Posts Tagged ‘home and living’

More than cold comfort

Thursday, May 18th, 2017

Achoo! Achoo! We’ve got some cold and flu comfort for you

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Don’t get caught out! Make sure you’ve got your Cold & Flu rub from Hayley Benseman now.

Happy Star Wars Day!

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

May the fourth be with you. :-)

yhodesign blog

A soup-erb set

Thursday, April 20th, 2017

We love this gorgeous ceramic set from Makerie Ceramics. Made to order from glazed white earthenware with New Zealand beach sand folded through, it’s the perfect way to enjoy a homemade soup supper.

makerieceramics blog

 

See more from Makerie Ceramics here »

 

Craft, science and skincare: the Fair & Square soap making story

Monday, April 10th, 2017

Carly of Fair & Square makes natural soaps using the traditional cold process technique. She and her husband (with their two children aged 8 months and 2 years) live near Ngunguru (Tutukaka Coast, Northland) on a small lifestyle block where they have built a lovely little “eco/passive solar/off the grid” home. She’s a full time mum, and manages to fit in making her soaps from her kitchen in between looking after the kids, animals, and gardens!

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How did you get into your craft?
I was given a soap making kit as a gift about eight years ago, and was instantly hooked. I love that soap making combines chemistry with art.

Do you have formal training or qualification in your craft?
No. I quit all math and science classes at school as soon as I had the chance and never once imagined that chemistry would be in my future. I do a lot of research online into various things, including aromatherapy, different properties of oils, butters and how they react when turned into soap. In every batch of soap I make, I learn something new, and get a better feel of how the soap batter is behaving and why. Like any craft you never really stop learning and evolving.

Your favourite tools, materials and processes?
My all time favourite tool is a little hand held leather bound soap beveller. I like to bevel the edges of my soaps so that they glide smoothly from the very first use. After un-moulding the soap and cutting into bars, I run the beveller over all the sharp edges. It is monotonous and repetitive and I love it! The beveller sits so easy in the hand, and the texture and feel of the soap being peeled away is so calming and wonderfully meditative.

I also couldn’t work without my trusty old stick blender! I’ve had her from the very start of my soap making and she has helped to create every single batch of soap I have made. I never thought I would ever come to have feelings for a kitchen appliance, but this old Betty slowly and steadily whizzed her way into my heart.

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Tell us about the techniques in producing your soap:
For a product that most of us use on a daily basis, very few people know what soap is and how it is made. True soap is created by the chemical reaction (saponification) that occurs when you mix lye (sodium hydroxide) and fats (animal or vegetable origin). It’s as simple as that.

Lye was traditionally made with hardwood ash and water, but was notoriously difficult to get right. The joy of modern soap making is that we can purchase lye that gives us reliable results every time. Lye is extremely caustic/alkaline on its own, but through the magic of chemistry (by combining lye with fats) an entirely new substance is created. In a saponified bar of soap there will be no trace of lye in it.

To produce a nice moisturising bar of soap, I add an extra 7-8% of oils to my recipe that aren’t bound up in the saponification, and so are floating around in the bar, free to love on your skin.

I create my recipes using a range of oils and butters that bring different values to the bar of soap. Some oils create a dense lather (castor) while others provide wonderful moisturising properties (avocado, olive). Coconut oil is a main ingredient in all my bars and helps to create a nice hard, long lasting bar with lots of fluffy bubbles. It is a constant juggle and balancing act to get the perfect combination of oils and create the ultimate soap bar.

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Once the mixture is poured into the moulds, it needs to sit for 24-36 hours before being solid enough to remove from the moulds. Then the soap logs sit for a further 24 hours before cutting and bevelling. Once they are all dressed up, the bars sit for a further 6 weeks to create a lovely mild, long lasting bar that is heaven for your skin.

A bi-product of soap is glycerine, which is produced naturally during the saponification process. Glycerine is a humectant and so draws moisture from the environment to your skin. This means your skin feels hydrated and soft after the wash. In commercial soaps, the manufacturers remove this glycerine and use it to make higher value products like moisturisers, meaning the soap is super drying and harsh on your skin. In fact, many commercial ‘soaps’ are not true soaps at all, rather a combination of chemical detergents, artificial lathering agents and toxic chemicals. Considering the average person uses soap ten times a day- this is something we should be more wary of!

What inspires you?
I love both the simplicity and complexity of nature. I enjoy being able to experiment with ingredients from the natural world, and am especially captivated by the aromatherapy enigma. Coming up with new blends of essential oils that actually work and smell amazing is an ongoing quest. When I smell certain scents in nature, my thoughts instantly turn to soap and how I can capture that memory and recreate it in bubble form.

My fellow soap makers, who are forever raising the bar, (We see what you did there. – Ed.) also inspire me. I love following artisan soap makers on Instagram with their amazing creations. I have tried out many different techniques from things I’ve spotted through social media and YouTube instructional videos.

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Is there a philosophy behind your work?
I aim to provide a little bit of luxury in peoples everyday lives. I wanted to create an experience that all my customers can not only enjoy, but also be sure that it is truly good for them. It’s near impossible today to get away from all the nasties in our world, and with a beauty industry heaving with products, I wanted to create something simple, honest and beautiful.

I choose to use therapeutic essential oils rather than synthetic fragrance oils because I believe that what nature has to offer is so remarkable, and I want to celebrate the splendour of these natural ingredients. I want to provide my family and friends and customers with a product that I am proud to put my name to and that is a joy to use.

In our throw-away culture, single use plastics (shampoo/body wash/liquid soap bottles etc.) are piling up in our landfills and making their way into our oceans and that’s just not ok, so all my packaging is cardboard and completely biodegradable. My packaging is 100% compostable, and in fact they work really well as seed raising pots that you can plant directly into the soil.

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Describe your workspace:
I create my soaps at home, between the kitchen and the laundry. I call it a laundry but it has very little laundry hardware in there. We are in the process of building our home and the laundry isn’t finished yet, and so I have commandeered it for my soap workshop. At any one time I would have 500 or so bars of soap curing in racks and shelving, along with buckets of oils, bottles of essential oils, containers of clays and other natural additives and tools. It’s quite the mess. My goal is to have a designated soap workshop where I can create and store all my work tucked away in my soapy haven.

Five words that describe your mind:
Obsessive, motivated, dedicated, scrambled, and very much sleep deprived!

Your favourite feedback from a customer:
I get so much lovely feedback from my customers; it gives me goosebumps to know that something I have created brings joy to peoples lives. Comments such as “Best smelling amazing soaps LOVE LOVE LOVE!” and “Best handmade soap ever, leave your body feeling amazing” and “This soap is DIVINE” just reinforce that I am on the right track.

What are you listening to?
An audiobook called: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. It’s super interesting, and if you haven’t discovered the joy of audiobooks – you need to!

Recommend a book:
The Passage by Justin Cronin. It’s a dystopian fantasy, but don’t let that put you off! It’s easily the best book (it’s actually a trilogy) I’ve read in a long time. I couldn’t put it away (get it on audio and you’ll be finding any excuse you can to listen, including doing the dishes, weeding the garden, painting the house… All those monotonous jobs are suddenly very appealing when it means you can listen to your book!)

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Recommend an album:
If you have children and value your sanity, then you can’t go past Anna Van Riels’ Cooking Up a Song. It’s super catchy and cute and you’ll find yourself singing along in no time. It is perfect for the car; it will stop meltdowns in their tracks. It’s a kids’ album that is actually really enjoyable for parents too.

What’s your favourite childhood book?
There’s a sea in my bedroom. I loved the illustrations and the utter joy at imagining having the real sea to play with in your bedroom. My daughter loves this book now too (I have the same copy from when I was a little girl), so any book that spans generations has got to be a goodie.

Who is your hero and why?
I’ve got to say that my husband is my hero. He’s dedicated, extremely hard working and he adores our kids. He is also exceptionally talented in making stuff (including our beautiful home). He is a creative genius and is forever dreaming up (and building) innovative projects that are both beautiful and functional. He also tolerates it when I bring home yet another animal, raise baby chicks in our bathroom, or bottle-feed orphaned baby guinea pigs that the cat brought in. He’s a keeper.

A favourite quote:
“Love her, but leave her wild.” – Atticus.

Tell us about your pets:
Our indoor pets include Levi the Italian greyhound, Charlie the border collie and Moss and Hazel; Persian x fluffball cats. Outside we have Honey, our milking cow, Marmite, Copper and Porsha (horses), Tinkerbell and Petal (mini ponies), a few free ranging guinea pigs, ducks and countless chickens.

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If you were a crafty superhero what would your name and superpower be?
I would be Bubbles McWitchypants! Bubbles can collect and store therapeutic aromas from plants and use them to manipulate the emotions of her fellow humans. Bubbles could be the best weapon for peace the world has ever seen. Her specialty would be infiltrating terrorist groups to sooth their rage and anger with her herbal potions. Then they would all decide to go and take a nice afternoon nap rather than blowing each other to pieces.

Advice for those starting out a crafty business:
Create your brand, and live it. Don’t compromise on quality. Have a very clear philosophy about why you are in business and follow your heart. I think the best small businesses are true to their creator and this is one thing that helps to make them so successful.

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Favourite handmade item:
I couldn’t be without my Japanese vegetable knife lovingly handcrafted by the super talented Peter Lorimer of Omakau. I use it every single time I cook. The bone handle sits with absolute precision in my hand and it is weighted to perfection. I will be one very happy mumma the day I have replaced all of my random knives with a simple and stunning set of Peter’s masterpieces.

What’s in store for 2017:
I have so many ideas crashing around inside my foggy mind that it’s hard to pin down exactly what I will end up doing this year. These include a shaving soap in a handmade ceramic refillable bowl, beer soaps made from local craft beers, naturally scented bath bombs, solid moisturising bars, natural candles and melts, probiotic solid-bar deodorant and essential oil massage blends. First and foremost, I will be spending all the time I can hanging out with our kids. In the greater scheme of things, they are the most important part of my day and I intend on soaking up as much of them as I can. So, in saying that, it is entirely probable that I don’t achieve any of my business goals this year. Or next year. But eventually, I will have a little more time to push my business and see where it will take me.

As a special treat for Felt customers for the next two months Carly is offering a whopping 30% off all Fair & Square products bought through Felt!

Enter the voucher code DIRTY30 at checkout to claim your discount. :-)

 

Purchase from Fair & Square here »

 

Carly

A rainy day solution from Tree Essence

Thursday, April 6th, 2017

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These practical and funky drying racks from Tree Essence are the perfect electricity-saving way to get those towels dry in all this rainy weather. Hoist them up to the ceiling to dry your washing in no time – they come with everything you need to hang them: two standard pulleys, ceiling hangers, white rope for up to a three metre ceiling, a wall cleat and rope saddle guides.

Your rainy day or garden-less clothes drying solution! Available in two sizes, small and large.

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Some bunny will love this

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

How could this chap fail to bring a smile to your face? Sandra of The Felted Room makes her characterful and colourful cushions from sustainable or recycled materials. They make a perfect gift and look great in any setting, from nursery to lounge.

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See more from The Felted Room »

 

A pinch of this, a dash of that…

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

We love these beautiful pinch pots from Gwyneth Hulse Design, hand-turned from New Zealand Tōtara and finished with food-safe tung oil and beeswax polish. They’re perfect for holding salt, pepper, or spices, or as pots for rings and earrings.

Purchase yours today!

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Beautiful Pacific-inspired homewares from Deep Green Inc

Monday, March 20th, 2017

Deep Green Inc brings textures of Aotearoa and the Pacific to life through a love of textiles and design. These gorgeous homewares make use of woven flax, feathers, paua shell, dying techniques, hand drawn designs, and beautiful 100% New Zealand wool.

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Purchase from Deep Green Inc today »

 

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Instant room makeover!

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

Feather wall decals by Sticky Tiki

Wall decals are a great way to give any room an instant makeover, and we love these fabulous feathers from Sticky Tiki. A design collaboration with New Zealand artist Shireen Myers, they are printed on durable reusable decal fabric, so you can arrange and rearrange them however you like, and they won’t rip, wrinkle or damage your space.

Feather wall decals by Sticky Tiki

 

See more wall decal designs from Sticky Tiki »

 

Ditching plastic for a sweet alternative: the Auckland business minding their own beeswax

Monday, February 27th, 2017

Auckland friends Tara, Jo and Amy share a love for the environment and a desire to create positive change. Three years ago they came up with a business plan that could change the face of packed lunches, picnics, and barbeques around the country – Jo shares the story and philosophy behind their business, Honeywrap.

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What do you make?
We make reusable food wraps. Honeywraps are 100% organic cotton covered with beeswax, tree resin and jojoba oil. This perfect combination makes the cloth tacky which can then be shaped over your food and dishes designed to keep your food fresh and your conscience free! Honeywrap is great for wrapping cheeses, lunches, leftovers, salads, snacks on the run and much more.

How did you get into your craft?
Three years ago a school project and a midlife crisis prompted the beginnings of Honeywrap. We were all ready for a career change and over a few wines decided we’d start our own business focusing on something that was good for the planet. The idea we were all immediately drawn to was a school project one of our kids had been involved in, using beeswax covered fabric as an alternative to plastic foodwrap.

We have always tried to do our bit for the environment so it was exciting to find something that was easy to use, reduced waste, was functional and we all believed could make a difference. When we couldn’t find anywhere in NZ to buy them, we decided to make them ourselves. After months researching, testing, failing and many laughs, Honeywrap was born.

Honeywrap natural reuseable food wrap

Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
Nope, we just did a lot of research and called on 5th form science to get the right combo of ingredients then after months of trial and error, came up with the magic formula!

Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
We love the organic fabric and the beeswax as they are both natural materials which is great when we are surrounded by so much plastic in our lives. We felt strongly about using organic cotton as we didn’t want the fabric we used to be laden with pesticides and then covering food. The aroma of beeswax wafting through our workspace is an added bonus.

Tell us a bit about the techniques involved in producing your wraps
Our mix is sticky and hot when it goes on the fabric, so the main skill required is being quick so that the right amount of wax goes on – not too much and not too little!

Leaving the planet in better shape for our kids underlies everything we do and is really important to us.

What inspires you?
We love being in nature and keeping our planet pristine is the whole reason we do this, so I guess nature inspires us. We have just got some new designers on board for our next fabric range and their designs are strongly influenced by nature. We gave a broad brief of ocean, forest and city garden and can’t wait to see what they come up with.

Is there a philosophy behind your work?
Leaving the planet in better shape for our kids underlies everything we do and is really important to us.

Describe your workspace:
Cluttered, and slightly hectic! But we work from home, there’s lots of natural light and big windows looking out to the garden, which makes for a lovely calm vibe.

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Tara at work in the Honeywrap workshop

Five words that describe your mind:
There are three of us, and our minds are all really different in some ways but we are all idealistic dreamers who are sure we can change the way people live.

Your favourite feedback from a customer:
Lots of people email us or message us to say that they have ditched plastic wrap for good, which we always love hearing.

What are you currently listening to?
Weekend Hangouts on Spotify always has super cruisey tunes.

Recommend an album:
London Grammar “If you wait” is great.

What’s your favourite childhood book and why?
“The Magic Faraway Tree” by Enid Blyton I was forever climbing trees as a kid, and I think I was always half expecting to find another world the higher I climbed.

Honeywrap Natural Reusable Food Wrap

What are you reading now?
“The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern – it is such a great escape into an entirely different, magical world. So imaginative and well written.

Who is your hero/heroine? Why?
Leonardo DiCaprio produced a great documentary called “Before the Flood” on climate change – so he’s a bit of a hero is our eyes. We also follow a lot of ordinary people on Instagram who live these amazing simple, waste free, organic lives – always inspiring.

Share a favourite quote:
“Each one of us can make a difference, together we make change” – Barbara Mihulski

What would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty business?
Do something or make something you love. That way it all feels worthwhile when it gets ridiculously busy and chaotic!

What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
A beautiful brass and wooden triple candle holder by Nannestad & Sons. I loved the simplicity of it and had to have it!

What’s in store for 2017?
We’ve just teamed up with a couple of very talented designers/artists who are currently designing a new range for us that celebrates the beauty of the planet we live on…more details will be released soon!

Tara, Jo and Amy have set up a special offer for Felt fans! Until the end of March, use the code FELT17 at checkout, and for every 3 pack (small, medium, large) purchased you’ll receive a free medium Honeywrap worth $12.

And for one lucky reader, they have a Honeywrap 3 Pack to give away! To be in to win this eco-friendly prize, leave a comment telling us what appeals to you about the Honeywrap story. The draw will be made on Friday 10 March and is open to New Zealand residents only.

Honeywrap natural reusable food wrap

 

Order your Honeywrap now »