Interview with Tiffany of Muntedkowhai
I had the pleasure of receiving an email from Tiffany Pang of Muntedkowhai the other day. She’s a creative artist who has coupled lace crochet work in a polygamous with metal and vintage buttons resulting in some of the most beautiful jewelry I have seen in a long time. The craftsmanship in these pieces is only equaled by their beauty. I was so happy when she agreed to an interview instead of just a review of her work. I love the stories behind the pieces I see! It’s the history of the creator that gives each creation its uniqueness.
So without further ado, let me introduce you:
Tiffany, Who taught you to crochet and how old were you?
I was 18 or so when I picked up crochet on my own. My mother bought me the ” I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M CROCHETING!” 8 page 70’s crochet extravaganza booklet. I made 1/160th of an afghan. I got bored. I made hats. They fit like a vase on a child’s head. I made dog sweaters for our chihuahua, even she knew she looked atrocious. My family and friends did not enjoy receiving anything crochet from me. Over the last 9 years (Oh wow, that makes me feel old), I picked up, dropped crocheting. It came and went like the flu, until I moved to New Zealand and I really needed to make something warm so I picked up crocheting again with a vengeance!
How did you get the idea to crochet pendents/sections for necklaces and when did it turn into a business for you?
I was crocheting a lace belt from a pattern I saw online. I never got to finish that belt because I draped the unfinished belt over my neckline and thought, wow I would totally wear that! That was around April of 2008 and over the 5 months, the necklaces evolved ALOT. My friend Tania Hennessy and I ventured into our own jewelry design separately but shared each others business start ups and downs. We decided that it would be fun to get creative since we are both full time scientists but share a passion for creating. Since we already create in our spare time, we decided to start our own separate business to sell our creations.We both opened our Etsy shops in September of 2008.
In your profile it says that you moved around a lot, where are you living now? Do you ever visit the places that you used to live?
I’m currently living in the best kept secret city, Portland, Oregon. I am not originally from Portland. I was born in the concrete jungle of Hong Kong and moved to beautiful New Zealand (no sheeps or lord of the ring questions please!) when I was 7 years old. I grew up there and I have very fond memories of my childhood in New Zealand. (Eating mince pies, fish and chips, walking to school bare feet etc) When I was 17, we moved to Portland, Oregon where I recieved my Bachelors degree in Microbiology from OSU (Go Beavs!). By now I realised that I can not stay in one place for more than 5 years, so I moved back to New Zealand to get my Masters degree. I stayed there two years and got my degree, a kiwi boyfriend and some of my accent back. In the end, my mother bribed me to move back to Portland by buying me the snowboard of my dreams. Did your head hurt as much as mine did reading that?
It also says (you say really) that you like to paint, draw, and all sorts of different things, when you have nothing else to do, what are you drawn back to time and time again, or does it change from day to day what your favorite thing is?
I have a horrible habit of not finishing projects most of the time and so I like to dabble in a lot of different things when the mood strikes me. There is one thing that I turn to when I’m not crocheting and I have time (ha!) such as drawing paisley patterns. I’m obessed with them! There is something about free form pattern drawing that fascinates me. I never quite know when to stop adding on patterns and it is also very soothing for me to create patterns. I love to do this all in colourful indian ink.
Do you ever sell at Craft Shows? What is your favorite to participate in? Any hints or tips for those thinking about doing a craft sale this upcoming season
Since I’ve only started Muntedkowhai recently, I’ve been busy keeping up with Etsy and my consignments that I have not looked into too many craft fairs.
I’ve only done one craft show! I participated in the Granny Panties Craft Bazaar in Portland, Oregon. The venue was at this really pretty pub but since it was on Black Friday, thing were slow so I was glad I brought my crocheting to do.
Do you have any plans for your business in the future (totally cool if they are top secret and you can’t share)?
Right now, my mantra is to sell enough necklaces to be able to buy more supplies to make more neckalces. However I want to, in 2 years time work part time as a scientist instead of full time and make Muntedkowhai my other part time job. I want to be able to sustain not only my jewelry making but myself sometime in the future. Then in the long distance future, I want to open my own store!
And then if you could write about the process of making your jewelry, what inspires each piece, what’s your favorite lace pattern.
The process of making Muntedkowhai necklaces start with selection of cord colour. I have started a collection of colours that are both subdue and fun so depending on my mood, I pick the colour that suits me. Most of my creations are free form, meaning, I have no patterns to follow and I make up the motifs as I go along. That is why I can’t replicate most of my necklaces, even if I really wanted to. The lace motifs after they are finished are ironed on low heat to stiffen and set their shape. The most inspirational and fun part of making the necklaces are pairing the motifs up with the treasure trove of vintage buttons I’ve sourced. Sometimes lace motifs will stay unbuttoned because the right vintage button has not come along yet so I’m always on the look out for gorgeous vintage buttons. Once they are buttoned up, I decide if I want to chain the necklace up in a traditional way or asymetrically. The latter is fast becoming my favourite!
Thanks Tiffany for answering all my questions! It was so nice to meet you and we all wish you the best of luck. I know that I will have to treat myself to one of your fine necklaces after the holiday crafting is all finished up.
I have some great news that was pretty exciting to find out today. Jason randomly went to knitting pattern central today and saw “Featured Pattern of the Week: Cat Hoodie” Hooray!!!!!! The Cat Hoodie made the featured pattern of the week on Knitting Pattern Central!
And in other good news, I added some new fabric to Green Prairie Fibers and all the holiday cards I had to Kro Studio! So make sure to go check those out. I’ll be adding more kits to the cl shop in the morning, so check back there too. See you all tomorrow!