Simon and Kate Peterson are a husband and wife maker duo located in the ever-beautiful and sunny Hawkes Bay. Their brand Peterson Woodcraft is all about hand crafted wooden traditional toys with a modern twist. In their spare time they moonlight as parents to four little ones aged 8 and under, drink probably far too much coffee and like to pretend that 7am is a sleep-in.
What do you make?
We make a variety of hand crafted wooden toys, from trolleys and wooden letters to bespoke wooden dolls houses and castles. Simon (the stay at home parent) does much of the product design and wood working while juggling children and school pick-ups, while Kate (who is a librarian by day) handles all the marketing, social media etc, and hand painting of the products.
How did you get started with your craft?
An appropriate answer would be something along the lines of how Kate was always creative and Simon always wanted to make wooden toys and other beautiful things. However, honestly, it really started out of boredom and a desire to contribute to the household income!
Simon has been the stay at home dad since our eldest was just three months old and then when we moved to Hastings two years ago our moving truck crashed and we lost almost everything we owned. Suddenly we were in this position where everything got evaluated (for insurance purposes, yay) and needs and wants were also really re-evaluated.
With our twin girls blissfully still napping, the older two off at school and Kate off at work, Simon realised his days at home were numbered and he might need to get a real job one day – something neither of us particularly wanted! So, with a bit of space to dream up something, a little insurance money and a loan from our parents, Simon got stuck in creating in his new man cave. Kate, originally just a backer and encourager from the sidelines, quickly got involved in product design and the paint finishing, and it all went from there.
Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
Besides some 5th and 6th form woodworking and art classes, and a short stint into carpentry – nope! It has been a self taught, research and discovery as we go approach. And really this is partly what makes it more fun.
Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
Wood is the obvious answer. Kate never felt that strongly about it until we started working with it all the time, now she is really into grains and textures too! But dreaming things up on paper and computer screen is also a huge part of it.
Describe your creative process:
It usually starts on a bit of scrap paper the kids have drawn on and then the computer. Someone asks us to create something we haven’t done before, or Kate has spent too much time on the internet, and then a whole lot of research and tinkering on screen goes on. Simon draws it up the idea in a programme on the computer so we can get a good look at it from all angles and can work out materials etc. This design phase and problem solving part is something Simon really enjoys. For Kate, having a good cup of coffee, some music and time out to just go paint is a lovely way to spend a Sunday.
Describe your workspace:
Currently? There isn’t one! Very excitingly, we have just moved in to our first home. So at the moment the ‘workspace’ is filled with boxes and other miscellaneous children-related paraphernalia (who knew they could have so much stuff). The great news now, though, is we actually have a dedicated wood working space, as well as a connected unit to use as a painting and finishing studio. Before this we were painting on the floor of the sleep-out of a house we rented!
Your favourite feedback from a customer:
Thankfully, we have had a lot of positive feedback and it really is important… especially for a couple of perfectionists who agonise over the details! This bit of feedback recently really made our month though:
“We are absolutely blown away by the quality of workmanship and attention to details, totally exceeded our expectations (from packaging to the product itself)! Thank you Simon!”
What are you currently listening to?
We have The Rock radio station on almost always! If it is not that then it’s the cricket (which Kate HATES).
What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
The last probably, and one of Kate’s favourite things was a Chocolate Fish keyring made by Kellyvize. It always is a conversation starter! It is amazing how many people think Kate has a half eaten chocolate fish laying around the place.
What’s in store for 2017?
Settling in and setting up our workspace is our first priority, and a really exciting one! After that we have been working on some designs for wooden Rapunzel towers and castles – one off bespoke pieces – and we can’t wait to make these come to life.
As a special treat for Felt customers Peterson Woodcraft are offering free shipping on all products bought through Felt for the next fortnight – just enter the voucher code FELTMTM17 at checkout. Offer is open until Monday 27 March and is available to New Zealand residents only.