Auckland maker and mum of two Kelly Vize has always been a maker, trying her hand at many crafts. When she discovered resin casting though, she was hooked – and she has refined and perfected her delicious looking resin sweets and biscuits to the point that they are indistinguishable from the real thing.
How did you get into your craft?
I’m one of those people who has tried ALL the crafts. I have been a maker my whole life and when I discovered YouTube tutorials, I was hooked. Not sure how I ended up on resin but I did and, conveniently, I realised I lived across the road from a little industrial area, and a shop which sold it. I bought my first starter kit and used an ice cube tray as a mould and it snowballed from there. These days I get most of what I need from Barnes, in Henderson, Auckland. The staff really know their stuff (I worked there for a bit too) and are happy to help. I love that place, so many products I haven’t even tried yet but I’ll get there! If anyone wants to try resin, you should definitely check out their website. They also have tutorials. Beware though, once you start, you’ll be hooked.
Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
Nope. All self taught from a lot of mistakes, determination and tutorials from the internet. I do have a formal qualification in graphic design though, which has been super handy for setting up my online shop, creating posts and editing pics etc.
Tell us about some of the techniques involved in producing one of your pieces
I taught myself how to make my own moulds using a two part silicone, once I realised I wanted to make my own specific things. I have drawers full of them now!
I generally use about three different resins, depending on the qualities I want each piece to have. For example, if I were making a Shrewsbury, I would use a resin which is slightly tan in colour, then tint it to the ‘biscuit’ shade I want with pigment dyes. That resin has about a 4 minute working time before it starts to warm and then harden so I have to colour one part with my pigment first and then add the second part to ‘activate’ it when I’m ready to mix and then pour. That one can be de-moulded in about an hour, then I sand the back of it, brush the edges with a pigment powder to make it look ‘baked’, then fill the centre with ‘jam’ (a different resin, which takes 36 hours to fully cure). Some things are more involved than others but I do my best to really focus on detail.
I have a wee book I started using to record my ‘recipes’ for colours when I first started but so much of it is just in my head now. For example, I know that if I want my white resin to be pink, then I’ll have to use a red pigment. While a lot of it is common sense, you have to be quite accurate to get the shade you want and you can’t use too much, otherwise your resin will not cure at all. Mistakes are expensive so when I’m experimenting I try to just do a few small things at a time while I find what will work best but it’s always exciting when something works the first time.
Describe your creative process:
I have whiteboards/journals/random sticky notes of things I want to draw or make. Because I have two young boys (6 and 2) I pretty much have to grab opportunities when I can. I can’t ‘wait for inspiration to strike’ because Mums don’t have time for that. I just start something. And I find that once I start, I’m instantly having a good time. You can’t be sad when you’re making something, I wish more people knew that!
Describe your workspace:
Every spare surface is my workspace! Haha. I used to have a dedicated art room but when my second son was born I let him have his own room and I moved into a space off our kitchen/dining room. It’s fine, I can open the doors and can still see the kids outside but I manage to take up every inch while I’m working and I have so much stuff – so I would love to have some kind of basement or She Shed that I can close the doors on one day.
Your favourite feedback from a customer:
The number of lovely messages I get blows me away. I also had no idea how many people buy things because they are reminded of a loved one (sometimes who has passed). I love that I can make them something which brings comfort and nostalgia.
What are you currently listening to?
I’ve gotten more into podcasts/audiobooks lately as I can still work while I ‘read’. There are a couple of creative entrepreneurial ones I listen to every week – or anything True Crime.
Recommend an album:
That’s easy. Appetite for Destruction – Guns N’ Roses . It’s been my go-to since I was about ten. Can’t fault it.
What’s your favourite childhood book and why?
Animalia by Graeme Base. Just for the pictures.
What are you reading now? Heath
A Family’s Tale. It’s a biography on Heath Ledger but it’ll take me ages. I don’t read as much as I used to.
A favourite quote:
“Why buy it for $7 when you can make it yourself with $92 of craft supplies?” It’s more of a meme really but it makes me laugh every time I see it. Any crafter will relate.
If you were a crafty superhero, what would your name and superpower be?
I AM a crafty superhero! My name is Mum and my superpower is fixing broken toys!
What would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty business?
I have so much advice! But I’ll try and keep it short.
1) Take good pictures for your online shop. Seriously. Nobody can see how beautiful your item is in a sh!tty photo. You don’t need any fancy equipment, just good lighting! Natural light works the best for me. It’s worth watching a few tutorials about lighting, flat lays etc, ways to improve your shots. You want your customer to know exactly what they’re buying.
2) Don’t give up. You may not get a sale right away. Not everyone will want/need your handmade item. Some may not even like what you make. That’s fine, they’re not YOUR customers. But it’s your job to find your people. Post regularly to get your work out there.
3) Keep making, always.
Why do you think it’s important to buy handmade and/or locally made goods?
Every time you support local/handmade, you are putting groceries in another Kiwi’s fridge and gas in their car. I think that’s pretty cool.
What does it mean to you when someone buys your creations?
The novelty of someone spending their hard-earned cash on something I made with my own two hands, from an idea in my head, has never worn off after all these years. I feel so extremely lucky to be able to help support my family – while still being at home for them when they need me – doing the things that make me the happiest.
What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
The first that comes to mind is the small glass dish I bought on Felt (from Clarity Glass) at Christmas for my mum. It’s a tiny flower bowl in greens/aqua and it’s just beautiful. The colours got me as soon as I saw it.
What’s in store for 2021?
So many things! I have a few (too many) ideas but some larger scale works would be what I get most requests for so keen for that, some wall art. Just need to clone myself or teach these kids to fend for themselves. 😉
Prize draw for Felt readers!
Kelly has very kindly offered a sweet prize for a lucky Felt reader: a box of her fabulous biscuit magnets! (See below.) You get to choose your six favourites. 🙂 To be in to win this great prize, leave us a comment telling us what you love about Kelly’s story and her creations. The draw closes at 5pm Monday 15 March and is open to New Zealand residents only.