29 September 2011

A Conversation with Saskia of saskia.n Designs

Have you heard of Resin Casting?  Well it's something that Saskia of saskia.n Designs knows (and does) very, very well.  An intricate process involving time and patience to individually cast and sand each item.  Saskia crafts beautiful pieces inspired by nostalgia, New Zealand, kiwiana and a love for the environment and living things.  Here, she tells us more...

Who is saskia.n Designs?
Saskia Nickless

What’s your “handmade groove ?”
Resin Jewellery

What’s on your bedside table right now? (hey, no tidying up or censoring)
Hardanger embroidered doily, deodorant, iPod Dock and iPod, trinkets box, rosehip oil, old teacup, Lucas papaw tube, coaster, water bottle, Boris (teddy bear) and a wee porcelain lady to pop lavender oil in. (Wow I have a lot….)

Who are your creative role models?
What music, books, images, poetry spark your creative fire? Extra Curricular, World Sweet World, stamps, The Eastern, Jane Austen and Hayao Miyazaki.

What could you talk late into the night about with like minded people?
Teaching, politics, cooking… ha! How boring…

If you could go to three free workshops/creative events this year which ones would they be? What are they about?
Semi-permanent, re-opening of Auckland Art Gallery and any printmaking workshop.

How do you balance your creative life with your family, life commitments?
I spend mainly “TV” time working on my jewellery, I do try make time to bake or cook something slightly more exciting.

What is your favourite creative screw-up?
Putting a Silver coin into resin, it reacted and made the resin go brown!

Kitchen table or studio?
I work on the top of the clothes dryer, coffee table in the lounge and sometimes the kitchen bench, the worst thing is I do have a studio…

Do you have a wish list? Can you tell us what’s on it?
Yes! I love too many things… I would LOVE a Print Gocco machine, a mac book, a bureau… there is just so much more!

You can view more of saskia.n Designs work ... here
Follow on Facebook  ... here

27 September 2011

Facebook Tips and Suggestions

Facebook, for many of us, is an integral part of building our handmade businesses. There are many understandings around facebook etiquette. So here are a few I think are important

1. It is always nice to have a consistent, professional look for your business page. Your branding should be obvious to those visiting your page. Think about your banner, avatar and logo and carry this over to your website, labels, business cards etc. Then there is no mistaking who you are and what your business is

2. Be thoughtful with your posting updates! These are great and really keep your audience around - BUT - don't write post after post after post. It clogs the feed and will ultimately lose you friends (and fans). Try to spread them out across the day. On the NZHM facebook page I try to work on the hours so noone is overwhelmed :)

3. When looking to connect with a new page don't blatantly advertise your page on theirs. Lots of pages don't mind but like to be asked first! I think it is well known that we all like to have our 'like' reciprocated, so it kinda goes without needing to ask.

4. Its really important to remember that your facebook page is your business page. So be careful what you decide to talk about! Keep it professional, friendly and light so as to not turn potential customers away.

5. Comments are great! Respond to others when they write on your page to let them know you value their interactions. You can also add your own comments logged in as your page on other pages if it is appropriate. This helps people get to know you a bit better - BUT - be careful not to overdo it!

6. Photo albums are a great place for storing photos of your goods that you make. Keep your albums up to date and organised so customers can easily follow them. Add links as to where they can purchase an item and details on price etc.

7. Its important your fans hear from you! So don't be shy - hang out on your page and talk to people. This is hugely important in building up your fan base and fun!

I think all the principles that apply in a brick and mortar store apply on facebook. If a customer walks in to browse what would you do? Try to make a good impression?

I'm sure there are many more tips so if you have one please feel free to add it in the comments section :)

Joy @ Kazzalblue Baby and Childrens Boutique

25 September 2011

Art Circles

I am in an Art Circle, we meet and chat about arty stuff
I used to be in a book circle, where we would read and discuss books

One can put lots of things in circles
I remember about 37 years ago, attending Art classes in Wanganui
And one man just drew circles,  not just any plain old circles,  but circles full of really interesting things
He sure loved circles
I rather like circles, what kind of a circle are you in
A knitting one, a literary one, a quilting one?
cheers  Marie

22 September 2011

A Conversation with Fran of Frangipani...

Fran of Frangipani loves to knit and it shows!  Beautiful booties, slippers, cardigans and .... knitted food(!)  items abound at her Felt shop.  Fran use natural materials such as wool, cotton and bamboo as they are both nicer to work with and she has a preference for natural fibres in childrens wear.  Read on to learn more about Fran's passion for knitting...

Who is Frangipani?

Fran Vakapuna

What’s your “handmade groove ?”

I love to knit! I pestered my Mum to teach me to knit when I was just 5 years old and my needles have barely rested since then. Over the years I have made a wide range of knitted garments, toys and accessories (many can viewed on my blog by searching ‘Past Projects’). More recently I have mainly been making babywear for use on my own children and also because they are fairly quick, don’t require a lot of yarn and seem to sell well. I only use natural materials-wool, cotton and bamboo as they are nicer to work with and I prefer children to wear natural fibres.

What’s on your bedside table right now? (hey, no tidying up or censoring)

Bedside lamp, a couple of coasters for my Sunday morning cuppa, TV remote, an empty photo frame (why don’t I just put something in there?!), a half-eaten wine biscuit courtesy of daughter Sofia, two books-“The Daring Female’s Guide to Ecstatic Living” by Natasha Kogan and “Parenting Your Defiant Child” by Dr Alan E. Kazdin and just a bit of dust.

Who are your creative role models? What music, books, images, poetry spark your creative fire?

I am inspired by friends and family. I love browsing Ravlery.com for ideas and patterns. Books borrowed from the library and also other creative bloggers are inspiring and great sources of ideas.

What could you talk late into the night about with like minded people?

Current craft projects, comedy and general gossip!

If you could go to three free workshops/creative events this year which ones would they be? What are they about?

I’m keen to improve my sewing skills so a basic sewing course would be great.

I’d also be interested to learn about making fabric covered buttons, brooches etc.

I love visiting any craft markets that are on to meet other crafters and find inspiration

How do you balance your creative life with your family, life commitments?

I am a full time Mum to two girls aged 2 and 3 years and my husband and I run our own bricklaying company so crafting time is squeezed in here and there during the day amongst Mum and Secretary duties and in the evening after the children have gone to bed. I have a wonderful, hard-working husband who helps with funds for buying my materials. Wool is not cheap and it’s not easy to recover costs and make some extra for yourself when selling small handmade items.

What is your favourite creative screw-up?

I’ve made a few stuff ups when machine sewing-I usually spend more time un-picking than actually sewing!

Kitchen table or studio?

Oh to have a studio! Most of my knitting happens on the living room couch. I also do the odd row outside on a sunny day.

Do you have a wish list? Can you tell us what’s on it?

More time for crafting each day. And aside from craft we are currently on the look-out for a small piece of land just out of town to build our dream home and provide a rural lifestyle for our children.

Frangipani's Felt shop is ... here
Blog (great recipes!) ... here
Facebook ... here

20 September 2011

Mistakes. I've made a few

{Guest Post by New Zealand Handmade Member Gill, of Jacber Creations...}

2 year and a bit years ago I read an article that mentioned Etsy. 1 minute later the mistakes began

What I did: Quick what can I call the shop?

Result: My shop(s) name really doesn’t say anything about what I create – might be okay if I decide to branch out…. it makes branding a bit tougher

What I did: Sure you can be my marketing manager so your name can be part of the shop name

Result: Refer the same result as above regarding the shop name – plus he tries to take a cut of my sales because he’s my cheerleader :)

What I did: Google 70’s wallpaper – That’ll do for a banner!

Result: Professional image? Hmmmmmmmm not quite.

What I did: I have to take pictures. Shame its night time – oh well the flash on the camera will do, after all everyone can see how cool they look can’t they?

Result: I wondered why no one was really looking at my creations until a lovely blunt lady pointed out that the pictures were crap (sobbing ensued)

What I did: Spent every waking moment crocheting tea cosies to ensure I cover all tastes

Result: An overabundance of tea cosies some of dubious taste (on a positive note I have lots of presents just ready to be given in the case of emergency)

What I did: Overenthusiastic, I opened shops on Etsy and two on ArtFire , and a couple on other websites that I can’t even remember now, then two more on Zibbet (and later on Felt)

Result: I couldn’t keep up with what was where – I didn’t concentrate on doing one thing and doing it well, I lost passwords and website addresses. Spread myself too thin, enthusiasm waned and I didn’t build my brand

What I did: Expected to sell something within the first minute of listing it

Result: Erm, is there anything wrong with that? Surely everyone needs a cupcake doorstop or a loo roll cover doll don’t they? And don’t they need it right now?

Knowing what I know now, if I could talk to my over enthusiastic self from 2 years ago this is what I would tell me

Check out places that I would prefer to sell, does the feel of it or the culture of it sit well with me? Recognise that not all online shopping places suit everyone.

Look at having my own website. I don’t think it’s as scary as it first sounds

Have a brand. What do I want my name to say about me, about what I create or the feel of my shop?

Research how many people are making this thing that I’ve created. What’s my point of difference?

Learn from the experiences of people who have been doing it longer, remembering that their word is not gospel though and what works for them may not work for you.

2 years later

Professional image? Oops I still have that banner!

Successful? Absolutely! The first time someone spent their money on something I created made me a success.

Have I learnt from my mistakes? Of course….. I just haven’t done anything about it yet :)

Author:  Gill, Jacber Creations

18 September 2011

Made It Here - Havelock North

Spring time is great: longer days and a hint of the returning warmth.

Havelock North's beautiful surroundings come to life again!

Located on the foothills of Te Mata Peak- with views to the Ruahine Ranges in the West, Mt Erin to the South, Napier and the sea to the North.

Residents still call it "the village" but during the last two decades it really has outgrown this description. Together with the population the number of shops have grown, you find many cafes and bars, and we even have a movie theatre!

The views, the ever changing wide skies above Hawke's Bay, the pink and white "seas" of flowering orchards followed by new foliage in the gardens, parks and on the hills and beautiful nature treasures- this is where the inspiration comes for my jewellery.

by Ingrid of Silverworks

15 September 2011

A Conversation with Helen of Jewels

Helen of Jewels has made costume jewellery for the last 4 years and delights in designing and making creations that show the world what a brighter place it can be.  Helen is not all about jewellery as is evident by her on-line shop which is currently sporting christmas tree decorations and gift tags along with her jewellery pieces.  Here, Helen shares an insight into her creative world...

Who is Jewels? 
Helen Bakker

I’ve had a passion for craft and textures from an early age, influenced by my parents.

My mother made everything from soap and cottage cheese, ginger beer and tatted lace edgings. My father, an old school European trained bespoke tailor.

I grew up with vege gardens, sewn toys and clothes. Walking the beaches for shells and catching my own snapper on dad’s bamboo surf casting road. Those where the days when supermarkets just were becoming popular and a fabric shop was as common as the local bakery. I didn’t have a commercial pair of jeans until I was at least 12!

I started using a sewing machine on my fathers knee before the age of 5, and was given a second hand sewing machine around 10 ( if think.)

My mother taught me knitting and how to make “real mess”.

So I’m grateful for my heritage and a similar life as a growing child.

What’s your “handmade groove ?”
Anything and everything I can get my hands on. I’m a bit of a sponge. I love texture. Handmade groove? One off, quality jewellery pieces –especially love to design for clients. Aspiring creative sewer!

What’s on your bedside table right now? (hey, no tidying up or censoring)
Empty tea cup, 9 craft books, 2 novels, Mp3 player, 2 necklaces…

Who are your creative role models? What music, books, images, poetry spark your creative fire?
Creative Models? Talented people I meet every day . Everyone is talented, it just takes another to recognize it! People who are real and inspired in lots of different ways. People who laugh at their mistakes and realize that’s just part of life and learn from it. Crafters I read about in this new era of social networking and internet. I have soaked up techniques and crafting by reading a lot over the years and then practicing it…

I enjoy being a creative model for others through volunteering my skills and encouraging others to look at things in different ways.

I do love music and at the studio I rely on my other studio mates ipods for background music. We zone out together!

What could you talk late into the night about with like minded people?
I’m not like that… rather have a good old dessert which we all share and go “googie over” and enjoy time with them and learn more about them as people and crafters.

If you could go to three free workshops/creative events this year which ones would they be? What are they about?
One I have already done in March 2011. Workshop with Lorraine Dowdle – SRA. NZ glass bead maker and wire artist.

A workshop on promoting your craft to others and potential customers.
Lots of craft shows and displays with another crafter friend – why? To have fun and soak it all up and meet other crafters…Would love to go a beading workshop or two in Australia or the US.

Would love to know about more events in NZ.

How do you balance your creative life with your family, life commitments?
Probably not as well as I should!

I work by appointment at my studio and fit designing and classes around what we do. I make sure I get 2 clear days, unless family illness keeps me home. My husband works from home so we take turns with organizing family commitments and being there for our 3 children. Planning ahead helps, texting and a crockpot!

Kitchen table or studio?
I keep the jewellery side at the studio. The house gets too chaotic otherwise. The sewing side is often on the dinning table because it’s 2m long! I do have a conservatory at home that’s handy for sewing in the sun and looks out over the garden. The cats usually come in and have a nap and keep me company.

Do you have a wish list? Can you tell us what’s on it?
My studio is shared space and is a basic– but lovely. At the moment a floor rug and woolly ugg boots are much needed .It’s a bit nippy in there. Must do that very soon.

Creatively – some jewellery components I’m trying to source. Brass metal flowers that you can roll the petals and shape and layer for a design I want to do.

A house cleaner would be nice and a garage to put the car into on a wet day. Our garage is full of other stuff!

You can find Jewels products.. here
Follow on Facebook.. here

13 September 2011

Pull the Wool...

I thought I would go along to "Pull the wool" this evening even though I am not a knitter I kind of figured I have never meet a nasty knitter and who knows it might be fun... I might even learn something.

and I did... this is my first attempt at crocheting thanks to Kya who patiently showed me the ins and outs, she called my attempt 'freestyle crochet'.  My second try started out as a circle but ended up as a small basket type thing (I think I was pulling too tight) good fun... I will definitely encourage anyone who is mildly interested in anything crafty to come along to the next one.

11 September 2011

Fruit Bowl Craft Jam presents ... Pull the Wool

Are you a knitter? Then boy do we have the event to tell you about!  The wonderful organisers of Fruit Bowl Craft Jam (NZHMer Jo Pearson, and Jess Soutar-Barron) are organising a fab event 'Pull the Wool' ...

If you are in Hawkes Bay and can make it to this Hastings event we would love to see you (as would Jess and Jo).  NZHMers in attendance will wear their badges (with the knitted NZ map) so do make yourselves known to us too :)

08 September 2011

A Conversation with Vicki of PetitBebeCreationNZ

Vicki of PetitBebeCreatioNZ makes the most gorgeous items for little ones - layer cake skirts, skinny pants for kids (Slim Jims and Skinny Minnys ranges), chic nappy clutches, bibs and who can go past the very cool 'Pimp my Pooch' range (example above).  Lets learn more about Vicki's inspirations and influences...

Who is Vicki Stoner aka PetitBebeCreatioNZ?
Tag line: Handmade boutique items for your little darlings. I am a SAHM based in Auckland, NZ of 2 beautiful children who inspire me to create boutique items for little people.

What’s your “handmade groove ?”
I love creating beautiful fabric combinations in simple styles that can be worn across many age groups. My favourite “invention” is the adjustable snapped waist elastic I include in every skirt or pair of trousers. I also like to tinker with existing proven patterns and see what I can make that reflects my own style.

What’s on your bedside table right now? (hey, no tidying up or censoring)
Littlies magazine, Toddler Taming book, a purse sized version of my b/w damask clutch in which I keep all my ‘bright ideas’, my reading glasses, my clock radio and the cradle for the baby monitor.

Who are your creative role models? What music, books, images, poetry spark your creative fire?
My Mum and Dad, my Aunty Lorrie, and my fellow blog-land friends. I do love mainstream pop music, love to read ‘self help’ books on raising kids, not really a poetry gal but get excited when I see fresh fabrics and just can’t wait to get sewing. I am addicted to fabric shopping.

What could you talk late into the night about with like minded people?
Anything really, I have the gift of the gab. Right now my main interests are around little people in general, fabrics and sewing techniques.

If you could go to three free workshops/creative events this year which ones would they be? What are they about?
I’d love to go to Craft 2.0 in Wellington. Craft 2.0 is a cult Wellington craft fair for style junkies, craft enthusiasts and all fans of handmade. Being in Auckland with 2 small children (plus my fledgling new venture) means that isn’t possible right now but some day I’ll make it down.

I have been taking some free e-courses by Handmadeology (http://www.handmadeology.com/free-etsy-success-tools-and-ecourses/) which have proved very helpful and I believe as a result I am seeing more sales and greater market reach. I plan to continue this e-learning journey as there is plenty more left to learn through this website. I did go ahead and purchase their Social Media Package (approx $25 NZD) which contains a couple of tracking spreadsheets and e-books on tips and tricks etc which again I have found invaluable.

I’d love to be able to attend Handmade 2012 for the “remade” workshop on up-cycling (although this is isn’t free at $45 for the workshop). I love to recycle and what better way than get creative doing it. I recently made my daughter a brooch out of scraps from a skirt I made her and added some beads to the centre from her Nanny’s necklace my son accidentally broke at Christmas. I felt pleased to give the beads a new purpose rather than a life in landfill.

How do you balance your creative life with your family, life commitments?
Terribly – am operating on such little sleep at the moment. I plan to plan better and get to bed at a reasonable time in the near future. I figure it is just this hard right now as my business is so new (just like a newborn baby) – sleep deprivation is just part of the journey. I do have my 22 month old at daycare 2 half days a week which is fab as I can get my “home duties” done.

What is your favourite creative screw-up?
My extra wide clutch came about when I accidentally used the measurements of the standard clutch for the height and the MCN clutch for the width. It turned out that the extra wide is quite popular. It holds a travel wipes case, 2 - 3 disposables AND has room for the nappy cream. I had a few ladies comment at my last market how brilliant it was to find a nappy clutch that can take the nappy cream. I sold a few that day :)

Kitchen table or studio?
Laundry door actually (photo attached). I needed somewhere to sew which is kid free so that is really only our bedroom and to get a desk large enough to work on proved an expensive idea so the laundry door has been repurposed into my sewing desk and I absolutely love it. I do however, spend a amount of time sat at the kitchen table using the computer to build my business profile online.

Do you have a wish list?
Can you tell us what’s on it? Proper storage for all my beautiful fabrics – currently have everything stored in large lidded plastic bins which are not easy to see into to know what is there and proper lights so that I can see what I am doing in the evenings. I presently have 2 desk lamps positioned over my machines and the light they throw out is not great.  

You can visit PetitBebeCreatioNZs shop ... here
Find out latest happenings on the blog ... here
and Follow on Facebook .. here

04 September 2011

The Loving Stitch

Given my passion for vintage knitting patterns, my Kiwi mother-in-law recommended I check out the book The Loving Stitch : A history of knitting and spinning in New Zealand by Heather Nicholson. It traces the history of yarn crafts here from the times of the earliest European settlers in the 1800s up to when it was published in 1999.

I've only just gotten it out from the library, so I haven't had a chance to read it through yet, but it looks fantastic. It's got chapters on knitting during the world wars, knitting between the wars, yarn manufacturing here, and more. The one I'm most excited for is called "Pattern Books and Leaflets." :)

I think it's wonderful that there is this resource that chronicles a part of cultural history that is not often researched - the domestic arts.

Have you read this book? What did you think?

Kya of Clutch Instructions

01 September 2011

A Conversation with Melanie of Little Peanuts

Creator of Little Peanuts, Melanie, enjoys creating boutique style items for babies and children that are fresh, functional and fun.  This is evidenced by her use of gorgeous fabrics and finishes with a large range of super cool children's suspenders, toddler neckties, taggy giraffes, grab-n-go nappy clutches, shoes, tote bags and much, much more.  Read on to learn more about Melanie and Little Peanuts...

Who is Little Peanuts? 
Melanie Greenfield

What’s your “handmade groove ?”
Creating boutique style baby & toddler products (and the occasional product for mum too : )

What’s on your bedside table right now? (hey, no tidying up or censoring)
 Radio, lamp, baby monitor & a lot of dust :)

Who are your creative role models? What music, books, images, poetry spark your creative fire?
My two children are my inspiration (and models) for all my baby products, if it doesn’t work with them I won’t use it for anyone else. I enjoy browsing through sewing blogs on the internet and admire the quality and creativity of work that is out there, as I know how long it takes to create and make a new product. When I find a bit of spare time to myself I love nothing better than settling down with a cuppa and a good book (thriller) to get lost in and often stayed up past bedtime just so I could finish it.

What could you talk late into the night about with like minded people?
Techniques, hints and tips to make sewing a bit easier/quicker, love to chat about projects and learn from other people.

If you could go to three free workshops/creative events this year which ones would they be? What are they about?
I would love to go to an advanced sewing workshop to learn a few more techniques – when I come across something new I have to google it or find a video that shows it in detail for me. In the future I aim to get to the Dunkleys Great New Zealand Craft show in either Dunedin or Invercargill as I have never been and would love to see the fantastic range of crafts there and hope in the future to have a space there.

How do you balance your creative life with your family, life commitments?
It’s a fine line to balance it all, with an energetic toddler and an 8 month old I am now finding less time for sewing during the day and it has to be pushed to the evenings after the dinner, bedtime routines (and dishes!) and I sometimes manage to get a bit more done during the weekend when my husband is home from work and can entertain the kids.

What is your favourite creative screw-up?
I was trying to make some new soft baby balls using a pentagon shape and ended up with stars instead as I sewed it all up wrong, but in the end they still worked so I have kept on with the style.

Kitchen table or studio?
Kitchen table – there’s not much space for dinner time in my house!

Do you have a wish list? Can you tell us what’s on it?
My biggest wish is a custom built sewing room, but there is no space left in our house – so maybe more a dream than a wish :)

You can view the Little Peanuts shop here
Read more via Melanie's blog here
and Follow on Facebook here