Where it all began...
So, craft is now cool. Officially. Sunday Star Times magazine says so in an article featured on Sunday titled “Craft Attack”. They also ask the (assumedly rhetorical) question “one wonders if the phenomenon is rolling out New Zealand-wide, or whether it is a peculiarly inner-city Aucklo-Centric endeavour.”
SueTyler fought back with the details of the non-Auck-centric NZ craft scene... being that she was actually there I’m gonna go with her story over the Auckland-ass-kissing journalist who wrote the Sunday magazine piece. There’s now also a facebook group entitled ‘Craft exists beyond the Bombay hills.’ Take that Sunday Star Times – we have a Facebook Group.
I will end my bitching there and instead focus on the positives, highlight some uber-cool-very-much-not-Auckland crafty types. Types who have been there for many a year, and are doing quite well for themselves despite *gasp* *shock* *horror* not living in Auckland. In fact, these crafty types are often living in rural settings... working from the comforts of their homes... selling stuff online and in local markets. It’s ideal really.
First up we have the gorgeous Agnes Coy. Alison has been working from her home studio in the Wairarapa (a map is linked for Aucklanders... very much South of the Bombays) and selling at the various markets that run in local towns around the place. Alison makes a whole bunch of things to wear and carry as well as stuff for around your home. I am particularly enamoured with her hand embroidered bird pillows.
Next up is our very own Megan Rose with her beautiful couture-for-kids. She’s now stocked in quite a few ‘baby boutiques’ and is someone who is doing well by valuing her creations – something very rare in the NZ craft scene. She’s working from the middle of nowhere in the South Island. Oamaru, I believe the locals call it. I’m pretty damn proud of her for doing so well with her beautifully made little people fashion and can definitely see fancy schmancy types falling all over themselves to get hold of a Van Rose piece.
Another Wairarapa girl, Janelle is making her mark by funking up abandoned knits under the label HeartFelt. She scours second hand shops and is sent things from far and wide to upcycle: dyeing pure wool items and embellishing with felt and perfectly made stitches. Her designs are largely NZ-inspired and she escapes the tackiness that is often present with Kiwiana type products. I love love love the kowhai that graces some of the knitted garments and I am so glad that where she can, Janelle dyes them such gorgeous bright colours.
I can safely say that Rhiannon of Toast clothing is a leader in the NZ craft scene as she’s been doing her thang for quite a while now in various New Zealand towns, none of which is Auckland ;) If I have done my stalking correctly, she began Toast clothing in the markets in and around Nelson a few years ago. Since then she’s moved to Whakatane and has continued selling, mostly online. Her appliqué patches are absolutely intricate and her fashion design pretty damn cool. I’ve not been able to resist clicking the ‘purchase’ button many a time when visiting her shop... so beware.
All these crafters give priority to the environment; each recycling materials in some way, working with vintage and second hand fabrics and items. They are all really supportive of fellow crafters and are absolutely gorgeous people as well. These women were involved in the crafty scene long before it was the focus of Sunday Magazine and I imagine will still be long after the ‘cool kids’ have moved on to the next best thing, or perhaps they’ll pre-empt it.