Posts Tagged ‘kitchen and dining’

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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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.

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See more from Makerie Ceramics here »

 

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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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.

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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 »

 

Friday finds

Friday, December 9th, 2016

Hand carved driftwood handle and recycled copper penny spoon by Jax Jewels

Speckled ceramic short spoon by Makerie NZ

Handcrafted copper and brass serving spoons by Brightonmine

Rimu salt spoon by Wood U Like

Hand carved wooden spoon by Spoons on Tiki

Hand carved driftwood handle and recycled copper penny spoon by Jax Jewels | Speckled ceramic short spoon by Makerie NZ | Handcrafted copper and brass serving spoons by Brightonmine | Rimu salt spoon by Wood U Like | Hand carved wooden spoon by Spoons on Tiki

The handmade home: gifts for domestic gods and goddesses

Sunday, December 4th, 2016

Every domestic deity appreciates the value of beautifully made belongings, so Felt is the perfect place to find Christmas gifts for them. Plus, every item on Felt is made right here in Aotearoa, so you know you’re getting something special.

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Check out our curated collection of gifts for domestic goddesses and gods in the Felt Christmas Gift Guide today!

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1. Wire-patterned glass coasters by E-Fusion | 2. Looped macrame hanger by Crafted | 3. Ceramic salad bowl by Stephen Robertson | 4. Produce bags by The Rubbish Whisperer | 5. Dutch canal house cheese boards by Nannestad & Sons

 

Peruse the Felt Christmas Gift Guide »

Check out the Felt Christmas Catalogue on Issuu »

 

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Snap, crackle, and pop!

Saturday, October 29th, 2016

We’re in love with the vibrant crackle and colour of the crockery of Nelson potter Stephen Robertson. How would these be for the perfect Christmas breakfast set?

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Purchase from Stephen Robertson on Felt »

 

The Boss of spring cleaning

Sunday, October 9th, 2016

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Bruce Springclean hand screened teatowel by Plum Jam. Purchase yours here!

Stephen Robertson Pottery

Tuesday, September 6th, 2016

We’re in love with the amazing depth of colour in this elegant crockery from Nelson potter Stephen Robertson. A full time potter since 2013, Stephen makes pottery that is meant to be used and enjoyed. His work has a signature intricate crazing to the glaze, highlighted by the rich colour and deep black rims on each piece.

See more of Stephen’s beautiful pottery here.

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Just in time for Father’s Day

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

These beautiful, sculptural platters and serving boards are fresh to Felt this week, and if you’re quick you can nab one for Dad in time for Father’s Day! Don’t delay – pick your favourite from Rudie Verhoef’s range today.

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