Katrinkles: an interview

We were so excited to see the first Finch Box fly the nest, and we thought it would be fun to introduce you to some of the talented makers whose items we have included. First up, Katy Westcott, otherwise known as Katrinkles, who made our beautiful wooden Finch tags:

First of all, we'd love to know what lead you into this particular craft. Have you always been a wood worker? Did you receive training or teach yourself over time?

By trade I'm a jeweler.  I graduated from Rhode Island School of Design with a bachelor's in jewelry and metalsmithing.  I worked in fine jewelry in NY for a few years and then in the RI costume jewelry industry for about ten years.  Each year I'd take a workshop or two in something creative which is what led me to a laser cutting workshop at a local maker space in Providence.  I'd thought I would make laser cut jewelry but instead discovered a passion for button making.  It's the perfect intersection of knitting and jewelry making.  

What type(s) of wood do you prefer to work with?

Initially I made everything out of bamboo.  At the beginning of 2017 I started using a domestic hardwood called Alder for all of my tools.  I love the natural iridescence in its surface and its rich caramel color.  The best thing about alder is that it's sustainable, renewable and local: it grows in the northeastern US.  Each board is custom milled for me by a local wood shop here in Rhode Island.  I'm still using bamboo for buttons because I love that it can go in the washer and the dryer but I'm really thrilled to be using Alder for everything else.  

Can you describe your process for us? What equipment did you use to produce our wooden tags? Was this an evolving process? Like something you did one way in the beginning and have changed over time?

My designs are digitally created and I have two laser cutting machines that do the etching and the cutting.  I used to draw the illustrations by hand and scan them in but now my computer has a touch screen monitor so it's just as easy to draw it directly into the program.  

Each piece is hand sanded after laser cutting to remove any sharp edges or corners and then washed to remove any residue from laser cutting.  Then the buttons are carded, stitch markers are assembled and each order is shipped.  Every step of the process happens in house in my studio in Pawtucket, RI which allows for quick turnaround times and gives me the ability to make custom pieces.  

Are you a knitter or sewer yourself?

I'm mainly a knitter and crocheter (I'm Katrinkles on ravelry) but I do try to sew. I've made a whole lot of Washi Dresses and a few other garments, but I enjoy cutting fabric a lot more than the sewing itself.  

We would love to know what inspires you, and what you find to be the most satisfying element of your work. 

It's probably pretty obvious that I love things that are cute.  I can spend an unlimited amount of time in an art museum.  I also love the beach and try to get there as often as possible (with my knitting, of course).  One of my biggest inspirations comes from visiting with customers when vending at sheep and wool festivals.  It's so humbling to hear how much people enjoy using the tools that are made in my little studio.  It's also so fun for me to see the unique ways people incorporate the buttons into their projects.  

Last fall I moved the Katrinkles studio to a larger space in the same building, which is an old department store that's been converted into studio spaces.  Having more space gave me room to work more efficiently, to add a second laser cutting machine and to hire helpers.  Doing something I love with a team of friends in a creative space that I adore makes me so thankful that I can do this full time.

Thanks so much to Katrinkles for our Finch tags, and for giving such a great insight into your work! We have other wonderful Katrinkles items available to pick up in store, and if you need more Finch tags, a limited number are available to purchase via the Finch Box Mercantile

Please keep posted for more interviews over the coming months, and enjoy those Finch Boxes! If you missed out on the first box, don't worry! You still have a few days left to sign up for the next one, and we guarantee it will be packed with more special surprises.