Ellie Smith's favourite things

By Shandelle Battersby

Ellie Smith's magazine Extra Curricular focuses on talented people who get creative in their spare time.

Editor of Extra Curricular magazine Ellie Smith. Photo / Babiche Martens
Editor of Extra Curricular magazine Ellie Smith. Photo / Babiche Martens

The next time you feel guilty for spending the night collapsed in front of the telly, go and find yourself a copy of Extra Curricular magazine for inspiration. The tri-annual magazine, produced by Aucklander Ellie Smith, celebrates those who get creative in their spare time. "The concept behind it came from knowing so many creatively talented people who had full-time jobs, but worked on personal creative projects outside of work," says Smith.

Though crafters in particular are her target market, Smith says she's careful to have a mixture of disciplines and projects in each issue. The latest issue, for example, features stories about leather-crafting, synchronised swimming, and has a ceramics featurette.

Smith finds her subjects via blogs, and other websites, as well as fellow creative people at markets.

"I've made so many new friends. I like it that I've got an excuse to talk to people and ask them questions and I'm not just being nosy."

With its distinctive rounded corners and 100 per cent recycled paper, the magazine's hand-made aesthetic is a good match for its content.

She now has a small staff of writers and photographers who approached her after the first issue asking if they could be involved - including one Kiwi who lives in Amsterdam and does all of her interviews via Skype.

"I've had a great response - far better than I expected. I initially thought it might be a one-off project with a print run of 100, and now I'm up to 1000."

Though producing the magazine has taken up much of Smith's spare time over the past year and a half, she also screenprints her own designs on T-shirts, tea towels and baby clothes, and dabbles in other creative endeavours.

The autumn issue of Extra Curricular is out now. You can usually find Smith manning a stall at Grey Lynn's monthly Kraftbomb fair. Visit the site for a full list of stockists.


1. Brooch made at Workshop 6

I love taking nightclasses and one of my all-time favourites was a jewellery class I did at Workshop 6 with Octavia Cook and Jane Dodd a few years ago. This brooch was the first piece I designed and made there, and I know the hard work and patience that went into making it, which makes it all the more valuable to me.

2. Art by friends/painting by Stafford Wilson

This was another birthday present - I am so lucky to have so many creative friends. Stafford "upcycles" paintings and prints he finds in opshops and paints an unlikely scenario into the picture - this one is of Lake Louise in Canada superimposed with a Grey Lynn scene of Chuck Taylor's over power lines. It reminds me of the year we spent living over in Canada doing seasonal work - it's such beautiful country. And also of Grey Lynn, which has its own beauty.

3. Papercut print by Elsita

Elsa Mora is a paper artist who constructs amazing, detailed papercuts and makes beautiful prints from them which she sells on Etsy. I received one recently in exchange for some design work I did for a friend, and it makes me happy each time I see it.

4. Mexico/travelling

I love it when the biggest decision I have to make all day is what to eat. In Mexico, we camped at a beach in the off-season and relied on the tamale man for breakfast, we had to keep an eye out for his truck every morning - it was a long trek to find breakfast if we missed him.

5. Medium format cameras

I have this old Kodak plastic lens camera which takes wildly unpredictable photos - I love the ones that work though, they make everything look better than it really was. I am also babysitting my friend's twin lens reflex camera at the moment which takes absolutely beautiful pictures.

6. Mum's overseas letters

My mother went on her big O.E. in the early 1970s, hitch-hiking around Europe and writing home regularly in great detail. Nan and Grandad saved all her letters and I've just turned them into a book for her, with the letters typed out and photos from her travels. They were extremely interesting to us growing up - we would scan them for details of past romances, thinking it scandalous that she dated other men before she met Dad. I always knew that when I grew up I would go overseas like Mum for a big adventure.

7. My backyard lemon tree

The lemon tree was a key factor in our decision to rent this place - I love food and cooking and it's great to be able to grab a lemon from the garden for a risotto or lemon curdy pud. We lie under it in summer to read and drink homemade lemonade.

8. My folk tea-set

I was given this by friends for my 30th birthday and I love the folk pattern and bold colours - such a treat to use and I feel like a real grown-up having matching china to serve tea to guests.

9. Circus Necklace by Sonya Nagels

My friend Sonya makes these and gave me this one for Christmas. It's fun to wear. I love the bold shapes and colours, and the fact that it was hand-made especially for me!

10. Magazines

I love the medium of print and the smell of new magazines in my lounge when a new issue of Extra Curricular arrives, and I can't resist a visit to MagNation to buy a few treats - to whittle it down, my favourites at the moment are Uppercase, Anthology and Lula.

- NZ Herald

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