Mind­ful mak­ing Hob­bies to learn

We love cel­e­brat­ing lo­cal mak­ers and en­cour­ag­ing DIY here at Your Home and Gar­den, so this month the team de­cided to walk the talk and try some work­shops in our lo­cal area. Here are the re­sults…

Your Home and Garden - - Contents - Pho­tog­ra­phy by Angie Humphreys.

“The fun part comes first: pick­ing out your ves­sels and scents. I went for a her­itage flo­ral theme with vin­tage gar­de­nia, gera­nium and jas­mine”

CAN­DLE MAK­ING I’ve al­ways been ob­sessed with can­dles. There’s noth­ing bet­ter than light­ing a few scented can­dles on a Sun­day evening and bask­ing in the glory of a clean house with no chores left to do. Bliss!

Brian and Emma Simp­son from Can­dle Cre­ations, New Zealand’s largest sup­plier of can­dle and soap mak­ing prod­ucts, started their busi­ness in 2010. As cus­tomers dis­cov­ered them, de­mand grew for lessons, so the pair now also run reg­u­lar cour­ses at their Auck­land stu­dio. They use 100 per­cent nat­u­ral soy wax and zinc- and lead-free can­dle wicks and – should you de­cide to take up can­dle mak­ing as a hobby – all the ves­sels, scents and equip­ment you’ll need.

“We have all sorts of peo­ple tak­ing our cour­ses. Most just want to have fun and save money mak­ing can­dles at home; for oth­ers it’s the start of their own suc­cess­ful can­dle-mak­ing busi­ness,” Brian says.

I went into the class think­ing it would be an ab­so­lute breeze and I’d be walk­ing out with my home­made can­dle in no time. Turns out, there’s a bit of an art to it. The fun part comes first: pick­ing out your ves­sels and scents (I went for a her­itage flo­ral theme with vin­tage gar­de­nia, gera­nium and jas­mine).

Brian ex­plained that al­though it sounds easy enough to melt some wax, chuck in some scent, pour it into a jar and let it set, there’s ac­tu­ally quite a lot more in­volved. If you want your can­dle to set well (no air bub­bles and a firm con­sis­tency), smell great (not too strong, not too sub­tle) and melt evenly and safely, you need to get your mea­sure­ments right and that’s where things can get a lit­tle tricky.

The good news is that Brian and Emma pro­vide re­ally de­tailed in­struc­tions at their class as well as on their web­site. They also have a handy lit­tle starter kit you can buy for $65 with ev­ery­thing you need to get you on your way.

I’d highly rec­om­mend the class and I can’t wait to get started on my can­dle-mak­ing jour­ney. I’m go­ing to save a for­tune and they will make per­fect gifts for friends and fam­ily!

“Ev­ery­one had dif­fer­ent vari­a­tions of the orig­i­nal bou­quet, but all had Eden’s sig­na­ture wild and beau­ti­ful look”


Work­ing with Eden Ker­sten from The Botanist on many shoots, I’ve al­ready picked up loads of in­for­ma­tion about flow­ers and plants, but I’m al­ways ea­ger to learn more so I signed up for one of her flo­ral work­shops.

The class started at 6.30pm and in­cluded a nice glass of bub­bles (fol­lowed by an­other) which I hap­pily sipped while ad­mir­ing the ar­ray of flow­ers in her cen­tral Auck­land shop. There was a long ta­ble and benches set up with floristry scis­sors, twine and a se­lec­tion of stems and fo­liage. We all took our seats and lis­tened to Eden ex­plain the dif­fer­ent types of fo­liage and flow­ers in front of us and how to cre­ate the gor­geous bou­quet on dis­play be­hind her.

At first I doubted I’d be able to make any­thing slightly re­sem­bling her cre­ation, but as she ex­plained the dif­fer­ent stages of mak­ing the bou­quet and the ‘spi­ralling’ tech­nique,

I felt a lit­tle bet­ter. First we sep­a­rated out our stems and then started build­ing our bou­quets. We started with the fo­liage (some wild-look­ing wat­tle) then added woody tulip magnolia on top, stem by stem in an over­lap­ping for­ma­tion to hold the bou­quet to­gether. Next we added some rust-coloured cym­bid­ium orchids, then creamy white roses. We fin­ished the bou­quet with hand­fuls of cryptan­dra and erioste­mon.

Look­ing around, I saw ev­ery­one had slightly dif­fer­ent vari­a­tions of Eden’s orig­i­nal ar­range­ment but they all had Eden’s sig­na­ture wild and beau­ti­ful look. Once our bou­quets were com­plete we wound twine around the stems to se­cure them and gave the ends a quick trim to even them up (tip: al­ways cut on an an­gle), then all we had to do was place the bou­quets on pre-cut pa­per and get wrap­ping.

Af­ter­wards, we all stepped back and ad­mired our col­lec­tive hand­i­work and mar­velled at how unique they all were, even though we’d all used the same flow­ers and tech­nique. Eden ex­plained that this is the spe­cial thing about ar­rang­ing flow­ers – each per­son puts their own spin on it. I re­ally en­joyed my­self and have even talked a few girl­friends into join­ing me for the next one!

WALL HANG­ING I saw a sim­ple wall hang­ing by Brit­tany Chi­naglia, of Brit­tany Makes on Pin­ter­est, and wanted to make some­thing sim­i­lar for my en­trance­way. Be­ing fa­mil­iar with Nannes­tad & Sons’ beau­ti­ful craft­work, I de­cided to ask founder Wendy Nannes­tad if she could help me adapt and make the de­sign.

Wendy and hus­band Paul founded Nannes­tad & Sons in 2013 and to­gether de­sign and make homeware, fur­ni­ture and jew­ellery which com­bine tra­di­tional craft tech­niques with con­tem­po­rary forms and nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als. Their style is in­spired by their Dutch and Nor­we­gian her­itage, and fea­tures sim­ple forms and hon­est ma­te­ri­als with a touch of whimsy thrown in.

Us­ing thick, nat­u­ral cot­ton cords with con­trast­ing brass tubes for the main body gave length and struc­ture to the piece. The oak rod at the top (with drilled holes so the cords could be se­cured with a knot) an­chors the hang­ing while the 30 combed-cot­ton macramé tas­sels at the bot­tom add tex­ture and a lit­tle chaos (each in­di­vid­u­ally knot­ted and lov­ingly combed!).

It wasn’t only the ‘mak­ing’ process that in­spired me – I also loved chat­ting to Wendy about the im­por­tance of pass­ing on skills to younger gen­er­a­tions, the emo­tional con­nec­tion craft cre­ates, and how it cel­e­brates im­per­fec­tion. We’re both con­scious that life has be­come very fast and peo­ple of­ten don’t make time to learn or de­velop out­side their com­fort zones. “Learn­ing a craft not only chal­lenges self-in­flicted stereo­types but also al­lows us to slow down. Craft is of­ten rhyth­mic; it con­nects our brain to our hands and can be al­most med­i­ta­tive in its rep­e­ti­tion,” Wendy says, and I couldn’t agree more.

“Their style is in­spired by their Dutch and Nor­we­gian her­itage, and fea­tures sim­ple forms and hon­est ma­te­ri­als with a touch of whimsy thrown in”

DRIED WREATH Have you ever ad­mired a gor­geous hand­made wreath? Per­haps you’ve seen a sculp­tural piece hang­ing on a wall or lusted over a fab­u­lous fes­tive wreath on a friend’s door. Did you as­sume they were im­pos­si­ble to make? I did, un­til I went to a ‘Sculp­tural Wreaths of Vines and Branches’ work­shop at the Vida Flores Flower School.

Vida Flores owner Dav­ina Prankerd has cre­ated an en­joy­able, easy class where she shows small groups of stu­dents how to make dried wreaths. The wreaths are sculp­tural, un­tamed, im­per­fect and beau­ti­ful. The best part is, you can take the wreath home and it will keep for years, mak­ing an ideal base for sea­sonal dec­o­ra­tions.

The class takes place out the back of the fra­grant and beau­ti­ful Vida Flores shop in Auck­land’s New­mar­ket, where Dav­ina and her team sell artis­tic bou­quets and cre­ate ar­range­ments for events and wed­dings. Dav­ina has pre­pared bun­dles of cut grapevines and ex­plains to us how to take a vine and wind it around it­self to form a loop as the wreath base. Then it’s an hour of wrestling vines into sub­mis­sion as we con­tinue wind­ing and adding un­til our wreaths are the de­sired size and shape. It’s quite ad­dic­tive and fun, but even­tu­ally it’s time to head back into the shop to dec­o­rate them. We choose from green­ery such as fresh ivy and flow­ers in­clud­ing jas­mine and erica (which I used). Dav­ina also shows us how to in­cor­po­rate a test tube into the wreath so that flow­ers and green­ery will stay hy­drated.

This was a fun, sim­ple work­shop which in­spired me to get more cre­ative with na­ture and proved that cre­at­ing a sculp­tural, botan­i­cal ar­range­ment can be easy. Proudly dis­play­ing my wreath at home was pretty spe­cial, too.

The Vida Flores Flower School of­fers classes in flower ar­rang­ing, wall in­stal­la­tions, sugar flower mak­ing, fes­tive dis­plays and more.

“This fun, sim­ple work­shop in­spired me to get cre­ative with na­ture”

XXL KNIT­TING I had seen Plump & Co’s ‘gi­ant knit­ting’ work­shops all over so­cial me­dia and be­came de­ter­mined to cre­ate one of their su­per­sized sculp­tural blan­kets, not to men­tion learn how to han­dle those fas­ci­nat­ingly large knit­ting nee­dles!

The work­shop, held at Auck­land Art Gallery, was be­ing run by Jac­inta, the di­rec­tor of Plump & Co. I was a bit ner­vous as I’m a novice knit­ter and hadn’t wielded a pair of knit­ting nee­dles since my grandma gave me a les­son as a child, but Jac­inta as­sured me that this was the case for many peo­ple who take her classes.

Af­ter some chat and min­gling with a glass of wine, I was guided to a chair set up with a “bump” of wool and those fa­mous large knit­ting nee­dles. We all took our seats and watched Jac­inta demon­strate how to eas­ily hold your nee­dles and cast on.

Once I got the hang of op­er­at­ing the nee­dles – which is quite a work­out, I might add – I was hooked. As I com­pleted my first few rows I looked around at my fel­low knit­ters; ev­ery­one was do­ing so well and I be­gan to get a lit­tle com­pet­i­tive. Most peo­ple were go­ing for smaller items like scarves, bowls or pet beds, but I de­cided to take on the task of knit­ting a queen-size bed throw. As I fu­ri­ously knit­ted on, de­ter­mined to get my project com­pleted by the time the two hours was up, I could see my throw tak­ing shape and was pleas­antly sur­prised.

At the end of the class, I was re­ally pleased with my (al­most fin­ished) throw. Ev­ery­one in the group was ad­mir­ing each other’s cre­ations and knit­ting tech­niques, and it was so cool to see all the dif­fer­ent things you could make out of this amaz­ing, chunky wool.

I later or­dered an­other bump of wool on­line and added to my throw to make it even big­ger, which was su­per easy to do. Plump & Co holds work­shops all over New Zealand so check out its web­site and see if there’s one near you – I’d highly rec­om­mend it.

“I had seen Plump & Co’s ‘gi­ant knit­ting’ work­shops all over so­cial me­dia and be­came de­ter­mined to cre­ate one of their su­per­sized sculp­tural blan­kets”

DREAMCATCHER The thought of mak­ing a dreamcatcher had never crossed my mind un­til a beau­ti­ful cre­ation ar­rived in the of­fice one day for a shoot. It was del­i­cate and nat­u­ral, with glint­ing metal­lic thread de­tails and tiny crys­tals which caught the light – very dif­fer­ent to what I’d seen be­fore. I was en­chanted. I dis­cov­ered that the maker of that dreamcatcher, Lyn-Marie Har­ris of Dizzie Pixie De­signs, not only cre­ates cus­tom com­mis­sions but also runs work­shops and par­ties for all sorts of oc­ca­sions (for kids and adults), so I de­cided to sign up for her next DIY event.

Upon ar­rival at the work­shop I was adorned with a com­pul­sory flower crown and also opted for a light dust­ing of “magic Dizzie Pixie dust” (usu­ally re­served for chil­dren but what the hey). On a ta­ble lay all kinds of colour­ful dreamcatcher sup­plies – threads, beads, feath­ers and more. Lyn-Marie up­cy­cles ev­ery­thing; her mantra is “reuse, re-love, re­cy­cle”. Like a lit­tle mag­pie, she col­lects what oth­ers may deem trash and uses it in her art: from bro­ken bits of jew­ellery and pieces of fab­ric to lace, wool, but­tons and shells.

Lyn-Marie briefly ex­plained the ori­gins of dream­catch­ers; how Na­tive Amer­i­cans made them to pro­tect the dreamer from bad dreams (they get caught in the web), while let­ting the good dreams slip through the cen­tral hole, down the feath­ers and onto the dreamer be­low. Her own phi­los­o­phy is that peo­ple should ar­rive at their own in­ter­pre­ta­tion of what a dreamcatcher is and then craft one with love; that way they will end up with some­thing unique to them.

The weav­ing process is straight­for­ward; it just takes time – about two hours to be ex­act. The fid­dly part is when you need to use the glue gun to se­cure thread or tie small trea­sures into the web; the fun part is de­cid­ing on colour, de­sign and where to put what. I wove some of my own ran­domly col­lected, sen­ti­men­tal trea­sures into my de­sign, mak­ing my cre­ation feel a lot more mean­ing­ful to me.

Lyn-Marie ex­plained that her work­shops are all about “mind­ful mak­ing” and that the peo­ple who come to her classes are crav­ing a chance to un­plug and get away from the phones and de­vices that sat­u­rate mod­ern life. I was hav­ing fun cre­at­ing and learn­ing some­thing new, and Lyn-Marie and I gos­siped away like old friends. At the end of a very pleas­ant af­ter­noon, I left feel­ing in­spired and re­freshed, al­ready think­ing about my next cre­ation. •

Kristina Rap­ley

Deputy editor

Cather­ine Wilkin­son

Style di­rec­tor

Shel­ley Fer­gu­son


Fiona Ralph

Fea­tures editor

Cather­ine Wilkin­son

Style di­rec­tor

“I wove some of my own ran­domly col­lected, sen­ti­men­tal trea­sures into my de­sign, mak­ing it feel a lot more mean­ing­ful to me”

Tanya Wong Cre­ative di­rec­tor

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