Posts Tagged ‘kids’

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.

smallandloud
smallandloud

Bear-white-background blog

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.

Joanna-sewing-small blog

Small_Loud-masks-in-progress blog

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.

Small_Loud-studio blog

Small_Loud-Kakapo blog

smallandloud nz birds blog

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.

smallandloud ruru blog

Kakapo-white-background blog

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 »

 

Small_Loud-masks-on-display blog

Craft adds up!

Wednesday, June 14th, 2017

Christchurch Maths Craft Day, Sunday 18 June

Here’s something for the geeky crafters out there – or is that crafty geeks?

Discover the maths behind craft and the craft behind maths at Christchurch’s first Maths Craft Day, Sunday June 18 in The Great Hall at The Arts Centre.

Featuring seven craft creation stations as well as public talks by mathematician crafters, the day-long celebration of maths promises to engage people of all ages. Make a Möbius strip, crochet a hyperbolic plane, build a fractal sculpture, fold an origami octahedron, and listen to talks about the connections between maths and crafts.

While you’re at The Arts Centre, why not also explore the newly opened Teece Museum of Classical Antiquities in the old Chemistry Building (now once again part of the University of Canterbury, housing the Classics Department) and discover the ancient relationship between mathematics and craftsmanship?

Christchurch Maths Craft Day is open to everyone: experts and amateurs, maths-fans and maths-phobes, the crafty and the curious.

Date: Sunday June 18
Time: 10am–5pm
Place: The Great Hall at The Arts Centre
Cost: Free entry
More information: mathscraftnz.org

Christchurch Maths Craft Day, Sunday 18 June

Crafty projects for the kids’ rooms

Monday, May 8th, 2017

Looking for a new crafty project? Need a way to brighten up the kids’ rooms this winter? We have the answer! Check out this awesome new range of faux taxidermy PDF patterns from Cupcake Cutie

cupcakecutie deer

cupcakecutie flamingo

cupcakecutie dino

 

See more Cupcake Cutie characters here »

 

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 »

 

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.

mimiandrufus

honeynspice

makingit
crazycrayons
supervery
keepers

aviva

inkandthread
objectify
deansworkshop
sandrawaine

fatspatula

 

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

See more gifts for children »

 

alexoandco

A rainbow of natural play dough!

Monday, July 18th, 2016

Natural Play Dough - Gorgeous Yellow by Dough Queen

Auckland’s Dough Queen Claire Shannon makes her natural non-toxic play dough based on the recipe her mother used to make play dough for her as a child. It’s produced with food grade ingredients you can find in your own kitchen, so if someone takes a nibble, there’s no need to panic.

The best little play dough artists need a varied palette and a good amount to work with, so Dough Queen play dough comes in 500g resealable pouches in a range of gorgeous hues. Great for rainy days, school holidays, and creative play!

Natural Play Dough – Candy Red by Dough Queen
Natural Play Dough – Luxury Grape by Dough Queen
Natural Play Dough - Apple Green by Dough Queen
Natural Play Dough - Cerulean Blue by Dough Queen

 

Buy a rainbow of play dough from Dough Queen »

 

Awesome active play for indoor days

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

Here’s a fun, furniture-friendly, indoor activity for the kids on a winter’s day. Created 4 U’s indoor bowling set comes with six colourful pins, made from quality wool blend felt, and a hefty felt ball for knocking ‘em over. Strike!

created4u blog

 

Browse more Created 4 U felt toys here »

 

For the young Amelia Earhart

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

Adventure is worthwhile in itself.

operaticfrog blog

 

More adventurous hats from Operatic Frog »

 

Perfect for a hop around the garden!

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

Woodland bunny wool bonnet by Heart Felt

Jannelle of Heart Felt makes these gorgeous bonnets from vintage, retro and recycled wool and cotton fabrics. This little sweetie is a woodland bunny wool bonnet that ties under the chin. It’s made from gray wool lined in a delicate floral cotton, and the floppy ears feature a beautiful piece of vintage embroidery. So beautiful!

 

Order from Heart Felt on Felt »

 

A sweet appliqué owl for your little pixie

Saturday, May 21st, 2016

OOAK Vintage Wool Pixie-Hood Vest by Pixie Petal

This gorgeous thick wool vest in pastel orange tones has a fabulous owl applique on the back – easy to spot your little pixie on the playground in this one! It’s designed by Pixie on a Petal, with a generous fit to last your child multiple seasons. The detachable pixie-hood is lined with thick quilt-weight cotton to keep little heads toasty.

OOAK Vintage Wool Pixie-Hood Vest by Pixie Petal

OOAK Vintage Wool Pixie-Hood Vest by Pixie Petal

 

Order from Pixie on a Petal on Felt »