Posts Tagged ‘recycling’

Inspired by nature, crafted with skill: turning for spinners from Whimsy Wood and Wool

Monday, July 17th, 2017

Tedge of Whimsy Wood & Wool has a passion for creating with natural materials. When she’s not working with pieces of wood, wielding a paintbrush or spinning up glorious fibres, you’ll find her in the garden where she and her husband, Arnold, enjoy growing fruit, vegetables and herbs for their kitchen (and their friends).

whimsywood blog

What do you make?
I design and turn wooden shawl pins, spindles, nostepinnes, tapestry bobbins, threading hooks and other tools for spinners and fibre crafters. I also dye silk fibre for spinners and felters, blend fibres into spin-able rolags, and sew knitting project bags. In my spare time, I spin yarn, knit shawls, felt bags, sew clothes, embroider pictures, paint and draw, amongst other things.

How did you get into your craft?
I have enjoyed art and crafts since I was a child, studied art at high school and took up spinning in my late teens. I first started woodturning as part of my Visual Art and Design Diploma at EIT Hawkes Bay, back in 2001. My major was in 3D, particularly working with wood and metal, and making quirky furniture. I got involved in the local woodturners club and for two years I learned to turn bowls, boxes and rolling pins. My main aim was to turn items I could decorate. I hit pause on the woodturning for a few years while in France, and concentrated on sewing, painting and embroidery. It was after our return to New Zealand, that we both immersed ourselves in a woodturning club, in Christchurch this time.

whimsywood
whimsywood
whimsywood
whimsywood

Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
Yes, I completed the three year Certificate of Woodturning in 2014 with the Christchurch Woodturners Association. Our amazing teachers Noel, Rex and Bruce taught us a wide range of skills, techniques, and decorative effects. They encouraged us to think creatively, work safely and pay attention to detail and finish.

My graduation piece was a set of spindles with a carved and decorated stand. My aim being to include as many learned techniques as I could: spindle and face-plate work, resin, coloured wax finishes, Dremel carving, pyrography, painting and more.

As well as a diploma in art, I have a BSc in Zoology, which has helped me in the way I look at the natural world and how it works, from the humungous to the microscopic, inspiring me in my creative processes.

P1030421 blog

P1030424 blog

Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
My favourite turning tool is my small skew chisel, and for carving and detailing I love my Dremel Micro rotary. I prefer making smaller items, though it is still very satisfying to turn a large bowl.

I enjoy the turning itself, as well as the decorative effects such as pyrography and colouring. I can lose myself for hours in these processes. My favourite timbers are Kauri, Ash, Oak and sometimes Rimu.

Tell us about the techniques involved in producing a turned wood piece.
Firstly I plan out the item and draw it to scale. I think about the purpose of the item, and the aesthetics. If it is a functional item, for example a spindle for spinning yarn, it must be balanced in order to work well.

With an entirely new product, I will make some prototypes, experimenting with shapes and measurements, making more drawings as needed. I consider which timbers are best to use for grain pattern, strength, aesthetics, and suitability for decorating. As most of the wood I use is either recycled from buildings or old weaving frames, or wood from tree pruning, my decisions are often dictated in part by the size of the timber available. It is not my aim to produce “factory” products, but to maintain a handcrafted flavour.

schematics blog

work in progress blog

What inspires you?
Lots of things inspire me, from architectural shapes to textures and details in clothing and textiles, but especially patterns and colours in nature.

I am also inspired by the materials I work with, whether it is the feel of wood and the grain pattern, the warmth of wool, the smoothness and sheen of silk fibre. Sometimes it is not a visual stimulus, but a smell, a sound, a texture or a conversation that takes my thoughts off towards something more tangible. I am often inspired and driven too by the need for a new product, a new tool, a new way of making or doing something.

Is there a philosophy behind your work?
Yes, I like to work with natural materials as much as possible, whether it is wood, wool, silk, cotton, linen, hemp. I use polishes, dyes, and paints which may not be natural, but I steer clear of anything toxic which may be dangerous in its application or in the end use.

I aim to create pieces which reflect my passion for nature, and hopefully pass that on to the user of the product. I love that people who spin with my spindles, wear my shawl pins or keep things in my bowls tell me how much they appreciate the character of the timber from which they are created.

Describe your creative process:
Inspiration and ideas tend to come in a flood when I am in a creative frame of mind. New thoughts for shapes, decoration, or a new development, a new method of making something, a whole new “invention”. I scribble down sketches and annotations so I don’t forget and can develop the ideas later.

Describe your workspace:
I have several workspaces. The woodturning workshop is by necessity shared with Arnold, and contains a workbench, lathe, and various tools. My sewing nook is at the front of the bedroom; my art desk, storage and bookshelves in the spare room; and spinning, weaving and felting area at the front of the lounge! A bigger house would be useful…

workshop bench blog

hooks work bench blog

Five words that describe your mind:
Creative, determined, focussed, humorous, multi-tasking.

Your favourite feedback from a customer:
“I love, love, love spinning with my beautiful new spindle!”

What’s your favourite childhood book and why?
I don’t recall having a favourite. I do remember at eight years old walking to the library every day to get out the maximum three books, reading them and getting another three the following day. I still love to read.

What are you reading now?
Ken Follett’s World Without End. It has more action than I would usually go for, definitely more violence (I had to skip over one part) but it is an interesting and exciting book. As a bonus, the processes of weaving and dyeing the scarlet cloth are a vital part of the story, as one of the main characters, Caris, experiments with the best way to use madder to produce colour.

A favourite quote:
“Creativity takes courage.” – Henri Matisse.
We can often have creative ideas, but it can take courage to act on them without being afraid of failing, or of criticism. It also takes hard work, dedication and determination. And a lot of chocolate and the occasional cider.

Tell us about your pets:
We have five large goldfish who get grumpy if we don’t feed them, and a worm farm where all the worms are called Ethel and Fred.

What would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty business?
Do something that you have a passion for. Start small, grow steadily, don’t be shy, just get yourself out there. Create good products from good materials, and sell them for a price which reflects that. Believe in yourself, and don’t undervalue your talents or your products.

whimsywood
whimsywood
whimsywood
whimsywood

What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
On holiday in Vietnam last month, we were in the mountain region of Sapa. I bought a length of handwoven hemp fabric from one local H’mong weaver, and a length of handwoven hemp with indigo dyed batik from another. I wanted to buy from the craftspeople themselves, so they get the whole amount of money, and so I have that direct connection with the maker, the region and the country when I use the cloth.

What’s in store for the rest of 2017?
I am working to replenish my stock of spindles, both suspended and support spindles, plus Kauri shawl pins and tapestry bobbins. I want to build up a stock of wooden yarn bowls, and I have a number of new products up my sleeve. Many other ideas are zooming around in my head or scribbled in my sketchbook, waiting for time to try them out.

I will be trading at the Creative Fibre Area in Homebush on November 19th, and I have applied to be at Summer Woolfeast, to be held at Halswell Centre on November 25th.

I have just become involved in Pay it Forward, a lovely art and craft co-op in Nancy Ave, Mairehau, and will soon add some turned bowls to my shawl pins there. I also have shawl pins at Wool Yarn Fibre, the Creative Fibre shop at the Tannery in Woolston, and at my brother-in-law’s gallery Alfred Memelink Artspace on the Petone Esplanade. I have plans to add other products to these places as soon as I can, and of course to have a wider range of products in my online Felt store.

whimsywood giveaway blog

Prize draw!
Tedge has very kindly offered a great prize for one lucky Felt reader of a Whimsy spindle turned from recycled Kauri, with a hand-formed brass hook (see above). The spindle weighs 22g and the whorl has a diameter of 52mm. Perfect for spinning a fairly fine yarn, this little spindle spins smooth and fast. So that you have some fibre to spin, it will be accompanied by a pack of corriedale rolags with a dash of silk and sparkle. Total value $49 includes postage within New Zealand.

To be in to win this awesome combo, simply leave a comment telling us (a) what you like about Tedge’s products and (b) what yarn crafts you enjoy, or would like to try next! The draw will be made on Friday 28 July and is open to New Zealand residents only.

 

Purchase from Whimsy Wood & Wool now »

 

Tedge Memelink blog

Simple, stylish, strong – and upcycled

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

Never get your earphones tangled in your bag again!

This beautiful and sleek earphone holder from Multiverse Designs is made from reclaimed kauri house beams, and hand-finished with natural hemp seed oil and beeswax to bring out the beautiful grain and ensure longevity.

multiversenz1 blog

Available in oval or oblong, it’s also customisable with your own design – talk to the good folk at Multiverse Designs to find out what’s possible!

multiversenz
multiversenz

Saisei: the beauty of vintage kimono, reborn

Monday, March 27th, 2017

Saisei means “reborn” in Japanese, and it’s a name which perfectly reflects Wellington maker Hana Yoshida’s work. Hana’s beautiful clothing and accessories were born from her grandmother’s collection of vintage kimono and they continue today with the vintage kimono and fabric she still sources from Japan. Hana says: “When I unpick kimono, I think of somebody in Japan who spent days to hand sew the kimono for her loved ones. I think of someone who wore it with much care and love.”

saisei hana

saisei
saisei

saisei rings

What do you make?
I upcycle and repurpose vintage Japanese kimono fabrics into modern and stylish clothing and accessories.

How did you get into your craft?
I am originally from Japan. When I went back to Japan last year, my mum mentioned loads of kimono that were left in my grandmother’s wardrobes. They had been there for decades since my grandmother passed away. As a lot of women did in the old days, she used to hand sew kimono for her whole family. She was a very good seamstress, so that often kimono retailers asked her to make kimono for their clients when they received custom made orders. She also taught students how to hand sew kimono at her home. My father still remembers her students coming to their house to learn kimono making. I was blown away by the beauty of the craftsmanship and fabric itself and decided to bring some back to New Zealand.

I have been always into making stuff myself. When I was kid, I used to knit a lot of things and I learnt basic sewing skills at my university. My earliest memory of recycling is making a bag out of my old jeans. So when I got my grandmother’s kimono, I started making some scarves and cushion covers with them. This is how it all started last year. Now I used up all of my grandmother’s silk, so I purchase fabric in Japan and get it shipped to New Zealand.

Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
No, except for at my university when I learnt basic skills as part of my Education/Teaching course. I’m self taught, so learnt a lot by trial and error! I also take private lessons from professionals.

saisei pattern

saisei textiles

Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
My favourite material is pre-loved and antique kimono silk. It’s getting rarer because most modern Japanese people have stopped wearing traditional kimono except for special ceremonies or events. So traditional kimono hand-crafting is in decline and there are fewer people who can pass on the techniques of crafting and dyeing kimono to the next generation.

Aizome boro cotton is also special to me. “Boro” means patched. In the old days, when the fabric was damaged, people didn’t throw it away. They patched the damaged area and kept on using it for a long time. So the cotton has a huge amount of character and really interesting textures. Nowadays, these textiles are loved and highly regarded by many all around the world.

My favourite process is creating the right patterns. It takes a long time and uses a lot of paper and sample fabrics. I repeat amending the patterns until I make the right ones. It is a long process, but really satisfying in the end.

Tell us about the techniques involved in producing one of your pieces
I purchase vintage kimono fabric from Japan. Some are actual pre-worn kimono and some are vintage kimono silks that are in bolts and never sewn or worn before.

The sewn kimono are unpicked (this can take around four hours) before being hand washed. Then they are dried in the shade and ironed gently. This is done before making anything. To make my capes, I make outer wool fabric and linings separately. The vintage kimono silk is used exclusively to make the linings of the capes. Because of the width of the silk (usually around 36cm), I cut up the silk into 8-9 pieces and sew them together to make one lining. Then darts and a collar are made. Finally I sew the lining, the outer wool and collar together.

saisei cutting

saisei cape

saisei capes

What inspires you?
Tattoo arts, 50s-70s vintage fashion.

Is there a philosophy behind your work?
I would like more people to enjoy the beauty and craftsmanship of kimono fabric in their daily life.

Tell us about your pets:
We have a cat called Rika. We got her from the Cat’s Protection League as a kitten back in 2002, so she’s an old cat now. We have two little kids so Rika gets less attention than she used to, however when the kids are in bed she likes to sit on my lap and fall asleep.

What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
A flowering branch necklace on Felt from a maker in Nelson. This pendant top was about 6cm and looked just like plum flowers. I liked the oriental feel to it. I wear it on my market days.

What’s in store for the rest of 2017?
There will be more capes and reversible silk cardigans. I would like to add dresses as well, but I will see. Also men’s organic cotton T-shirts with Aizome cotton pockets.

saisei
saisei
saisei
saisei

Hana will be holding a stall at Wellington Underground Market on Saturday 1 April, from 10am to 4pm. This is one of only a handful of markets that Hana will do this year, and it’s a good opportunity to see and try on her garments. Hana will also have sample fabrics on the day, so you can choose fabrics for you own special cape or cardigan.

Hana has also very generously offered a prize for one lucky Felt reader of this lovely autumnal scarf. This vibrant silk scarf with an orange leaf pattern, measuring 17cm x 180cm, was made with 100% vintage Japanese kimono silk. The silk was hand woven and hand printed in Kyoto, Japan.

saisei
saisei

To be in to win this gorgeous handcrafted prize, simply leave a comment telling us what appeals to you about Hana’s story and her reborn creations. The draw will be made on Friday 7 April and is open to New Zealand residents only.

 

Explore Hana Yoshida’s beautiful work on Felt »

 

saisei cardigan

To reach a port we must set sail: a life and craft shaped by the sea

Monday, October 10th, 2016

Karli Gould of Gould Marine spent ten years as a sail/cover maker before she and her husband sold up and went to Europe to have their ‘later in life’ adventure. They left New Zealand saying that they would be gone six weeks, six months or six years… and ended up being away for eight years exploring the Mediterranean, sailing on a classic yacht!

When they returned home they built their paradise in the Sounds with an eye to use it as a workplace – and it turned out to be a fantastic place to be inspired.

Karli at work

gouldmarine briefcase

What do you make?
What do I make? That’s a good question… what don’t I make that can be sewn!

Available from my Felt shop are items that can be posted internationally or nationally. Useful items for around the home, workshop, garden and leisure. I also make bigger custom made products for clients in my region of Nelson/Marlborough. These consist of roll up veranda awnings for preschools and homes, shade sails, gym mats, blocks and shapes. It’s always a challenge to work in the marine industry with covers for yachts and pleasure craft. I can undertake any cover replacements for spa pool covers, deck chairs and squabs. You name it and I’ll do my best to create it!

How did you get into your craft?
I have always been creative behind a sewing machine. My Mum taught me to sew from a very early age. When I was at College I won the ‘Make and Model’ contest with a woollen dress I made. When my children were young I made all their clothes and went on to do home sewing for friends and family. Once my children started school I went to work in a local sail loft. I learned to use industrial machines and worked with heavy fabrics. From there I went on to work in our own partnership business manufacturing sails and covers for the marine industry spanning 10 years.

Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
I had no formal training for domestic sewing; my Mum taught me those skills. My dream was to go to design school as a high school leaver. I had training in industrial work from my business partner, a sail and canvas maker who was a recognised master of the trade, so I consider it was an apprenticeship.

Tools (3)

gouldmarine sail bag

the sounds

Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
My most favoured materials are the acrylic canvas used in manufacturing some of my bags and marine covers. I also like using PVC as it’s such a durable product. I love using old sails to make some of the bags. The idea of recycling these fabrics is fun, and they become character pieces with their own personality. My favourite tools are my scissors and fairing battens, which help to create the magic shapes into the difficult compound curves of many of the marine covers I make.

Tell us about some of the techniques involved in producing one of your bags:
To make one of my gear bags from recycled sail cloth, I piece together the used cuts of exotic fabrics, traditional white Dacrons and colourful exotics to make one big sheet. I use a template to create the sizes of bags and mark out where the webbing handles and reinforcing should be placed. Next I sew on the pocket if required, the zip and the ends are the last thing to be fitted. The result is a custom made gear bag with charm and character.

Describe your creative process:
I create my project in my mind first – envisage a plan (design, materials and functionality). I have a workbook in which I put my ideas, shapes, dimensions and options. This sketch is then transformed into a template or directly onto the materials chosen. Many of my covers are fitted on the job before the final stitching is completed. This ensures the perfect fit.

gouldmarine
gouldmarine
gouldmarine
gouldmarine

Wood work aprons

What inspires you?
My inspiration comes from ‘creating’, seldom are two products the same. My mind is always searching new things to make and materials to work with. I enjoy the challenge of designing and manufacturing an item that is functional and simple to use.

Is there a philosophy behind your work?
To produce an individual product that is serviceable and value for money.

Describe your workspace:
My workshop is to die for… located in the Pelorus Sounds. I have a view that looks out over Crosilles Harbour. Most people that visit my workshop say “How can you get any work done, with a view like that?” Once I am there I am very focused, my work area is the floor or the bench surrounding my machines. The workshop is insulated and double glazed with a wood burner keeping a cosy atmosphere in those stormy Sounds’ winter days. In summer the windows are all open with the fresh sea breeze wafting through. I am surrounded by pictures and post cards that remind me of our travels.

Karli floor work

Workshop

view  (2)

Five words that describe your mind:
Focused, imaginative, busy, inspired and grateful.

Your favourite feedback from a customer:
“After first experiencing Karli’s expertise and quality in sail covers, Dodgers and other bits and pieces to do with boats, we graduated to some of her other products. Funnily enough, away from boats, it was her firewood carrier that we found to be amazingly useful, not really realising how this simple looking piece of material could be so good until we tried it out.

The versatility and skill involved in Karli’s work is incredible – check it out!

Recently we asked Karli to do a big job on all of our upstairs rooms’ upholstery. We chose Karli because in all of our dealings with her so far it has been shown that we get totally honest and sound advice, excellent quality, honest pricing and a rock solid guarantee that if anything is wrong it will be immediately fixed. So far we haven’t had to call on that. The job looks amazing and we’re really pleased with it. Many thanks for all – you’ve got a great business, Karli and I’m sure we’ll be back for more.”

- Penny, Atawhai, Nelson.

sewing

gouldmarine
gouldmarine

What are you currently listening to?
I love listening to Tiny Ruins while I’m sewing.

Recommend an album:
Some Were Meant For Sea – it seems so appropriate for me.

What’s your favourite childhood book and why?
The Wind in the Willows – my next door neighbour used to read it to me and my brother. I still enjoy imagining Ratty and Moley messing around in boats.

What are you reading now?
I’ve been reading the Jack Reacher series, but I’m ready for a change.

Who is your hero/heroine? Why?
My heroine is my daughter – she skippered a yacht from Norway down to the Antarctic Peninsula and back – a two year programme. She is a super hero. She has two beautiful children and lives out of New Zealand, but faces all challenges with great courage.

gouldmarine
gouldmarine
gouldmarine
gouldmarine

A favourite quote
I like this quote from Franklin D Roosevelt: “To reach a port we must set sail – Sail, not tie at anchor – Sail, not drift.” I like to think this describes my life.

Tell us about your pets:
We have wild wekas around our house in the Sounds, we have learned to coexist with them even though they can be rather pesky pulling out seedlings as fast as we plant them!

What would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty business?
Have the courage to use your imagination… give it a go! Stay focused and hang on in there, good things always take time, so don’t lose heart. But you do have to put yourself out there and push.

What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
I usually don’t buy gifts; I give handmade gifts to all my friends and family.

What’s in store for 2016?
Go from strength to strength and grow.

prize

Karli has very kindly offered a sweet prize for one lucky Felt reader of two of her cute wee ‘Ditty Bags’ (see above). These gorgeous wee bags are ideal for storing precious items, jewellery, small games or marbles. Measuring 20 x 18cm and fully lined, these ones are a special Christmas version – perfect to fill with goodies!

To be in to win this lovely prize, simply leave a comment telling us what appeals to you about Karli’s story and her products. The draw will be made on Friday 21 October and is open to New Zealand residents only.

Karli

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.

tat-upcycle composite blog

Hone blog

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.

tat-upcycle blog

Time for moe full bed blog

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.

Dalton 2 blog

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.

Dalton 1 blog

serenity bench seat blog

Joe 2 blog

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!

Joe 1 blog

kete upcycled planter blog

kono upcycled planter blog

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 »

 

tat-upcycle group blog

Featured seller: The Adventures of Alex O & Co

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

Auckland-based Alex O’Connell of The Adventures of Alex O & Co named her crafting venture after the adventure of her own crafting journey – and her personality-filled, colourful, animal and pixie characters are testament to the liveliness and fun she’s found along the way. Working mainly in felt and wool blankets, she creates decor items, accessories and Christmas decorations that are sure to bring a smile.

alexoandco title

What do you make?
I make homewares such as cushions and purses from recycled wool blankets, that have been appliquéd with wool blend felt and lined or backed with 100% cotton fabrics. I like to take old wool blankets and upcycle them to something new, useful and beautiful. I also make crafts with felt such as my Special Hearts and Pixie ranges.

How did you get into your craft?
When my son was four years old I joined a craft group to learn something new and to meet other mothers. Before this I had done very little hand sewing. I started making toys for my son and for his friends as birthday presents. Then people started offering to pay me to make toys for their children. The next thing I knew I was having a market stall at the Devonport Market and I needed a name for my label. The craft sewing had started as an adventure into trying something new and it had just grown so thus the name The Adventures of Alex O & Co.

Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
Not really. I was basically taught the old fashioned way by attending a craft group with other women sitting around chatting and sharing skills. As my love for hand sewing grew I have read books and basically Googled and watched YouTube clips on anything that I wanted to learn.

For Felt

For Felt 2

2015-07-10

alexoandco panda bear cushions

Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
My favourite materials are felt, and wool blankets. I want my designs to not only look beautiful or quirky but to feel beautiful as well.

Whenever I have a market stall people are constantly picking up and feeling my designs. People often rub the hottie covers against their faces and say things like “That feels great!” or “That’s so soft!” I love that people get pleasure out of my designs.

If I could, I would hand sew all my designs, which is what I did in the early days. I personally get such joy out of creating something completely by hand. Nowadays I would be lost without my sewing machine. My designs are now a mixture of machine and hand sewing.

My process is very fluid. I have ideas running around in my head all the time. So I will sketch a design, then I try to simplify it for appliqué. I cut out the appliqué and then look at colours. Sometimes my designs are about working with different shades of a colour and other times it is about using complementary or opposing colours. I just love colour!

What inspires you?
I am inspired by nature and animals. As a child I had a couple of white rabbits as pets – Bubba and Frederick. These two crazy rabbits produced eleven baby rabbits! So at one time I owned thirteen white rabbits. Throughout my house and in my designs you will often see rabbits. I think this is because they remind me of the joy all these white rabbits bought me.

alexoandco white rabbit hottie covers

alexoandco cushions

Is there a philosophy behind your work?
I love the quote “You only live once. Live beautifully.” I try to make all my designs beautiful. I want my designs to bring people pleasure and happiness. I try to make my designs functional and beautiful.

Your favourite feedback from a customer:
Recently I had a lady buy one of my Special Hearts to send to a little girl in Australia who was going to have an operation on her heart. I felt so honoured that this lady felt that one of my creations was special enough to send to this little girl. I love to hear the stories behind where my designs are going to.

Five words that describe your mind:
I like to see my mind as a garden that is full of creative, happy, vibrant, busy flowers.

Describe your workspace:
I love my creative space. It’s a room in my 1920s bungalow that has a beautiful bay window that lets in lots of light. If I am in my kitchen cooking dinner and I think of an idea, I can quickly pop into my studio and jot it down or throw colours together. I live in an all-male household and my studio space is very me… no sports paraphernalia in sight! Just beautiful things and plenty of colour.

Shelved designs in my work room 2

Sheved designs in my work room

What are you currently listening to?
I have Spotify so I listen to a real mixture of music but at the moment I love Skylar Grey‘s voice and I especially love her solo version of I’m Coming Home. So I am listening to her and also John Mayer live at the Nokia Theatre.

Recommend an album:
Passenger’s All the Little Lights.

What’s your favourite childhood book and why?
A Fish out of Water by Helen Palmer. The story is about a boy who buys a fish named Otto from a pet store. The store owner, Mr Carp, gives the boy instructions on how to care for the fish, including strict feeding instructions: “Never feed him a lot. Never more than a spot! Or something may happen. You never know what.” The pictures and the words just stuck with me – I don’t really know why!

What are you reading now?
Rising Strong by Brene Brown.

Who is your hero/heroine?
I have a few but the one that comes to mind first is Christina Noble, OBE. She’s the founder and driving force behind the Christina Noble Foundation, established in 1989 to assist the street children and orphans of Vietnam. The Foundation’s work now extends throughout Vietnam and into Mongolia.

Do you have any pets?
I have a beautiful nine month old Spoodle called Lucca. He is and absolute delight, both loving and mischievous at the same time. He really completes our family.

What would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty business?
Back and believe in yourself. Fear is the biggest thing that holds us back. New Zealanders are so open and accepting of handmade craft and we live in a land of little businesses. So the market is there – you just need to back yourself and put your designs out there.

What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
I bought a beautiful necklace off of a stall holder at my last market. I was attracted to it by the colours. It is all different shades of teal and turquoise. My two favourite colours are green and turquoise.

A favourite quote:
I have two favourite quotes: “You only live once. Live beautifully,” and “Don’t look back – you’re not going that way!”

Special Hearts

What’s in store for the rest of 2015 and the new year?
There’s not much of the year left so I am just busy sewing and selling my designs! Four years ago I set up a business bank account and the bank manager asked me if I had a business plan. I said “Yes, I want to earn enough extra money to take my family on holiday to Fiji.” This December my family and I are heading to Fiji for a two week holiday! So a big thank you to all the people who buy my designs – you have made my business plan and dream come true. Bula Bula!

If you love Alex’s whimsical and appealing accessories, decor items and Christmas decorations, check out her Felt shop for more.

Alex has very kindly offered a prize for one lucky Felt reader of their choice of two sweet pixies (worth $32 each) from the Adventures of Alex O and Co range. To win a gorgeous wee pixie duo, simply leave a comment telling us what you like about Alex’s story and her creations. The draw will be made on Friday 4 December and is open to New Zealand residents only.

alexoandco pixies

Featured seller: Piccalilli

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

Deborah Sax of Piccalilli takes vintage wool blankets, haberdashery and accessories, and turns them into impeccably tailored and beautifully finished children’s clothing. Deborah combines these vintage finds with contemporary fabric to make beautiful and robust modern day heirloom garments.

piccalilli hat coat top

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What do you make?
Children’s clothing from vintage and contemporary fabrics. Combining the best of the old and the new to make beautiful, unique heirloom pieces.

How did you get into your craft?
I’ve always been an “arty type,” and repurposed things through necessity, but never a sewer per say. Time and opportunity – after having two children in quick succession it became my sanity time when the children slept. I started making children’s frilled hem jeans from my maternity jeans and those of my antenatal group. These wonderful ladies were incredibly supportive and inspired me to go for it.

The range has evolved with my family: slippers for Oscar for preschool, cape for Scarlet because she wants her arms free to play at the beach in winter, and so on. Now they are 7 and 5 they have outgrown my demographic but without doubt still continue to inspire me.

Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
No. I’m actually an architectural historian and winemaker by profession. Having children changed everything for me, my focus and priority. It has taken me down a more creative path where I can work from home, really be part of their childhood and enjoy huge fiscal challenges on a daily basis.

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I have attended many night classes though, advanced sewing, pattern drafting – and I’m always trying to push my own creative boundaries and improve. My mother is a phenomenal seamstress and my grandmother was a milliner at Liberty London so it’s kind of in the blood – it just took a few decades to manifest itself with me.

Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
Without doubt the wool blanket. I’ve become a bit obsessed with it. I love it not only for its properties as a natural fibre, its quality and warmth but also its history. The emotions it evokes in people when they see one repurposed into a child’s coat, sharing their memories of having that exact blanket on their bed as a child, are quite wonderful. I love that my pieces make a connection with people.

I also love finding the perfect vintage notions to adorn them with. There is something rather lovely about giving such exquisite lost pieces of craftsmanship a new calling and incorporating them into something that will itself become an heirloom item. Every piece I make is crafted individually and hand finished. I hand cover my buttons too so every part is, to me, as perfect as I can make it. I get great joy from making things, which hopefully translates into a really special, one-of-a-kind garment.

What inspires you?
In clothing as in life: joy, positivity, colour, texture, reinvention, uniqueness and great design, perfectly executed. I’m definitely more interested in the quality of workmanship than prolific output. My ideas may come at the speed of the hare but I prefer to work methodically with great attention to detail, like the tortoise.

Is there a philosophy behind your work?
I’m far from perfect but I try to be mindful about minimising waste in my production and about the contribution I make to the consumer world. By repurposing fabric into high quality garments that are both durable and beautiful, I’m hoping to make a small but meaningful impact.

Describe your workspace:
Bijoux. I’ve literally just moved house so it’s a work in progress. But I’ve progressed from the dining room table to a small bedroom with an amazing view (see photo). I’ve had to be very creative with shelving in my cupboard and under my sewing table but everything I need is at my fingertips.

A cluttered room makes for a cluttered mind. I’m a neat freak for sure. I can’t work in a chaotic space but do enjoy the process of making an industrious mess then tidying up the craftermath. [That is a fantastic word! -Ed.] It’s quite cathartic.

piccalilli view

Five words that describe your mind: Really, really, really, really busy.

Your favourite feedback from a customer:
“Thank you so much for the wonderful tunics, they just look perfect on my little girls. Piccalilli takes pride in what she does and it shows in her work, a beautiful job. Well done.” I can go for months on a compliment.

What are you currently listening to? Beautiful Freak, The Eels.

What’s your favourite childhood book and why?
Anything by Spike Milligan or Roald Dahl, which I’m currently reading with my children. David Walliams has become my new grown-up, favourite children’s author along with the beautifully illustrated books of Oliver Jeffers. Children give you permission to relive your childhood all over.

What are you reading now?
I have a couple of books on the go, Consumer Detox (Mark Powley), 100+ Tasty Ten Dollar Meals (Sophie Gray), The Prosperous Heart (Julia Cameron) Hiking & Tramping in New Zealand (Lonely Planet) and The Memory Keeper’s Daughter (Kim Edwards). For me reading is without doubt one of life’s greatest pleasures. I would secretly have loved to have been a writer. Maybe next time.

A favourite quote: “She believed she could, so she did.”

Do you have any pets? My children have two rabbits so by default I now have two rabbits. Sooty, the maudlin, formerly grey buck who mopes around and honestly changes colour every season, and Loopy Lou, the white Rex doe who sways like she’s a little, well, loopy, hence the name.

If you were a crafty superhero, what would your name and superpower be?
Blanketgirl – saving the world from discarded fabric one blanket at a time. I’d also be able to unpick stitches with a single glance and rethread my overlocker blindfolded.

You can see Deborah’s gorgeous winter range, in a range of beautiful vintage blanket colours, right now in her Felt shop Piccalilli.

piccalilli deborah

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Rebicycling

Monday, July 13th, 2015

We love these striking jewellery pieces and accessories from Velo, The Sun Room and Lynsey Hats – all made from recycled bicycle inner tubes!

velo

thesunroom

lynseyhats

And these fantastic bags from Karkt also have an inner tube component – most of the materials fro Karkt bags are recycled from the trucking industry, but their trim is pure bicycle inner tube chic. Pretty clever huh?

karkt

Featured seller: Karkt

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

Helen of KARKT Recycled Bags describes her family as nomadic and simple-living. Having spent almost two decades backpacking around the world, she says they know they don’t need much to live with, materially and financially. KARKT Recycled Bags aligns with their values: re-using, recycling and fixing as much as they can. They’ve come a long way from the day they first called a trucking company to ask if they had any unwanted truck tarps, only to be told they’re actually called ‘truck curtains’!

KARKT recycled bags medium messenger

What do you make?
We make funky, durable messenger and sports/gear bags from recycled truck curtains, seat belts and inner tubes.

How did you get into your craft?
In Europe, they have been making recycled bags out of truck curtains for 20 years. When we were living there I was guessing that no one in New Zealand was recycling our truck curtains. And I was right. Soon after moving back to New Zealand, I launched into designing six bags to start with and the rest is history. It is such a waste to see this extremely durable material sent to the landfill, probably never breaking down. We are feeling good about diverting something so useful and repurposing it into our awesome bags.

What do people love most about what you make?
The quality and uniqueness of our bags has been very well received from such a diverse range of people, with the bonus of them being recycled. People are being educated daily on Facebook, the internet and other media about being Conscious Consumers, knowing where your purchases come from, who made them, how much they were paid, and more people are getting sick of buying cheap imported products which don’t last and need regular re-purchasing, pushing consumerism and resource use. We are being sustainable not only by diverting landfill waste but making high quality items which will last a lifetime, but also with the professional craftsmanship of the industrial machining to craft them to last.

KARKT recycled gesr MAN bag 2

KARKT recycled bags messengers

Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
No formal training but I consider myself reasonably creative. This is my fourth “career”: from TV/film production accountant, to massage therapist, to full time mum, to recycled bag artist!

Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
Let’s start with the least favourite – cleaning the truck curtains! Years of road grime to clean off before my favourite part of cutting the bag’s front pattern piece from the truck curtains’ graphics – what essentially will be that individual bag’s unique design.

What inspires you?
My two children, Miss Four and Master Three. They keep me going always. Literally and soulfully. Craft wise – I only have to drive out on the number one highway and see a beautiful truck curtain swish past and I get a burst of inspiration. Usually along with exclaiming the words “Ooh, that’s a good one!”

Describe your workspace:
Plural – workspaces! Most of the garage and back room stores the finished bags, half of my office is in the lounge, the massage room has also turned office… I’m well spread out. Very untidy most of the time with the priority being cleaning up after two littlies and a husband!

Five words that describe your mind:
What task gets priority next?

Karkt recycled bags workshop

Karkt recycled bags large messenger

Karkt recycled man bag

Your favourite feedback from a customer:
“I’m sick of buying cheap crap bags from China you have to replace all the time…” This gentleman’s well justified reason for buying our high quality gear bag, made in New Zealand. He was a very happy man.

What are you currently listening to?
Some old timer’s station my mother has found on the radio! (She lives with us.)

Music Tastes?
OCNO or PIA on the meditative days, Lauryn Hill on the ‘hard relationship’ days to Eminem for a good fast workout walk played loud in the head phones and Simon and Garfunkel on the sunny ‘days off’ at home relaxing.

What are you reading now? A nice easy Jodi Picoult.

Who is your hero/heroine? The Dalai Lama for sure.

A favourite quote: “Keep it stupid, simple.”

Do you have any pets? 5 chooks.

KARKT recycled bag large messenger 2

KARKT recycled gear MAN bag

What would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty business?
Just start, you will learn a lot – and enjoy it!

What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
A handmade toy from a market. It was wooden, not painted, and durable. We can fix it ourselves.

What’s in store for this year?
A funky new durable school bag design to be released, and working together with 3M Group to see what other materials we can recycle into our bags. Joining lots of fun markets again next summer.

To see more of Helen and family’s upcycled, gutsy and functional bags visit their Felt shop.

Helen has generously offered a great prize for one lucky Felt blog reader: one medium messenger bag of the winner’s choice from the KARKT Felt shop, worth $135 (examples pictured below). To win this great prize, leave a comment telling us what you like about Helen’s story, philosophy and products. The draw will be made on Friday 3 July and is open to New Zealand residents only.
 

 
Karkt recycled truck photo

Featured seller: Kanuka Glen

Monday, April 27th, 2015

For John Jepson of Kanuka Glen, using upcycled timber as the canvas for his beautiful native bird art meets an urgent need to reduce our waste as a society. “For every full rubbish bin that goes to landfill, seventy full rubbish bins were made upstream to make the junk in that one rubbish bin you got rid of. So it’s no surprise that in the past three decades one third of the world’s natural resources have been consumed. Buying locally produced goods and reusing items that can serve a different use is a great way to contribute towards returning the balance.”

kanukaglen falcon

What do you make?
I create rustic renditions of New Zealand’s beautiful native birds.

How did you get into your craft?
Well to be totally honest, one evening last year I just had a sudden urge to sit down and draw. The feeling had been building up in me over some time and I just had to let it out! I’ve not really stopped since and it feels good.

Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
I don’t have any formal qualifications, but art has always been a big part of my life. My parents must have noticed it was something I enjoyed early on as they sent me off to Saturday morning art classes from quite a young age. This helped me greatly with keeping up with my art studies at school.

kanukaglen John at work

kanukaglen tuke

Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
I recycle pieces of timber that are well past it for their intended purpose by using them as a unique canvas on which to base my art. The wood comes from a number of sources. Some of the wood is left over from old apple bins that are past it, some of it is from old floorboards that have cracked, and other pieces even come from old farm fences that some beast or other has leant on too many times! Chalk and charcoal or high quality coloured pencils are currently my favourite media. I love taking a piece of wood that others might simply burn or leave to rot away and then turning it in to a piece of art for people to enjoy in their home.

What inspires you?
I find inspiration in lots of different places, but mostly in the natural world. I’m lucky enough to live in a beautiful part of New Zealand’s countryside where I can find inspiration around every corner.

Is there a philosophy behind your work?
Absolutely! The world’s resources are finite, yet somehow we as a species keep mass producing more and more stuff cheaper and cheaper. Everything’s designed to either go out of fashion quickly or break at a pre determined moment. It’s all madness and it bothers me greatly. My art work is a reflection of the way I choose to reject the norm. If something is broken I’ll try my best to fix it, if it can’t be fixed then I’ll think of something else it could be used for. My canvases are all made from wood that can no longer be used for anything else, and I take pride in breathing new life into each one.

kanukaglen salvaged timber

kanukaglen John at work 2

kanukaglen kokako

Describe your workspace:
Haha, my workspace is currently a small space on the floor in front of my couch. I haven’t yet got to the stage where I feel the need to create a separate space. Luckily my materials don’t take up too much room!

Five words that describe your mind:
Open. Searching. Loving. Striving. Grateful.

Your favourite feedback from a customer:
I had my first ever market experience as a seller at the Mapua Easter Fair recently. Towards the end of the day a chap came up and said ‘I just wanted you to know that out of all the stalls, your stall has been the stand out for me today. I love what you do!’ I was so stoked to have someone just ‘feel the need’ to say this to me. :-)

What are you currently listening to?
Right this very moment I am listening to the theatrical soundtrack to Disney’s ‘Up’ via Spotify. I have an incredibly eclectic taste in music and when I’m creating I like to listen to music that takes me to a different place. As movie scores tend not to have words and can be quite dramatic they’re great for freeing the mind!

Recommend an album:
One Hot Minute by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. This album and I have a lot of history together. It’s super funky, it’s sad, it’s funny, and I think I know just about every word to every song. :-)

What’s your favourite childhood book and why?
Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome. It created an amazing sense of adventure in my mind. Everything that happened in the book seemed like something I could find myself doing with my mates during the holidays.

What are you reading now?
Right now I am reading The Burning Shore by Wilbur Smith. I like to find cool old books in the ‘Free Book Box’ outside the second hand bookshop in town. It’s a great way to find a good read as you never know what you will find!

kanukaglen morepork

kanukaglen portrait

Who is your hero/heroine?
My Dad. Over the years I have seen him repurpose all sorts of timber in to all sorts of things. I was with him when he rescued piles of timber off a beach after a boat went down, and I’ve watched him turn a stack of old wooden telegraph poles and ladders in to one of the most beautiful pergolas I’ve ever seen. He would often be trawling through demolition yards trying to find treasures. At one point he had most of the timber from an old church sitting under cover at the end of our garden. He has a quiet persistence about him as well as an amazing eye for detail. I definitely wouldn’t be as interested in repurposing pieces of wood had it not been for my Dad.

A favourite quote:
‘Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.’ This comes straight from the 1987 movie The Princess Bride, pure old school awesomeness! I also like ‘Minds are like parachutes, they work best when they’re open’, but I don’t know who said that first.

Do you have any pets?
As far as actual pets go, we have a dog called Mosko who’s a loveable rogue. But then we also have our chooks, two ducks called Quackers and Ducky, and four goats called Simon, Penny, Stella and Gabby. We’re very fond of our animals and they almost all seem like pets sometimes.

If you were a crafty superhero, what would your name and superpower be?
I would be ‘The Glimpse!’ My superpower would be to have the ability to show someone in an instant the amount of good they do for the world and it’s inhabitants by purchasing something handmade over something mass produced.

kanukaglen kiwi

kanukaglen John and Mosko

What would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty business?
I don’t quite feel like I’m in the position to be giving advice, but if you’ve found something you can feel passionate about, and it puts a smile on your face, then there can be no harm in giving it a crack. :-)

What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
My wife and I bought a handmade mounted fox’s head. It’s not a real fox head, but a cool cartoony replica made from felt. It sits happily in our lounge.

What’s in store for 2015?
My New Year’s resolution this year was to pursue my art work further and have a go at selling it. I’m now entering what I call ‘Phase 2′. I’ve sold a lot of my original work and it’s now time to look at how I can share my work with people in different ways. I am currently experimenting with printing my work and I’m really pleased with the results. Over the next few months I will start selling some limited edition prints of select works. I also have my first exhibition coming up at The Little Beehive Co-op in Nelson.

To see more of John’s unique artworks on upcycled timber, visit his Felt shop.

John has generously offered a prize for one lucky Felt blog reader: a beautiful giclée print of one of his works on timber, pictured below. This print features a detailed portrait of a tui and is one of John’s favourite creations so far. John tells us the original was on a very rough piece of timber from an old apple bin, from one of the orchards just down the road from his home. To win this print, leave a comment telling us what you like about John’s story and his art. The draw will be made on Friday 8 May and is open to New Zealand residents only.

kanukaglen prizedraw

kanukaglen John with salvaged timber