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Concrete planters with copper foil by Amelayna Designs

Interview: Maree Petrousis | Amelayna Designs

Melbourne-based Maree Petrousis has achieved what many dream of: turning a hobby into a business. And it all started, as so often happens, after making concrete planters for herself and then for friends and family. What’s more, she’s hit on a trend that doesn’t seem to be waning. Concrete is still a popular choice for kitchen bench tops, table tops and accessories.

Concrete planter by Amelayna Designs

Here, Maree talks a little about her creative life …

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Maree at work on her planters

Tell us a bit about yourself. When and why did you begin exploring with the concrete?

My name is Maree. I’m a wife and mum of two little girls. My background is in retail, makeup artistry and now I’m working full-time in the banking industry.

I started experimenting with concrete four years ago, which was a little after I had my first child. It was as a hobby and a means to delve back into my creative side. Since then, I have worked hard to create a brand [Amelayna Designs] that is unique, high in quality and affordable and appealing to people who share my love and passion for home decor.

Concrete planter trio by Amelayna Designs

Can you share a bit about the creative process. How do you like to wo­rk?

I like to work in my home studio most nights of the week, when the kids are in bed and I have some time to myself.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by colour trends and unique abstract designs. But I also like to create designs I would be happy to display in my own home – be it bold colours, pastel colours or abstract designs. I like to create pieces that have a level of uniqueness.

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Are there any new designs or styles you want to int­roduce?

I have recently launched two new designs. My Marble Luxx Planter, which is one of a kind and unique. It is inspired by monochrome colours black and white. I have also recently launched my new XL indoor pots which I’m very excited about.

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What are some of your important tools of trade?
These would have to be good paint brushes and high quality paint.

Have you ever had a ‘who’d have thought’ moment? Explain.

‘Who’d have thought’ I would be running my own small business! I’m so proud of myself and where I’ve come with my products and brand since I started four years ago. I’m really excited to see what is in store for my business this year and for the future.

Large concrete planter by Amelayna Designs

Thanks Maree! You can find Amelayna Designs on Etsy.

And we love Maree’s designs so much, we’re featuring a collection in the  store. They’re a great complement to our Sprout Pencils. 

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Visit the Who'd Have Thought store

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Interview: Kelly White | Vintage Collector

Meet Kelly White, who collects everything from vintage handmade to vintage homespun with battery rescue hens in between.
Words by Meryl Hancock, photographs by Ken Brass.

You could be forgiven for thinking it’s a blonde Shirley Temple who answers the front door of a brick cottage in the Sydney suburb of Kyeemagh. Bold ringlets, a vintage print dress with a delicately scalloped neckline, perfectly coordinated clogs and an adorable smile greet Australian Country. Oh, and the exuberance of youth. I’m waiting for the improvised tap dance. Instead Kelly White motions us into her hallway and my eyeballs start to swivel. The show begins with a wall of vintage plates to the left, a vivid shower of retro skirts to the right and two sociable chooks that keep bobbing in and out of the frame. It is captivating and we’ve only seen a snippet.

screen-shot-2017-02-16-at-12-50-37-pmGrowing up surrounded by treasures, such as her great grandfather’s paintings and her mother’s antique and contemporary quilts, Kelly has continued a collecting tradition. The house is brimming with history as it was her father’s childhood home.

screen-shot-2017-02-16-at-12-49-49-pmThere is a cluster of Bambi deer on the mantelpiece, and her workroom is a gallery of framed butterflies, ballerina prints, swan paintings, and plenty of French bulldog portraits. “I definitely like realism, animal prints, anything 1950s with a European influence,” she says. “My partner, Trev, works for a European audio company and has to travel once or twice a year so I tag along and pick up a lot of collectables that I’d never find in Australia.”

screen-shot-2017-02-16-at-12-50-21-pmWe venture from her workspace into a room that Kelly mentions was her father’s bedroom when he was a child. The lurid lime shagpile sets the tone for the psychedelic clothing collection stored here. Vintage hats hung sculpturally, silk and organza scarves waft, clutches of belts every hue of the rainbow dangle, and myriad beaded bags dominate wall space and clamber skywards. Immaculately tailored 1950s dresses jostle for attention in a riot of colour. Amazingly each and every dress fits Kelly and her daily selection is via a process of matching the novelty print to the occasion. “The fifties cut is so flattering and novelty prints are so specific and often themed,” she says. “I have a lot of seaside related prints, a unique print of the Swiss Alps that makes me nostalgic after a trip there, and one featuring the Eifel Tower. They’re so much more interesting than what is produced today. People are afraid to take risks nowadays, they don’t think about the longevity of their wardrobe, but back then fashion was all women had.”

screen-shot-2017-02-16-at-1-21-16-pmThis story was originally published in the February 2016 issue of Australian Country.
You can follow Kelly White on instagram @thestorybookrabbit

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Interview: NZ designers | George and Willy

We love a feel-good story of childhood friends who end up working together because they share the same passions. New Zealand designers and makers George Wilkins and Will McCallum have done just that and judging by their after-hours fishing and rafting trips and the helicopter spotting game they created, their friendship certainly doesn’t seem to have suffered.

The founders of George and Willy design, make and produce quality handmade goods – all things they wanted or needed themselves. It’s the process of making and creating that spurs them on.

As they say on their blog: ‘We love making stuff … it is our passion and it continues well after the working day is done. Many after-work hours are spent here in the workshop, creating and bringing to life personal projects we all get excited about.’

And here at Who’d Have Thought, we’re thrilled to be featuring one of their products, the Studio Roller in the store! The idea for it came from a roll of kraft paper, which developed into a simple wall-mounted bracket to hold the paper so that it can be used as you would a whiteboard. It’s now the guys’ main instrument for brainstorming ideas and making lists. As with many of their products, when others saw it, they wanted one too. And so a business was born.

Come and meet George and Will …

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George Wilkins and Will McCallum

Please introduce yourselves. What are your backgrounds? What’s your story?

We are childhood mates who went to university in Dunedin. We started making stuff in the university workshop – we had access as we were doing a design paper together – then we never really stopped. We never set out to be in business together but I guess if people are buying your things it becomes a business!

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The Daily Roller

How do you know each other and how do you find working together? Is there a formula?

We’re family friends who met skiing at Whakapapa [a ski resort on Mt Ruapehu in the North Island of New Zealand]. Will does the creative side of things and George is the skipper of the business and makes it all work. But everyone does everything. Every product has input from at least 10 different people – friends and family. Collaboration is the best.

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The Bang Bang Pegboard

What’s your design philosophy?

Simple and functional. If you use quality materials and design something to serve its purpose. It will always look good.

You design quite a diverse range of products from stylish fire-starter kits to dog leads and furniture. Where do your ideas come from and what was the first item you designed together?

All our products are things we needed for ourselves, and we thought if we needed them other people must as well.

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The George and Willy Firestarter Kit designed to make lighting fires easy

The Studio Roller is such a simple idea that takes kraft paper to a whole new level. Tell us more about it and where did the idea came from?

We needed one in the workshop for jobs and ideas. We didn’t really like whiteboards so thought this would be a nice alternative.

What inspires you?

Things you know you are going to have for life – we love that.

George & Willy

Plywood and galvanised steel coffee table

Can you tell us what the future may hold for George and Willy? Any new designs/products you can tell us about?

In the next couple of weeks we are releasing a hanging drying rack. Stay tuned on Instagram to see more @georgeandwilly.

It’s not very cool, but we really like…
We have a workshop by the airport and we now know all the different types of helicopters. We have a competition running – when you see a chopper, you have to name what type it is and that gets you a point [on the tally board]. It’s getting pretty serious – ha ha!

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The George and Willy office where they spot helicopters and are running a tally!

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The Studio Roller

Thanks George and Will for your time!

You can find George and Willy here and on Instagram and Facebook.

And buy the Studio Roller from us here (and check out our new-look store while you’re at it!).

Visit the Who'd Have Thought store

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Interview: Craig Robson | Carousel Collector

Meet the modern day Scarlet Pimpernel – Craig Robson, who has been riding a carousel of adventure across many decades. Words by Meryl Hancock, photography by Ken Brass.

Behind a simple door to an unobtrusive warehouse in the Sydney suburb of Mascot lurks a giant fairground masterfully disguised. Dance hall organs of unfathomable proportion sit poised to perform, Grecian busts grace dark corners, fairy lights wink, and a raucous chorus of, How much is that doggy in the window? bursts from a spinning carousel.

screen-shot-2017-01-31-at-4-36-08-pmThe rendition is bold and jaunty and conjures memories of riding in circles, waving gaily at parents and onlookers, and not wanting to get off. The fun facilitator appears, waistcoated showman Craig Robson. “I collect three things – mechanical musical instruments, a bit of steam and a lot of dust,” he announces, a humble introduction to what is a grand-scale collection showcasing fine music production, musical arrangement, carving and engineering from the 1850s through to the 1950s. “I started off playing the piano, then realised that mechanical music sounded so much better,” he adds.

screen-shot-2017-01-31-at-4-41-16-pmPropelled by his love of both engineering and music, his quest began four decades ago in Toowoomba with a Dutch street organ called Amsterdam. While still at school, he’d owned and rented out vintage cars for weddings but this was something else, and kick-started his sizeable collection.

screen-shot-2017-01-31-at-4-44-24-pmThe best find in Craig’s book is an unrestored quality instrument, which is becoming harder to come by. Membership to several clubs and associations around Australia and internationally keeps him in the loop. Now retired from a career in business management, he declares he’s stopped collecting, so the majority of his time and money is spent maintaining his extraordinary pieces. Help from specialist craftsmen affords Craig some leisure time for his Latin American and ballroom dancing, surfing and meditation. “The balance of life is most important,” he adds.

screen-shot-2017-01-31-at-4-47-27-pmFairground Follies is financed by fund-raising events and educational tours. For more information visit http://www.fairgroundfollies.com

This story was originally published in the September 2015 issue of Australian Country