Thursday, November 17, 2011


Red Billed Gull

While in Auckland for Art in the Dark last weekend, I stayed with Rachelle Wood who is the artist behind Birdspoke.   She lives in a rambling old villa set on a huge section planted to attract the birds that inspire her work. It is an oasis of birdsong and beauty near the middle of a big city.

Vintage lace 'window treatment'

Rachelle is doing some lovely renovations and her home displays her quirky, vintage and sweet tastes  perfectly. Her style might be called 'shabby chic' and I like it very much.   My mattress was in centre of the living room floor and when I opened my eyes there was almost a sense of vertigo under the extraordinary ceiling rose (complete with bursting pomegranates) set inside a large dome.  Like any proper home, its heart was in the large kitchen/dining/sitting area which opens out onto a deck with views of fireworks at night and trees in the daytime.

One third of the fabric stash

But my favourite room is her studio which is small, perfectly organised and crammed full of potential for creativity.Her huge stash of fabrics is neatly arranged by colour, her tools stored in baskets from Samoa, and her vintage lace in old suitcases.  I arrived feeling very annoyed to have left my crochet workbag* on the bus, but Rachelle quickly sorted me out with a hook and some ecru cotton from her stash so I could keep making throughout the weekend.

Bird embroideries and sewing machines

I've not met anyone besides Rachelle and me who crochets with this old-fashioned cotton that is so fine and fiddly. Rachelle shares my passion for slow making and hand stitching. She spends hours crafting each individual piece by hand to sell at craft fairs and on Etsy, Felt and Toggle.

A Huia plushie.  Huia because extinct over a century ago because their tail feathers were so fashionable.

She also finds time to make pretty things for herself and her home. I love this work in progress (below), to stitch together old lace doilies into a window hanging.  I can't wait to go back and visit again, to see the light shining through the lace.

*Complete with six precious completed spheres, two balls of cotton, crochet hook and second best scissors.   If you find my little blue and green bag, please give it back!

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