De Raquel Manuela

Maker: Rebecca Blackwood from Mahana

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I stumbled upon Mahana on Instagram. I immediate connected with the colorful stationary and pottery. It all made me miss the excitement of traveling. And it's no wonder they did. I would like you to meet Rebecca Blackwood, from Australia. She and her mother created the handmade business Mahana. Read Rebecca's story below: 

What is your creative background? Did you go to art school for ceramics or graphic design? 

No not at all actually. I'm a pilot so I've spent my time studying almost the opposite; maths, physics, engines, laws and procedures etc. None of that is creative at all! I have always had a creative side though. I love to draw, I come from a very musical family & I remember watching mum making pottery when we were younger. My husband is a graphic designer so we share a passion for creativity & I've learnt the Adobe suite just by being around him which has really helped for getting my cards set up for print! 

What inspired you to start your business? 

I subconsciously needed a creative outlet that the aviation industry couldn't give me, so I found myself scribbling designs on notebooks as a break from my studies or after work to relax. I grew up on the sunny Gold Coast, but during this time I was living in the city of Auckland, which is very cold and also quite conservative in style. I crave the sunshine and being surrounded by lots of colour so this element was incorporated into my designs as a way of adding it back into my life. You'll notice a colourful, almost tropical theme throughout. The word Mahana actually means 'sunshine' or 'warmth' in the Maori language, as a symbol of where and why this creative venture was birthed. 

When I moved back home to the Gold Coast I decided to turn my designs into something others could enjoy by getting them printed onto greeting cards to sell at an upcoming market. By chance, mum was at the same time thinking about getting back into pottery and bought herself a kiln. I instantly jumped under mum's wing & have been blessed to learn how to create ceramics, which I really really love. With this new market as a starting point, Mum and I began 'Mahana'. We've since run with our passions and it's been a really fun learning process. 

What is your creative process like? Do you start with sketches? 

I'm too much of a free spirit & just go with the flow actually. I always start straight up with an ink pen, I'm not really patient enough to sketch first and make things perfect. If I totally ruin it with a wrong stroke then so be it, on to the next one :) With the pottery it's the same, I love hand building and the hand-made, rustic look so I just pick up some clay and start building. I am however looking forward to making collections of bowls & mugs which for a dinner set, say, need to at least be similar in size & shape. For this I'll need to have a bit more of a plan in mind.

What is your work space like? 

My drawings for the greeting cards & art prints are done anywhere I have a notebook and pen. On the couch listening to music, lying in bed with a cup of tea, on the beach after a surf - whenever I feel like drawing I just do. I'll then take the designs to my laptop, sit on the couch with lots of chocolate to keep me going and get them ready for print. The pottery is done both on my front porch where we have the pottery wheel and then taken to mum's balcony where we do the sanding, decorating & have the kiln. Both our places look on to the ocean so it's a beautiful work space for inspiration, we're very lucky.

Who are your favorite designers and artists? 

Felicity 'Flick' Palmateer is incredible. If you haven't seen her stuff you should definitely check her out, she's amazing! I love anything with a lot of colour. I love hippie styles and mandalas, so I'm always discovering new artists who do this kind of work. I don't actually follow anyone though, I just do what comes to me. I guess the inspiration for my work is from the beauty of nature I've been witness to my entire life, as well as all the amazing artists I've ever come across, as opposed to one or two artists in particular.  

Thank you so much for sharing your story and your images! 

To purchase Mahana works you can visit her website or find her on Etsy. Also, be sure to follow her on Instagram