Deb Tuckey of Finnbear Kicks and Capers is the mastermind behind a range of gorgeous original designs inspired by and created for her boys – and now she’s sharing them with you! From her home on Paraparaumu she makes colourful, high quality bike and scooter handlebar baskets, soft sole baby and toddler shoes, and stunning masks and headbands for imaginative play.
What do you make?
I make a bunch of things, I added Kicks and Capers to my original name to fit my wears into two parts – Kicks, which is my soft sole baby and toddler shoes and Capers – including bike baskets and adventure backpacks, dress up gear like masks and crowns, and a little bit of illustration.
How did you get into your craft?
I’ve always been a maker (the best way I can describe myself when people ask me what I do!). I’ve had a bunch of different crafty endeavours through the years, using and trying out heaps of different techniques and materials. I love to mix up and use different things together, to keep it interesting!
Right now, most of what I make are things I’ve first made for my own boys, when I couldn’t find what I was after. All starting with my soft sole Hightops – my first son was 10.7lb (his brother was bigger!) and his feet were always too big and wide for baby shoes, so I created them to be wider fitting and to open right up so they were easier to get on.
This has been the most successful for me and has been the most enjoyable, I think because I feel closer to it due to my boys and doing so much of it for them.
Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
I have so many! But I do have a soft spot of felt and its versatility.
What inspires you?
My boys are a huge inspiration – watching them play and seeing what they enjoy doing always gets me thinking about new things! And definitely other makers, seeing other amazingly talented creative people is such a great motivator for me. I have Aphantasia (this is when someone has no mental imagery, so if someone asked me to imagine sitting on a beach, I can’t, it’s just black!) so I need to always be looking at beautiful things.
Is there a philosophy behind your work?
This is something I’ve never really thought about – my favourite thing to do with my boys is go on adventures, no matter where, scootering around the block is an adventure! I really am a big kid and the idea of exploring the world around me and taking the tools to help do it or being able to collect treasures on your way and bring them home is such an awesome thing to me. So perhaps it is my love of being outside and engaging with it.
Describe your creative process:
There’s a lot of faffing about. Because of the Aphantasia I can’t plan things out in my head – I need to physically make something to figure it out. So there’s a lot of playing with an idea, leaving it for ages, coming back for another play and so on – that time away from it gives me a new perspective on it, or what needs to be reworked.
Describe your workspace:
I LOVE my studio! It’s a great space and doubly awesome that it’s at home! It fits me perfectly, I’ve got tons of natural light with one wall just windows and big old sliding doors that can pretty much open the room right up to outside. Then its filled with floor to ceiling shelves, all full of my bits and pieces – Finnbear stuff, but also all of my other projects, materials and tools in organised chaos.
Your favourite feedback from a customer:
“Has held up for at least two months under daily abuse carrying rocks, leaves, sticks, dead bugs, water bottles, and dolls, and still looks good as new.” I love to hear about what my bike baskets get up to after leaving here and this is exactly my aim for my bike baskets!
What are you currently listening to?
I usually only listen to podcasts, I’m currently listening to ‘Stuff to blow your mind’ and ‘Tanis’ which are also two of my all time favourites.
What are you reading now?
I don’t read fiction, I never have (I can’t imagine the story), but I have always enjoyed a good practical manual. Currently I’ve got a pile of gardening books I’m reading.
Tell us about your pets:
We’ve got one big dog – Han, who spends most of his time, while I’m working, staring at me through my windows with sad eyes, lying on his back (like really on his back – legs in the air) sun bathing and making unimpressed humph noises.
What would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty business?
I’ve always started out my businesses without much of a plan, just starting slowly and building them up. So there are heaps of things I didn’t think would be important to record, but now I really wish I had written everything down! And I mean EVERYTHING! Just jotting things down in a notebook can be so helpful to see where you were, ideas you had, plans, all that jazz! And of course, the big one – value yourself and your time!
Why do you think it’s important to buy handmade and/or locally made goods?
There are so many reason for this! But my favourite is the warm fuzzies you get knowing you’re supporting someone who is doing what they love and you’re helping them make that happen.
What does it mean to you when someone buys your creations?
It’s such a cool thing to be able to work from home and love what I do. My customers are the reason for that, and how I can!
What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
A little crochet, three eyed alien with tentacles – need I say more?
What’s in store for the rest of 2020?
A mixture of a busy Christmas rush and maybe a couple of events and trying to spend as much time as possible with both my boys, before our oldest starts school at the end of the year!
Prize draw for Felt readers!
Deb has very kindly offered a sweet prize for a lucky Felt reader: your choice of one of these bike and scooter handlebar baskets! (See below.) Deb says “Watching little ones carrying their toys in one hand, while trying to scooter or ride their bike with the other? We’ve had many a face-plant in our house due to the desperate need to take toys on adventures but with nowhere to keep them, and our bike and scooter handlebar baskets are the answer!”
Choose from two awesome designs: the ‘Mermaid Bike Basket’ or the ‘Origami Dino Bike Basket’. To be in to win this great prize, leave us a comment telling us which a young recipient you know would like, and what you love about Deb’s story and her Finnbear creations. The draw closes at 5pm Monday 23 November and is open to New Zealand residents only.