Maker pro­file

Court­ney Pet­ley is find­ing suc­cess hand­craft­ing some of the coolest cook­ing uten­sils around.

Homestyle New Zealand - - CONTENTS - IN­TER­VIEW Alice Lines PHO­TOG­RA­PHY Ne eve Wood­ward

Court­ney Pet­ley.

While work­ing long hours in the fash­ion in­dus­try, Auck­land’s Court­ney Pet­ley found she needed a hands-on cre­ative out­let to help her wind down at the end of the week. In the ab­sence of a din­ing ta­ble and chairs in her flat, she started spend­ing her week­ends sourc­ing se­cond-hand wooden fur­ni­ture, then tak­ing it apart, sand­ing it down and putting it back to­gether.

“I found I en­joyed work­ing with wood and wanted to do more,” she says. “I think it was my love of cook­ing and dis­sat­is­fac­tion with the ba­sic se­lec­tion of uten­sils out there that led me to buy a knife and give carv­ing a go.”

So do you have a back­ground in de­sign

and craft? I’m a hands-on per­son, and I’ve al­ways had some sort of craft on the go. When I was lit­tle girl, I made clothes for my Bar­bies by trac­ing the shape of a dress around their bod­ies onto fab­ric, cut­ting out two pieces and hand-stitch­ing them to­gether, then at high school, I made ball gowns for me and my friends. Dur­ing and af­ter uni­ver­sity, where I stud­ied fash­ion, I be­gan mak­ing most of my own clothes. At one point a few years ago, I even made a wed­ding dress.

As well as cloth­ing, I’ve made sculp­tures out of con­crete and ex­per­i­mented with knit­ting – there’s a half-made blan­ket at my par­ents’ house some­where. At the mo­ment I’m also re­ally into mak­ing condi­ments and spreads.

Where do you cre­ate your uten­sils?

I go be­tween com­mu­nity work­shop The Clay­store in Devonport and my stu­dio on Up­per Queen Street. I do all of my plan­ning and de­sign­ing at my stu­dio, and I find it hard to switch off, so I also spend a lot of time in my head work­ing through new de­signs, tech­niques and pro­duc­tion pro­cesses. I can ob­sess over one idea for weeks; it’s not un­til it’s made that I’m able to move on to the next.

What does a typ­i­cal day of mak­ing

in­volve? The Clay­store is only open for three hours at a time, so I have to go in pre­pared. When I’m do­ing a full day of wood­work, I usu­ally spend the morn­ing there, mostly on the band­saw and the sand­ing wheel. The band­saw is where I cut out all my shapes, and the sand­ing wheel is where I re­fine them; this helps re­duce the time it takes me to carve. •

Back at the stu­dio, I usu­ally start the af­ter­noon with a bit of carv­ing – ei­ther carv­ing out the scoops in the spoons or fur­ther re­fin­ing pieces that have been cut then shaped on the sand­ing wheel. I al­ways have a pile of half-fin­ished stuff, so I like to end the day sand­ing and fin­ish­ing things up – it makes me feel like I’ve ac­com­plished some­thing! To re­duce the pain in my hands, I try to mix it up, mak­ing sure I do only a few hours of carv­ing and a few hours of sand­ing at a time, with lots of stretch­ing in be­tween. It’s an ap­proach that’s taken me a few physio and acupunc­ture ses­sions to learn.

Do you have a favourite type of tim­ber?

Heart rimu has the most gor­geous grain. I love watch­ing it de­velop, but it’s a very hard wood to work with, so I don’t use it for spoons as much as I’d like. Re­cently I was given some beau­ti­ful 100-year-old kauri weath­er­boards by a vol­un­teer at The Clay­store that I’m re­ally en­joy­ing us­ing. The grain is sub­tle, but it carves so well and has a lovely lus­tre.

What are the tools of your trade that

you can’t do with­out? I use about five dif­fer­ent tools, but I couldn’t do with­out my knives. I have a hook knife shaped like a ‘J’ that I use to carve the scoops of my spoons, and a short blade that I do all the fine carv­ing and shap­ing with. These tools make my shapes what they are, and I feel the most cre­ative and im­mersed in the process when I’m work­ing with them.

What keeps you go­ing while you

work? I find the sound of voices in the back­ground so nice, so I lis­ten to a lot of pod­casts while I’m carv­ing. It’s usu­ally some­thing I don’t have to pay too much at­ten­tion to; I’m so in my head analysing what I’m work­ing on and what it could be­come that I couldn’t con­cen­trate on an in­ter­view or a story if I tried. While I’m sand­ing, I like to have mu­sic play­ing – usu­ally some­thing I can tune out.

Given you make cook­ing uten­sils, are

you pretty handy in the kitchen? I love cook­ing – I find it so re­lax­ing. I en­joy it the most when I’ve run out of gro­ceries so I’m forced to be cre­ative with what I have. One of my favourite dishes is pasta; I go be­tween a clas­sic tomato sauce and a vege Bolog­nese. I use a lot of cook­books, but Ot­tolenghi is my hero. pet­ley.store

“I can ob­sess over one idea for weeks; it’s not un­til it’s made that I’m able to move on to the next.”

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