I’m often asked

1)  What does the name Atelier Jeux d’esprit mean?

Literally a jeu d’esprit is a witty game.  These days it tends to mean any kind of “playful action in which some cleverness is displayed”  or more commonly a witty literary trifle.  An Atelier is an artisan’s studio or workspace.  (Thanks to the Oxford English Dictionary.)

The name draws together the ideas of wit and playfulness, and creativity within a strong craft tradition.

 Are you French then?  No, I’m a New Zealander, with the usual ragbag of forbears from all over.  My name is Italian,  I am married to a German, and like lots of New Zealanders of my generation I learned languages, including French, at school.

The phrase jeu d’esprit is used in English, which is why it is in the OED.

2)  Where do I find all the fabulous things for the shop?

Many of the things in the shop come from the amazing op shops in Dunedin.  (I don’t go to auctions, mainly because I haven’t got the time or energy.)  I have been trawling them regularly for quite some years now, so my customers benefit from my ability to spot a great item at the merest glimpse of a tiny corner, and from the skills I have developed in cleaning things up.

That said, I also buy on Trade Me, which requires tremendous discipline and very careful choices. 

Whenever I travel, I visit as many op shops and the like as I can.  During the year I spent in the UK and Europe not so long ago I made a point of exploring  as many flea markets and charity shops as I could, which was a very rewarding experience—there are few better ways to get to know a town or city than going round the op shops—you’ll visit parts that not even the Rough Guide goes to!!

Even the fabrics and other materials I use to make my pieces tend to come from this source.  I love the challenge of finding just the right way to use a small piece of fabric, or an old bag handle, or a …well, just read the posts, and you’ll see.

3)  Why is the shop not down at street level?

My first requirement when I was looking for a space to lease back in 2000 was enough room to have the sewing machine and the iron permanently set up, and to have my materials all in one place, not stowed on top of or under things wherever I could squeeze them in.

The shop has been a bonus, more and more so as time has gone on.

Being upstairs means I have the light to work and also the peace.  Only people who really want to see what I have and are willing to make the effort to come up and to ferret about make it into the Atelier.  They have the fun of making their own discovery, and they engage with my things in wonderful and rewarding ways.  (If they buy things, that’s a bonus for everyone too.)

4)  Can I pay by EFTPOS?

No, I’m afraid not.  Cash, or I accept cheques.  Failing that, there are several ATMs close by (the Kiwibank one is just across the street).


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