There are many, many ‘horses’ at the Dalby home of Brittany Perkins-Ehrich, her husband Peter and their two-year old daughter Ruby.
Despite this, the sound of galloping hooves is not regularly heard at their large house block on the edge of Dalby. The horses are, in fact, hobby horses. And their creator Brittany is a savvy company accountant whose day job holds a great deal of responsibility with her employer Diesel Care, in three different Darling Downs towns. Brittany is not your stereotypical accountant; if indeed the ‘unimaginative accountant’ stereotype is plausible. She has been creative all her life – cards, jewellery, beading and handmade gifts were her passions when she was a youngster growing up on a cattle property near Biloela.
Her craft passion grew to include sewing in 2008. Then her business negotiating skills won her a dedicated craft room at the new family home. She agreed to live in a very smart new shed-cum-workshop on their new housing block in 2009, on the understanding that once their home was built she would take possession of the shed’s living end as her very own workshop.
So, once the house was built two and a half years later and her workshop acquired, one thing led to another; there was room for swatches of fabric, now all visible and neatly stored in hanging baskets in what was once her built-in wardrobe. There was an ergo dynamic workbench for pattern drawing and fabric cutting.
Then there was a niece who wanted a hobby horse. A search of the internet uncovered a basic pattern for a fabric horse’s head from Whimsy Woo, which Brittany adapted to her own style. Then she was off at a gallop, and her niece became the happy owner of a ‘Red Rabbit’ hobby horse.
Once her creation was given an outing by the proud little recipient, everyone wanted one! Making hobby horses has become much more than a passion for Brittany. It is something from which she derives not only immense satisfaction, but also financial reward. A facebook page, ‘Red Rabbit’, underpins a lucrative business. Brittany is hard-pressed to keep up with orders which to date have come from as far afield as Denmark and New Zealand, and all around Australia. There seems to be no end to the possibilities around Brittany’s hobby horse production line. The combinations of fabrics, colours, trims and whimsical additions go on and on. The horses have lively embroidered felt eyes; large multi-coloured fabric ears that must surely not miss a thing. They sport elaborate manes in a mixture of fabrics including lace and ribbon. Each is trimmed with a ribbon bridle. Some have rosettes over lace doyleys, some have fancy buttons. And all the hobby horse sticks (cut and drilled by hubby Peter) are fabric covered.
Each horse is unique, custom made with its own name. “There is no greater pleasure than seeing a kid’s eyes light up when they see their hobby horse,” says Brittany.
Words by Jane Grieve | Images by Janine Waters