Gina Reid of Luxi Home NZ makes macramé art and accessories that have grown out of her exploration of fibre arts and her life experiences. Her pieces are shaped by Aotearoa’s changing natural and built landscapes, Māori designs, and the natural fibres and found materials she incorporates into her pieces, including cotton, New Zealand merino wool and driftwood collected from our beautiful beaches.
How did you get into your craft?
During the time immediately after the Christchurch quakes I started knitting. We were one of the many households that had no power and water for months and I found knitting was a calming activity and the results (hand knitted throws) gave pleasure to those I gave them to. From there I challenged myself and taught myself to crochet face cloths and then rugs. The art of macramé has been a natural progression. My first significant piece was a customised piece for my son’s wedding. I researched and incorporated patterns and designs from my sons Māori heritage and his wife-to-be’s Croatian heritage. I bought those ideas together to fashion something really personal for them both. The wedding arch is now hanging on their lounge wall in their home in Melbourne. Fibre art is one of a long line of craft expressions that I have trialled, but this discipline has stuck. I love the unending potential and limitless options macramé presents.
Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
I have a diploma in fashion and design and my first dream was to be a fashion designer, but then life happened! I am a firm believer that no learning is ever wasted however, and though I am self-taught in fibre arts I utilise aspects of my training from different art forms in all of my creations.
Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
I enjoy the whole creative process from inspiration to trial and error (read knotting and unknotting!) to photographing the final piece. I take pleasure in innovating new patterns and the challenge of having an idea in my head and bringing it to fruition. I don’t often draw a pattern out; I just have an idea in my head and let it evolve organically.
Tell us about some of the techniques involved in producing one of your pieces
Some of my favourite pieces to create are the random weaves. These are created just like they sound, randomly! It may be a piece of driftwood that inspires me or maybe the colour of the cotton cord. Most of my pieces involve using both macramé and weaving techniques to form an art work. These all use various knots and weaving methods. I have a knotting book that I refer to sometimes to test myself to incorporate new things into each work.
My husband thinks I might be quite useful on a boat with the knots that I can tie!
What inspires you?
Not to sound clichéd but nature is definitely one of my main inspirations. I love the patterns that occur naturally, particularly in flora and fauna. They are difficult to mimic, particularly curves, but I love a challenge! Often a piece of found driftwood will be the inspiration for my next project. I have collected driftwood from our local beach (New Brighton) all the way to the West Coast of the South Island. I enjoy using actual pieces from the natural world in my designs. I am also enthused by Māori design and patterns. My husband has a book of kowhaiwhai patterns and designs from his iwi. I have been challenged to try and put my spin on those and incorporate them into my designs, while remaining sympathetic to their meaning and origin.
Is there a philosophy behind your work?
Something I keep coming back to is “Beauty out of chaos”. The Chaos Theory states that “Within the apparent randomness of chaotic complex systems, there are underlying patterns, interconnectedness, constant feedback loops, repetition, and self-organization.” It speaks to everything settling into natural rhythms and patterns even after being thrown into disarray. My mind naturally looks to make sense and try and find beauty even in the midst of confusion. Living in Christchurch, I think as residents we have been particularly challenged and faced numerous times of confusion. I have intentionally looked for the beauty in the midst of the unravelling. That mindset has been an important part of my creative process but also an important part of remaining flexible in an ever changing landscape.
Describe your workspace
I have a purpose-built studio (thanks to my husband) that has to work overtime as my art and soap making workshop (Gina is also the talented – and busy! – maker behind Luxi Buff Natural Skincare – Ed.) as well as my macramé studio. More often than not though, now that it’s winter I’ll bring my creating into the lounge at night. I simply use a portable hanging rack so I can follow the sun around the house! You will find a lot of my ideas in progress around the house, well that’s the way I describe it anyway. I think my family hoped having my own studio would contain me but I’ve kind of spilled over into the garage and the house again!
Words that describe your mind
Imaginative, logical, slightly cluttered, too many tabs open, investigative, questioning, rational, potential, possibility…
What are you currently listening to?
Lauren Daigle. Recently in concert here, I have listened to her on repeat since. Such a stunning singer. I am inspired by her dedication to her craft and love the honest place she comes from. Music is food for the soul and I always have something playing while I’m knotting!
Recommend an album
Look Up Child by Lauren Daigle.
What’s your favourite childhood book and why?
Winnie-The-Pooh. Love how timeless it is. I read it as a child and enjoyed the stories and characters but now as an adult I can recognise the subtlety of the messages and the genius of the writing.
A favourite quote
“You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” Christopher Robin from Winnie-The-Pooh.
Tell us about your pets
We have two animals. Jed (an Australian terrier) and Putiputi (a long haired tabby). Jed was an earthquake refugee. Friends left for Australia a week after the Feb quakes and we got Jed. He’s the best companion and never far from my side. (I’m always tripping over him!) Puti puti (flower) is actually a male cat but he’s tough so can handle the feminine name we gave him!
Weird fact. Both our animals have only one eye! Puti was run over when he was young. He miraculously survived but lost an eye in the accident. While Jed had to have an eye removed last year due to glaucoma. Both animals manage really well with limited sight. My family joke that the neighbourhood animals must think we’re a scary place to live!
What would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty business?
Just keep going and never stop learning. Be open and remain humble to being teachable. Criticism is really hard not to take personally but I am learning to sift through to find the gold in the critiques. The more I continue in this creative journey the more I realise how much I don’t know. Fibre art in particular is vast and the forms it can take are numerous. I am continually searching and practising to find my particular signature and niche.
Why do you think it’s important to buy handmade and/or locally made goods?
Being an artist I understand the artistic process is often a long one and that the finished article often represents hours of imagining, planning and then actually making. I really appreciate that effort and admire the dedication and skill. In Christchurch alone there is so much talent. The energy and essence of that made object is so much more valuable than something that has been mass produced.
What does it mean to you when someone buys your creations?
I hope I never lose the pleasure I feel that someone actually likes what I’ve made and that they are willing to pay for it! I genuinely hope that every time they look at it or use it that it brings them enjoyment.
What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
I bought a hand dyed silk scarf for my mum for mother’s day. It was blush pink (a favourite colour of hers). At a fibre arts festival I attended last year on the Sunshine Coast there were workshops on botanical dyeing, so I had an appreciation for the time and skill needed to make this particular scarf.
What’s in store for the rest of 2020?
Well I had ambitiously begun planning a solo exhibition for somewhere around October. That may still happen, but I would have to produce a lot more works to make it viable. In the meantime, I have been running workshops which I have surprisingly enjoyed. I didn’t think I’d have the patience, but I do love the feeling of accomplishment the attendees get on completing their projects.
Prize draw for Felt readers!
Gina has generously offered an awesome prize for one lucky Felt reader of a $50 voucher to spend in her Felt shop! To be in to win just leave a comment below telling us what you like about Gina’s story and her creations – and Gina would also like to hear one thing you were grateful for over the lockdown.
The draw closes at 5pm Monday 6 July and is open to New Zealand residents only.