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.