ELLYPEG

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Sigrid Millard paints unique peg dolls and fes­tive dec­o­ra­tions from her Auck­land home, which she sells at mar­kets and on­line.

What is the in­spi­ra­tion be­hind your busi­ness?

My busi­ness is named Ellypeg after my 92-year-old mum, Elly. My mum is known for her artis­tic and cre­ative abil­i­ties. There was noth­ing she couldn’t make or do. I never con­sid­ered that I was in any way re­motely as cre­ative as her. I am now pleased to be able to carry on a lit­tle of her ways through my dolls and wooden dec­o­ra­tions.

How did you get into mak­ing peg dolls?

Two years ago I par­tic­i­pated in the 100 Days Project, a world­wide project run by New Zealan­der Emma Ro­gan. The aim is to re­peat a sim­ple cre­ative task for 100 days. My daugh­ter was go­ing to do it and so I thought I would give it a try too. I had never done any­thing like this be­fore. I hap­pened upon the tim­ber peg dolls in among our craft sup­plies and thought it might be fun to paint a peg doll a day. They started off very sim­ple, but about two weeks in, they started to de­velop per­son­al­i­ties and be­came quite de­tailed. After the project was fin­ished, so many peo­ple ap­proached me say­ing that I should con­sider sell­ing them. I was ad­dicted so I thought, “Why not?”

What do you love about this work?

I find the process very re­lax­ing. The peg dolls are rather tac­tile, I think it’s that they are made of tim­ber, plus their shape and size – a whole per­son­al­ity that sits nicely in your hand. I of­ten cus­tom paint from pho­tos and so I like to feel that a lit­tle of the per­son’s char­ac­ter comes through. The de­tails can be quite chal­leng­ing at times but that is what makes them so unique. It is lovely to be able to make some­thing that will last and has mean­ing. With time they may fade, or be­come bat­tered and bruised but, as they are wooden, that will only en­hance their charm.

What has the re­sponse been to your Christ­mas cre­ations?

The re­sponse has been over­whelm­ing. I think it’s partly be­cause they are made of tim­ber, and peo­ple can see the work that is in­volved and that they are painted with love and care. Many have bought them as gifts and men­tioned that they will be­come heir­looms.

Do you have a back­ground in paint­ing?

No, but I’m a for­mer ar­chi­tec­tural draughts­man. I used to do a lot of pre­sen­ta­tion draw­ings and de­tail work so I have al­ways been steady-handed and love pat­terns and de­tails.

Do you do this full time?

I don’t work full time but what started as a 100-day project and hobby has now grown into a lit­tle busi­ness that has taken on a life of its own. I don’t con­sider Ellypeg a job. I love what I do and I hope that comes through in the dolls and dec­o­ra­tions that I paint.

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