Barrelling through lockdown


Wine changes with age but wine barrels are completely transformed by the creative talents of a Cromwell couple.

While waiting out the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown, Maya Aleksic and Karl Smith turned extra time into opportunity by constructing imaginative objects from used wine barrels.

Mr Smith bought a number of barrels in January but they were ‘‘just sitting around’’ until enforced time at home brought on a burst of creativity — ‘‘that just kept us busy during lockdown’’.

The barrels have been turned into coffee tables, chairs, spice racks, cabinets, trays, fruit bowls, platters, mirrors and of course, wine racks.

After sharing photos of their creations on social media there was a flurry of interest for the recycled wares.
‘‘That had a lot of comments so we just kept going,’’ Mr Smith said.

Barrels created during the lockdown period had all been sold and they were now getting expressions of interest from across the country.
As a carpenter he had made some barrels in the past, ‘‘ but I was never really motivated’’.
‘‘I actually had one half made sitting around for a while and I wanted to show Maya it finished and then that was the start of it.’’

Miss Aleksic contributed her creative and marketing skills to the project, as well as learning to make smaller items.
‘‘Every day we were busy thinking of new ideas and improvising.
‘‘Some things worked out and some things were like ‘Oh maybe not’,’’ she said.

The wine barrels were sourced locally, and because they were generally only used by vineyards for three years, finding a new use for them reduced waste.

Their aim was to reuse each part of the barrel, and unused elements were set aside to become part of other items in the future.
‘‘We do have a plan of attack for each barrel before we start,’’ Mr Smith said.
Both were now back at work but were doing what they could in their spare time to devise new ideas and plans for their barrels.
‘‘Maybe sometime in the future we can turn it into a fulltime business,’’ Miss Aleksic said.

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