog

Five words that describe your mind
Imaginative, creative, busy, cluttered, colourful.

Your favourite feedback from a customer
I have been so lucky to have super customers buy from me year after year, they have gone from being customers to being friends so I think when they tell me my decorations “spark joy” or that they “love my decorations as in LOVE LOVE LOVE them” then I know I’m doing something right.

What are you currently listening to?
Well it’s that time of the year so of course it’s Christmas music. Michael Buble is my favourite but I will also jingle on down to Kenny and Dolly’s Christmas CD.

Tell us about your pets
We have two Bichon Terrier crosses called Rosie and Noodle. They are my constant companions and frequently interrupt my creative process in their pursuit of food, pats and entertainment.

msmichelley pets blog

msmichelley Christmas lights blog

msmichelley blue group blog

If you were a crafty superhero, what would your name and superpower be?
According to Facebook (so it’s got to be legit) my Elf name is Twinkle Pointy Toes which seems appropriate for a Christmas gal like me. My superpower would be to untangle Christmas lights at the snap of a finger, and decorate a Christmas tree with a single twirl!

What advice would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty business?
Believe in yourself and in your talent. Only produce and market goods that you are proud to call yours. Don’t take shortcuts, quality is paramount, remember it’s your name that’s going on your product and if it starts to become a chore then stop… crafting should always be enjoyable.

What’s in store for 2017?
Ha! That’s anybody’s guess, but you can pretty much guarantee there will be felt, buttons, ribbons and cotton thread involved.

msmichelley prizedraw blog

Michelle has generously offered a lovely Christmassy prize for one lucky Felt reader of a set of four adorable red and white Christmas tree decorations (see above).

To be in to win this sweet handcrafted prize, simply leave a comment telling us what appeals to you about Michelle’s story and her appealing handcrafted MsMichelley Christmas decorations. The draw will be made on Friday 16 December and is open to New Zealand residents only.

 

Shop now for Christmas at MsMichelley »

 

msmichelley gingerbread men blog

Exquisite symmetry: the intricate heirloom stitchwork of Teribear

Monday, November 21st, 2016

Talented Auckland stitcher Terrie Beardsworth of Teribear brings together the skills taught to her by her Danish great grandmother with a lifelong love of natural fibres, to create exquisite cross stitched journal covers and accessories with a Scandinavian flavour that delight the eye and the hand.

teribear books

teribear
teribear

What do you make?
I design, stitch and then sew cross stitched journal covers and zippered bags.

How did you get into your craft?
Growing up on an isolated dairy farm north of Auckland, crafting was a way of life. From a very young age I learnt to sew, knit, crochet, embroider, spin, weave, grow, build, paint, mend, repair, repurpose, reuse, treasure, share and respect – we all did; that was the way things happened in those days in rural New Zealand. Craft was slow, practical and designed to be handed on. It was 100% New Zealand made from natural resources.

Craft was slow, practical and designed to be handed on. It was 100% New Zealand made from natural resources.

As I look back at my first school photo all the five year olds, boys and girls alike, in the new entrant class at Kaukapakapa Primary school are wearing intricately knitted wool jumpers and cardigans with home sewn shorts or dresses. There were no Red Sheds or Spotlights. Making was interwoven into our school days – art, music, cooking, building, inventing, problem-solving, creating and craft. Playtimes were spent building huts out of anything we could get our hands on – that is when we weren’t avoiding dive-bombing magpies while playing bullrush, or climbing the huge old trees growing on the school grounds.

teribear
teribear

At home there was no TV, iPad or electronic devices. When we weren’t out on the farm helping, playing, tending to pets, we were busy learning and experimenting with a new craft.

Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
My amazingly talented Danish great grandmother was my embroidery teacher from a very young age. She was strict and formal; the back of the work had to be a good as the front. Before I could start stitching there were edges to bind, and centres to mark which always seemed to take SO long when all I want to do was start stitching. But through her patience and guidance, I learnt to make craft worthy of giving and treasuring.

Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
I believe in natural products. I love the feel of silk, wool and cottons threads, and enjoy handling the natural linen. Colour excites me. I can get highly distracted if a new colour catches my eye and am known for having several projects on the go at once. I have just ordered some incredibly soft embroidery wools from Jacob at Modern Folk Embroidery in England, and am loving stitching the blues into the natural linens.

The pattern designing process is slow. I am inspired by Scandinavian designs – I love symmetrical patterns and have fun seeing scribbles on graph paper morph into the finished product. The stitching is done while supervising my ASD son’s school through Te Kura. I have to be calm and quiet while he is working on school, but yet still able to put it down when he needs help or assistance.

teribear scandi blues blog

teribear3

teribear5

Tell us about some of the techniques involved in producing your embroidered designs and notebooks
My designs start out life on a page of a maths book – a pencil cross in a square marks a stitch. It’s my form of organized doodling. Symmetrical designs are my favorite with a mirror line down the middle. I always feel great excitement the first time a design makes it to a complete journal cover.

Who inspires you?
My great grandmother and my great Aunty Norma; two amazing people who crafted all their lives. They always made me feel great worth in all I could do. They believed in me and encouraged me to believe in myself.

Is there a philosophy behind your work?
My philosophy is simple clean designs, natural raw materials, practical products, and handmade to a high quality ready to be used and treasured.

Describe your workspace:
My workspace is anywhere. My cross stitch fits neatly into a small box which fits in my handbag and travels everywhere Matthew and I go – so while he has one of his many music lessons, I can relax and stitch to the fabulous music.

teribear6

teribear
teribear

Your favourite feedback from a customer:
“I am honestly overwhelmed with the divinely special, beautifully handstitched journal cover I received. I have spent some time just sitting and admiring it, running my hand over this perfectly stitched needlework. I honestly love it and am so thrilled with it.” – Alison, Auckland.

What are you currently listening to?
Whatever piece of music Matthew is working on at the moment. He wrote a song Can’t Stop Thinking About You for NCEA Level 2 Music and entered the song into the Play it Strange song writing competition. He was placed in the top 40, so Matthew, Christopher (vocalist) and I spent the other day in Andrew Buckton’s recording studio recording the song. It sounds SO amazing and I just can’t get enough of it. Look out for it on the Play it Strange website – big thanks to Mike Chunn at Play it Strange for continuing to encourage our youth to write and record amazing music.

What’s your favourite childhood book and why?
I have a much treasured copy of my favorite childhood book Birds by Brian Wildsmith; the detail and the depth of colour he uses in his paintings still fascinate me. Look close into his work and see the humour – the stare of the owls, the party of jays and watch of nightingales. I often turn to this beautiful book for colour combination inspiration.

teribear

What are you reading now?
Sewing Happiness: A Year of Simple Projects for Living Well by Sanae Ishida. When Ishida was diagnosed with a chronic illness and lost her corporate job, she thought her life was over. But these challenges ended up being the best thing that ever happened to her because they forced her to take stock of her life and focus on the important things, and enabled her to rediscover sewing – her true passion. Inspired to succeed at just one thing, Ishida vowed to sew all of her daughter’s clothes (and most of her own) for one year. A great read for a crafter!

Who is your hero/heroine? Why?
Matthew, my ASD son, is my hero. Every day he has a positive and happy attitude in an unaccepting world. I am spoilt to have him and his music in my life. Every day he makes me smile and feel joy even when life is incredibly tough for us both.

Tell us about your pets:
My pets can be found protecting our borders. I have “puppy walked” five beagles for the Ministry of Primary Industries. I get great satisfaction knowing I have done my bit toward protecting our diverse and unique environment.

teribear
teribear
teribear
teribear

If you were a crafty superhero, what would your name and superpower be?
I would be the superhero who would put a stop to all conflict, all poverty and all hunger. I don’t know if this superhero has a name or has yet been created, but I would be her.

What’s in store for 2017?
Attending a market or two, and finding new colours to excite and inspire me!

Terrie has very kindly offered a lovely prize for one lucky Felt reader of one of her exquisite red Bouquet of Flowers journals (see below). These beautiful re-usable embroidered slip covers are a celebration of cross stitch and natural linen. They’re natural goodness inside and out! Each cover has a large cross stitch emblem on the front, with a smaller design cross stitched on the back, and comes complete with an A6 spiral bound, blank visual journal.

To be in to win this amazing handcrafted prize, simply leave a comment telling us what appeals to you about Terrie’s story and her beautiful Teribear embroidered creations. The draw will be made on Friday 2 December and is open to New Zealand residents only.

 

Shop now for Christmas at Teribear »

 

teribear pinks 1 blog

Wood over plastic: the Northland illustrator making simply beautiful toys for imaginative play

Monday, November 7th, 2016

Rosa May Rutherford’s Steiner background meant that wholesome toys for imaginative play were a must for her young son Maioha. Once she’d made him a couple of wooden toys she was hooked, and Dean’s Workshop was born.

IMG_7790

IMG_7823

IMG_7831

deansworkshop whale

What do you make?
I make wooden toys, so far mostly animals.

How did you get into your craft?
When I was growing up, my dad was a full time wood carver, making mainly cooking spoons. I spent a bit of time in the workshop with him, but never really got into it. Through school I never enjoyed woodwork. I honestly found it so boring! I was more into art…

When I had my son, I wanted to make him some wooden toys, and since I live near my dad I was able to use all his gear. I didn’t think I would, but I got hooked straight away and now I really love it. The machinery is scary, but totally empowering. I still can’t believe how differently I feel about the whole thing as an adult. I’m so interested in learning my dad’s craft now.

Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
I studied documentary photography and illustration, so no, not in my current craft, but there is so much I can take from my degree and my amazing tutors to use in my work. I do some work as an illustrator so it was kind of easy to transition into making 3D versions of my illustrations.

Having my dad to teach me everything I need to know is a major bonus. There is no way I would be doing this if I hadn’t thought I could take advantage of his workshop, skills and knowledge.

deansworkshop cover

deansworkshop houses

Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
I love the whole process, coming up with designs, the workshop and the painting. The time in the workshop is particularly fun. Learning how to use different machines feels really cool.

I am still very much a beginner, but I’m getting more and more comfortable each week. I’m pretty hooked on his home made grinder!

Is there a philosophy behind your work?
I decided I wanted to make toys for other parents who want wholesome toys for their kids, and who value imaginative play.

I have a Steiner background, and that comes into it a lot. Simple toys made from natural materials give children the opportunity to use their imagination, which I value very highly as a parent and aunty, and also as someone who has experienced a lot of life through my imagination!

If I can get even one person to choose wood over plastic, I would be happy!

There is also the environmental aspect that comes into it. If I can get even one person to choose wood over plastic, I would be happy!

Describe your workspace:
I have two! One is my dad’s workshop in the most beautiful valley surrounded by kauri forest. While I work there, my dad looks after my boy, he is always close which I think is cool for him, and me.

The other is at home. I paint when my mum or sister babysit or after Maioha has gone to bed. That quiet evening time at my desk is pretty nice.

IMG_7778

IMG_7629

IMG_7661

IMG_7785

What are you currently listening to?
I always have a shuffle on including OCMS, Ryan Adams and Cat Power.

What’s your favourite childhood book and why?
I love any book with beautiful illustrations, for obvious reasons!

What are you reading now?
I am Malala and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, (I read it over and over).

What would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty business?
I think I’m still collecting advice myself, so I’m not sure I have much to offer! I think a big one for me is not to make things too time consuming, if you want to make money. I am still mastering that one.

IMG_7828

deansworkshop2

deansworkshop llamas

What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
I did a green dollar trade, a set of farm animals for a handmade Waldorf doll. The maker, Silvercap Dolls is so talented! She has made a bunch of gorgeous clothes including a tiny knitted jumper!

What’s in store for 2017?
I’m honestly so excited to get better and better at my craft, and make new items! I would like to get faster and more efficient with my materials, source second hand timber so that I can make my toys more environmental and as affordable as possible while still making a wee bit of coin!

I will be working on some illustration prints too and getting back into designing stationary with my sister.

Check out Dean’s Workshop on Felt for more of Rosa’s beautiful toys and artwork, and follow rosamayrutherford on Instagram to find out about her upcoming giveaway later this month with Silvercap Dolls.

 

Purchase from Dean’s Workshop here »

 

deansworkshop

deansworkshop polar bears

Fairytale characters and crystal caves: an adventure wrought in silver

Monday, October 24th, 2016

Kim Goulding-Piper of Ore and Wander has been building her relationship with crystal and metal since she was a child. Her journey has taken her from beaches and caves, through managing a chain of prestigious crystal shops in the UK, to Aotearoa, where she now sits in her workshop with a view of snow-capped mountains.

oreandwander

gallery

What do you make?
I create jewellery including rings, necklaces, pendants, earrings, bangles, tiaras, ear cuffs, and wands.

How did you get into your craft?
I grew up living on a boat in a new age town, and I think the combination really fostered a love of fossicking on beaches and finding precious rocks. At an early age I would fill my pockets with rocks and hoard my treasure in my room. From there I started to collect crystals and when I was 10 years old my grandmother died leaving me a beautiful smokey quartz necklace. This began my crystal bead collection and at 16 I had my first exhibition in a local gallery.

The same year a crystal shop opened in my home town I knew I had to work there, so I went and asked for a job. They were not hiring at the time but being desperate for the job I asked to be trained so that when a position opened up I would be exactly what they needed. Liking my enthusiasm they hired me straight away and I worked for the Crystals Company for 14 years, becoming part of a wonderful family. I filled many roles within the company and loved every position I held there, especially getting paid to talk to people about crystals all day long!

The company helped me realise my dream by facilitating an apprenticeship with the company goldsmith. From there the fairy-tale began: everyday I would go in to the workshop and fix, tinker with, and create jewellery with the resident goldsmith. It was like entering a crystal cave and working with a dwarf to create glittering treasure.

In this time I also trained in crystal therapy, which I still practice today. After learning my trade I came to New Zealand (9 years ago) and lived in a house truck until meeting my wonderful partner and having my beautiful son.

oreandwander

gallery

Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
My training was intensive and lasted many years, but it was not formal and I have no paper to say I know how to do what I do. I spent many years doing all the silver and many of the gold repairs, along with commissions and designing new ranges, for 21 shops. Dwarfs living in crystal caverns tend to be more focused on practical skills rather than paper ones!

Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
I love to work with crystals, blending the healing properties to suit people’s needs. This led me to spend lots of time looking at archetypes and stories. Often my work is inspired by the crystal’s properties, people, and more recently stories. There is often a fairy-tale or character behind a finished product.

Tell us about some of the techniques involved in producing your jewellery
I try to keep the techniques simple. Once I am in the workshop, taming the ideas in to a few I can stick to is my main focus, then lots of soldering and setting stones (and lots of singing and hopefully no swearing). Next a bit of polishing where everything gets nice and shiny except me, then off to have a nice soak in the bath!

What inspires you?
Most recently I have been inspired by the stories I make up to tell my five year old son every night. We go on fantastical journeys, where anything can happen and we meet incredible characters on the way. I find that some of the characters are still with me in the morning when I go into the workshop. My latest range has no crystals but is infused with the magic of the fairy-tales we share and the things that stir emotions in us.

oreandwander

oreandwander

Is there a philosophy behind your work?
My philosophy is that jewellery is not just something to match an outfit to, but something that has meaning and can act as a reminder for us to focus on the positive. Whether it is a reminder of the person who gave it to you, the quality that you are trying to work on, or a feeling/character that you love.

Describe your creative process:
Often I dream of what I am going to make next, sometimes the stones seem to know how they want to be set and sometimes the stories find their own way on to the work. I try not to force the work, there are some days where nothing comes and some days where you have so many ideas that you have to thin them out before they overwhelm you. I have often found it difficult to represent my work in one style as there are always so many new ideas that I want to try, so many things that inspire me. I try to catch as many as I can, but for each piece I create at least ten slip through my grasp and float off!

Describe your work space:
My workshop is small but seems big to me after living in boats, house trucks and geodomes. It is a luxury to have a separate room to go to! I try to fill my work space with things that inspire me, remind me of friends and places, or tell me stories. I have a fantastic display cabinet made from an old Singer sewing machine that my wonderful partner made for me as a moving in present.

oreandwander

oreandwander

I work from home and when the weather is nice I take small sanding and filing jobs out in to the sun with a cup of tea. We live in the middle of nowhere with no neighbours, and stunning views of the mountains and the Port Hills, so it is very relaxing.

Five words that describe your mind:
Dreamlike, excited, holistic, meandering and intuitive.

Your favourite feedback from a customer:
One of my customers told me that during the Feb 22 (2011) earthquake in Christchurch, she had to walk through the city centre with her little dog to get out of the city. She told me that she carried the dog in her arms but put her hand over the bangle I had made because all she could think of was how devastated she would be if she lost or damaged it in the chaos. To be up there in importance with someone’s favourite pet in an emergency was very special.

What are you currently listening to?
I listen to lots of different music: mostly tunes that make me feel good, I can sing along to, and have a good story. I love old English folk for the stories, I listen to world music and sing along in a language I don’t know if the song stirs my emotions. I listen to devotional music to calm my soul. I love music that reminds me of people, there really is not a lot that I don’t appreciate.

At night when I tell my son stories they often end with me singing a song to him so I try to introduce him to as many different music styles as I can, I think music is like taste you have to try things and hear things a few times to learn to enjoy them. I also love to listen to BBC Radio plays in my workshop.

oreandwander

oreandwander

Recommend an album:
One album is too hard! Try new things often and look for the beauty in all of it. I recommend checking out The BBC Archives and trying samples of folk, world, 60s, classical… anything you don’t usually listen to. Expand your horizons!

What’s your favourite childhood book and why?
I love to read, so did my Mum and Dad. I could name a hundred books I loved as a child but my favourite was always the one that Mum or Dad was reading to me at the time. I knew if they had a book in their hand I could go and snuggle up on the sofa with them for a long relaxing reading session! My Mum was great at all the voices and I loved hearing my Dad read the Just So Stories so much that I asked him to record them for my son. Mum and I collected the pieces to make the Magic Alphabet Necklace from How the Alphabet Was Made for years. I am still looking for a few letters!

What are you reading now?
Jasper Fforde’s The Well of Lost Plots and Mitch Album’s Tuesdays with Morrie (again). It is one of my favourite books and reminds me of my Mum’s grace, courage and wisdom.

Who is your hero/heroine? Why?
My Mum. She worked so hard to make herself into the person she knew her children deserved. She was true to herself and lived with integrity. She made me who I am and that reminds me that I am always good enough.

A favourite quote:
“We are all here because we have more to learn, if we didn’t we wouldn’t need to be here and we would evolve!” – My Mum.

“There used to be giants in the sky who looked after everything but they all died so now the police have to do it.” – My son (at age 4).

oreandwander

gallery

Tell us about your pets:
We have a beautiful cat called Itty Nabibi (Little Black Panther) who is fantastically independent, properly witchy and super snuggly.

If you were a crafty superhero, what would your name and superpower be?
My super power would be to make all my jewellery able to come alive and tell the stories that inspired them. My name: the Silver Story Singer.

What would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty business?
Do what you love.

What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
I bought a beautiful sculpture from one of my favourite local artists, Blanch Fryer. I brought it for my wonderful partner who works in the circus field and loves all things circus, especially clowns and object manipulation. The sculpture was of a jester juggling, and Blanch had captured the expression so beautifully. I think Blanch may have my super hero skill as I feel that her work is about to come alive and tell me a fantastical story!

What’s in store for the rest of the year, and 2017?
I have no idea! Where is the fun in having it all mapped out? I have a hundred things I want to create, at least two new ranges that I want to get stuck into, and a secret project that I am itching to start. I have the feeling that 2017 is going to be exciting! I have had four delightful years at home with my son, but I am now beginning to refocus my attention on my creative goals and that fills me with a sense of adventure.

 

See more from Ore and Wander here »

 

oreandwander

To reach a port we must set sail: a life and craft shaped by the sea

Monday, October 10th, 2016

Karli Gould of Gould Marine spent ten years as a sail/cover maker before she and her husband sold up and went to Europe to have their ‘later in life’ adventure. They left New Zealand saying that they would be gone six weeks, six months or six years… and ended up being away for eight years exploring the Mediterranean, sailing on a classic yacht!

When they returned home they built their paradise in the Sounds with an eye to use it as a workplace – and it turned out to be a fantastic place to be inspired.

Karli at work

gouldmarine briefcase

What do you make?
What do I make? That’s a good question… what don’t I make that can be sewn!

Available from my Felt shop are items that can be posted internationally or nationally. Useful items for around the home, workshop, garden and leisure. I also make bigger custom made products for clients in my region of Nelson/Marlborough. These consist of roll up veranda awnings for preschools and homes, shade sails, gym mats, blocks and shapes. It’s always a challenge to work in the marine industry with covers for yachts and pleasure craft. I can undertake any cover replacements for spa pool covers, deck chairs and squabs. You name it and I’ll do my best to create it!

How did you get into your craft?
I have always been creative behind a sewing machine. My Mum taught me to sew from a very early age. When I was at College I won the ‘Make and Model’ contest with a woollen dress I made. When my children were young I made all their clothes and went on to do home sewing for friends and family. Once my children started school I went to work in a local sail loft. I learned to use industrial machines and worked with heavy fabrics. From there I went on to work in our own partnership business manufacturing sails and covers for the marine industry spanning 10 years.

Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
I had no formal training for domestic sewing; my Mum taught me those skills. My dream was to go to design school as a high school leaver. I had training in industrial work from my business partner, a sail and canvas maker who was a recognised master of the trade, so I consider it was an apprenticeship.

Tools (3)

gouldmarine sail bag

the sounds

Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
My most favoured materials are the acrylic canvas used in manufacturing some of my bags and marine covers. I also like using PVC as it’s such a durable product. I love using old sails to make some of the bags. The idea of recycling these fabrics is fun, and they become character pieces with their own personality. My favourite tools are my scissors and fairing battens, which help to create the magic shapes into the difficult compound curves of many of the marine covers I make.

Tell us about some of the techniques involved in producing one of your bags:
To make one of my gear bags from recycled sail cloth, I piece together the used cuts of exotic fabrics, traditional white Dacrons and colourful exotics to make one big sheet. I use a template to create the sizes of bags and mark out where the webbing handles and reinforcing should be placed. Next I sew on the pocket if required, the zip and the ends are the last thing to be fitted. The result is a custom made gear bag with charm and character.

Describe your creative process:
I create my project in my mind first – envisage a plan (design, materials and functionality). I have a workbook in which I put my ideas, shapes, dimensions and options. This sketch is then transformed into a template or directly onto the materials chosen. Many of my covers are fitted on the job before the final stitching is completed. This ensures the perfect fit.

gouldmarine
gouldmarine
gouldmarine
gouldmarine

Wood work aprons

What inspires you?
My inspiration comes from ‘creating’, seldom are two products the same. My mind is always searching new things to make and materials to work with. I enjoy the challenge of designing and manufacturing an item that is functional and simple to use.

Is there a philosophy behind your work?
To produce an individual product that is serviceable and value for money.

Describe your workspace:
My workshop is to die for… located in the Pelorus Sounds. I have a view that looks out over Crosilles Harbour. Most people that visit my workshop say “How can you get any work done, with a view like that?” Once I am there I am very focused, my work area is the floor or the bench surrounding my machines. The workshop is insulated and double glazed with a wood burner keeping a cosy atmosphere in those stormy Sounds’ winter days. In summer the windows are all open with the fresh sea breeze wafting through. I am surrounded by pictures and post cards that remind me of our travels.

Karli floor work

Workshop

view  (2)

Five words that describe your mind:
Focused, imaginative, busy, inspired and grateful.

Your favourite feedback from a customer:
“After first experiencing Karli’s expertise and quality in sail covers, Dodgers and other bits and pieces to do with boats, we graduated to some of her other products. Funnily enough, away from boats, it was her firewood carrier that we found to be amazingly useful, not really realising how this simple looking piece of material could be so good until we tried it out.

The versatility and skill involved in Karli’s work is incredible – check it out!

Recently we asked Karli to do a big job on all of our upstairs rooms’ upholstery. We chose Karli because in all of our dealings with her so far it has been shown that we get totally honest and sound advice, excellent quality, honest pricing and a rock solid guarantee that if anything is wrong it will be immediately fixed. So far we haven’t had to call on that. The job looks amazing and we’re really pleased with it. Many thanks for all – you’ve got a great business, Karli and I’m sure we’ll be back for more.”

- Penny, Atawhai, Nelson.

sewing

gouldmarine
gouldmarine

What are you currently listening to?
I love listening to Tiny Ruins while I’m sewing.

Recommend an album:
Some Were Meant For Sea – it seems so appropriate for me.

What’s your favourite childhood book and why?
The Wind in the Willows – my next door neighbour used to read it to me and my brother. I still enjoy imagining Ratty and Moley messing around in boats.

What are you reading now?
I’ve been reading the Jack Reacher series, but I’m ready for a change.

Who is your hero/heroine? Why?
My heroine is my daughter – she skippered a yacht from Norway down to the Antarctic Peninsula and back – a two year programme. She is a super hero. She has two beautiful children and lives out of New Zealand, but faces all challenges with great courage.

gouldmarine
gouldmarine
gouldmarine
gouldmarine

A favourite quote
I like this quote from Franklin D Roosevelt: “To reach a port we must set sail – Sail, not tie at anchor – Sail, not drift.” I like to think this describes my life.

Tell us about your pets:
We have wild wekas around our house in the Sounds, we have learned to coexist with them even though they can be rather pesky pulling out seedlings as fast as we plant them!

What would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty business?
Have the courage to use your imagination… give it a go! Stay focused and hang on in there, good things always take time, so don’t lose heart. But you do have to put yourself out there and push.

What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
I usually don’t buy gifts; I give handmade gifts to all my friends and family.

What’s in store for 2016?
Go from strength to strength and grow.

prize

Karli has very kindly offered a sweet prize for one lucky Felt reader of two of her cute wee ‘Ditty Bags’ (see above). These gorgeous wee bags are ideal for storing precious items, jewellery, small games or marbles. Measuring 20 x 18cm and fully lined, these ones are a special Christmas version – perfect to fill with goodies!

To be in to win this lovely prize, simply leave a comment telling us what appeals to you about Karli’s story and her products. The draw will be made on Friday 21 October and is open to New Zealand residents only.

Karli

Other people would love them too: the voice that inspired a new direction

Monday, September 26th, 2016

Every now and then on Felt we meet a maker who has a truly extraordinary story to tell. Kim Annan of NZ Art is one such artist.

Waxeye on Windsticks by NZ Art

What do you make?
I make Windsticks, a kinetic wind sculpture which also feeds the birds if you wish – or you can just enjoy them for their lovely sculptural value and watch them move and sway in the wind.

How did you get into your craft?
I moved into a new subdivision in early 2000 and I had no trees or plants in my back yard. I had nowhere to hang my bird feeders from, so I was throwing the food on the lawn and my dog was eating it. I tried to train her out of that, but she wouldn’t listen. So I had to think of a way to feed the birds, keep them safe from my dog, and keep my dog away from their food…

I wanted something that looked pretty even when I was not feeding the birds, and I knew it had to be vertical as there was nothing on the section for anything to hang from. That was when Windsticks were born.

2013-06-09-windsticks-057 - WHITE

2015-Jan-05-windsticks-1275

Then after the first Christchurch earthquake in September 2010, I moved in with my best friend Stephen. I asked Stephen if I could put my Windsticks in his garden as I did not want them to get broken in storage. He said yes, as he loved my Windsticks. Stephen had told me this for years but I thought it was him just being kind as he was such a kind soul. After I installed them I would catch Stephen standing at the window watching them swaying in the breeze and I realised he actually genuinely did like them!

So I decided to make him a set of his own, as I thought he would miss them when I moved out. I made him a set of red ones and we installed them in his garden. We moved them three times in seven days trying to find the perfect spot. On the third try we had that “Ah ha!” moment of “That is the perfect spot.”

I said “I’m working from home tomorrow, so I will photograph them.” I took a photo and showed Stephen it that night. We both loved it (photo below).

Windsticks in Stephens garden

The very next day, 22 February 2011, Stephen was killed in the CTV site.

Stephen only had his Windsticks for seven days, but in those seven days we talked about them every day. They were the last conversations that we had, and his voice got stuck in my head: “You need to do more with these, other people would love them too.” His voice played over and over in my head every day, like a tape stuck on loop.

His voice played over and over in my head every day, like a tape stuck on loop.

So after I found a place of my own, and I got my drill press out of storage, I decided to make a few Windsticks and go to a show. Stephen was right, other people do love them too! I even won a bronze medal at the 2014 Ellerslie Flower Show.

2013-03-09-ellerslie-flower-show Lake Display

2014-02-24-ellerslie-flower-show

Dealing with Stephen’s death was difficult and all the positive feedback from customers and the joy that my Windsticks brought them was the most therapeutic thing for me. Now there is a little piece of myself, Stephen and Bailey dog bringing smiles and joy to people and little birds all over New Zealand.

This has been a silver lining in a very difficult time. This experience confirmed to me that if you find the perfect gift for a loved one, you should give it to them then, do not wait until their birthday or Christmas as life can be unpredictable and you never know what can happen. Stephen got so much enjoyment out of his Windsticks in those seven days.

In 2013, I was given permission to install a large set of red Windsticks on the CTV site (photo below). It is the only sculpture on the CTV site. On anniversary day this year, I wired on 30 real white roses to give a moving flower sculpture for the day.

Windsticks - CTV site 22-2-2016

Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
No. But I have always been artistic. I also do landscape photography, stone mosaic work and stonemats, and last year I learnt abstract painting. I love learning new things and one day I would love to learn casting glass and also Oamaru stone carving.

Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
It would be stones. Every Windstick has two river stones set on it. All the stones are hand selected and drilled by me.

Tell us about the techniques involved in developing and producing your windsticks
I spent time choosing the eight colours and getting them to the exact shade that I wanted. The stones are hand selected and staggered at five different heights, which allows for varying weights of food, and they also move slightly differently in the wind. I have chosen a diameter on the wands that means that they will move even in the slightest of winds.

I wanted to feed the little birds, but not the big ones. I was frustrated in the past how the large birds like black birds and thrushes would bully the small pretty birds like wax eyes, bellbirds and finches away from the food. So I spent time working out what diameter the 2m Windsticks needed to be that the larger birds were too heavy for them. I have a large thrush here that knows he is too heavy to land on the 2m Windsticks but he wants the food so much that sometimes he tries to grab a bite of the food as he flies by! It is really funny to watch.

2015-Jan-07-windsticks

2015-Jan-07-windsticks-2073

Is there a philosophy behind your work?
I create things that I love and then often I find that others like it too.

Describe your workspace:
I work from home. My garage is fully dedicated as my creative space and I have another room as an office. I can look at my window and see the birds feeding on my Windsticks, and when I take my coffee break I spend time with my ducks and ducklings at the creek in my back yard.

Five words that describe your mind:
Fast, bright, passionate, analytical, creative.

Your favourite feedback from a customer:
“I bought some Windsticks from you and they are installed in the garden. They are awesome, within two hours the wax eyes turned up and were having a feed. I can’t get the smile off my face.”

2014-Aug-06-windsticks-127 - white windsticks with kiwifruit

What are you currently listening to?
Sia – This Is Acting.

Recommend an album:
A classic that I like but is little known – Amos Lee – self titled album called Amos Lee.

What are you reading now?
I am really enjoying some books by Napoleon Hill. I have just been listening to an audiobook called “Napoleon Hill in his own voice”. Napoleon Hill’s books look at the principals to achieving success.

In 1908 Napoleon Hill was given an assignment by the wealthiest man in the world, philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, to spend 20 years studying him and other successful and wealthy people like Henry Ford, Alexander Graham Bell, Elmer R Gates and Thomas Edison to discover a simple formula for success. In 1937 Napoleon published Think and Grow Rich and his teachings have been made into the successful “The Secret.”

Who is your hero/heroine? Why?
I find stories like Napoleon Hill inspiring as he worked for free for those 20 years, he was never paid a cent as he studied those successful people. He understood the value of spending time with them. He really wanted to share the learnings with the world to help others. During the 20 years everyone including his family thought he was mad working for free as he struggled financially yet the people he was studying were very rich. But eventually the joke was on them as Napoleon’s Think and Grow Rich book has now sold over 100 million copies, and in Napoleon’s words, he said he ended up with more money than everyone in his family added together for many generations back. Among other things Napoleon shows that if you believe in something, never ever give up, no matter what everyone else thinks. Always believe in yourself.

A favourite quote:
“People are like stained glass windows, they sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” – Elizabeth Kubler Ross.

“Happiness is not in having what you want, but wanting what you have.” – from the Thunderbirds.

2015-Jan-07-windsticks-1830

2015-Jan-07-windsticks-2077

Tell us about your pets:
I love animals and have had an array of animals in my life – including a pet penguin when I was 7! We found him with a broken wing and we rehabilitated him back to the wild. My lovely dog passed away before the quakes and the house I live in now is too small for a dog, but it does have a creek in the back yard and that brings other opportunities.

So at this time in my life I have what I call “Nature’s free pets” – ducks and ducklings and all the birds that feed on my Windsticks like wax eyes, bellbirds and finches, among many others like fantails that enjoy my garden.

I am in the central city of Christchurch but there can be 100 birds in my back yard at any time, it is like a small sanctuary in amongst the urban CBD. The ducks have their own duck bath and a lovely spot to sit by the creek.

Last year one of the ducks turned up with a very badly damaged leg. He struggled to stand or walk and would fall over trying to walk. He was like that for weeks. We took care of him and kept him fed and safe. Last week I was excited when he turned up with a wife and 14 ducklings!

The ducks are well trained – I use the same principals of training that I did for my dog. When I whistle they come running – that way I know if they are ducks that have lived here before or new ducks. I have at least 15 ducks that visit and over summer we will have over 40 ducklings. I can hand feed them and all the ducklings are all friendly enough to sit on my knee. I find nature very relaxing and the ducks, although not as bright as my dog, are more intelligent that I ever gave them credit for and they are trainable. They bring me lots of smiles and joy.

If you were a crafty superhero, what would your name and superpower be?
I would be the superhero of my feathered friends, making little birds fat and happy all over New Zealand from feeding on my Windsticks and keeping them safe from cats and dogs as they feed well above the ground.

2013-03-25-windsticks-truffles

2015-Jan-05-windsticks-1152

What would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty business?
If you make something for yourself that you are passionate about and love, the chances are that others will love it too. Create a listing on Felt and see what happens!

It is important that the photo is great, that you have good text describing the item. Try and convey what you love about what you have created. Remember the customer cannot pick it up and touch it, so you have to convey all of that with your words and photos. Customers love getting to know the creator and some will fall in love with the story about you and your creation. (Excellent advice! -Ed.)

Believe in yourself and never ever give up.

What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
I purchased a lovely hand painted cushion. I loved the colours and the design and it perfectly matched the colours in my house.

What’s in store for 2016?
October to January is summer trade show time! I attend many of the larger shows around the South Island and some in the North Island. Events coming up in the next month include:
Thursday 27 October – the Culverden Fete
Sunday 30 October – Oxford Garden Fete
Thursday 3 November – Geraldine Summer Fete
Sunday 6 November – Garden Marlborough in Blenheim

Kim has a special offer running right now in her Felt shop NZ Art: purchase any item before 31 October, and go in the draw to win a bundle of five beautiful 2m Windsticks in the colour of your choice, shipped anywhere in NZ. With a cost of $75 plus $28 shipping, this is a total prize value of $103, so place an order now!

Competition open to New Zealand residents only. The winner will be drawn by Kim on 31 October and will be notified directly.

2015-Jan-07-windsticks-1601

A perfect tension: the art and craft of making artists’ canvasses

Monday, September 12th, 2016

Stretched canvas maker Alanah Tocker freely admits she has an obsession with timber. With more than ten years of industry experience, Alanah joined Felt a year ago to offer her high quality, fully customised painting surfaces as Stretched – a very appropriate name! Alanah starts with New Zealand first grade kiln dried pine, which is handcrafted into stretcher frames of 35 and 45mm and stretched with quality 12 ounce cotton duck canvas. The canvas is then primed twice by hand for a perfect painting surface.

stretched 4

stretched 7

stretched 1

What do you make?
I make stretched canvasses, boards and blocks for artists. I often work directly with artists to ‘create’ a surface that they are looking for to complete their artistic ideas that they cannot make or buy elsewhere.

How did you get into your craft?
I have always painted, and being a poor student could never justify paying crazy prices for poor quality canvasses. I was lucky to be taught to make canvasses from scratch by David Heaphy, the technician at the School of Fine Arts at Canterbury University. David made and sold to full-time artists, so I learnt the tricks-of-the-trade from the best.

Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
I have a BFA from the University of Canterbury, where I studied sculpture. The art school workshop was so well appointed I was able to learn woodworking, casting and mould-making, foundry skills, welding as well as critical thinking. Following art school, I worked as a screen printer, a stretched-canvas maker for local artists, and then as an artist’s technician for Phil Price and Hannah Kidd, whilst retaining a painting practice and selling canvasses.

stretched 5

stretched 11

Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
Wood is my favourite material to work with, it’s so versatile and I can craft anything from it. My favourite tool would be a very old wood plane of my great granddad’s, which I still use regularly. My favourite process is taking a 4×2 and a roll of cotton-duck canvas and producing a beautiful stretched canvas. If I want to paint on it I know it’s good!

What inspires you?
I love being in the workshop or studio – it’s my happy place, it brings me energy. I think I am supposed to say “my kids”… I guess they’re pretty inspiring too! I love the fact that my boys think it’s totally normal to have a mum using power tools and a builders pouch – which it should be! No surprises they want to be builders!

stretched 2

stretched 3

Often it’s the customers that keep me focused, their feedback and gratitude for helping them translate their vision into reality, make me feel great about what I produce.

Is there a philosophy behind your work?
Simple: Locally-made and careful production will always result in premium quality products.

Describe your creative process
The creative process for crafting my artist’s surfaces involves putting myself in the artist’s shoes; it helps being a painter too! I and ask what does the ideal surface look like? What details are important and what do I need to do to achieve that. Then I build from there.

Describe your workspace
I work out of a 100-year-old workshop-turned-garage-turned-workshop again at home, in organised chaos! The fun comes when the bigger canvasses need to be walked outside, just to be turned around! It can be chilly but it makes me work fast to get warm, which is easy as I usually have lots of projects going on at once!

IMG_8238

IMG_7965

stretched 9

Five words that describe your mind:
Enquiring, introverted, passionate, authentic, inspired.

Your favourite feedback from a customer:
“Your canvasses and rimu blocks are absolutely stunning!” Feedback from last week’s order, feedback makes me happy!

What are you currently listening to?
Tiny Ruins, a Melbourne based singer-songwriter, beautiful music to paint to.

Recommend an album:
The Lumineers by The Lumineers, always a go to for the workshop!

What’s your favourite childhood book and why?
Pottle Pig by Shirley Hughes (also my boys’ favourite!). I love the naughty pig that always gets into trouble along with the lovely illustrations, reading it now makes me love and reminisce about the farm I grew up on.

What are you reading now?
The Goose Bath Poems by Janet Frame, love her work – so honest.

Who is your hero/heroine? Why?
I would have to say hero and heroine would be my mum and dad. They’ve always encouraged my love of the arts, from Dad starting me off on his tools at age 10, to Mum taking me to buy paints. They’ve supported me through art school and even now look after the kids one or more days a week so I can get my orders out. They are awesome.

stretched 10

stretched 13

stretched 12

A favourite quote:
Live simply, dream big, be grateful, give love, and laugh lots.

Tell us about your pets:
One old whippet named Uma, one old cat named Meow-meow and a selection of chooks, names dependent on if they are in the veggie garden!

If you were a crafty superhero what would your name and superpower be?
Timber Woman – with the power of building and shaping anything using just her mind.

What advice do you have for those starting out in a craft business?
Start now. Get on Felt. Have a great website, and have real conversations with your audience and client base – no matter how big.

What was the last handmade item you brought and what attracted you to it?
A Mother’s Day tea towel for my mum, it also came with a hand printed card, from the Felt website of course!

What’s in store for the rest of 2016?
Starting to build our first home with my partner, wrangling a 7, 5, and 0.25 year old! And of course finding time to paint…

I have some exciting new developments for artists’ surfaces. I am working on developing a special laminated circular stretcher frame made from a mould, I also have a new ‘floating’ artists board in development and I would also like to promote some of my oil paintings on the Felt site… watch this space!

Alanah has very generously offered a marvellous prize for one lucky Felt reader of one of her new 500mm diameter x 45mm deep stretched canvas circles, stretched with a 12oz canvas and primed twice by hand. These are made from a marine laminate timber using a mould technique and have a total value of $65 plus postage, and will be available on Felt from next month.

To be in to win this absolutely unique prize, simply leave a comment telling us what appeals to you about Alanah’s story and her craft. The draw will be made on Friday 23 September and is open to New Zealand residents only.

stretched 8