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Carving Out A New Career With Courtney Petley

Studio Visit

There are two schools of thought when it comes to the hole in the middle of the wooden spoon. It it for measuring spaghetti portions, or to ease the flow of sauce when stirring?

We have it on good authority from New Zealand based wood designer and maker Courtney Petley that the utensil is perfectly shaped to prevent food from breaking up as you stir. Now that is cleared up, read on to hear how this Auckland maker switched from a career in fashion, to turning reclaimed timber into unique and beautiful handcrafted kitchenware.

17th April, 2019

Hand crafted kitchenware by Auckland based designer and maker Courtney Petley. Photo – Courtesy of Courtney Petley.

A life time of making with her hands has led to a career in wood craft. Photo – Courtesy of Courtney Petley.

Everything is hand formed, and tries not to waste any of the reclaimed wood. Photo – Courtesy of Courtney Petley.

Courtney in her home studio. Photo – Courtesy of Courtney Petley.

The objects are made to use every day, and become even more beautiful with age. Photo – Courtesy of Courtney Petley.

Courtney uses all reclaimed native New Zealand timbers. Photo – Courtesy of Courtney Petley.

Courtney works from her home studio, but uses the local community centre to do large scale cutting. Photo – Courtesy of Courtney Petley.

Photo – Courtesy of Courtney Petley.

Photo – Courtesy of Courtney Petley.

The mystery of the hole in the wooden spoon is solved! Photo – Courtesy of Courtney Petley.

Miriam McGarry
Wednesday 17th April 2019

‘I needed to feel like I was being creative, especially to relieve my mind’ – Courtney Petley.

Wood designer and maker Courtney Petley describes herself as a ‘hands on’ kid growing up. With a knitting, sewing, baking and painting Mum, and builder and designer Dad, she was exposed to a creative and encouraging environment. Courtney explains ‘I remember making clothes for my dolly by lying them on some fabric and tracing a dress shape around them, and one of my favourite games to play as a kid was to build my dream home using bits from a Duplo farm and zoo set.’

This burgeoning interest in dolls clothes developed into a career in the fashion industry. While working a highly stressful fashion job, Courtney felt ‘a huge need to do something with my hands, I needed to feel like I was being creative, especially to relieve my mind.’ After tinkering with many materials, Courtney began working with wood… and the rest is history!

Now working out of a studio in the garage of her apartment, Courtney creates unique handcrafted pieces from reclaimed native New Zealand timber. Using Kauri, Rimi and the occasional old Totara railway sleeper, she plays with straight lines and organic forms. Inspired by mid-century design, geometry, and Charles and Ray Eames; Courtney highlights ‘I love the organically straight lines you get with woodworking, a handle can appear straight but I love that you can feel the handmade nature and impurities of it.’

Each piece made by Courtney is unique in size and grain, which she explains is ‘like going to the fabric store for inspiration!’ The designs are adapted to utilise as much of the timber as possible and minimise waste of the reclaimed wood. Courtney works to bring recycled wood back to life, and hopes that the objects will be ‘part of a family home for another hundred or so years.’ A new (beautiful) lease on life, for our precious and limited resources.

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The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net