29 November 2011

New Zealand Creative Retreats

 I have been asked to teach a self portrait mixed media workshop early next year with two wonderful women... Carol Neilson, Journalling and Leonie Wise, Visual Navagation.

I am really excited and honoured to have been asked to be a part of this wonderful venture.   To be away from everything and surrounded by a group of lovely creative souls will be so inspiring.  If anyone is interested in joining us or needs more information please click here.

Katherine Quinn (sleep and her Sisters)

27 November 2011

Buy Handmade!

Americans just celebrated their annual holiday of family, friends, love and gratitude - Thanksgiving. Then they entered into the frenzied holiday shopping season with Black Friday, a day when most mass retailers offer discount prices. The focus on shopping has grown to such an extent that there's now a backlash brewing, and there were calls advocating for the Friday after Thanksgiving to be Don't Buy Anything Day. Which then developed it's own backlash. The alternative suggested? Buy Handmade Day! This one I can get behind.

The day has passed, but it's not too late to buy a special, original, unique, handmade item for your loved ones for the holidays. To make your shopping easier, I've created this Etsy Treasury with all the items being my our New Zealand Handmade members. Check it out!

24 November 2011

A Coversation with Vicky of Squibble & Co

Vicky of Squibble & Co makes a fabulously quirky and eclectic range of products from crocheted amigurumi such as Owl Hootie Cuties to polymer clay 'Eskimo Lolly' brooches to hand illustrated 'Mad Hatters' Tea Time hat pins using shrink plastic.  Here, Vicky tells us more about her inspirations and interests...
Who is Squibble & Co?

Vicky, Freelance web designer and flash animator who loves designing cute character products and crocheting amigurumi!

What’s your “handmade groove ?”

I love to draw, so one of my favourite things to make besides amigurumi is hand-decorated jewellery.

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

Several pieces of hand-made jewellery by other New Zealand crafters, including a ‘Get Excited and Make Things’ necklace by Marjorie Dawson.

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

I am constantly on the search for new and different types of inspiration. I don’t have any particular favourite creative role models, but my RSS feed is chock full of interesting blogs that I read every day!

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

Animation, web design, books and graphic novels!

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

This year I have been lucky to attend the Rutherford Innovation Showcase Digital Content Forum, and am also attending the Adobe Design For Impact Virtual Event. I am looking forward to the Ignite Wellington evening!

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

A good diary goes a long way.

What is your favourite creative screw-up?

I guess my favourite kind of creative screw-up would be one that produces a happy result by accident and is salvageable!

Kitchen table or studio?


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

I would like some really thick wool to go with my 10mm crochet hook, so I can crochet larger toys quickly!

You can find Squibble and Co products ... here
And Follow on Facebook .... here

20 November 2011

10 Quick and Easy Tips to Promote your Handmade Business this Christmas…



This past week I’ve been buying little bits and pieces for Christmas gifts and scouring some of my favourite on-line handmade shops has got me thinking about what I look for and what encourages me to buy at this time of year.  Here are my top 10 tips (in no particular order!)…

  1. Stream-lined?  it’s a given that we always want to see clear, well lit product photos and good descriptions – but have you made absolutely certain that your checkout process is as stream-lined and easy as it can be?  I want to be in, make my purchases and out knowing exactly when I can expect to receive my goods and how much I’ve paid for them.
  2. Free shipping is a huge drawcard and can definately encourage larger purchases particularly if you don’t usually offer it.  Perhaps you could even lock it in to a certain purchase price, eg ‘spend over $40 and receive free shipping’ or ‘buy any 2 to receive free shipping’. 
  3. Giftwrapping – who doesn’t like to receive a beautifully wrapped package – especially if it saves you the time having to do it yourself when you’ll have lots of others to do?!  If you already giftwrap as part of your service, how about offering special Christmas themed wrapping?
  4. Sets – I cannot tell you how much I love sets!  Sets of nice-smelling things in particular but themed things too, eg a soap dish with a soap – perfect, I’m in!  A reversible kids sunhat with matching bib – oh yeah! A camisole with matching lounge pants – you got it! Necklace with matching earrings – done Smile
  5. A range of pricing – do you stock things at different price points.  People are looking to buy for their significant other, extended family, neighbours, friends, and …. teachers, and don’t forget those secret santa gifts. 
  6. Flash sales – are great for both the customer and seller – customer gets a great deal, seller can clear out excess stock.  I would advise keeping them simple, quick (one hour on your website, or Facebook shop front (or photo album).  Promote both in advance, on the day, and just before the sale to maximise exposure, and get your friends/fans to share the news too.ab
  7. Discount vouchers tied to a purchase will encourage a customer to return, eg ‘spend $30 or more to receive a 20% discount on your next purchase’.
  8. Gift vouchers – we all have hard to buy for people and gift vouchers are essential for these types!  Design a beautiful gift voucher for sending out (or an on-line equivalent) in denominations to suit your product prices and your customers wallet, eg $20 might be your customers requirement when purchasing a thank you for their neighbour, but $100 might be more their price for a partner.
  9. Gift Guides – promoting other people is a wonderful idea and as well as showcasing your own item(/s), you have the feel good factor of helping out your creative friends, and your customers find items to suit everyone they’re looking to buy for = win/win/win Smile.  You can do gift guides easily in Felt (their showcase feature), and Etsy (treasuries).
  10. Giveaways – there tend to be a lot around at this time of year and people are very busy,  so I would suggest keeping entry rules really simple but also make sure you are taking your customers where you want them to go, eg, answering a question about a product on your website/on-line shopping area.

So these are my quick tips – have you any to add?

And for some great gift buying – you can’t go past our New Zealand Handmade Members – click here to go to our shop showcase page.

17 November 2011

A Conversation with Amanda of Gryphon Design

Keenly interested in the steampunk aesthetic, Amanda of Gryphon design incorporates this among other mixed media mediums in her jewellery designs to create fresh and fabulous work.  A recent graduate with a Visual Arts and Designs degree, we look forward to seeing where Amanda's inspiration will next strike...

Who is Gryphon Design?

Gryphon Design is the artwork of Amanda Griffin. I’ve just completed my degree in Visual Arts and so now have the time and energy to put into my artwork. While studying my degree I got the opportunity to try many different areas and learnt that my favourites are small object making (commercially as jewellery) and computer animation. Still waiting to discover my commercial niche with that one but will work alongside my partner on web design in the meantime. The jewellery making provides an opportunity to incorporate my digital collages though, which allows me playtime in photoshop.

What’s your “handmade groove ?”

I love to create using found objects, giving them new life in a new form. This applies to my digital collages as well as my jewellery. Particularly interesting for me is vintage industrial objects, hence my current fascination with the Steampunk movement.

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

Doctor Grordbort's Contrapulatronic Dingus Directory – a wonderful book full of Greg Broadmore’s designs for Steampunk rayguns. I’m going to convert some water blasters into rayguns as props for my stall.

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

My inspiration comes from a range of areas, magazines, books, artwork , the internet but also from textures of grungy metal or rusting machinery. Getting away from the daily grind also does wonders for my creativity.

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

Anything creative and inspiring.

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 do a Keith Lo Bue workshop. His approach to found objects and industrial aesthetics is so inspiring.

Oamaru’s Steampunk exhibition on later this month.

A workshop on how to work your business online would always be good of course.

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

Had a huge change around recently to bring this into order. We sold our house and bought a motorhome. Now we live life on the road and travel to all the different craft markets around NZ. No lawns to mow, no mortgage or rates to pay – not even a power bill.

What is your favourite creative screw-up?

I guess when I screw up with something I put it to the side and hope a great idea will grow from it...occasionally it does get used but not sure about the great idea bit!

Kitchen table or studio?

Kitchen table – no longer have a studio! But it seems to work just fine. I had a workshop and an indoor office to work in. Both were a mess and in total disarray. Now I am limited to what I can do in the space I have and it’s a godsend!

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

Clever storage ideas that make it easy to find and pull out the materials I need yet take up as little space as possible.

Sunshine for the market days :)

You will find Gryphon Designs products... here
Follow on Facebook ... here

15 November 2011

Sweet Pea Inspiration

 Great inspiration can be found in the garden

Cheers  Marie

13 November 2011


In the middle of getting ready for all the markets that are coming up in the next few months I have been working on Olive. She is a very crafty girl, always making things... sewing, designing, cutting, inventing, creating, drawing, planning, attaching, imagining, gluing, devising, constructing, altering, thinking.

She makes all of her sisters lovely dresses, although some of her hat designs have never seen the light of day as they are far too extravagant and not particularly practical. Olive comes from a royal line (her Uncle is a King) and she is thinking of designing him a new crown.

10 November 2011

A Conversation with Andy of Fat Spatula

The Man Shawl 01 LRIntroducing The Man Shawl LR
I find it really hard to view Andy of Fat Spatula’s work without smiling – so I’ve stopped trying!  As he says himself, “… their main purpose is to make you smile.  Their secondary purpose is function. “ And if you’ve met Andy in person at a market you’ll know he is a walking advertisement for his wonderful products – often modelling the well-known ‘Man Shawl’ with it’s multitude of uses or one of his ‘Haumoana’ t-shirts.  I have yet to see a demonstration of ‘The Man Towel’ or a cooking lesson with the Haumoana Soup Stone, nor do I know if he can colour within the lines of ‘The real good colouring book’  – but I’m pretty sure if you asked, he’d be happy to show you!

Who is Fat Spatula?
Fat Spatula is the love-child of Andy Heyward.
I was born tiny but now I am much bigger. I am an artist, a painter, a lover, and a father. I enjoy illustrating the ideas that I concoct and I like the act of creating, whether photographic, cartoon, digital, paint or craft.

While being a self-employed graphic artist for a living I also paint and create on a regular basis.
I consider my work to be deeply shallow and I enjoy bringing a smile to people’s faces. I also like to glorify everyday objects and make what is not precious the centre of attention.

Painting and making 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.

What’s your “handmade groove ?”
I like the quirky and slightly off-beat in life. I love work that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and things that have a twist, something that wasn’t obvious at first glance. In this day and age of social networking and virtual existence, I like the things that have been made by human hands and thoughts. I think the human touch is what is appealing about the handmade objects and art that I like to surround myself with.

What’s on your bedside table right now? (hey, no tidying up or censoring)
On my bedside table is a headlamp (for midnight reading), a book I have nearly finished “Fall of Giants” by Ken Follet, a bottle of water, a shoelace, a metal car badge from a Hillman Hunter, an old plastic Tiki they used to hand out on Air New Zealand Flights and plenty of dust.

Who are your creative role models? What music, books, images, poetry spark your creative fire?
My creative role models are many and varied. I am inspired by the paintings of Modigliani and Carravagio. I am continually amazed at the creativity of my beautiful bride. I love watching b-grade movies and classic comedy. I usually have a variety of music on my playlist – from Frank Zapper to Mt Eden Dubstep to Tool. I love to paint with the music blasting and a strong cup of coffee at hand.

What could you talk late into the night about with like minded people?
Philosophy, art and the role of porn-stars as educators.

If you could go to three free workshops/creative events this year which ones would they be? What are they about?
A workshop in how to ask a top price while not caving to artistic guilt at charging too much for something I love to do. I really enjoyed jewellery making when I was studying art and I would love to get back into making jewellery pieces from a blokes point of view. I also want to learn how to cast in aluminium or other metal. Any workshop that allowed me to try new things would also appeal greatly, knowledge is power . . . apparently.

How do you balance your creative life with your family, life commitments?
As I work from home my family life, commitments and creative life are all intertwined together. You can be creative in the mundane banality of everyday chores. In saying that I have a heap of unfinished ideas I have written in a sketchbook waiting to see the light of day. Creativity requires creating space to make those ideas happen. Who needs sleep anyway?

What is your favourite creative screw-up?
I love to deliberately screw around with recipes, I don’t think I have followed one recipe exactly as it is in the book. I love to tinker with meals adding in odd ingredients, not always with good results. My kids won’t let me forget when I decided to make marmite pancakes followed by a weet-bix millkshake, they tucked into the pancakes thinking they were blobs of chocolate, now they question what the meal is made of more carefully.

Kitchen table or studio?

Studio that quite often spills out on to the kitchen table as the mess expands to fill any clear space it can find. I recently turned one of the large rooms into my workspace and art gallery. This was an attempt at appearing more professional, it also means I only have to tidy one room when I am expecting clients.

Do you have a wish list? Can you tell us what’s on it?
I wish that artists were revered as much as rugby players in this country. Imagine collecting a whole set of Weet-bix cards with artists and crafsters on them. Imagine arty folks getting paid to endorse a product on telly. Imagine a government re-writing laws to suit your creative endeavours.

My other wish would be the ability to import or post internationally without the postage costing more than the item.

My material wish list is ever increasing. At the moment I would like to upgrade my camera and computer equipment. The rate of technological improvements constantly leaves me behind. I can never have enough art books and I may need to build a new bookcase to house them.
Soup stone
the real good colouring book 01the real good colouring book 02
You can find Fat-Spatula products …. here
and Follow on Facebook …. here

08 November 2011

Christmas Ornament Tutorials and Ideas

Well the New Zealand Handmade Christmas Ornament Swap is closed and handmade preparations are well under way before the posting date of December 1st comes near.
However I thought I would give you a few more ideas from some sites I have found this morning.

This particular site All Free Crafts covers all things Christmas and there are a lot of patterns for things other than tree decos so a must visit! Here a few I loved
I especially love this crystal swirl ornament

and these hanging baubles
I hope all of the swappees have lots of ideas to choose from and are having fun with it. If you don't then click on any of these photos and it will take you directly to the site and the patterns :)

Joy from Kazzalblue Baby & Childrens Boutique
for Christmas gifts and toys

06 November 2011

Buzz buzz...

On Thursday I was outside my daughters' school here in Napier when I saw this massive swarm of bees approaching.
They don't look like much in the photo, but trust me, there were a lot of them. The swarm even made the local newspaper: Children flee mass bee swarm.

I wasn't too worried. Bees used to scare me, but now that I know more about them and realize their importance in our ecosystem, I kinda like them. Another thing I like about them is their honey!

Not far from here in Havelock North we have a honey bee information center at Arataki Honey. The kids love going for the free honey tastings and the bee dress up costumes and bee displays. I love to browse the honey and bee related shopping. Last time we went I was pleasantly surprised to see some hand-felted bee art by my friend and fellow New Zealand Handmader Marie.
Click on over to her blog, she's running a giveaway right now.

My neighbors have a honey bee hive in their backyard, and this time of year (Spring down under) my garden is constantly buzzing.  Our grapefruit tree is flowering right now, and the bees especially love those blossoms.

What do you think of bees?  Do you have any bee crafts?

03 November 2011

A Conversation with Paula of Slipstitch

Producing beautifully sewn children's and babies items are the current passion for Paula of Slipstitch - crayon rolls, 'Ninkie' blocks and counting sacks are just a few of the products being made in gorgeous fabrics.  And with a view to the Christmas season, Slipstitch advent calendars are surely a must!  Here, Paula shares some of the inspiration and ethos behind her brand...

Who is Slipstitch?
My name is Paula and the name of my business stems from the fact that I simply fell into sewing after seeing so many wonderful handmade products on the market and decided to give it a go myself. Ideas pop into my head all the time and whether it's from a simple picture in a magazine, a beautiful piece of fabric or seeing something quirky in a shop, I love the way an idea develops, putting my own spin on it and letting it run it's course.

Through the amazing support of my friends and family, I am able to share this newfound passion through my creations and if others feel inspired to drag their sewing machine out or pick up a needle and thread after seeing my work, then that's what it's all about. I have enjoyed the whole process of getting Slipstitch off the ground and am truly “living the dream” at the moment.

What’s your “handmade groove ?”
Slipstitch is very much in it's infancy so everything I have done so far has given me a real buzz but I would have to say my favourite products are my taggie squares and cubes, they're just so much fun to make! I love the feeling of accomplishment after completing a new project from scratch and the warm fuzzies I get from happy customers make my day.

What’s on your bedside table right now? (hey, no tidying up or censoring)
Alarm clock and a collection of my son's toys

Who are your creative role models? What music, books, images, poetry spark your creative fire?
Since starting Slipstitch, I have discovered so many wonderful businesses run by incredibly talented people. I owe a huge amount of gratitude to Fabric Fixation, Potamus, Molly the Bear Designs and Baby Bird for inspiring me to drag my sewing machine out in the first place - these ladies are truly an inspiration. I also love getting lost on the internet through different blogs and craft websites such as Sew Mama Sew, Homemade by Jill and Cluck Cluck Sew and I never get tired of looking at the huge range of delicious fabrics out there – my favourite designers are Michael Miller, Riley Blake and Ann Kelle.

What could you talk late into the night about with like minded people?
Anything creative – arts, crafts and photography in particular

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 extend myself through learning different sewing techniques and skills and I also hope to get into the market scene in the near future.

How do you balance your creative life with your family, life commitments?
I do most of my sewing while my son is asleep but have everything nailed down to a fine art! I do all of my preparation (drawing up patterns, cutting out fabric, ironing etc) in the evenings then as soon as those little eyes close for his sleep the next day, it's “sew like the wind”!

What is your favourite creative screw-up?
The most recent one would be completely around one of my taggie squares without leaving an opening for turning – oops!

Kitchen table or studio?
Kitchen table, oh to have a studio *sigh*

Do you have a wish list? Can you tell us what’s on it?
See question above - oh to have a studio! I have so many ideas on how it would look and function and I am determined to make it happen one day. I would also love to learn more about textiles and design, perhaps going back to study at some stage and a bit later down the track, run my own boutique fabric store.

You can view Slipstitch’s products …. here
Follow on Facebook …. here