Where do you work? “Te Koha Gallery, Main Rd SH6, Franz Josef Glacier.” What goes on there? “At Te Koha we have a wide selection of Jade, Bone and Wood carving on display for purchase, sourced from master carvers all up the West Coast, many with own cabinets in the gallery. We also have a ‘Carve Your Own’ studio– where anyone can come in and carve their own necklace out of their choice of stone, design and shape. We pride ourselves on providing 100% NZ Nephrite Jade, and about giving attention to this amazing stone, that it’s for everyone. We provide a relaxing space with a cuppa and music to encourage your artistic side, and no time pressures. In a place like Glacier Country where there are so many adventure activities, it’s awesome to have a rainy day option to come and do something creative in a fun environment.” What can we learn at Te Koha’s ‘Carve You Own’? “It’s just as much about the experience as the end result. I like to have small groups so it’s all about one-on-one tutoring to explain process’s, mythology, techniques, and I make sure everyone knows exactly how to achieve what they are trying to achieve. Customers are encouraged to complete as much of it as possible on their own with my guidance. 95% of the work is done on the grinder, as it’s an easy introduction tool for beginners, and we would rather people leave with something that is finished and that they are proud of. And we like to sand by hand as this process puts energy and soul into their piece that they may keep for many generations.” What did you do before you lived in Franz and worked here? “ I have been a musician and DJ for pretty much my whole life, and up until now a Stray bus driver for 3 years, but I’ve always been creative person and a people person so I am really enjoying this new opportunity at Te Koha.” What is your philosophy towards your work?: “ I like to use as much of the stone as possible, with minimal wastage trying to utilize every piece. I’ve pretty much fallen in love with it! I believe that pounamu should be cherished and celebrated, and that it is there for everyone. People are often scared to make one for themselves because of the gift focus that it has. Essentially pounamu was given as a gift because it took so long to make as they didn’t have the tools we have today, and so it was very special when you were given it. I think it should be given as a gift, but it’s ok to make it for yourself! The ultimate feeling is being able to make pieces of jewellery, all cut from the same stone, to give to all my family. It’s especially nice if you found the stone, carved it, wore it first, then gave it away.” What inspires you?: “ Life; people – inspiring others, helping people find their creative spark. Everyone has a creative part of themselves, and a lot of people that come into the gallery don’t have confidence that they do. By the time they leave, we have found it and they go home with a special symbol of NZ that they handmade themselves, feeling more confident in themselves.”
From $75 you can pick any stone with added options of using local Aotea or pink Rhodonite (central Otago) which is one of the only places you can carve either of these stones. Surface designs, bracelet or neck cording extras at a small cost. Allow up to 2.5 hrs.