Hawke’s Bay’s Coulter & Coulter, otherwise known as Nicola and Peter Coulter, are a family team that work together from their kitchen table producing beautiful hand block printed organic textiles. Over time the business has grown to include more vintage textiles and wool blankets that can be printed and used to produce beautiful items for the home.
What do you make?
We transform vintage and organic textiles into beautiful things, through a process of hand block printing using water based non toxic inks.
How did you get into your craft?
I have been into textiles since I was tiny and have gone through various stages of creating fabrics to use in craft projects. Peter loves to carve wood blocks. It seemed a good idea to combine the two. He carves the blocks and I do the printing. In this way our creative ideas are influenced by each other’s work, taking us down paths we might not have gone down on our own.
Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
I don’t, other than a couple of pattern making courses a long time ago. Peter is a trained signwriter and a lot of the skills he learnt then are very useful now.
Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
Any bits of vintage textiles or bits of stuff people don’t want but are just too good to end up in landfill. My favourite tools are my wooden printing blocks that Peter has carved for me. There is nothing more meditative for me than finding the right pattern for the right fabric.
What inspires you?
People inspire me – my parents, Peter, my kids, friends and other wonderful designers. Just finding little bits of beauty in the smallest of places.
Is there a philosophy behind your work?
The philosophy behind our work is to produce beautiful things that leave as little impact on the world as we can manage.
Describe your workspace:
At the moment I have some space in the study for sewing and I use the kitchen table for fabric printing. Both are much too small. Peter is of course relegated to the garage.
Your favourite feedback from a customer:
“Thank you so much for my Kindle cover and my little bonus bag! What a lovely surprise! You made my week…. You’re fabulous!! x” (It’s always nice to make people happy.)
Five words that describe your mind:
Nicola – whirling mist of ideas.
Peter – Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter.
What are you currently listening to?
I like to listen to Radio NZ National when I am working, especially Kim Hill on a Saturday morning, she makes me laugh out loud, and This Way Up, also on Saturdays. I also listen to a lot of BBC Radio 4 (from the UK) over the internet, mainly because I am a big Archers fan, I have listened to this soap since I was a tiny girl in my Grannie’s kitchen.
Recommend an album: Bryter Layter by Nick Drake
Your favourite childhood book?
When I was really little before I could read, Little Grey Rabbit by Alison Uttley was my favourite. As I got older I loved the Narnia series. I spent quite a long time searching in the back of wardrobes in the houses of older relatives.
My heroines are my Great Grandmothers, I only met one of them, and I don’t know the stories of them all. But the two stories I do know stand out for me. My Mum’s Dad’s Mum, who I never knew, brought up seven children on her own, in real dire poverty. She did amazing sewing, knitting and crocheting to make ends meet, despite the fact she lost an arm as a teenager when it was crushed in farm machinery. When I am having a bad day she inspires me, if she could do it so can I. My Mum’s Mum’s Mum was left an orphan and homeless as a very young teenager with only half a crown to her name, how lucky do I have things compared with what her life must have been like.
A favourite quote:
“Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” – William Morris
Do you have any pets?
Yes, two cats Buffy and Rana, twin sisters. Four guinea pigs Scatter, Fudge, Coco and Candy. Originally we had two girl guinea pigs. Turned out one was a boy, then we had seven guinea pigs, back down to four now.
If you were crafty superheroes, what would your names and superpowers be?
Idea Woman, guaranteed to come up with a new idea every few seconds. They may not all be great, but there is a lot of them. And Tea Man, always ready with a cup of tea for every occasion and has even been known to do a tea dance.
What was the last handmade item you bought?
I bought a baby’s bib to send over to my niece for her new baby boy.
Visit Coulter & Coulter’s Felt shop, By Coulter, to browse their range of handprinted vintage blankets and beautiful homewares and accessories.