Posts Tagged ‘gifts for children’

A person’s a person, no matter how small!

Thursday, August 3rd, 2017

bradbury blog

Awesome children’s height chart carved in whitewashed recycled rimu, now available from BradburyNZ here on Felt.

 

Purchase one for your growing person »

 

Simplify to Amplify: thoughtful, imaginative play from Small & Loud

Monday, July 3rd, 2017

Joanna of Small & Loud says “As a child I always imagined having my own business, selling my own handmade crafty things. Funny how things work out!” The inspiration for her business was formed when hunting for a birthday present for her nephew. Unable to find something satisfactory that was light to post, would encourage imaginative play, and wouldn’t just add clutter to his bedroom, she hit on making her own animal masks. The name Small & Loud is a tribute to both the animals and the kids that inspire her work. :-)

Joanna-portrait blog

What do you make?
I make felt animal masks for kids’ pretend play and dress-ups.

How did you get into your craft?
My mum taught me to how to use her sewing machine when I was about four years old, so as long as I can remember I’ve been sewing bits and pieces. Then when my husband and I moved to Christchurch in 2015, I struggled to find work. To bring in some income, I started sewing a few things and selling them at the New Brighton Seaside Market. The masks were my most popular product so they became my focus – it grew from there.

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Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
I learned a lot of sewing techniques from my mum and step-mum, and everything else is self-taught. At Otago Uni I majored in Marketing and Design Studies, so the design side has definitely had an influence.

Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
I love the vivid colours of felt. My favourite tool is my Elna sewing machine – it’s the same machine I learned to sew on. My mum had it refurbished and sent it down to Dunedin for my 20th birthday, which was an awesome surprise. I have another newer machine, but always prefer the old Elna.

Tell us about the techniques involved in producing one of your masks:
The first step is cutting out all the felt pieces. I started out cutting all the pieces out by hand, but it became too time consuming. I’ve now invested in a laser-cutter, which my husband Richard is in charge of. He’s an architectural designer, and uses his CAD skills to turn my paper patterns into cutting files. He’s spent a lot of time getting the settings just right – every colour of felt cuts differently because of the way it absorbs the light of the laser.

Once everything is cut, I glue the detail pieces to the front piece of each mask. The glue is just strong enough to hold everything in place while I sew. I usually sew in batches of six masks at a time. When I’ve finished all the front details of each mask, I glue and pin the front and back together and stitch all the way around the edge and around the eyes. At this point, most of my masks are ready to be sent out, but some need a few finishing details. The cat gets whiskers sewn on, and the ears of the rabbit are folded over and stitched down at the very end too.

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What inspires you?
For my mask designs, almost every cute animal I see inspires me. I just saw the most adorable video of a baby elephant chasing birds, so an elephant mask might be next on my list! I also get excited by beautiful, functional design and attention to detail.

Is there a philosophy behind your work?
The first mask I made was a birthday present for my nephew Nate. I wanted a gift that was light to post and that would encourage good old-fashioned play, and wasn’t a typical toy that would add to the clutter in his bedroom. My philosophy has stayed the same since then – I want to make things that encourage imaginary play, creativity and learning.

Describe your creative process:
After I’ve decided on an animal that I want to create as a mask, the first thing I do is look at a lot of close up photos of the face of that animal. I decided early on that I didn’t want my masks to be overly cutesy or cartoon-like, so by looking at photos I make sure that I’m beginning with a realistic base.

Next I start sketching a design, using an existing mask pattern as a template. I create at least three paper prototypes, making small adjustments as I go. Once I’m happy with the design, I give it to Richard to draw up in CAD. He’ll cut one set of pieces, and I sew a felt prototype. Sometimes the felt prototype throws up practical issues and we make changes. But if everything works, then it’s officially in production! I always try the masks on too.

Describe your workspace:
My studio is a sleep-out in the back corner of our property – I shot-gunned it before we even bought the house. A big, high wooden cutting table (which was a bargain on TradeMe) takes up most of the space. It’s so good to be able to stand and work without leaning over a low table. Underneath the table is chockablock with materials, tools and other crafty things. I have shelving for my fabrics, an ironing board and a small desk for my sewing machine. My two favourite things in the studio are the blackboard wall for writing up orders, and the pegboard for organising my tools. I love being in my studio, it’s a great space to work in.

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Small_Loud-Kakapo blog

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Five words that describe your mind:
Curious. Chaotic. Creative. Critical. Clever.

Your favourite feedback from a customer:
Recently a customer bought a fox mask as a gift and let me know that the birthday boy was “wearing it around the house and making fox noises.” That makes me really happy – to know that children are enjoying the masks and using their imagination.

What’s your favourite childhood book and why?
The first one that comes to mind is Jillian Jiggs. I can still remember the rhyme – “Jillian Jillian Jillian Jiggs, it looks like your room has been lived in by pigs.” Being a creative child, I always had multiple projects on the go and rarely tidied up in between, and mum was always on at me to clean my room. I haven’t changed – my cutting table is usually covered in stuff, and so is the floor.

What are you reading now?
I’m reading The Power of Less by Leo Babauta. I work full time as a Marketing Coordinator so I have to make time for Small & Loud during my evenings and weekends. As my business grows, life is getting busier so I’m learning how to achieve more by doing less.

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A favourite quote:
My mantra at the moment is a Marie Forleo quote – “Simplify to Amplify.” I’d just started to read The Power of Less when I watched a Marie TV video that talked about similar principles. It works for so many things in life.

Tell us about your pets:
We have a very fluffy, ginger and grey tabby named Alfred. He was a rescue from the Cats Protection League Canterbury, and is full of character. He’ll usually follow me out to my studio and either sit in the sun or by the heater. As soon as I vacate my seat in front of the sewing machine, Alfred often claims that spot too.

What would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty business?
Keep at it! Building a business from scratch isn’t easy, but you will make progress. Also be prepared to put a fair bit of money in before you get any out. The labour content for handmade items is usually high, so being efficient with time will help a lot. If you’re doing something you love, it’s all worth it.

What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
I bought a gorgeous Agate keyring here on Felt, from Dr Druzy. I was attracted to the deep purple colour and the rawness of the stone.

What’s in store for the rest of 2017?
I’ve got a lot of new masks in the pipeline, including more New Zealand birds. I’m planning to expand my product range beyond masks too. Watch this space!

Prize draw!
Joanna has kindly offered a great prize for one lucky Felt reader of your choice of any two masks from her Felt shop (includes postage,total value $55.00). To be in to win this awesome combo, simply leave a comment telling us what you like about Joanna’s story and her creations. The draw will be made on Friday 14 July and is open to New Zealand residents only.

 

Purchase from Small & Loud now »

 

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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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Cool cat

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

Meet Tom. He’s a dapper fellow and he’s just one of the very personable bunch from Saskia’s Studio, looking for a home.

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Visit Saskia’s Studio now »

 

Traditional toys made to last for generations

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

Traditional Wooden Train Set by Tekton Toys

Daniel of Tekton Toys handcrafts traditional wooden toys in his Christchurch workshop, following a simple philosophy of no paint and no plastic. His toys are made using good quality hardwoods – walnut, oak, kauri, kwila and ash – and constructed to last for generations, with a natural beeswax finish.

We think Tekton Toys’ pull along toys make a gorgeous gift for a first or second birthday, while the sturdy trains, planes and automobiles make great gifts for toddlers through to school age children, encouraging creative play and feeding young imaginations.

Traditional Wooden Spitfire Plane by Tekton Toys

Traditional Wooden Pull-Along Duck by Tekton Toys

 

See more traditional toys from Tekton Toys »

 

Sleep tight, don’t let the little fish bite?

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

Check out these awesome baby fish sleep sacks from Sarah Stoute! We promise they’re a lot friendlier than Jaws. :-)

Available in a range of colours, these fully lined and wadded, super-comfy sleeping bags are a metre long and have a side zip opening. Snap one up today!

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Super stockings and Santa sacks – and the best goodies to fill ‘em with

Saturday, December 10th, 2016

Helping Santa out this year? We’ve picked out some quality New Zealand made stockings, Santa sacks and goodies to fill them – perfect little surprises for the wee ones on Christmas morning.

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honeynspice

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crazycrayons
supervery
keepers

aviva

inkandthread
objectify
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Check out more stockings, Santa sacks, and fillers in the Felt Christmas Gift Guide »

See more gifts for children »

 

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Well crafted gifts for the little people in your life

Thursday, November 24th, 2016

Bullseye, a one-of-a-kind heirloom hobby horse by Nobel Steed

There’s nothing quite like well crafted gifts for the little people in your life – they have heart and soul that mass produced toys just can’t compete with. We’ve picked out a bunch of cute and colourful creations for kids in our Gifts for Children gift guide.

Gifts for children

1 Unicorn by Jane Dunn | 2 Giant wooden truck by Hebe Kids | 3 Fabric wings by Hello Fallow | 4 Wooden triceratops by The Elves and the Woodbotherer | 5 Cloth handmade doll by Zealous Design

 

Peruse the Felt Christmas Gift Guide »

Check out the Felt Christmas Catalogue on Issuu »

 

Who says kiwis can’t fly?

Saturday, August 13th, 2016

Kiwi Flyer Balsa Plane by Glenn Jones

A balsa wood flying glider shaped as a kiwi – who said kiwis can’t fly! Pop it out and slot together in seconds to see this balsa bird fly.

Made by Auckland artist Glenn Jones, the concept is based on one of his original art prints. The Kiwi Flyer is designed and screenprinted in New Zealand onto imported sustainable Auszac Eco Balsa.

 

Order your Kiwi Flyer now!

 

Introducing Felt Babies & Children emails

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

Subscribe to Felt Babies & Children emails

Love New Zealand made for your little ones (or in constant need of gifts for small friends and relations)? Get handpicked selections from our Babies & Children section delivered straight to your inbox! Click here to subscribe to Felt Babies & Children emails or customise your email settings here »

Capped Sleeve Cardigan in Grey Marl by Mum of Twins
Reversible Fabric Headband "Circus Animal" by Sew Mama
I Spy Bag - Colourful Geometric by The Makery
Wooden Blocks by Oh Deer and Co

 

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