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A Retrospective – Phersu Dancing

A long and winding road

​Sometimes, it helps to look back at where you came from to help understand where you’re going next. Copper Catkin is only just over a year old, but I have been making things my whole life.
This post is a bit of a summary of how I got here – my ‘market cred’, if you will.

In the beginning

I started out with a bag of beads that I bought on Ebay for an ‘imaginary wedding’ – I worked in a call centre, and spent a lot of my time building daydreams to keep me sane. It ended up being really useful – I had planned so many imaginary weddings that, when it came time to plan my own, I had some great ideas all ready to go! My wedding was also a catalyst for my move into fabric design.

Phersu Dancing Jewellery and Treasures

​As any crafter knows, it’s a highly addictive – and expensive!- pastime. 
I started selling earrings from my desk at work to cover the cost of buying more beads, and in a few months, I had the stock to take on an Actual Market. It was time to come up with a brand name. 
I had recently finished my Honours degree in Classical Studies, so I decided to use the name of the obscure Etruscan figure which had been the topic of my research – Phersu, from the Tomb of the Augurs in Tarquinia, Italy.


My branding went through several iterations, over the years. It started out inspired by Etruscan lettering, and using the silhouettes I had developed as part of my thesis.  These remained a constant throughout, even as the fonts and design concepts changed.
I took a hiatus when my job became too demanding for Phersu Dancing to feel like anything other than work (which was just awful). I had my whole look refreshed and redesigned – and then decided to launch Copper Catkin instead. Sigh. It looked amazing, though!


I started off making beaded earrings and necklaces, but I got frustrated with being unable to add my personal touch to the beads. I didn’t have the budget to become a glassblower, or to learn to make beads in other ways, so ​when I stumbled across glass cabochons, I knew I had found my niche. Back then, there were very few people making that sort of thing – and those who did, used resin. My beautiful glass pieces stood out from the crowd, and I gained a loyal following of market regulars.
I started out using ephemera, and then my own photos and collages. I started to use my own artwork when I noticed that others were starting to do similar things (especially with the generic ephemera). I created several ranges of drawings – my Aviatrices for airshows, my DisDerbya Roller Derby Zodiac series (inspired by a craft swap challenge), and my Maori women range (inspired by the gaps in my own knowledge about NZ women).


because of my prolific making, my stock had already outgrown the tin that I used as a display on my desk, so I built myself a rotating display, called Roderick. I used pre-cut MDF squares from Spotlight, a lazy Susan base from Craftrunner, and timber and wire mesh from a hardware store (I can’t recall if Bunnings was in NZ yet at that point, but I think it was). I had a power drill and a small jigsaw, and I channelled Tim Gunn without knowing it – even though I had very little experience in carpentry of any sort, I Made It Work. I talk about my displays in another post.

First ‘real’ market, Mighty Mighty, July 2008 – shared stall


Frederick, one of the earring displays that I built

Phersu Dancing in the community


Custom design for Feltaid fundraiser pieces

I participated in Felt Aid, to help raise funds for Christchurch after the first earthquake (September 4th, 2010). I donated my own pieces, from an artwork I created especially for the initiative, but I also donated a lot of time as a volunteer administrator of the Feltaid store. It was a great deal of work, but it was also hugely rewarding. We revived the store again after the second, bigger earthquake on 22 February 2011.

DomPost article Capital Times, A11, Dominion Post, 17 September 2010

Another fundraiser initiative was to help a good friend get to Australia to see a specialist for her rare illness – Dercum’s Disease. Together with several others, we were able to raise enough to help pay for airfares and accommodation.

The start of Copper Catkin

Last year, I helped Wellington Rabbit Rescue raise the funds required to cover printing costs for a range of fundraising merchandise to help cover vet bills.
I created the artwork, including curating all the merchandise items and managing the funds, organised the filming of a Fundrazr video, organised a craft market event to launch the campaign, including an appearance by Mojo Mathers, MP.
​We successfully raised funds to cover more than the amount required, and my designs are still being sold today. Because we covered the costs in the Fundrazr campaign, 100% of every sale goes straight onto the vet bills, to help WRR help the bunnies.
The impetus to draw and make things from my drawings continued from there, and continues to this day. 

Copper Catkin Consulting and Petone Winter Markets

As well as selling my own creations at craft markets, I also decided to launch a side-business to help stallholders improve their displays. So many people loved the displays that I build, and the way that I have a point of difference from other stalls. Copper Catkin Consulting was born.
My clients were interested in ‘coaching’ markets, so I started to explore the possibility of running small markets. The aim was to offer pre-market coaching, with a post-market debrief – but the Petone Winter Markets turned into a full-blown craft market instead, and this first series of three (July, August, September) was surprisingly successful. There is such a lack of events in the Hutt valley that there were more than 80 more applications than I could accommodate.  I hope to find a suitable venue to offer 6 indoor markets in 2018 – April, May, June, July, August, and September.
In the meantime, as it is definitely no longer winter, I have launched my new markets, Wrought.
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