Posts Tagged ‘skincare’

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 »

 

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Harvesting wild roses – the natural evolution of Fox River Bath Company

Monday, August 1st, 2016

Life has been busy of late for Fiona McDonald of the Fox River Bath Company. Teaching her child via correspondence school, attending the Co-Starters Business course at Westport, and preparing for markets, along with running not one but two businesses on the South Island’s West Coast – it’s enough to make her realise it is time to take it back a notch and focus on doing less, but doing it even better. Read all about her gorgeous creations and plans for the future…

Luxury Face Oil by Fox River Bath Company

Fiona of Fox River Bath Company

What do you make?
I make luxurious artisan bath and body products and specialise in small batch, hand crafted, botanical skincare.

How did you get into your craft?
After leaving school I spent some time in Alaska and the Caribbean, and also rode my bike across America. This journey began my love of natural medicines and botanical skincare. On coming home I spent time studying Naturopathy at The Canterbury College of Natural Medicine, (which sadly no longer exists). I then moved to the West Coast near Punakaiki and took on the role of Tui Hill Healing Centre Caretaker. Here I could continue my passion for natural medicine and have time to focus on my other loves of painting and silversmithing, which I am still doing under the name Brightonmine.

I have had times in other jobs, like my time working in the film industry as both a props maker and then a location manager. But I have always found myself coming back to this, each time with new skills under my belt.

I started to realise, after the birth of our child (which was followed closely by a major health event for my partner), that exposure to toxins in painting and jewellery-making was too great and having an effect, not only on me but potentially our baby and my partner. Ever since then the desire to be working with healthy and wholesome raw materials has taken priority over everything else.

While I appreciate and acknowledge the huge value of conventional medicine, which certainly saved my partner’s life, I also believe there is room for a more natural supportive approach to our bodies’ skincare and health in general.

Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
I organically grow some of my herbs and flowers (limited due to growing in an unpredictable coastal environment). I also harvest what I can in the wild. Some of my happiest moments are foraging on a beautiful dry summer’s day with my son and our baskets. Harvesting wild roses, and other wildflowers and herbs that can be found growing around us. The harvested herbs and flowers are air dried and then infused at low temperatures, retaining the powerful healing benefits of the botanicals.

I was never much into the science lab in school, I spent most of my time in the art department. However, strangely now I find myself loving measuring, mixing, swirling, and formulating. I adore my lab equipment, beakers, pipettes, burettes and flasks – and everything that goes into them!

For me, the process needs to remain beautiful right from the start of planting the seed through to the finish of having a product which I know has every ounce of my good intention built into it.

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What inspires you?
I am inspired by my son and his beautiful compassionate nature.
I am inspired by my father, and all he taught us to create and explore, we lost him many years ago but his legacy lives on.
I am inspired every summer by swimming in the crystal clear emerald waters of the Punakaiki River, it is one of a kind, heavenly, and the main reason I still live here.
And I am greatly inspired by the natural environment we are so lucky to live in, and the way it provides us with everything we need and more.

Is there a philosophy behind your work?
I believe we need to simplify our approach to skin and body care, cleaning in our homes, and any other places in our lives where we are unnecessarily exposed to a huge amount of toxic chemicals.

So I choose to make waterless plant based products which have no need to contain preservatives, phthalates, propylene glycol or any other unnatural ingredients. The simpler our routines, the better for the health of our bodies and minds.

I am a strong advocate of botanical oils. By using the powerful unadulterated oils on our skin we eliminate the need for expensive pots of cream which contain mostly water. Instead we deliver the powerful ingredients directly to the skin. I personally spent years dealing with bad reactions to many skincare products even very expensive ones. Now all I use are oils, and clay masks. They have rebalanced my skin to the point where I have no troubles with it at all and it is better than it has ever been.

For me, the process needs to remain beautiful right from the start of planting the seed through to the finish…

Provenance is important to me, I am working hard to establish and build relationships with growers and producers of my core ingredients, who operate their businesses in a way I can relate to.

I care a great deal about leaving as little impact as possible. So the ingredients in my products, the labelling and the packaging materials, all matter to me. As does the effect of what is run off down the drains and into our waterways.

Lastly attention to detail. It really matters in everything I do, and it is something customers constantly tell me they admire in my work.

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Describe your creative process:
The main part of my week days is spent teaching our child correspondence school. Everything else falls into place around that. There are a lot of tasks to juggle like all of the growing and harvesting mentioned above, but also designing and creating my products, all my own packaging, photographing my work for online listings, creating listings for Felt and other online portals, packaging and shipping and all the other jobs involved in running a small business from home.

Making days are a peaceful ritual time for me. I like to turn on some beautiful music, fill the space with a gorgeous scent, and immerse myself in creating beautiful smelling and feeling products.

Five words that describe your mind:
Enquiring, creative, loving and caring (according to my son), frantic (according to my partner).

Your favourite feedback from a customer:
The best feedback I could get, is people coming back again and again for more product. It is such a good feeling to know people are experiencing great results and appreciate my work. Not only that but people are also using less toxic chemicals in their lives as a result of something I am doing. This makes it all feel so meaningful.

Other than that, I recently received this feedback – made my heart sing: “I bought 4 products: Rose Geranium body butter, vanilla lip balm, the luxury face oil and the Magic Healing Balm. And all of them are like little treasures! I absolutely love these products! Discovered in NZ while travelling, loved them so much, that I asked a friend to bring them back to me in Europe! Totally, 100% recommend them!”

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What are you currently listening to?
At this moment – a Liz Fraser mix on 8tracks.

What’s your favourite childhood book?
Opo the Happy Dolphin by Julia Graham, illustrated by Tony Oliver.

What are you reading now?
Some of my favourite books to read to my son: Pocketful of Penguins, A Sketchbook of New Zealand Birds and A Kea on My Bed. All written by wonderful New Zealand author and Artist Molly Falla, who spent many years recording the stories of her Ornithologist husband and herself and their varied and fascinating experiences with birds of New Zealand.

Our lifestyle brings us into contact with many birds we would otherwise not have the opportunity to interact with. We spent many years working towards getting a penguin fence alongside the Coast Road, to prevent numerous deaths which are inevitable when the highway gets busier and the land erodes reducing habitat. The penguin fence has now been up for about two years and not a single death has occurred on this stretch of road since. Versus a tally of roughly ten a year previous to that. We are so grateful to the West Coast Blue Penguin Trust for making this happen.

I only ever saw one survivor from the road victims. We named her Pedro. She got blinded in one eye and after staying in our brand new bathroom for three weeks, (it has never smelled the same!) she ended up going to the Antarctic Centre to live, as she would never have been able to catch prey with only one eye. I was quite upset about taking her there, (at the time we thought she was a he). But, apparently now (or last time I checked in), she had buddied up with a mate with I think no sight, and was keeping him company in this life. So I think she found a purpose in her new place.

In another life, I would have a bird rescue centre. I paint them, I etch them in metal, and I have a great fascination and love for them.

Just last week I turned my car around to rescue a Westland black petrel on the road. Just in time to see the slow motion tragedy of her being bowled by two cars. Very rare and special birds who cannot take off from ground level. They have to fly from a high point (hence my wanting to help her).

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Who is your hero/heroine? Why?
My heroine is my mother, Due to her constant kindness compassion and her natural inclination to always stand up for the person who needs it most.

A favourite quote:
One of many – “Choose being kind over being right, and you will be right every time.”

Tell us about your pets:
17 eclectic free ranging chickens, a delightful one horned, one eyed goat whom we have had for 13 years, two long haired cats – one new one old – and both beautiful, and a soft white fluffy bunny that we somehow managed to bring home from correspondence school ski camp last year. She comes inside every evening so as not to go feral out in her cage alone. There are quite a few animal antics to make us laugh in the evenings with kitty and bunny love!

If you were a crafty superhero, what would your name and superpower be?
According to my beautiful nieces I would be Inspiragirl. And I would appear in people’s dreams and give them inspiration and confidence to believe in themselves creatively.

What would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty business?
Follow your passion, but think about the long term effects on your body and make sure your craft is not going to harm you in anyway. Once you have done this whittle it down to focus on one area. I have spent years trying to achieve everything and quite obviously (to me now) it is just too much for one person. Do a course like the Co-Starters course I have just completed, to really clearly make you think about what your business means to you and where exactly you want to go with it.

Recognise your weaknesses and surround yourself with people who hold strengths in these areas. Create an opportunity to be part of a group of people who may be facing similar challenges. There is a great deal you can help each other out with. Seek out mentors and people who may be willing to help you make the steps you need to make. And most importantly, ensure you make time for yourself and your family to just enjoy life!

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What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
A cute little set of a teepee, rug and camping chairs from ‘Pint Size Goods’ at the recent fabulous Winter Encraftment Market. A gift for my boy to say thank you for his patience in my preparation time for the market. It was beautifully constructed – once again, attention to detail!

What’s in store for the rest of 2016?
I have had the tendency to try to make every product I ever dreamed of. This of course leaves me with my energy too thinly spread. So I aim to simplify.

My plan is to rebrand, change my business name (something shorter – watch this space!) and refine my product list down from 29 products to a total of about 6 products. I also will be learning to accept the skills of other people into my business rather than trying to do everything myself.

All this has come about as a result of doing the fabulous Co-Starters course at Epic Westport (which we are so lucky to now have in our community). My personal gains from this course were phenomenal. And I came up trumps at the end by winning the prize for best pitch on pitch night, which was a real surprise and personal boost for me! Now is the time for me to whittle things down, cut back on my need to create everything from scratch and really focus on fine tuning the best parts.

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Fiona has generously offered a prize for one lucky Felt reader of the Fox River Bath Company’s nourishing luxury face oil and detoxifying lavender facial clay mask (above), the products Fiona uses most often herself. (What better recommendation could you have?)

To be in to win this luxurious duo, simply leave a comment telling us what appeals to you about Fiona’s story and her products. The draw will be made on Friday 12 August and is open to New Zealand residents only.

 

Purchase from the Fox River Bath Company here »

 

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All the good things for your inked skin

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

Tattoo balm by Papillon Natural Beauty

Tattoo balm by Papillon Natural Beauty is a healing blend of good things like natural calendula, papaya and jojoba oils. Not only is this balm an excellent moisturising after tattoo care treatment, it is also handy as an all round healing balm for scrapes, scratches and other minor wounds.

 

Give your tattoo a treat from Papillon »

 

Five ways to treat your skin right this winter

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

Hands up who suffers from chapped hands and lips when the weather turns nasty? I sure do, but I’ve found some great balms to ease the ache and heal winter skin damage:

1. Irritable skin balm from Aporah

This gentle balm is packed with good healing herbs such as calendula and comfrey and rich oils and tallow for your skin. Not only does it soothe chapped hands wonderfully, it’s also fantastic for itchiness, rashes, redness, bruising, eczema and even itchy bites. (I can also report it’s a god-send for cold and flu-irritated noses…)

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2. Gentle unscented calendula soap from BE Natural

This super-soothing soap with a triple-dose of calendula is great for gently washing irritated skin. Full of natural anti-inflammatory goodies and lovely moisturising oils, it’s also suitable for your baby’s bath.

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3. Chocolate mint lip balm from Honey and Spice

Protect your lips from wintery blasts and treat yourself to chocolate at the same time! Honey and Spice’s lip balm is also available in other yummy flavours, and it comes in a tube so it’s great for a lip-protecting top-up when you’re out and about.

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4. Bacon balm by Fat Spatula

Fancy a more savoury flavour to your lippy? Try bacon! Why? Because… bacon! Fat Spatula’s Bacon Balm is made from a blend of organic coconut oil, cocoa butter, beeswax, vitamin E oil, manuka honey and bacon fat. Andy of Fat Spatula assures us that only NZ Pigcare Accredited bacon is used – and then promptly eaten as it is delicious.

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5. Lavender hand salve from Alba Rosa

This wonderfully scented, wax-based soother is excellent for dry, rough or chapped hands and knuckles, and also works well on dry knees, elbows and heels. A little bit goes a long way so it’s great value.

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Your skin is the largest organ of your body, so make sure it gets the love and care it needs this winter. Check out our health and beauty pages for a mountain of luscious winter skincare treats!

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The joy of a warm bath in winter

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

I can always tell when I’m just starting to feel a bit cold on a winter’s evening, because I find myself suddenly thinking what a good idea a lovely warm bath would be. There’s no better way to up one’s core temperature and wind down for a warm and restful night’s sleep than a good soak, don’t you think?

And it’s always nice to make a bath extra luxurious with all the right accessories. Of course Felt is bursting with delicious handcrafted bath and beauty products perfect for the purpose. The only difficulty is choosing which luxurious goodies to use tonight!

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Oh, I find much simple pleasure when I’ve had a tiring day,
In the bath, In the bath!

Where the noise of gently sponging seems to blend with my top A,
In the bath, In the bath!

To the skirl of pipes vibrating in the boiler room below,
I sing a pot pourri of all the songs I used to know,
And the water thunders in and gurgles down the overflow,
In the bath, In the bath!

Oh, the tingling of the scrubbing brush, the flannel’s soft caress,
To wield a lordly loofah is a joy I can’t express,
How truly it is spoken one is next to godliness,
In the bath, In the bath!*

Treat yourself, or someone in need of pampering, and find your bath-time happiness in the huge range of bathing goodies on our health and beauty pages.

*Marvellous bath-time lyrics by the incomparable Flanders and Swann. :-)

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Featured Seller: Fat Spatula

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

Coffee-fuelled late nights, an off-beat sense of humour and a talent for spreading joy are the driving forces behind Andy Heyward’s diverse Fat Spatula range of quirky art and novelty products.

“I consider my work to be deeply shallow and I enjoy bringing a smile to people’s faces… Painting is a creative release from my other serious and stressful positions of being President of the Haumoana Lemon Marketing Board and founding member of the Haumoana Men’s Knitting Club.”

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What do you make?
I make smiles and hopefully by making people smile I make their day better. The Fat Spatula range of products has come about from too many late nights and too much coffee. They are based on the desire to make people happy – if they do this and also serve some function then it’s a double bonus.

My creations, while being an eclectic mix are all tied together by my own sense of quirkiness and humour. I love things that are slightly off-beat and a little left-field of what is normal. It is these things which make me smile and laugh at life and so I try to put that into my own work.

I also try to make products that are as original as possible, although sometimes you can have a brilliant idea that no one else has thought of and Google search ruins your day. For this reason I have stopped googling my ideas before I have done them otherwise I am likely to be put off.

How did you get into your craft?
I have always made things and been creative. But I guess I started selling my craft with the creation of The Man Shawl. The Man Shawl came into existence after a local party I had been too, it was evening and a bunch of blokes were sitting about drinking outside and as it got cooler, one of the guys said “I wish I had a nana-rug for my knees.” We all laughed but it got me thinking on how I could make a shawl or throw that was blokey. I decided Army blankets with carabineers and duct tape sounded rugged enough.

My first prototypes were given away as Christmas presents to all the males in the family and after a bit of feedback and adjustments, I made half a dozen to be sold at a local market. When someone actually bought one I was stoked and this set me on the path of the Craft-side.

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Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
I have a diploma in visual art and design and I worked for many years in the Art Department at a regional newspaper dealing with account managers and clients and other artists. It was a walk in the park compared to getting behind a stall at a market, smiling pleasantly and baring your soul for customers to pick at, like ravens at a corpse… they go for the eyes and lips first apparently.

Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
I love to paint and I love the process of painting, I like how painting makes you slow down. When you are using a computer for a majority of your work, it is great to have to switch tempo to paint. You are forced into slowly building texture and background, you have to wait for paint to dry and if you make a mistake you can’t just ctrl – z, you have to figure how to fix it or go with it. I also like to sketch and most of the
time have an ink-pen and journal within reach. My sketch books are containers for ideas and creations, some of them are realised straight away and some of them simmer and brew until the right time.

What inspires you?
I grew up listening to the Goon Show with Spike Milligan on National Radio and as a teenager I loved shows like The Young Ones, The Goodies, Monty Python and Father Ted and so a lot of my humour is influenced by these shows. I have just been to see the Penguins of Madagascar movie and I laughed throughout the movie, I think I scared a little girl two rows back.

Fat-Spatula Morgue Mates

Describe your workspace:
My workspace is a mess, I am lucky enough to have a large room in the house which serves as my studio and office, It is also a warehouse and distribution centre as well as an eclectic junk display space. I can hide from the world in my room and if I ration out the jellybeans (for the Jars of Joy) I could probably survive for a while in it. If I had an attic it would probably look like the one in Goonies, where they find the map
to the treasure.

I am also involved with the running of two shops in Hawke’s Bay, Coco & Co in Hastings and The Department of Curiosities and Fine Things in Napier. It is great to band together with other makers and run a business together, I get a great deal from the different perspectives and viewpoints of my fellow workmates and it is great to brainstorm and bounce ideas around with. It also stops me from becoming a hermit in my workspace and living off jellybeans.

Your favourite feedback from a customer:
My favourite feedback from a customer was years ago and it was before I was making things as Fat Spatula. I used to create a kids-page that appeared weekly in the paper and I had an alter-ego, King Andy. On this page I would tell silly jokes and create puzzles and madness and generally see how far I could push the limits of decent taste. I would often get a lot of letters from the CWI (Country Women’s Institute) who would complain about the mention of snot on the page or how I was corrupting the grandchildren.

One Christmas I got a card from a bloke in prison who wanted to thank me for creating a page that he and his young son could read together over the phone. That card meant a lot to me, it also made me realise that while I was having fun I was also creating something that others could have fun with.

What’s your favourite childhood book and why?
My favourite book as a child was In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak. I loved the illustrations and the mischief in it.

Fat-Spatula Godzilla

What are you reading now?
I am really into historical novels at present – I am part way through a series by Bernard Cornwell about the Saxons and the Vikings. It is good inspiration for more pillow fighting cushions. I am thinking a range of armour and shields would go well with the clubs.

A favourite quote:
A well used quote is “A saveloy boiled is a saveloy spoiled”. It is a versatile quote and can be applied to any situation and any part of your life journey. But my favourite quote at present is by Thomas Edison, he said “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.”

What is your top tip for those starting out in running a crafty business?
My advice for others starting out is to follow your passion, do what you love, it may not make you any money but you will be the richer for it. If you want to make loads of money put your energy into becoming a lawyer or an accountant. If you want to live a creative lifestyle go for what you love.

Try not to copy others, take inspiration from them, but don’t rip them off. Be original, create new things and back your own ideas even if no one else will. Hold your dreams as valuable.

Be nice to other crafters and stall holders, they are on a similar journey and everyone is battling unknown issues and challenges which may not be obvious to us. Collaborate instead of competing with others, take risks and find out what works and what doesn’t.

Fat-Spatula Mid-Winter market

To see more of Andy’s smile-inducing silliness, make sure you stop by his Felt shop Fat Spatula.

Andy has generously offered us this fabulous A3 altered art print, “My Little Pony Goes Apeshit” (below), as a prize for one lucky Felt blog reader. To win this marvellous prize just leave a comment telling us what you like about Andy’s story and his creations. The draw will be made on Friday 13 February and is open to New Zealand residents only.

Fat-Spatula My Little Pony

Fat-Spatula Prints

In the garden

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

It’s that time of year – when the place to be is the garden: plants to be planted, weeds to be weeded… never fear, we’ve got some crafty ideas to get your garden looking gorgeous this spring.

We’re loving these stylish planters and garden seats from Ecco Furniture – gardening seems like a much more relaxing prospect already!

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Of course you’ll need some plants too – check out Big Bunny’s range of seeds to get your garden growing.

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Need more planters? How about these ones from Piyo and Iron Planter – there’s something to suit every garden.

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Finally, after a long day’s gardening your green thumbs will probably need some TLC. Ambrosia Botanicals’ gardener’s creme, made from only the best cold-pressed olive oil, unbleached beeswax, lanolin, purified water, and essential oil of Rose Geranium is just the ticket.

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Happy gardening everyone and enjoy the warmer weather! Don’t forget to check out our gardens and outdoors section for more great homegrown garden must-haves.

Scrub up for sunny weather

Friday, September 19th, 2014

It’s nearly that time… that time when we start exposing pale winter skin to the world again. We reckon the best way to feel gorgeous is to start with a good scrub to slough off winter.

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With gorgeous handmade skincare products like these, your skin will love you and you’ll be a bathing beauty in no time. Check out all of our bath and beauty products for more ways to pamper yourself.

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Featured seller: Aporah

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

Shaye Yearsley, creator of the gorgeous skincare range Aporah, trained as a wholefoods nutritionist shortly before getting married six years ago. She says she has always been a little obsessed with making things herself “Whether it be butter, sourdough bread, washing powder, cider, cheese… basically I love learning how to do things from scratch. I have always been driven by scent and, after studying how much our bodies are affected by food, I got interested in aromatherapy and wanted to make real, pure skincare products that would feed the skin from the outside – as our skin just soaks up everything we put on it!”

The name “Aporah” was inspired by the combined names of her two daughters – Zipporah (four) and Arwyn (one and a half).

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What do you make?
I make ‘food for your skin’. Most products are for everyday use and some are for a little indulgence. I make some face food products which start off with cleansing oils (a traditional and gentle way of cleansing), toner (a herbal infused vinegar based toner) and a face cream (which is the only ‘cream’ I make as it is time consuming and I really want to steer clear of using chemical preservatives). I whip the cream together rather than rely on processed plant emulsifiers and only use the gentlest preservatives (potassium sorbate, cinnamon, honey and citric acid) so this means it doesn’t have a very long shelf life. Even so, this is my best selling product!

I also make a range of lip balms and body balms which can be used therapeutically (for headaches, colds etc) or just for moisturising. In a lot of these products I use herbs infused in organic olive oil which harnesses the amazing qualities of the herbs to get all those benefits topically. Along with these I make a range of body butters which are made out of pure plant butters, e.g. shea and cacao. These are literally just whipped up by hand, so don’t need added emulsifiers or thickeners added. They are whipped decadence in a pot!

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Along with all these skin care products for adults I also make a range for babies (as that is where I started). This covers things that I have found useful in my few years of mothering. Baby balms, baby oils, teething pulse point, sleepy time oil blends and kiddie chest balm.

The last range I guess is the essential oil blends. These are blends specifically put together to use in the home or out and about for those who love using essential oils in everyday life… but without needing to buy all the single essential oils! The pulse point roll-ons are part of this range.

Everything I make is in small batches and is made by me… so this does mean it is time consuming, but also I have control over what happens with every batch.

I am also playing around with making totally natural solid perfumes, but these are still in the experimental phase. I am finding it hard to know when to stop!

How did you get into your craft?
I guess I ‘officially’ got into skincare about three years ago after the birth of my first daughter Zipporah. I wanted to know exactly what I was putting on my daughter and was sick of finding ‘natural’ skin care brands still full of chemical concoctions I couldn’t even pronounce. I decided to just make the nappy balms etc myself, out of ingredients which were totally natural and traditional (such as tallow and herbal infused oils). Then I realised how much I had been missing out on and it all just went from there!

It has a taken a good three years of experimenting (on my children and myself) to come up with the range I now have and lots of friends have been willing guinea pigs for me!

Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
I trained as a wholefood nutritionist originally, so that gave me the background of knowing what is needed internally and externally for keeping our skin in balance. I was introduced to aromatherapy and making healing balms while still at college, but I don’t have any formal qualifications there. I have educated myself on aromatherapy since then. The product recipes have just come through trial and error, plus lots of experience in the kitchen!

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Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
I just LOVE essential oils. Every time I work with them I just get lost in a world of scent. (I think I am a very ‘scent’-driven person!) I have a collection of about 60-100 essential oils now and have such fun playing around with them, whilst still giving them the respect they deserve – they can be quite powerful and dangerous if not used properly. I also just love using products that are pretty untouched and are as close to how God made them as possible.

I use everything organic where possible to cut down exposure to environmental toxins and the oils and butters I use are almost always raw, cold-pressed and unfiltered as I believe (as with food) that less processing is better. This makes the oils and butters a pleasure to use as they really smell like the plant they come from – earthy and full of nutrients, rather than rancid and lacking in smell and colour.

What inspires you?
I am inspired by the beauty of nature and God’s creation first and foremost. The scents and sights from just walking around our herb garden or brushing past a rose bush are so precious. I love being able to educate my daughters on these things, and then be able to use those same herbs and aromas in my own products. I love being in touch with nature in this way and doing something which women have been doing for years and years for their own families, traditions that have been passed down from mother to daughter.

Is there a philosophy behind your work?
My philosophy is to create skincare that is simple and feeds your skin using totally natural products that have been around forever. When I say natural I mean it! No plant-based or artificial emulsifiers, preservatives, surfactants. Just real ingredients that are totally edible.

Describe your workspace:
Haha… my workspace kind of ends up being similar to my brain space… cluttered and busy! Once a week my kitchen gets transformed into my ‘Aporah’ space and I get a few precious hours to whizz up my creations. All my oils and skincare ingredients stay in a cute little cupboard that can be tidily shut up when not in use. I am a mother first of all so I only spend a few hours on this a week, while the girls have some Grandma time. But if I do anything outside of this time I try to make sure that it can be a learning opportunity for my girls. They love to ‘help me out’… or just sit there sniffing essential oils all morning!

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Your favourite feedback from a customer:
“My skin is seriously addicted to your products, please never stop making them!”

What are you currently listening to?
Nursery rhymes… over and over again!

Your favourite childhood book?
The Little House on the Prairie series for sure. A simple lifestyle, which I’m sure was hard but also satisfying. No obsessing with material possessions and the next big piece of technology. Something I’m sure we could with a bit more of these days.

A favourite quote:
“This is the day that the LORD has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

Do you have any pets?
I don’t have any pets yet, but soon we hope to welcome some chickens into our backyard! Productive and cute, I am hoping!

What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
Some sweet cards from a friend of mine who designs and paints them (‘Thursday’s Child’). She also does amazing paper cuts, which are on my wish list but haven’t quite got one yet! The quirky, simple little scenes she designs are what attract me to her cards!

You can see more of Shaye’s luscious skincare products in her Felt shop here.

Shaye has very kindly offered a this treat of one Winter Indulgence set, a lovely collection of products chosen specifically for their skin nourishing and warming qualities over the cool and dry winter months, to one lucky Felt blog prizewinner. The Winter Indulgence set contains Sweet Sesame butter to keep your skin all buttered up (we are assured this butter smells seriously divine!), Winter Spice essential oil blend (a cosy and warming scent for your living space)​ and Cacao-Mint lip balm (protective, nourishing and delicious!).

If you’d like to be in the prize draw, just leave a comment below telling us what inspires you about Shaye’s story and her products. The draw will be made on Friday 15 August and is open to New Zealand residents only.

aporah winter indulgence

Five ways to beat the chill

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

Winter has its share of delights – crisp clear mornings, cosy evenings by the fire, snow – but there’s no denying the cold weather can be hard on a body. We’ve been hunting for ways to make winter more comfortable and cosy.

1. Treat your skin.

Chapped lips, chapped hands – the effects of a cold wind are no fun at all. To ease and prevent skin damage try some of the huge range of handmade skincare products from our bath and beauty pages.

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2. Enjoy the warm.

Did someone mention baths? There’s nothing like a nice hot bath to warm you to the core. Why not make it extra luxurious with some bathtime goodies?

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3. Keep those toes toasty.

Fleece, felt, crochet or knit – we’ve got the goods for all sorts of feet.

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4. Wrap up well.

Hats, gloves, scarves and shawls. Make it warm and make it stylish with our range of winter accessories.

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5. Embrace the season.

If you can’t beat it – just love it anyway.

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