Opal Rayner is an art student at the Limerick School of Art and Design and Nalupistuffs is her own personal branding of crafted products. With not only the skills learned in college, but her own personal experimentation and research, Opal creates unique, handmade books using traditional techniques. TLM asks about the inspiration for Nalupistuffs, the challenges of starting your own craft business and the importance of creativity.
What inspired you to start your own craft business?
I have always thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of paper craft and when I started at art college I couldn’t find sketchbooks that I really loved to use, so I began to make my own from materials I had on hand. After a while, friends and family around me began to notice and would ask me to create books especially for them. I really enjoyed the process of designing something that made people so happy, so I began to sell and trade them amongst friends.
Do you see this as a sideline or is craftwork something you would like to pursue further?
That’s a hard question. Crafts have always been a hobby of mine, but paper crafts specifically have always been of particular importance to me. There is something meditative about starting with blank sheets of paper and working it until you have created a finished, useful article. Just to take a single piece of paper and challenge myself to make something different, or more efficient, allows me to focus my mind on other creative processes. I think it’s a hobby that’s engrained in my work flow and I will always be interested in learning more and improving my skills.
Did you find there was much support given to you in your venture?
I have a truly wonderful cast of friends and family who are constantly there to help however they can. I attended Bloom, a summer festival in Phoenix Park, in 2015 and if you want to see a support system you should’ve seen my parents. For a month leading up to the event, the kitchen, sitting and dining room of my parents’ home became my factory. My parents both worked long into many nights helping to put everything together. By the end, we worked like a well-oiled machine. Also the guys in Lucky Lane are fantastic, I’ve been really lucky.
Is this your first project?
Not exactly, but Nalupistuffs is the name that I now primarily work under. Before any of this came to be, I designed a number of catalogues for GTI for their level 6 art exhibitions and went to conventions around the country selling books and cross stitch designs among other things. But once Nalupistuffs started, I became motivated to bring this as far as I possibly could.
Where did the name Nalupistuffs originate from?
Nalupistuffs came from a game Mom and I used to play where we would draw little creatures and give them names. The little bunny with antlers was one I remembered and we had called it a Nalupi. When it came to giving a name to this adventure Nalupi was just something that sprang from my memories and seemed appropriate. Along with its namesake, I have used this character as a logo and it makes me happy every time I see it.
What makes Nalupistuffs stand out from other stationary/craft start-ups?
In every aspect of my process I try to use the highest quality material. I love to use recycled and vintage materials whenever possible. This means a lot of time goes into sourcing materials, but thankfully I have the best parents in the world who are also constantly on the hunt for beautiful papers!
Has the company sparked much interest since its set up?
Since my books started in Lucky Lane, I’ve had people contact me enquiring about commissions for specialised books for events which has been delightful and certainly something I’d love to do more of.
Who is your main target audience?
I find my books have a wide target audience. I make sketch books suitable for drawing, painting and journaling in and memento books specially designed for collecting little keepsakes. And even little pocket books which are great for organising seeds. I’ve found people really enjoy the range of designs on the vintage papers I sometimes use. I’ve been told one of my books was given as a gift and is now used as a diary out in Beijing. That’s pretty cool to me.
What were the top three challenges in setting up your own business?
The biggest challenges I’d have to say have been time and materials. Outside of college and work, it can be challenging to keep on top of making stock in a time efficient manner while keeping each book to the highest possible standard.
And as I try to make each book with the best possible materials, it can be challenging to source ones that I am happy to build my books with.
Should creativity be an important aspect in people’s lives?
Absolutely, but I also think that people need to remember there are many forms of creativity. I love paper, so to me, thinking of new amazing things to do with paper is just the best thing ever. You have a sheet of paper. What can we do with it? Who knows! But creativity can also be making pasta at home and thinking: “You know what? I’m going to throw in sunflower seeds”. Is it better? Who knows! Everybody is creative in their own way.
Article by: Christine Costello
Sign up to the TLM Newsletter