Posts Tagged ‘auckland’

A good turn: bringing out the beauty in recycled native timbers

Monday, August 14th, 2017

David Gillard of WoodgrainNZ is passionate about the manipulation of timber, creating interesting designs and revealing the natural beauty of New Zealand native and exotic timbers. In his Auckland workshop David handcrafts unique artistic and functional pieces that are predominantly created from recycled timbers sourced in New Zealand.

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What do you make?
Wood art, hollow forms, wall art and kitchenware.

How did you get into your craft?
I did a building course in 2011 and loved the finishing process and fine detail work with timber. And decided that building wasn’t really me, in that it wasn’t detailed enough. I started out making furniture and then moved onto kitchenware and I’m currently working on pushing the boundaries of wood and art.

I enjoy… taking a raw piece of wood, figuring out the best way to show it off and then seeing it all come together.

Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
No. I am self taught with regard to wood turning and have gained knowledge and skill through planning, research, and of course trial and error.

Your favourite, tools and processes?
My favourite timber is Black Maire. I enjoy the process of planning what type of piece I am making and then taking a raw piece of wood, figuring out the best way to show it off and then seeing it all come together.

Tell us about some of the techniques involved in producing one of your pieces.
Milling timber is the biggest part of my work. A tree is cut down and then the centre pith of the tree is removed and cut into slabs. I then cut to rough blank, then the timber is sealed at the ends with wax so that the timber can be stored for 6-12 months. This prevents the wood from drying out and cracking.

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Then I cut it down on a bandsaw and roughly wood turn it down to its rough size and store it again for 6-12 months so that the wood can dry out to about 6% moisture content. This process reduces the piece moving and warping once made.

When I am ready to use the wood I turn it on the lathe to its finished size and apply finishing textures and colours. Finishings include a lot of sanding, gold leaf, colour dying, woodburning and applying a finishing coat of wax, stain or polyurethane. If I am creating a laminated piece, this will involve gluing and clamping different timbers together first before turning.

What inspires you?
Learning and finding new ways to do things that push me to make things that have wow factor.

Is there a philosophy behind your work?
Big time. Showing off our native giants that have been around for hundreds to thousands of years. They are a big part of New Zealand’s history and they shaped New Zealand’s landscape.


A little bit about my Remembrance Skull…
This skull represents our New Zealand native trees over hundreds of years being chopped down and made into things. A lot like the Mexican celebration that remembers the dead. This is my way of showing my appreciation of these old giants. I’m so lucky to be able to work and show these timbers off through my works and make them be appreciated again for many years to come.

As I mostly deal with recycled or rescued timber it’s nice to be able to take something that was or intended for floorboards for houses or, even worse, firewood and design it into a piece of wood art.

The skull has Pohutakawa and Kowhai flowers, a couple of types of our native ferns, our almighty Kauri tree leaves, and the four stars from the Southern Cross.

Lastly I’d like to say I do understand there will be people that will think the skull is a dark or negative symbol, but this was not designed as that but more of a positive symbol for remembering some of these ancient giants that were covering New Zealand and are now getting harder to find.

Special thanks to Geoffrey Kerr for taking my rough idea in my head and putting it to pen to paper – looks so awesome and I’m so proud of it. Again thanks mate.

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Describe your creative process?
Jump in with two hands and don’t be scared to make some firewood along the way.

Describe your workspace
Some people say that it’s like a hobbit workshop. Lots of little spaces and wood and sawdust everywhere which is how a wood working shop should be! LOL.

Five words that describe your mind
Determined, focused, striving, inventive, experimenting.

…it’s nice to be able to take something that was… floorboards… or, even worse, firewood and design it into a piece of wood art.

Your favourite feedback from a customer
“To David/Woodgrain NZ… Please don’t ever stop making these wonderful works of art. Everyone here in Haldensleben Germany who has seen them loved the design and colours. Cheers Steffen.”

What are you currently listening to?
Anything NZ, 1814, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Katchafire, The Black Seeds, Herbs, Electron etc.

What was your favourite childhood book and why?
Badjelly the Witch. It just always cracked me up all the funny characters. We had a book and the vinyl record.

What are you reading now?
Ellsworth on Woodturning: How a Master Creates Bowls, Pots, and Vessels by David Ellsworth and Newspaper Blackout by Austin Kleon.

A favourite quote
“You learn something everyday if you pay attention.”
“Don’t sweat the small stuff.”

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Tell us about your pets?
We have suburban chickens, brown shavers. These girls help me get rid of all the wood shavings I create in the workshop and they are pretty good at supplying us with eggs.

If you were a craft superhero, what would your name and superpower be?
What do you mean if I were a superhero! I am a superhero and my super powers are highly classified. (Of course. Sorry to put you on the spot there. -Ed.)

What would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty business?
Do you research into the market. Learn all you can about what it is you are wanting to do. Find people that you can bounce ideas off and test the market. Never forget the reason why you started and never stop telling your story.

What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
A beany hat from the local market. Had it custom made by two lovely older ladies. I wear it all the time when I can find it.

What’s in store for the rest of 2017?
Taking all the ideas and techniques that I have been working on and putting them all together and getting lost in my work. Keywords: 2017, onwards, new, big, amazing, out there.

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Prize draw!
David has generously offered an awesome prize for one lucky Felt reader of a stylish Kauri pepper mill, valued at $165.00 (see above). This gorgeous blue-green dyed, hand turned mill stands a smidge over 30cm high, making it a superb dining table statement piece.

To be in to win this great prize, simply leave a comment telling us what you loved about David’s story and his creations. The draw will be made on Friday 25 August and is open to New Zealand residents only.


Purchase from WoodgrainNZ’s Felt range here »


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Here comes the General Collective Market!

Monday, August 7th, 2017

Hello Auckland! The fabulous General Collective Market is coming your way on Sunday 13 August, and Felt will be there – come along and say hello for your chance to win one of three $50 Felt vouchers!

Showcasing an incredible line up of 280 handpicked designers, makers and creatives from all over New Zealand, General Collective has a focus on high quality and unique products. Check out lifestyle products, designer homewares, art, fashion, handmade toys and more!

It’s a great family friendly day out with kids’ activities and a mouthwatering spread of food, coffee, and a wine bar.

Date: Sunday August 13
Time: 9am–3pm
Place: ASB Showgrounds – Pavilion 3/4, 217 Greenlane West, Greenlane
Cost: $2 entry, under 15 yrs FREE
Parking: FREE street parking on Puriri Drive and in Cornwall Park. Onsite parking for $5. Parking also available at Greenlane Clinical Centre.
More information:

General Collective blog

Auckland Fair is this Sunday…

Saturday, June 17th, 2017

Aucklanders, make sure your schedule is clear tomorrow, because the place to be is Shed 10, Queen’s Wharf for the final Auckland Fair, a maker event like no other. Come and purchase from 100 talented New Zealand designers, artisans and craftspeople, all under one roof for one day only!

Date: Sunday June 18
Time: 10.30am-5pm
Place: Shed 10, Queen’s Wharf
Admission: $6, children under 12 free
More information:

aucklandfair blog

Elbow deep: building a new career from clay

Monday, May 22nd, 2017

Pippa of Makerie Ceramics is a ceramicist living her dream of working with clay everyday, in her sunny Auckland studio. Most days she can be found elbow deep in clay, working at her wheel. Otherwise, she’s probably running after her three year old, doing the household chores or drinking tea!

Her ceramics reflect her lifestyle and personality: keep it simple and organic. Every piece is handmade by Pippa: the lines aren’t always straight, the rim shapes are organic, but they’re all functional and made with love.

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What do you make?
I make simple, functional ceramics that are handmade with love in my studio in Auckland. Each piece is thrown on the wheel and hand finished, made from locally sourced white earthenware clay and finished off with a glossy glaze (that is food and dishwasher safe).

How did you get into your craft?
I try to take a new creative course every year to find out as much as I can about a creative process. In 2016 I decided to try my hand at ceramics and absolutely fell in love. I signed up with Teresa at Ceramic College in Devonport and remember going home after my first lesson to tell my hubby that I had found what it was that I wanted to do with my free time. It’s been a beautiful love affair ever since and now I’m doing it full time!

Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
The classes at Ceramic College kicked off the obsession and I eventually invested in a kiln and wheel and set up the studio. From there, I’ve been working with various techniques to decide on what felt best for me. While the underlying techniques I learned from the super talented Teresa, I have honed them in my studio and I do what feels best for me and my aesthetic.

Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
I absolutely love the painting stage. I paint on greenware (earthenware that hasn’t been bisque fired yet) as it is a lot smoother and easier a process than painting on bone-dry bisqueware. I also really enjoy the actual act of throwing on the wheel: it’s incredibly therapeutic and if I’m not careful, hours can go by before I step away from the wheel.

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Tell us a bit about the techniques involved in producing one of your ceramic pieces:
I start by wedging the clay: i.e. warming it up and making it supple for the throwing or hand-building phase. If I’m throwing it on the wheel, I’ll centre it and build the piece from there. If I’m hand-building, I’ll pinch it out with my hands and smooth it out with the back of a wooden spoon. Then I let the piece dry out completely which normally takes about three days. I have shelving in my garage where I store the pieces until they are ready for the kiln.

The first firing is the bisque firing (where it gets up to a temperature of about 1000 C): in this kiln session, the water is driven out of the clay and hardens up to form a bright white piece of pottery. From here I will sand the item, wipe it down and then dip it in a glossy glaze. I give the bases a good wipe (otherwise the piece sticks to the kiln shelf). It then goes into the kiln for the glaze firing (at about 1160 C) where it hardens and gets a beautiful glossy finish. At this point, the piece is either ready or it gets a lustre put on it (i.e. a gold, copper or mother of pearl trim). If that’s the case, it goes back into the kiln for the third firing (to about 700 C). Once the firings are done, I give the piece a clean by wiping down the surface and giving the bases one quick final sand. Then it’s ready to be sent out!

What inspires you?
I am absolutely inspired by our beautiful New Zealand landscapes: I fold New Zealand beach sand through a few of the pieces in the range and it gives the collection this rich, earthy texture and look.

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Is there a philosophy behind your work?
My philosophy is to keep it simple and organic. None of the lines are ever quite straight, the rims have an organic finish to them, the shapes are never perfect but it shows that each piece is utterly unique and subtly different to the next one.

Describe your creative process:
While I was refining my Autumn/Winter 2017 range, I spent months sketching up ideas. I like to let ideas ruminate so I list the pieces I think need to be in the range, then as the designs form in my head, I get on the wheel and make the piece up. Once I’ve finessed the style, I’ll note key things like clay weight, dimensions, time spent handling it etc so that I can accurately cost up the piece but also design a “blueprint” for it the next time I make it. I’m currently working on my Spring/Summer range which will launch in August. I’ve taken notes of all the best sellers from the current range, refined the offering and will soon start throwing the new pieces on the wheel. Once samples are made of the whole range, I’ll photograph them in my studio (it gets the best morning light). I take a lot of mental notes of photography flat lays or shoots that I see that resonate with me and I’ll use them to inform the new look for the season.

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Describe your workspace:
I have a studio in my home in Birkenhead. I have an admin desk where I work on my Mac answering emails, doing tax stuff or processing orders. I have a stand where finished orders are placed, ready for packing up and shipping. I have a long work bench which is home to my wheel (I prefer to stand while I throw, sitting hurts my back), my jars of sand, tools, rolling pins, etc. Above that, I have a rack to dry some pieces before the bisque fire, another shelf to house the work that’s ready for the glaze stage and another shelf which houses product ready for the markets or PR requests.

Five words that describe your mind:
Organised, focused, driven, anxious, inspired.

Your favourite feedback from a customer:
Being told “I absolutely love your work” I find has been incredibly rewarding. I also try to come back to those messages when times get a little rough.

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What are you currently listening to?
I’m on a throwback kick to the early 2000s so I’m currently listening to The All-American Rejects, Sum 41 and Blink 182. They remind me of my time at high school and uni.

Recommend an album:
Fleetwood Mac’s Greatest Hits. Give “Gypsy” a listen – what a great track!

What’s your favourite childhood book and why?
I loved Winnie the Pooh – I remember opening the book to smell the pages and was incredibly protective of it. I loved the drawings more than the stories themselves. I wished that I could jump into the illustrations and be a part of that imaginary world.

What are you reading now?
I haven’t really had time to read lately – I’ve been working 15 hour days trying to get through all my orders (NO COMPLAINTS!) but when I do have a moment, I’ve been reading The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware. It’s killing me not being able to get to the twist fast enough!

A favourite quote:
“When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows – not the flower.” This quote has inspired me to take a plunge, out of a job that didn’t quite fit with me and straight into ceramics.

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Tell us about your pets:
We have two kitties – both rescues. Nina is our black cat that I got from Lonely Miaow. She is a little skittish but makes a wonderful hot water bottle when I crawl into bed at night. She sleeps on my chest and has the loudest purr – I miss her if she’s out gallivanting at night. Our second cat is Penny, we got her as a foster baby from the SPCA – she was supposed to go back to be adopted at the end of the foster period but we just loved her too much. She has the loveliest personality. She walks with me down the drive every day to check the mailbox. She is a sucker for warm sunlight so she can be found on my daughter’s bed in the mornings and on our bed in the afternoons as she follows the light around the house. She is GREAT with kids and nothing really seems to faze her. They’ve clearly talked us up though to their friends in the neighbourhood because all the cats in the area come to chill at our place and eat their food.

What would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty business?
Being someone else isn’t fun, so when you’ve developed your signature piece/idea, celebrate it and own it.

What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
I bought a ceramic spoon that had a beautiful illustration of a girl on it. I loved it for the artistic effort it took to create that piece – I thought it would make a great addition to my ceramics collection. It also reminds me of the overseas adventure that I was on when I bought it.

What’s in store for the rest of 2017?
If April has been anything to go by, it will be very busy! I’m going to be doing heaps of markets (2-3 a month), a few collaborations with some amazing brands and people, continuing to grow the wholesale side of the business and investing in another kiln! Keep a look out in the coming months for my new Spring/Summer range too.

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Pippa has kindly offered a gorgeous prize set for one lucky Felt reader, of two speckled pinch pots with matching teaspoons (see above). These gorgeous kitchenware pieces are made from a speckled buff clay and finished off with a white food and dishwasher-safe glossy glaze. Perfect as condiment sets, or use the bowls for precious rings and trinkets. To be in to win this great prize, simply leave a comment telling us what you like about Pippa’s story and her creations. The draw will be made on Friday 2 June and is open to New Zealand residents only.


Purchase from Makerie Ceramics here »


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Caretaker of imagination: the creative world of Zee Southcombe

Monday, May 8th, 2017

Auckland writer and artist Zee Southcombe has published an astonishing 12 books in the last two years, and usually has a few creative projects on the go. Her works include children’s chapter books, a wordless picture book, colouring books, a children’s anthology, and zines, as well as her surrealist, emotive paintings. Her novels The Caretaker of Imagination and Lucy’s Story: The End of the World were both finalists for Best Youth Novel in the 2016 Sir Julius Vogel Awards.

Zee loves to share her passion for writing with others – especially young creators – inspiring them to follow their own dreams.


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What do you make?
I’m a writer and an artist, so I primarily make books and zines, but I also have a fine art practice specialising in painting.

My books are in the adventure fantasy genre and written for children – but are ‘adult friendly’. I also publish an annual anthology of stories and poems by children in New Zealand. A couple of years ago, I began illustrating colouring books, and fell in love with patterns and lines. It is from that, and a passion for the natural world, that led to mandala art. I held my first painting exhibition last year, titled Broken Beautiful, which reflected the theme of mental and emotional wellbeing. My paintings are very personal; they’re basically me on the canvas.

My zines explore the creative life, both my own and through the eyes of other creative women. I love how creative and experimental zine-making can be, and that they are a hands-on version of book publishing.

How did you get into your craft?
I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember, and reading for even longer! Although I studied teaching, after working in schools for a few years, I realised that I missed my art practice. In 2013, I decided to follow my long-time dream of writing a children’s book – and I haven’t stopped since.

Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
I like to keep it simple – pen and paper are my favourite tools. Now that I’m illustrating more, I love my new gouache paint palette, which has every colour I could want and is travel-friendly.

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Tell us about what’s involved in producing one of your publications:
For my books, it starts with the idea, which I’ve usually been playing around with in my head for anything from a week to several years. I then pull the idea out into a story by getting a plan down on paper, and begin writing the draft. Sometimes I wish the words could just magically flow out of my head and onto the paper, but unfortunately the drafting is not the easiest bit for me!

Once I have the draft done, it goes off to beta readers, who ‘test’ the story pre-publication and give me their feedback. I then revise the story based on this, and send it to my editor, who gives me much more thorough, line-by-line feedback which I trawl through. It’s usually off to one final beta reader again after that, and then another revision by me. Finally, it goes to the proofreader. The editing process usually takes at least six months.

In between all of that are the illustrations, which I either contract out or draw myself, and at the end of the process is the formatting. This bit is about font choices, line spacing, page numbers, and cover design. The files are then sent to my Auckland-based printer, who prints and binds them for me.

For my mandala artwork, I first hand-draw the template (each one is started from scratch), and build a collection of symbols and shapes within a theme. For example, Moths’ Garden was inspired by flowers and leaves found in my garden. I then draw these freehand (usually while listening to a podcast) and erase the pencil. From there, I scan the drawing, touch it up digitally, flip the colours, and overlay it on one of my photographs. It’s then sent off to my local printer.

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What inspires you?
There is a lot that inspires me, but recently I have been more and more inspired by nature, especially in my visual art practice. I love tramping and exploring the outdoors. The mindful nature walking definitely shows its face in my work, as well as more obvious references to nature in my mandala art. I’ve also spent more time creating outdoors – be that drawing, writing, or painting – even in the colder autumn weather!

My fiction books are explorations of questions I don’t know the answer to – ideas such as divinity, the beginning of time, and fate – all wrapped up in fun (and sometimes scary) adventures.

Is there a philosophy behind your work?
Always. As a child, I hated when books or movies or conversations were simplified for me. I had big questions, too! My driving philosophy for my books are to never talk down to children. An interesting outcome of this philosophy is that my stories have appealed equally to children and adults.

In addition to that, I try to make my work as honest as possible, which viewers have described as ‘a kind of rawness’. Of course, I also try to only do projects that are fun!

My fiction books are explorations of questions I don’t know the answer to – ideas such as divinity, the beginning of time, and fate – all wrapped up in fun (and sometimes scary) adventures.

Describe your creative process:
Different every time. There is a lot of ruminating on an idea before it even begins to come to fruition, often during a walk, but other than that I don’t really have a set process. Some projects are solo, some are collaborative; some are started and finished within a week, others are still in process five years later. I enjoy the flexibility of my creative work.

Describe your workspace:
Not nearly as tidy as I would like it to be! I have a big desk with room for a candle and a cup of tea, a large wooden bookshelf, and boxes of art supplies. I either face the window, looking out at the monarchs, wax-eyes, bees and tui in the bottlebrush tree, or I face my wall of art, which is covered in work that inspires me.

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I’ll often go out to write, as I find that distancing myself from my house and computer (and all the chores that haven’t been done) is useful in helping me stay focused on the project at hand. At least once a week I’ll pop into a local cafe or library, and I regularly book mini writing retreats. The most recent one was in a cabin nestled among the trees and birds in native New Zealand forest.

Five words that describe your mind:
Full, questioning, distracted, curious, doubting.

Your favourite feedback from a customer:
How do I pick? Every piece of feedback is important to me – both for my artist’s ego and to continue improving my work. What touches me most is when a reader or viewer really connects with a piece of work, but I especially love it when adults buy one of my books for their children – and then can’t resist reading it themselves!

“To label this book merely as a children’s book would not do it justice. While this book is, indeed, a great read for children of all ages, many adults will be able to relate to the main character, John, who has lost all sense of wonder in his life and goes on a journey with his faithful cat to find out where the magic and imagination he knew as a child had gone.” – Paul Magnan, Amazon review.

What are you currently listening to?
I’ve dug out an oldie and am listening to a fair bit of kiwi band, Elemeno P. I have also needed a bit of a pick-me-up, so Disney classics have been on my playlist, too!

Recommend an album:
Elemeno P – Love & Disrespect. It’s fun, kiwi, and a great way to kick off your morning.

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What’s your favourite childhood book and why?
I have so many favourites that I always find it difficult to answer this question. A series that has had a significant influence on my writing is the Narnia Chronicles by C. S. Lewis, and I love all of Roald Dahl’s stories. At an older age, I got stuck into the Harry Potter series, and Tamora Pierce’s fantasy novels.

What are you reading now?
I’m reading The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot by Robert MacFarlane, a beautiful book about some of the old pathways – on land and sea – as research for my current work in progress, Ramble On. Before that I read a heart-wrenching and simultaneously comic children’s book called See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng. I highly recommend it to readers of all ages.

Tell us about your pets:
I have a cat called Shadow who, like most cats, is rather particular about her wants! Sometimes she’ll hang out with me in the studio while I’m writing or painting, and if it’s cold enough then I’ll have the privilege of her sitting on my lap.

What would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty/arts business?
I’ve only been in this business for two years, so sometimes it feels like I am still just starting out. Through trial and error, I’m slowly learning what works for me and which bits of advice are worth following. I would say be patient, and trust yourself; only you know what is best for you and your goals at the end of the day.

Something I’ve been thinking about more lately is the importance of having fun. I’ve seen too many people burn out (myself included) or become despondent. If you’re not enjoying the process, then make changes so that you are. There’s no point in success if it comes at the expense of your health.

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What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
Whenever I table at a craft fair, I try to buy something to support my fellow artists. Last weekend I bought some beeswax food wrap from Rematerialise. I’ve been eyeing it for ages, because I need something to pack my food for long tramps. It’s environmentally friendly and easy to use, so it’s a no-brainer. My favourite handmade purchase this year was a ceramic mushroom necklace from Little Life Workshop. I am in love with all of her creations!

What’s in store for the rest of 2017?
Right now I’m working on my first book for adults, Ramble On: A celebration of walking in New Zealand and around the world. It’s going to be a glorious mix of interviews, personal essays, hand-lettered quotes, and fun facts. The book will be fully illustrated. It’s a great way to bring my love of walking, drawing, and writing together in one project.

Because I’m enjoying the project so much, I’ll be making a series of zines around walking in New Zealand, just in time for Zinefest season. I’ve also got two collaborative projects lined up – one is about self-publishing in New Zealand, and the other is a collaboration with my (also crafty) mum.

You can meet Zee at Hamilton Zinefest on Saturday 13 May, Auckland Fair on June 18, and she’ll be speaking at Lexicon in June. After that Zee’s running the Auckland Half Marathon in October, to raise money for the Mental Health Foundation of NZ, a cause close to her heart. $8 from the sale of each of her digital prints will also be going to support the fundraising. Awesome stuff!

Inspired? Zee has offered a sweet prize for one lucky Felt reader and budding zine maker of one of her great DIY Zine Craft Activity Kits. The kit contains everything you need to make your very own mini zines – blank mini zines, felt pens, stickers, and Zee’s very own “Zine Idea Generator”. To be in to win this great prize, simply leave a comment telling us what you like about Zee’s story and her work. The draw will be made on Friday 19 May and is open to New Zealand residents only.

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Explore Zee’s Felt shop here »


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Quiet Moments, a hand bound leather journal by Bibliographica

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

Quiet Moments - Grey Leather Journal by Bibliographica

We are constantly in awe of Auckland artisan Louise of Bibliographica – she makes the most beautiful books with attention to every tiny detail, from the intricate hand stitches and embossing to the vintage embellishments and tea-stained pages.

This unique leather journal would be absolutely treasured by an artist, writer, or traveller, and it makes a perfect gift for an important milestone or special occasion. What would you add to its pages?

Quiet Moments - Grey Leather Journal by Bibliographica

Quiet Moments - Grey Leather Journal by Bibliographica

Quiet Moments - Grey Leather Journal by Bibliographica


Browse beautiful books by Bibliographica »


Exquisite symmetry: the intricate heirloom stitchwork of Teribear

Monday, November 21st, 2016

Talented Auckland stitcher Terrie Beardsworth of Teribear brings together the skills taught to her by her Danish great grandmother with a lifelong love of natural fibres, to create exquisite cross stitched journal covers and accessories with a Scandinavian flavour that delight the eye and the hand.

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What do you make?
I design, stitch and then sew cross stitched journal covers and zippered bags.

How did you get into your craft?
Growing up on an isolated dairy farm north of Auckland, crafting was a way of life. From a very young age I learnt to sew, knit, crochet, embroider, spin, weave, grow, build, paint, mend, repair, repurpose, reuse, treasure, share and respect – we all did; that was the way things happened in those days in rural New Zealand. Craft was slow, practical and designed to be handed on. It was 100% New Zealand made from natural resources.

Craft was slow, practical and designed to be handed on. It was 100% New Zealand made from natural resources.

As I look back at my first school photo all the five year olds, boys and girls alike, in the new entrant class at Kaukapakapa Primary school are wearing intricately knitted wool jumpers and cardigans with home sewn shorts or dresses. There were no Red Sheds or Spotlights. Making was interwoven into our school days – art, music, cooking, building, inventing, problem-solving, creating and craft. Playtimes were spent building huts out of anything we could get our hands on – that is when we weren’t avoiding dive-bombing magpies while playing bullrush, or climbing the huge old trees growing on the school grounds.


At home there was no TV, iPad or electronic devices. When we weren’t out on the farm helping, playing, tending to pets, we were busy learning and experimenting with a new craft.

Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
My amazingly talented Danish great grandmother was my embroidery teacher from a very young age. She was strict and formal; the back of the work had to be a good as the front. Before I could start stitching there were edges to bind, and centres to mark which always seemed to take SO long when all I want to do was start stitching. But through her patience and guidance, I learnt to make craft worthy of giving and treasuring.

Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
I believe in natural products. I love the feel of silk, wool and cottons threads, and enjoy handling the natural linen. Colour excites me. I can get highly distracted if a new colour catches my eye and am known for having several projects on the go at once. I have just ordered some incredibly soft embroidery wools from Jacob at Modern Folk Embroidery in England, and am loving stitching the blues into the natural linens.

The pattern designing process is slow. I am inspired by Scandinavian designs – I love symmetrical patterns and have fun seeing scribbles on graph paper morph into the finished product. The stitching is done while supervising my ASD son’s school through Te Kura. I have to be calm and quiet while he is working on school, but yet still able to put it down when he needs help or assistance.

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Tell us about some of the techniques involved in producing your embroidered designs and notebooks
My designs start out life on a page of a maths book – a pencil cross in a square marks a stitch. It’s my form of organized doodling. Symmetrical designs are my favorite with a mirror line down the middle. I always feel great excitement the first time a design makes it to a complete journal cover.

Who inspires you?
My great grandmother and my great Aunty Norma; two amazing people who crafted all their lives. They always made me feel great worth in all I could do. They believed in me and encouraged me to believe in myself.

Is there a philosophy behind your work?
My philosophy is simple clean designs, natural raw materials, practical products, and handmade to a high quality ready to be used and treasured.

Describe your workspace:
My workspace is anywhere. My cross stitch fits neatly into a small box which fits in my handbag and travels everywhere Matthew and I go – so while he has one of his many music lessons, I can relax and stitch to the fabulous music.



Your favourite feedback from a customer:
“I am honestly overwhelmed with the divinely special, beautifully handstitched journal cover I received. I have spent some time just sitting and admiring it, running my hand over this perfectly stitched needlework. I honestly love it and am so thrilled with it.” – Alison, Auckland.

What are you currently listening to?
Whatever piece of music Matthew is working on at the moment. He wrote a song Can’t Stop Thinking About You for NCEA Level 2 Music and entered the song into the Play it Strange song writing competition. He was placed in the top 40, so Matthew, Christopher (vocalist) and I spent the other day in Andrew Buckton’s recording studio recording the song. It sounds SO amazing and I just can’t get enough of it. Look out for it on the Play it Strange website – big thanks to Mike Chunn at Play it Strange for continuing to encourage our youth to write and record amazing music.

What’s your favourite childhood book and why?
I have a much treasured copy of my favorite childhood book Birds by Brian Wildsmith; the detail and the depth of colour he uses in his paintings still fascinate me. Look close into his work and see the humour – the stare of the owls, the party of jays and watch of nightingales. I often turn to this beautiful book for colour combination inspiration.


What are you reading now?
Sewing Happiness: A Year of Simple Projects for Living Well by Sanae Ishida. When Ishida was diagnosed with a chronic illness and lost her corporate job, she thought her life was over. But these challenges ended up being the best thing that ever happened to her because they forced her to take stock of her life and focus on the important things, and enabled her to rediscover sewing – her true passion. Inspired to succeed at just one thing, Ishida vowed to sew all of her daughter’s clothes (and most of her own) for one year. A great read for a crafter!

Who is your hero/heroine? Why?
Matthew, my ASD son, is my hero. Every day he has a positive and happy attitude in an unaccepting world. I am spoilt to have him and his music in my life. Every day he makes me smile and feel joy even when life is incredibly tough for us both.

Tell us about your pets:
My pets can be found protecting our borders. I have “puppy walked” five beagles for the Ministry of Primary Industries. I get great satisfaction knowing I have done my bit toward protecting our diverse and unique environment.


If you were a crafty superhero, what would your name and superpower be?
I would be the superhero who would put a stop to all conflict, all poverty and all hunger. I don’t know if this superhero has a name or has yet been created, but I would be her.

What’s in store for 2017?
Attending a market or two, and finding new colours to excite and inspire me!

Terrie has very kindly offered a lovely prize for one lucky Felt reader of one of her exquisite red Bouquet of Flowers journals (see below). These beautiful re-usable embroidered slip covers are a celebration of cross stitch and natural linen. They’re natural goodness inside and out! Each cover has a large cross stitch emblem on the front, with a smaller design cross stitched on the back, and comes complete with an A6 spiral bound, blank visual journal.

To be in to win this amazing handcrafted prize, simply leave a comment telling us what appeals to you about Terrie’s story and her beautiful Teribear embroidered creations. The draw will be made on Friday 2 December and is open to New Zealand residents only.


Shop now for Christmas at Teribear »


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Nature, culture and symmetry in print: art and textile design by Jill Butler

Monday, July 18th, 2016

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From her home studio in Auckland, Jill Butler designs and screen prints fabric, which she then makes into homewares, accessories and stationery items. Jill used to dream about having a place to sell her work where no door knocking was required, and where she could have total control over the colours, design and pricing of the screen printed products she sells.

The simplicity of having an online shop is really appealing to her. She feels that small business owners, with craft/art businesses, are so lucky now to have the opportunity to sell online. “With the internet and online sales platforms we have a wonderfully simple business structure, where we potentially just make stuff… and sell it. We can focus much more attention on making, rather than trying to gather our courage to knock on the doors to get retail outlets! I also like the direct contact with customers.”

Cosmetic bag by Jill Butler

What do you make?
I am a surface designer and screen printer. Mostly I screen print fabric, using my own designs, which I make into items such as gift cards, cushions, scarves and makeup bags. I also print my designs onto wooden coasters and placemats.

How did you get into your craft?
Years ago I did a two day batik course and fell in love with the idea of being able to put my own designs onto fabric. I was working in a library at the time, feeling really uncertain about what I wanted to do as a career. The excitement of designing fabric took hold and though I have had many other ‘day jobs’… in HR, banking, sales and currently gardening, designing fabric has always been there. Sometimes it has been pushed into the background more than I would have liked, but it has always been the work that has given me the most pleasure.

I fell in love with the idea of being able to put my own designs onto fabric.

After a few years of doing batik, a friend who I shared a studio with showed me the basics of screen printing, and from then on screen printing had me hooked.

Your favourite materials, tools, processes?
My favourite tool is my black pen and a ream of photocopy paper. I love drawing with a black pen. It’s the starting point of all my designing. I like to draw on the photocopy paper because it’s cheap and cheerful. I don’t feel the pressure to make a perfect drawing first up, as I would with more expensive beautiful paper. Mistakes and scribbles are made and abandoned without guilt.


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What inspires you?
I love gardening, and drawing plants and flowers is almost my default setting. But I’m pretty much open to anything. Geometrics have intrigued me in the past, and lately I have been inspired by the designs on old plates, tapestries and Chinese embroidery. These are things just floating around in my head right now and I’m longing to spend some time, pen in hand, seeing where they take me.

Describe your creative process?
Oh dear, I am a bit haphazard… not very methodical. It’s all based on enthusiasm. I get an idea, and go for it. It propels me forward until it’s either finished or I take a wrong turning somewhere and I come to a standstill. At that point if I don’t know what to do next, I put it aside and it can rest… as a drawing or an incomplete piece of work… as I mull… sometimes for months… until the solution appears and I can complete it. So I suppose part of my creative process is letting my subconscious get to work on one project while I get on with another.

As far as the day to day work goes, I’m a list addict. Lists motivate me to get through the work. I love crossing off the things I’ve completed.

Describe your work space
I have a lovely studio that was originally a storeroom at the back of my carport. I am lucky that it has masses of deep built in shelving, sky lights and a concrete floor so I don’t have to worry too much about spills and splatter.

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What other creative projects have you enjoyed working on?
I’m a real fan of the 100 Days Project, where you commit to doing a particular creative thing every day for 100 days. One year I did a doodle a day and the next year I did a small painting a day. Both times I have only managed to get to the 50 day mark, but loved the practice of drawing or painting daily. The organisers have recently announced this year’s start date in August. So I’m thinking about whether to do it again and if so, what my project will be. Perhaps not quite as time consuming as my other two, so that I have a better chance of completing the full 100 days.

Another crafty thing I have done lately is make peg angels. One of my gardening clients gave me a huge box of old lace and trims, which is perfect for their dresses.

What are you currently listening to?
Lately I have become addicted to listening to podcasts and TED talks while I work. There are so many wonderful podcasts out there, but one I have found inspiring recently is a series about living creatively without fear, by Elizabeth Gilbert, called Big Magic. They are podcasts based on the book she wrote by the same name, which I highly recommend to any stuck creatives out there.

As for TED talks, I recently worked my way through the top 10 most popular talks of all time. When I’m designing or writing I prefer silence.

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What’s your favourite childhood book and why?
The Red Balloon, by Albert Lamorrisse. It is the story of a lonely boy in Paris and his friendship with a big red balloon. Based on an award winning film, the book is illustrated with photographs that had been taken while filming. I loved the story, but it was the photographs of old Paris that I adored.

I still have my very old copy of the book and I’ve sometimes thought I’d like to frame some of the photos to hang on my walls. I can’t quite reconcile the thought of cutting up my old book, but maybe I’ll take photos of some of my favourites and do it that way.

What are you reading now?
The Castle on the Hill by Elizabeth Goudge. The story is takes place in London and the Southwest of England during the blitz (1940). It’s a gorgeous, meandering story. The writing and characterisation is superb. But it is the details of what it was like living in England at that time that really sets the book apart, as it was published in 1941, so Elizabeth Goudge was writing about current events, so there is a real authenticity about her descriptions of life at that time.

A favourite quote?
“What you resist persists.” – Carl Jung. So, so true!

Tell us about your pets?
I have a little old lady cat called Whisper. When I got her she was almost a year old and had been abandoned, and by her nervousness I would say she had had some rough treatment. She was for sale in the shop attached to a vet practice in Newmarket, Auckland. The group of vets working there at that time rescued strays and found them homes. I was working nearby, and went in my lunchtime to buy a kitten and came out with Whisper. She was too cute to resist.

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What would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty business?
Trust your instincts! I’m not saying there aren’t times when you need advice and help, but remember you are the expert about your business, about you, about your goals and motivations. Everyone you talk to will have an opinion, but only you have all the facts about you and your business.

What’s in store for the rest of 2016?
I want to hand paint more screens. So basically, more designs, and I want to add to my product range. I’m keen to make more cushions and scarves… and a few Christmassy things towards the end of the year.

Jill has very kindly offered a prize for one lucky Felt reader of a set of her gorgeous white rose coasters (below). These stylish screen printed wooden coasters are varnished four times to protect them, and backed with felt to protect your table. To be in to win this lovely prize, simply leave a comment telling us what you like about Jill’s story and her designs. The draw will be made on Friday 29 July and is open to New Zealand residents only.

See more from Jill Butler on Felt »

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What is the most important thing in the world? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata.

Monday, July 4th, 2016

Auckland-based social enterprise Tat Upcycle has a kaupapa of supporting its community members through proactive, holistic recovery and respect for Papatuanuku Mother Earth. Started by Hone Pene and Walter Marsters, and now joined by Dalton Neho and Joe Moana, the organisation diverts waste from landfill and offers a positive pathway for those recovering from addiction.

Tat Upcycle is 100% committed to a zero waste philosophy, environmental outcomes, and a healthy, happy community.

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Hone Pene is a founder of Tat Upcycle and also tends to the seedlings in the organisation’s nursery, Tat Community Native Nursery.

Hone, how did you begin?

On 5 June 2013 I rang my brother seeking help for my personal problems with alcohol and drug addiction. My brother Rawiri encouraged me to participate in the twelve step recovery programme of AA and NA. Since that time my journey and my life has changed: today my life – with the support of the fellowship of recovery, and the higher power of my understanding – is committed to recovery and working with and supporting other community members in their journey from addiction.

Tat Upcycle (Recovery First) is a sustainable environmental business that has come about because of our journey of recovery. We are grateful for the support from Eco Matters Trust, Auckland City Council, Henderson Massey community board, Community Waitakere, Hoani Waititi Marae and our local Iwis, Te Kawerau A Maki and Ngati Whatua, also of course the Drug Court whose participants come here doing community hours almost every day now.

Our aim is to provide meaningful work experience with an environmental focus: recovery of the people, recovery of Papatuanuku, recovery of these thrown away items that would otherwise end up in landfill for our tamariki and mokopuna to deal with in the future.

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What inspires you?

What inspires me is seeing not just the individuals who have turned their lives around through Recovery First, but also the mums and dads and children of those individuals’ whanau oranga. (Families in recovery, cool aye?)

What’s in store for the rest of 2016?

We are excited about what may happen for the rest of 2016! Tat-Upcycle will continue to develop and promote our environmental planter boxes (all made from recycled, heat treated pallets kindly donated by Saint Gobaine). We are also in korero with Housing NZ about how we may provide our eco-planter boxes to promote growing healthy kai food for whanau and families in State Housing. We’re also working with Auckland City Council on providing up-cycled furniture (i.e. work stations, meeting and lunch room tables and chairs) built from recycled, upcycled materials that would otherwise be dumped in the landfill.

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Dalton Neho, whose working life has included carpentry and upholstery, joined Tat Upcycle last year and has added to their offer of planter boxes with his one off furniture and art creations featured on Felt, and all made from up-cycled materials. Dalton has an eye and the skills to create beauty from, well, garbage!

Dalton, how did you get into this?

Watching my dad! He had a trucking business. In the weekends he was always making things out of found stuff, rubbish I guess, and welded together bits and pieces. He made us TV cabinets, bbq tables, he built everything for us. I watched him do that and I grew up with a natural passion for making things. Tat Upcycle began by the humble pallet. I was collecting the piled up pallets on the side of the road because my sister wanted some firewood, then Hone turned up and said he was trying to start a programme for drug court participants building planter boxes from them. So we had a chat and then we started working together. I showed them what I could do and that was the beginning.

What inspires you?

Nature, I love the way a tree grows with its curves, shapes I like shapes… Also steel, I like the strength of it and the beauty because it can be so thin but so strong.

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Joe Moana is in charge of creating Tat-Upcycle’s awesome planter boxes.

Joe, how did you get into your craft?

This is new to me! I was taught by Hone and I’m now working alongside Dalton. I’m learning from him too.

What are your favourite tools?

I like the drop saw, big drills, planer, jigsaw… all the things that make noise! I don’t like the hammer, ha ha!

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And last but not least there’s Walter Marsters (on the left, below), the smiling operations manager, who keeps an eye on health and safety at all times. All the products created in Tat Upcycle’s workshop have to pass his stringent quality checks. He keeps the team rolling – there are a lot of laughs in the workshop with a crew that’s happy to be there every day and excited for the future.


Purchase the wonderful work of Tat Upcycle here »


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Whoop whoop! The General Collective is back this Saturday

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

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Auckland crafties, get your skates on and wheel on over to Ponsonby Central this Saturday, because the General Collective Winter Market will be there too!

In an inspired collaboration between these two awesome Auckland institutions, hand-picked Kiwi creatives will be showcasing their high quality work in a fabulous setting.

Cosy up in the indoor market and enjoy all the goodies the General Collective offers, then pop downstairs to the eateries of Ponsonby Central to enjoy a bite to eat, or meet friends for an afternoon drink. What a great excuse to get out of the house on a wintery day!

It’s all happening this Saturday, 25 June, from 10am to 2pm in the Sapphire Room (upstairs), The Lane, Ponsonby Central, 136-138 Ponsonby Road, and admission is free. Find out more here.