New Tivaevae Cushion Designs

Tivaevaes, for the uninitiated, are the tropical applique quilts of a South Pacific paradise called the Cook Islands. These quilts are in fact made all over the Pacific from Hawaii to Tahiti. They are beautiful, unique, and exotic. They not only draw on their tropical home for design inspiration, but also for the vibrant, clear, bright colours so prevalent in the tropics.

They take many hours to design and sew and deservedly become family heirlooms. They are almost impossible to buy which is a nice thing. They are a slow burn project and a creation of love and dedication made by women. It was love at first site for me and I have bought books on the subject and from time to time indulge myself for a few hours on the internet searching for articles and pins.

There is a lovely book , written by Lynnsay Rongokea and published by Random House called "The Art of the Tivaevae" In it, a group of Cook Island woman are interviewed and photographed with their creations. They tell their stories of how they learned to sew and from where they draw their inspiration.

A few months ago, when I had my little shop open, I saw a group of Polynesian women looking up at my house from across the road. Obviously my little hot pink Birdiebrown sign had caught their attention. I saw one of the group cross the road to take a closer look and maybe take a photo. I quickly dashed downstairs and hidden from view I invited her in. We scurried up the stairs and I said let's just go in and see what your friends will do. Well they were amazed and were wondering what was going on. We called them all up and had a bit of a chat and a laugh. It turned out they were all from Hawaii and the one I had invited in had an Aunt who was a famous Hawaiian quilter. A few months later to my surprise and delight a package arrived with a catalogue Hawaiian quilts and a box of chocolate coated macadamias.

The upshot is, I've been working on a new range of cushions with a nod to the South Pacific Tivaevae. Rather than in the traditional cotton these are made in pure wool.

Living in the only South Pacific nation that covers most climatic bands doesn't restrict me to the tropical palate! If you travel from top to toe of our two island nation, inspiration can be gleamed from the green forest and farms in the north, spring blossoms in the garden city, autumnal leaves in Queenstown and the wintery whites on the snow capped Southern Alps. One cushion has been designed for each season!

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