Four years ago Elizabeth Woollard’s trip to France and Italy inspired her with visions of old architecture, flaking paint, interesting doors and vibrant colours. From this fertile ground her creative outlet Tiny House was born. Why houses? Elizabeth says we often find ourselves pondering “I wonder who lives there, I wonder what they do?” She sees her tiny creations, made from recycled New Zealand timber, as big builders of the imagination.
How did you get into your craft?
A trip a few years ago to the coast of France and Italy promoted most of my inspiration for the architecture and colour styles… also the distressing paint technique. I just loved all the old buildings, flakey paint and character of France. Although, I have always been crafty and into DIY making – whatever prompted me to do so at the time! I originally did a diploma in fashion technology, followed by a bachelor of science (nursing) so I dibble and dabble in lots of different things!
“I work best in a mess. It’s a creative mess, I know where most things are and when it gets too bad we have a clean up!”
Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
No. Although my partner who does the cutting has, in building and carpentry.
Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
A good sander! And Dulux paint. My son says “She paints it white and sands it off!” I loved distressed features, that would be my signature style.
Tell us about some of the techniques involved in producing one of your pieces
Firstly, I sketch a design and form a palette range. We will then discuss sizes and dimensions and then in a flash (or maybe about an hour) a tiny house has taken form in wood! (After carefully selecting the best wood to use for the design.)
After it’s been cut the first layer of paint goes on… then usually a second… before drying for a day or two. Then sanding will take place, followed by sometimes more paint and another sand. However if I was happy with the first coat then the windows will be drawn on.
There are no rulers, no straight lines and my vision is impaired so my houses have a sense of quirkyness to them… but it’s the character that I love to create, so that suits me just fine.
What inspires you?
People. Mostly my family and kids although I am inspired by people’s kindness and passions for doing something good.
Is there a philosophy behind your work?
To create new out of old… to see the old in the new and to prompt thought behind something.
Describe your creative process:
Think first, sketch my ideas… usually my creations start with a colour process first and then I think “What can I make out of these colours?”
Describe your workspace:
It’s a shambles! My space intrudes all over the house, garage and my work shed. But I work best in a mess. It’s a creative mess, I know where most things are and when it gets too bad we have a clean up!
Your favourite feedback from a customer:
“I just love love love my tiny house, thank you for creating it for me… it’s just what I was thinking I wanted!”
“I get excited to produce a piece for someone and a little nervous to find out whether they like it (or not) but fortunately haven’t had a “not” yet!”
What are you currently listening to?
Baby Einstein, baby shark or the Wonky Donkey!
Recommend an album:
The Cure’s Greatest Hits. It’s always a pleaser.
What’s your favourite childhood book and why?
Guess how much I love you…By Sam Mcbratney. I love reading it to my baby now, and my then-baby who’s fifteen years old. Reminds me of my mum who always said, you just won’t know what love is until you have your own babies… she was right.
Who is your hero/heroine? Why?
My mum. She has four girls and thought us to be stronger than any superhero… and to love immensely.
A favourite quote:
“But what if I fall? But darling what if you fly?” – Erin Hanson.
Tell us about your pets:
Two super big dopey dogs, rescued from the local animal shelter. Wilson is eight years old and Odie is about five years old.
What would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty business?
That’s me, so I can’t really give advice except do what makes you happy – that’s what’s most important.
Why do you think it’s important to buy handmade and/or locally made goods?
It’s important to support our economy by buying locally. Small New Zealand businesses are the ones who support the economy the most, hence the importance to drive this.
What does it mean to you when someone buys your creations?
I’m honoured. It feels personal… and I get excited to produce a piece for someone and a little nervous to find out whether they like it (or not) but fortunately haven’t had a “not” yet!
What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
I bought a beautiful woollen cardigan for my baby daughter. I bought it for its quality, locally made, supporting handmade, and a Felt seller too! It was also a really good price for such a time consuming piece.
What’s in store for the rest of 2020?
Hopefully no more Covid-19! But lots more from me… I am aiming to bring out a new piece every 2-3 weeks. I’ll also have a wee one year old by September so that in itself is my heroism for the year!
Prize draw for Felt readers!
Elizabeth has very kindly offered a great prize for one lucky Felt reader, of a $50 voucher for her Tiny House shop – awesome stuff! To be in to win this sweet key to your own tiny house leave us a comment below telling us what you like about Elizabeth’s story and her creations.
The draw closes at 5pm Monday 22 June and is open to New Zealand residents only.