ISSUE 3 2008
DESIGN THIS DESIGN THAT
LEGAL NOTICE This Ezine is COPYRIGHT© 2008 of ARIADNA RAMLEY DESIGN THIS DESIGN THAT ™. You can download the magazine for personal use, but you can’t redistribute, edit, alter it without written permission. Do not copy or redistribute any of the articles written in this ezine without my consent. Please respect my work as I respect the work of others. The DESIGN THIS DESIGN THAT logotype and logo are trademarks, do not alter them or use them under any circumstance without written permission. The front and back covers are © COPYRIGHT 2008 of ARIADNA RAMLEY DESIGN THIS DESIGN THAT ™. Do no duplicate them or redistribute them without written consent.
FEATURED ARTISTS COPYRIGHTS All the images in this magazine are used under permission of the featured artists. Each featured artist has the © COPYRIGHT of their respective images. Do not alter, copy, or redistribute them without their written permission.
2 LEGAL NOTICE
WELCOME This last DTDT issue is about toys. Toys are no longer just for kids. Adults have become a very important group of potential customers to toy makers. From collectible items, custom toys, paper toys, adults can enjoy them in a different and new ways. My childhood wasn’t too bad or to good, I barely remember it. Barbie, my little brother´s dinosaurs (we used to play “Barbie goes to the Land of the Dinosaurs”), cars, soccer balls, are some of the toys I used to play with. Every Christmas or birthday I would ask my parents for speciﬁc toys but they always bought me exactly the opposite. I would ask for an ice cream making machine or a brunette Barbie and I would get a chocolate making machine (the chocolate tasted like crayons) or a very sun burned blond Mandy (a Barbie mock up). I think this situation kept going year after year because my parents didn’t have enough money to buy all the things my sister, 2 brothers and I wanted. My parents did the best they could. I don’t complain about it, I had toys to play with and I really had fun with whatever present I got. When I was 5 years old, my biggest dream was becoming a cashier in a supermarket. I thought it was the coolest job in the entire world. I used to play I was working from 9 to 5 with a little calculator, old tickets and imaginary groceries, greeting customers and counting money at the end of the day. When I asked my parents for my modern cash register they bought me a Vintage Fisher Price model. It wasn’t what I expected, 3 coin slots with huge plastic coins, no digital buttons, no groceries. Still, I happily played with it. A few years ago I gave it away, thinking that I could live without it. I was wrong. Even though I have seen the kind of toy cash register I dreamt when I was little I don’t feel like buying it. It won’t be the same. I wish I still had my Fisher Price Register, the only vivid memory of the few childhood days I remember.
ARIADNA R AMLEY
email@example.com WELCOME 3
IN THIS ISSUE 2 LEGAL NOTICE 3 WELCOME A note from the editor.
6 FLICKR SERIES: CUSTOM TOYS 7 Sket_One 12 Stuart Witter 19 Lou Pimentel 28 Cris Rose
38 SHOPPING : ATOM PLASTIC
From DIY Toys, plushes. books to the best vinyl ﬁgures, directly from Italy, ATOM PLASTIC.
40 HELLO MY NAME IS SEÑOR BLANCO The ﬁrst italian custom toy by ATOM PLASTIC.
46 REACTOR88 One of the best custom artists, Ryan Crippen.
54 MARSHALL ALEXANDER Paper Toys=Fun.
66 YUYU ART “It is a labor of love!”
72 SKUNKBOY CREATURES “We love all your quirks. Let’s be best friends.”
80 FANTASTIC TOYS Soft Toys, Crafts and Paper Toys Toys
86 FING TOYS “Unique handfelted art toys”
92 ELEVEN MORNING “ Well made stuff for well loved people.“
104 AQUAKOALA “ Rare and Unique Creature Imports.“
112 MCKIBILLO “Bits of whimsy from Japan“
118 PENGUIN & FISH “Lovely, quirky plush“
4 IN THIS ISSUE
128 THE WHIMSY PATCH Lovely creations from a lovely Mom
136 LORAN SCRUGGS “Whistles , Art & Toys!“
148 ORANGE MOON TOYS “Handmade artisan toys for creative play“
156 RAPLAPLA “le sourire ne part pas au lavage“
166 DREAM A LITTLE “Juicy Bugs and Friends“
172 HASENPFEFFER “Trash or Treasure“
182 CURSTER “Cursters minions - designer toys and art“
192 MOGWAII Soft felted toys and more.
202 DANITA ART Original Art, Paintings, Jewelry, Dolls, Boxes by a self-taught artist.
212 FELT ME UP DESIGNS “The Felt Menagerie - Home of Tweets and Hoots!!“
THANK YOU TO ALL THE FEATURED ARTISTS FOR BEING PART OF THIS ISSUE!
IN THIS ISSUE 5
CUSTOM TOYS are a great way to see the style and imagination behind so many artists. In this ﬂickr series you will see the work of four talented artists using custom toys as their canvas.
Here are some groups you will ﬁnd in ﬂickr that share the TOYS theme but different approach: CUSTOM VINYL TOYS http://www.ﬂickr.com/groups/customvinyltoys/ ART TOYS http://www.ﬂickr.com/groups/toysasart/ TOYS SCULPTING AND PROTOTYPING http://www.ﬂickr.com/groups/toysculpting/ CUSTOM TOY LAB http://www.ﬂickr.com/groups/customtoylab/ URBAN VINYL FIEND http://www.ﬂickr.com/groups/urbanvinylﬁend/ PAPER DESIGNER TOY http://www.ﬂickr.com/groups/11445189@N00/ URBAN VINYL http://www.ﬂickr.com/groups/urbanvinyl/ TOYS IN THE 1970-80S http://www.ﬂickr.com/groups/24015816@N00/
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TOY PHOTO MONTHLY THEME CHALLENGE http://www.ﬂickr.com/groups/toy_theme/ COMIC BOOK TOYS http://www.ﬂickr.com/groups/comicbooktoys/ TOYS-WHAT``S IN YOUR COLLECTION? http://www.ﬂickr.com/groups/toytagger/ THE 365 TOY PROJECT http://www.ﬂickr.com/groups/365toyproject/ THE SECRET LIFE OF TOYS http://www.ﬂickr.com/groups/secretlifeoftoys/ PAPER TOYS TEMPLATES http://www.ﬂickr.com/groups/papertoytemplates/
CONTACT INFO http://www.ямВickr.com/people/sketone/ FLICKR SERIES 7
8 FLICKR SERIES
FLICKR SERIES 9
Heinz Beans 10 FLICKR SERIES
Marmite Munny FLICKR SERIES 11
STUART WITTER 12 FLICKR SERIES
CONTACT INFO http://www.ямВickr.com/photos/30559787@N04/
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14 FLICKR SERIES
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16 FLICKR SERIES
Qeenage Mutant Ninja Turtle
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18 FLICKR SERIES
CONTACT INFO http://www.lou-pimentel.com/ http://www.ямВickr.com/people/8485039@N06/
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street representative 10” Madl for the “Mad*L Citizen” Show at Lift in Detroit.
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MISS AVOCADO baby_soundwave
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Cloud_Maker_meets_the_Oules FLICKR SERIES 23
24 FLICKR SERIES
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Doppi 26 FLICKR SERIES
26 FLICKR SERIES
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CONTACT INFO http://crisrose.bigcartel.com/ http://www.ямВickr.com/people/crisrose/
28 FLICKR SERIES
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30 FLICKR SERIES
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32 FLICKR SERIES
“Flowercat in the Rain”
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“Midas Bonsai” 34 FLICKR SERIES
“A Drop of Hope” + “A Drop of Fear” FLICKR SERIES 35
“Pleasure Browsing (on the Wing)”
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ToyQube NYC Show Sharky
Based in Italy ATOM PLASTIC is focused in promoting art toys, becoming one of the most important websites in selling toys from very important artists and companies in Europe. In Atom Plastic you will ďŹ nd all kinds of DIY Toys, vinyl toys, plushes, books, magazines and apparel. The site is entirely in italian, however they accept worldwide orders with an excellent customer service. Suddenly, I want to parlare italiano enjoying la dolce vita with all my toys from CONTACT INFO Atom Plastic Fax: +39 0424 228691 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.atomplastic.com
38 SHOPPING ATOM PLASTIC
Photos courtesy of Atom Plastic ÂŠ Atom Plastic
1. T-BOY Shin Tanaka 2. CRAPPY CAT VanBeater 3. CACTUS FRIENDS CARINA Simone Legno 4. LOTUS KANSER Andrew Bell 5. UNICORNASAURUS Joe Ledbetter 6. MIZNA LENS LOLLIPOP GIRL Minza Wada 7. LENORE VINYL DOLL 8. CANNIBAL FUNFAIR! SINGLE FIGURE Tado 9. KUMANO GOLLO IN BLACK Kumano Judo 10. MINI ROLITOBOY CLEAR MIND BLACK Toy2R 11. 2-INCH QEE YETI Tim Biskup
SHOPPING ATOM PLASTIC 39
Atom Plastic not only promotes but also contributes to the growing custom toys scene, producing the very ﬁrst italian DIY Toy. Designed by Julian Pastorino (Buenos Aires, 1970) Señor Blanco, has a very soft surface and can become whatever your creative mind takes you.
Ivy, JoeVelluto, Joys, Kenny Random, Kenor, Laurina Paperina, Macaco, Made, Manuel Pablo Pace, Mario Ferracina, Massimo Giacon, Mauro Chiarotto x Gummo Design, Mauro Gatti, Mei, Morg Armeni, Pao, Peter Bowen, Rudy Fritsch, Seacreative, Sika, Silvia Ziche, Skah, Sparki, Stefano Abbiati, Stefano Zattera, Steve Raft, The Teeth Project, The Warko, Thomas Ray, Thoms, Truly Design, Valeria Maggiani, Valeria Petrone, Wany & Ale!, Yo Clas!, Zinkababe.
HELLO MY NAME IS SEÑOR BLANCO was the name of the launching show. It took place from 5th September to 5th October 2008 at Bassano del Grappa Civic Museum, Italy, curated by Pierantonio Degasperi and Atom Plastic, in collabora- Next you can see some of the customized Señor Blanco from the show. To see all the artists and tion with Infart. their customized Señor Blanco and photos from Atom Plastic invited 50+ artists, designers, illus- the show visit: trators to use Señor Blanco as their canvas. The Custom toys: outcome was amazing , Señor Blanco was cus- http://www.flickr.com/photos/atomplastic/ tomized by an impressive list of artists, designers, sets/72157606892650207/ illustrators, like: Exhibition: Amanda Toy, Andrea Contin, Andrea Koes, Andy http://www.flickr.com/photos/atomplastic/ Ward, Anna Gaddo, Antonio Bardino, Bambi & sets/72157607228516178/ Pasticcino, Checca Chiani, Dast, Davide Sara- Vernissage: ceno, Dedo, Delicatessen, Diego Bao, Diego http://www.flickr.com/photos/atomplastic/ Knore, El Gato Chimney, Elvezio Ghidoli, Eman- sets/72157607233416897/ uele Kabu, Enrico Trentin, Filippo Perin aka Phil, Infart Collective Fiumix, Franchini, Giacomo Spazio, Gianluca Folì, http://www.infartcollective.com 40 ATOM PLASTIC HELLO MY NAME IS SEÑOR BLANCO
Photos courtesy of Atom Plastic ﾂｩ Atom Plastic
INFO Seﾃｱor Blanco, Hieght 20 cm (7.9 inches) Project by Atom Plastic http://www.atomplastic.com Design by Julian Pastorino http://www.pastorinosuarez.com Packaging design by Diego Bao http://www.diegobao.com Produced and distributed by Atom Plastic email@example.com
ATOM PLASTIC Via Schiavonetti, 16 36061 Bassano del Grappa (VI) Italia Phone: +39 0424 228691 Fax: +39 0424 228691 firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.atomplastic.com ATOM PLASTIC HELLO MY NAME IS SEﾃ前R BLANCO 41
Davide Saraceno - Hermit http://www.alienfactory.it/ ﾂｩ Atom Plastic / Davide Saraceno
Stefano Zattera http://www.deliriohouse.com/ ﾂｩ Stefano Zattera / Atom Plastic
Photos courtesy of Atom Plastic ﾂｩ Atom Plastic 42 ATOM PLASTIC HELLO MY NAME IS SEﾃ前R BLANCO
Giancluca Folì - Mr. Ci sono due modi © Gianluca Folì / Atom Plastic
Diego Bao - Golden Blob http://www.diegobao.com/ © Atom Plastic / Diego Bao
Photos courtesy of Atom Plastic © Atom Plastic ATOM PLASTIC HELLO MY NAME IS SEÑOR BLANCO 43
Seacreative http://www.seacreative.net/ ﾂｩ Atom Plastic / Seacreative
Valeria Maggiani - Alma http://www.valeriamaggiani.com/ ﾂｩ Atom Plastic / Valeria Maggiani
Photos courtesy of Atom Plastic ﾂｩ Atom Plastic 44 ATOM PLASTIC HELLO MY NAME IS SEﾃ前R BLANCO
Ivy ﾂｩ Atom Plastic / Ivy
JoeVelluto http://www.joevelluto.it/ ﾂｩ Atom Plastic / JoeVelluto
Photos courtesy of Atom Plastic ﾂｩ Atom Plastic ATOM PLASTIC HELLO MY NAME IS SEﾃ前R BLANCO 45
Spade-Skull SDCC Dunnys Previous page: CUSTOM KANSER
Tell us about you and what you do besides customizing toys. My name is Ryan Crippen, but I’m known as Reactor-88 in the art toy world. I’ve lived in the greater Los Angeles area my whole life. I work in the internet ﬁeld as a web designer/digital artist. When I’m not painting toys (which is rare these days) I’m usually at an art show, riding my mountain bike, or just partaking in some sort of Southern California activity. Why and when did you start to customize toys? In 2005 I became familiar with the vinyl toy scene and Kidrobot in particular. I did some research online and saw all the cool custom toys people were creating- that really inspired me. Right around that same time I was pretty burned out on digital art and told myself I was going to get back into traditional painting, so when I started seeing all these custom toys it was perfect timing. A little while later I bought a Kidrobot Munny and the rest was history. Could you please share with us a little about your customizing process (materials, techniques)? My process is pretty straight-forward. I use liquid acrylics and Sharpie poster paint markers to paint my customs. I use spray paint and ﬂocking sometimes, but I mainly stick to the acrylics and paint markers. I’ve been wanting to try cel vinyl paint, but I’ve never gotten around to seeing how it works on the toys. I’m not really one to embellish my customs with extra sculpting, cutting or adding on foreign accessories- I like to keep my toys “pure” and let the paint job do all the talking. I do have a couple REACTOR88 49
ROYAL GUARD TEDDY TROOP
of ideas for some customs that go beyond just paint- but those will be some time down the road. My technique for starting a custom varies. Sometimes I just “freestyle” a design- I’ll start drawing with pencil right on the toy itself and see where it takes me. Other times I will sketch out my idea on paper, scan and re-draw it on the computer, do color studies, and then ﬁnally draw the design on the toy using my reference. If everything looks good, the next step is paint. I don’t mask my shapes, use tape or anything like that- all my lines are painted freehand. After a few coats and a clear ﬁnish I’m all done. Which part of the process do you enjoy the most, and which part do you enjoy the least (if there ́s any!)? I think my favorite part of the process is when I ﬁrst begin to paint. It feels like the toy comes to life when that ﬁrst bit of color goes down on top of the plain white vinyl. The least favorite part for me is deﬁnitely the prep. I sand and prime every toy I paint even if it’s a do-it-yourself that came primed and ready from the factory. There’s even more prep when I paint a non-DIY ﬁgure. I have to strip the factory paint design which is not a fun task. How much time do you need to get a custom toy done? That’s really hard to say. I’m usually working on many projects at once and constantly jumping around doing a little bit here and there. Right now I’m working on six custom toys and they’re all at different stages of completion. My style requires a lot of precision and that consumes a lot of time. Add in the fact that I have a full-time job and try to maintain some sort of social life- at this time I’d like to thank all of the extremely patient clients on my commission list. What is the inspiration behind your work? I’ve been a big fan of Native Northwestern American Indian (Haida) artwork for a long time. I’m fascinated with totem poles. When I’m not painting my “totem” inspired designs, I get inspiration from pop culture, graphic design, etc. A lot of my customs are also based around my Spade-Skull logo. It just so happens it works perfect as a face for a lot of the toys- I guess I got lucky with that... 50 REACTOR88
When are commissioned to customize toys do you have creative freedom or do you have to follow some guidelines? That really depends on the client. I haven’t worked with anyone that was really super speciﬁc about what they wanted. Most people just throw me a general idea, and beyond that just want a speciﬁc color scheme and it to be “cool”. That makes it easy for me. Which would be your dreamed custom project, commissioned or personal? I enjoy commissions in the sense it’s great to get that positive response from a client when you create something they really love. On the other hand personal projects are the ultimate in creative freedom, so I’d have to go with personal.
If you had the chance to commission a custom toy for your personal collection, which toy and artist would you choose? I’d probably go with an 8-inch Dunny painted by Tim Biskup. I feel like Tim is one of the Western art toy pioneers and having an original piece from him on one the most recognizable Western vinyl platform toys would be pretty special. What are your professional plans for the future? I plan to stay in the digital art/design ﬁeld. One day I’d like to go full-time freelance and not focus as much on the web- do more illustration and maybe get back into doing some 3-D and motion graphics work. I’d love to devote more time to painting custom toys, but that would probably have to wait until I went full-time freelance. Beyond painting toys, I’d like to develop some original toy sculptures and do some small resin runs, and maybe get a few of my designs produced on some platform toys. I just hope the scene keeps steadily growing because it’s a lot of fun being involved in it. Please tell us something we would be surprised to know about you. Hmm- I think I’m pretty easy to read, so anything I’d say that might sound surprising would probably be a lie :)
SDCC Spade-Skull Mad-L
CONTACT INFO RYAN CRIPPEN http://www.reactor88.com/ http://reactor88.blogspot.com/ http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/reactor88/
54 MARSHALL ALEXANDER
MARSHALL ALEXANDER 55
Tell us more about you and what you do besides making paper toys. I work as a graphic designer at a small company in The Netherlands and design paper toys purely for fun. I’ve got a pretty busy life all together: working, having a family life with two young kids, gaming, watching movies, designing paper toys and doing the occasional illustration job. And somewhere in between I try to ﬁnd the time to get some sleep as well. When and why did you start making paper toys? I’m pretty new to the paper toy scene and started doing paper toys about a year and a half ago. I got hooked after I read an article on building your own paper toys in Computer Arts, which introduced me to Fwis Design’s Readymech ﬂat pack toys. My ﬁrst model basically was a custom Readymech model, it got a lot of positive feedback which motivated me to do some more and from there things basically took off. Where paper toys part of your childhood or something you started to like later in your life? I’ve always played around with paper, simple origami models and stuff and I also was aware of those detailed paper craft scale models, but I never really got into it because it always felt like so much work to assemble. So I only recently discovered the pleasure of combining paper craft, character design and illustration into this single entity called a paper toy. What is inspiration behind your work? My work is inspired by movies, animation, games, (retro toys, comics and popular culture in general. I’m a bit of a geek so I love robots, zombies, monsters, science-ﬁction and all the other things geeks are usually into. Other stuff that has inspires me a lot is graphic design from the sixties, art deco architecture and street art. Could please share with us a little about your creative process? I keep this little notebook that I use to write down ideas, sketches and other concepts that pop into my mind. A lot of these ideas never make it into a model, but once in a while I feel one of these premature ideas is ready to move on to the ‘project’ stage. In this stage I start collecting reference material and store it in a folder on my little iBook. After that I’ll work on the blank template. Depending on the complexity of the model this template goes through several stages until it is ready for construction. I’ve kind of set this rule for myself only to create models that consist of one single piece and should ﬁt on a piece of A4 paper, so sometimes it takes quite some time before I ﬁgure out how to construct and fold a template to get the desired result. In the ﬁnal stage I apply the texture to the model. I mainly work in Illustrator, although I occasionally include bitmap textures in my models as well. After it’s all done I generate the PDF and release it online. What would be your dream paper toy project, commissioned or personal? I would love to do some paper toys that are used as educational material for children. Like, for example, how they use comics to learn children in war zones how to avoid the danger of land mines. And for more personal gain I’d love to do a project that requires me to travel to Tokyo and do some research there, all costs paid for by the client of course ;) Aside the fact that they are more accessible than vinyl toys, why do you think paper toys are so appealing to people? Besides the obvious ones like easy distribution and the fact most of them are free, I think its main attraction is the interactive experience you get from it. People who download a paper toy have to get involved: they print it, cut, fold and glue the whole thing together and that way almost get into the mind of the designer who created the model. It’s also the sense of wonder you have when you create this 3-D character out of something that a short while ago was just a blank piece of paper. continues page 60
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FOLD SKOOL HEROES MARSHALL ALEXANDER 59
Where do you think the paper toys scene will be heading to in the next years? Hard to tell. There’s a few discussions going on in the paper toy community about how you could make a proﬁt from designing paper toys. This could change the free-for-all model that currently is the way to go for most paper toy designers, although I personally don’t think that will happen. It could also go mainstream and be exploited to death, as happens to most concepts that suddenly are adopted by the mass-market. It will be interesting to see what the forefront of paper toy designers will come up with to push the paper toy scene into new directions. Have you made a collaboration with another artist, if not which artist would like to do a collaboration with? I’ve done several customs for other artists and planned to do a whole lot more. I’m not sure if that counts as a collaboration, but it’s a very popular activity within the paper toy scene. Artists release blank models and other artists create their custom for it. I’ve got my own blank model as well (the Foldskool Heroes model) that is already customized a couple of times as well. It’s great to take on someone elses blank model and try to do something fresh and original with it. And even better it is to see other people take on my blank model and come up with some awesome skins for it. Do you collect paper or vinyl toys from other designers, artists? Not really. I used to have a lot of collections but in the last couple of years I sold or gave away most of them because I needed some breathing space (mentally and physically). I discovered that I feel much better when I don’t own too much stuff. Of course there’s a few toys ﬂoating around my house to decorate my bookshelves, I’ve got a few Unipo’s from UNKL, some of Nathan Jurevicius’ Scary Girl characters and some vintage toys as well like a Viewmaster, an Etch-a-Sketch and some Game&Watch games. Some of them even made their way into a couple of illustrations I made. continues page 65
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RETROBOT 62 MARSHALL ALEXANDER
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Some paper toys designers have made the transition to vinyl toys, like Shin Tanaka, for example, would like to do that transition, or in which? Sure. Paper is an excellent medium for the ideas I have and it is easy to work with, but it would be just as much fun to apply those ideas to other materials like vinyl, wood or other material as well. I’m not the most handiest person though, so the only way it would probably happen would be in some kind of collaboration with someone else. Which other paper toys designers, artists, and from other ﬁelds too, do you like? This is one of those questions where you don’t want to leave anyone out and I know I will forget to mention a lot of them. But if there is one paper toy designer I ﬁnd truly inspiring it is Matt Hawkins of Custom Paper toys. He is putting together a book about paper toys that is coming out next year, has a very unique and recognizable style, some really clever concepts and also gets to design paper toys for his work. How cool is that. Matt and a lot more of my favorite paper toy designers can be found at the Nice Paper toys community on www.nicepapertoys.com. There’s of course a lot of artists in other ﬁelds that are a source of inspiration to me as well, veterans like Saul Bass, Frank Lloyd Wright, Alphonse Mucha, Syd Mead, Roy Lichtenstein but also younger artists like Banksy, Shag, E-Boy, Rian Hughes and Jeremy Dower just to name a few. What are your plans/projects for the near future? I want to explore the boundaries of what paper toys are a bit more. For example, I’d like to incorporate architectural elements into a model, which would mean it might become more paper craft than paper toy. I’d also like to do some package designs where the paper toy serves a practical purpose as well. It’s fun experimenting and see where things go, the results may not always be that good but for me the process is the most fun part anyway. Please tell us something we would be surprised to know about you. I’ve had a previous career as a software engineer. A pretty good career as well, but I hated it. It was not until I started to work in the computer games industry and was surrounded by inspiring and very creative people that I decided to give it all up and start all over again as a graphic designer/illustrator. It’s hard work when you make that decision being already 34 years old and there’s still a lot of catching up to do, but so far I did not regret the decision. CONTACT INFO MARSHALL ALEXANDER http://www.marshallalexander.net/ http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/marshallalexander/ http://www.myspace.com/marshallartsonline http://www.behance.net/MarshallAlexander http://www.nicepapertoys.com/proﬁle/MarshallAlexander
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66 YUYU ART
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Tell us a little about you and what you do besides making toys. I live in San Francisco and am formally trained in Fine Art. Oil Painting is my primary art form, a universal language to express feelings and thoughts about the world I am living in. When I pick up a brush and start painting, it is like I am holding a magic key entering a free world that I can rule. That’s the fantasy of being a painter. Which toy was your favorite when you were little? I grew up poor, so I did not have any toys. My father, who devoted his life to pursuing his art, taught me to draw pictures to entertain myself. My father believed that creating my own imaginary “toy” was an educational process wherein I could play and learn at the same time. Often, my father would bring me out to window shop. When I saw a toy that I really liked, my father would ask me to try my best to remember all the details. When we got home, both my father and I would draw the image we saw, and he helped me to draw the toy more neatly. Then I colored it and added more colors and details as my imagination took over. I might not have been lucky enough to own a toy, but I deﬁnitely learned my drawing skill from this practice. When did you decide to start making toys? I realized I was able to make dolls when I was 9 years old. One of my school teachers discovered my ability and encouraged me to make them. And I completely fell in love with doll making. Then in May of this year, I was in a book store and saw a book about making toys. It was then that I remembered how much I loved to make dolls. My childhood dream once again was awakened. Now, I am creating dolls on Etsy.
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70 YUYU ART
What is the inspiration behind your work? Color, image, and hope— much hope. When I was a child, I wanted to avoid a life of hard physical toil. I always wished that I could play freely, so I have created dolls playing with ﬂowers and bugs. I also have created dolls holding pleasure toys, like teddy bears and little bunnies—the toys I always wanted to have when I was a poor child. Making these dolls truly fulﬁlls my childhood dreams. What do you want to express through your toys? Through my dolls, I want people to re-experience the joy they had in childhood. I also want my dolls to remind people to be young at heart—to see the world anew. Be bright. Be shiny. Could you please share with us a little about the process of making your toys? I use wool and needle felting techniques, and by calling on my past sculpting work, I am able to build 3-dimensional objects. What do you enjoy the most about that process? It is the moment when I ﬁnally add my dolls’ eyes. This creates a look of wonder, and my dolls come “alive”. I can emotionally connect with the dolls I create. My dolls and I now can look at each other eye to eye; it is a labor of love. Nowadays toys are not only for children; adults collect limited and special editions of a wide variety of toy. Would you like your toys to become collectible items, enjoyed not only by children but also by adults? I would be honored if my dolls were to become collectible items.
CONTACT INFO Please tell us something we would be sur- Yu Yu http://www.yuyuart.etsy.com prised to know about you. Unlike the happy, shiny dolls I make, I write deeply http://ﬂickr.com/photos/yuyuart/ 71 YUYU ART http://www.yuyuart.com emotional poetry. http://yuyuart.blogspot.com/ YUYU ART 71
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Tell us a little about you and what you do besides making toys. Besides making plush friends, I am a musician and a photographer. My ﬁrst love is music, of course. I started playing piano 5 years ago, and that evolved into also playing organ, accordion, harmonica, and melodica (on occasion). I do play in a couple of bands, so between music, sewing, and photography gigs... well, there really is no between. I’m busy all of the time. Which toy was your favorite when you were little? I loved a lot of toys when I was little. I was a young 80’s kid, so I liked Rainbow Bright, adored She-ra, and always toted around my Popple. My brother and I were also completely satisﬁed with whatever tiny ﬁgurine was around. We called it “playing guys” and mostly did that non-stop. When did you decide to start making toys? I decided to start making toys on a whim one night. I had recently seen some of Lauri Faggioni’s plush work, thought it was amazing, and wanted to do something creative of my own. So I did. What is the inspiration behind your work? I’m not sure what the inspiration behind my work is. Maybe creativity. This is a really good creative outlet for me, and every time an animal comes together, I feel completely satisﬁed. Also, inspiration would have to be in the reaction I get from people who seem to be enamored with a speciﬁc plush friend. I really love that. What do you want to express through your toys? I really long for people to ﬁnd love, whimsy, and companionship in my toys. I’ve had small children and adults ﬁnd the same sort of excitement from my little soft creatures. That speaks volumes to me.
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Could you please share with us a little about the process of making your toys? The construction process is pretty uniform at this point. Whether I’m making a duplicate, or creating something completely new, it all starts with a cup of tea and music (on vinyl). I love my tea and records. After that, I do my cutting, stitching, and smiling. I always start with the body, move to the face, add the embellishments, and then ﬁnish with arms and legs (my least favorite part) or wire feet, depending. What do you enjoy the most about that process? It’s a tie between the things I enjoy the most. Number one being the ﬁnished product, because it comes ﬁrst, and number two being the reaction of whoever is receiving the new friend. I’m always really proud when I ﬁnish an animal and my husband and daughter are excited about it, but I’m even more proud when it seems to evoke something in a customer. I’ve gotten teary about it before... Nowadays toys are not only for children; adults collect limited and special editions of a wide variety of toy. Would you like your toys to become collectible items, enjoyed not only by children but also by adults? Of course I would love for my toys to become collectible items. I know of a few people that do have them on display in households, and I also know of people buying speciﬁcally for children. The diversity in my customers is great. I enjoy it very much. Please tell us something we would be surprised to know about you. Something you’d be surprised to know about me... hmmm... I suppose you might be surprised to know that I’m currently writing the music for an independent ﬁlm. You might not, though. CONTACT INFO Skunkboy Creatures http://www.skunkboycreatures.etsy.com http://skunkboycreatures.blogspot.com http://www.myspace.com/skunkboycreatures
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Tell us a little about you and what you do besides making toys. I’m a toy maker from Minneapolis. I LOVE making toys! It allows me manage a cottage industry while I utilize my artistic skills. I also work part time as a ﬂorist to pay the bills. When I need a break from making toys I’ll go for a bike ride, walk around the lake or watch some bad daytime TV. Which toy was your favorite when you were little? I had a pair of little cloth bunnies that I adored. I made a shoe box home for them with cardboard furniture. Inspired by those bunnies I plan to release some cute critters along Nowadays toys are not only for children; adults colwith some paper toy accessories to go with them in a few lect limited and special editions of a wide variety of toy. months. Would you like your toys to become collectible items, enjoyed not only by children but also by adults? When did you decide to start making toys? A majority of my toys are bought by adults so I tend to marI used to work in a toy store and one of my dreams was to ket to collectors of plush. The past year I have exhibited have a store of my own. I started to evaluate my life a couple my ﬁne art toys at a few galleries. However my line of DIY years ago and I remembered that dream. I thought that if I paper toys are enjoyed by many children. I’m always lookstarted to make toys then I would start to fulﬁll that dream. ing for ways to make my toys safer and more affordable for Well, 5 years later I’m still making toys and selling them at my children. Its important to me to have my toys available to online shop. :) children as well as adults. What is the inspiration behind your work? A drive to be a successful artist. What do you want to express through your toys? Happiness, whimsy, creativity, playfulness. Could you please share with us a little about the process of making your toys? For the paper toys when I get an idea I start with a rough sketch. I may revise the drawing then start to ﬁgure out the shapes and how it will fold. When I ﬁgure out how it will fold I’ll do a rough sculpture in card stock. Then I bring it into photoshop and start to put it together as a vector image. Once I start to create the vector shapes everything becomes more precise. I’ll scan drawings such as a face and bring them into the document to give it more of a handmade quality. When I’m happy with the image I’ll print it out and put it together and tweak it as necessary. Its pretty much the same process with soft toys except I’m working with patterns and cloth.
Please tell us something we would be surprised to know about you. Listening to music irritates me. I’d rather work in silence or have the TV going on in the background. CONTACT INFO Fantastic Toys http://www.handcraftedfantastictoys.com http://www.fantastictoys.etsy.com http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/fantastictoys/
What do you enjoy the most about that process? My favorite part of that process is the design stage. When inspiration hits and I have an idea then taking that idea to fruition. When that original idea become something more than I anticipated, all the better.
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Tell us a little about you and what you do besides making toys. I am a toy artist from Sydney, Australia where we live with my loving partner and arty daughter. Apart from making toys I love to sit back and contemplate while enjoying my cup of coffee. And I read a lot – my place is all covered with books, magazines and newspapers – anything printed on the paper, really. There is a strange pattern in my book preferences – from reading Nietzsche and Camus in my late teens I moved to children’s stories in my early thirties to ﬁnd them refreshingly simple yet deep. Which toy was your favorite when you were little? One ﬂuffy little rabbit had become my soul mate when I was 5, but at the moment of insanity I swapped him for another toy. I don’t even recall what I got instead, but do remember this sharp pain of irreversible loss. When did you decide to start making toys? It wasn’t a conscious decision – I made my ﬁrst toy last year and simply couldn’t stop. What is the inspiration behind your work? I am inﬂuenced and inspired by everything in my life, everything I have ever seen, read, touched or experienced. The people I’ve met and the stories they’ve told. The books and poetry are blended with the colors of dawn and the smell of jasmine. My work is very personal and my toys would not exist without me. What do you want to express through your toys? There is a story behind my every toy. And as with all the kid’s or folk stories you are welcome to retell it in your own way, as it leaves room for your imagination. Could you please share with us a little about the process of making your toys? It starts with the kaleidoscope of ideas in my head whirling into shape. I do sketch, but in a cryptographic way, just to help me remember ideas. For a start I usually have the shape, the texture and the color scheme. The rest of work is done on the ﬂy, where aesthetic and structural decisions of a project can be made as it progresses. I work with the ﬁbers; it is ideal medium for me - as soft or ﬁrm as you wish with endless possibilities for different forms and details. What do you enjoy the most about that process? continues page 91 88 FING TOYS
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When they open their eyes, that’s when you see their personality. Sometimes it is alongside with my initial intentions, sometimes not. Some of my creatures are quite independent and rebellious – they are the ones I love the most. Nowadays toys are not only for children; adults collect limited and special editions of a wide variety of toy. Would you like your toys to become collectible items, enjoyed not only by children but also by adults? The toys in general are appealing for both kids and adults alike; mine are not exception from this. I don’t like to think about them as “collectibles”, it sounds too dry to me and I prefer my creatures to become your friend, not the “number” sitting on the glass. shelf. Please tell us something we would be surprised to know about you. Being creative and irrational, I also love logical riddles. Solving the good one could make me smile for the rest of the day. CONTACT INFO Fing Toys http://www.ﬁng.etsy.com http://ﬂickr.com/photos/ﬁngtoys
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Tell us a little about you and what you do besides making toys. I have a big messy studio in a little house in California where I write books, make art, chase kids, and plant terrible vegetable gardens. Even though I was born creative, I never thought I would be an artist when I grew up. I thought I would be a pediatrician and an astronaut, have six kids, and live on a boat. After nursing school, three kids and a few wet and cold winters in Washington State, I decided to ďŹ nally attend art school and had the opportunity to study at the California College of Arts. I majored in sculpture, fell in love with art history, and became an artist and a grown-up. My oldest daughter is an illustrator and my nine year old is vocalist. I am starting to believe that creativity is genetic. When I am not making art I am eating cookies. Which toy was your favorite when you were little? My favorite childhood toys were crayons - the big Crayola box, three tiers and a sharpener. Oh you gotta love the way a fresh box of crayons smell! I also had a fascination for anything you could buy from the back of a comic book, like x-ray glasses, sea-monkeys and tiny cameras. My best childhood friend was a worn-out Thumbelina doll with one eye that would not open or close all the way. One day she just disappeared. I still look for her. continues page 98 94 ELEVEN MORNING
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When did you decide to start making toys? I have been making toys forever. The ﬁrst “real” toy I made was a bear for my oldest daughter while I was waiting for her to be born. She named him Doh-Doh and still sleeps with him. Well-loved toys that have been played with, slept on, have bad hair cuts and missing important parts are the most precious. What is the inspiration behind your work? The work I am doing now is inspired by drawings my youngest daughter made. She had a way of capturing the sweet, the sad, and the perfection in the imperfect. She was nineteen when she died last year, and I keep ﬁnding little scraps of paper with scratchy drawings on them. She has been and will always be my muse and my teacher. What do you want to express through your toys? My toys seem to express themselves - I’m just the person with the clay and wire. What I seem to ﬁnd in the making of them is the rediscovery of childhood memory and emotion. The work I am doing now is very playful; I am making everything out of paper, which is exciting because something so fragile can be so strong. continues page 103 98 ELEVEN MORNING
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Could you please share with us a little about the process of making your toys? My ideas come to me from that almost-awake place early in the morning. I have to get up and start working on them, or they will fade and be lost forever. So most of my work is done in my pajamas while I listen to music and drink hot chocolate. I never stick to one medium and it usually looks like there’s been an explosion in my studio while I’m working. I’m never without a project and I carry a sketch pad with me wherever I go. What do you enjoy the most about that process? What I love most about the process is watching an idea evolve. I dig the playing and the making, but it’s a happy-dance moment when the piece is complete. Being a maker of things that people treasure is pure bliss. I have a great job. Nowadays toys are not only for children; adults collect limited and special editions of a wide variety of toy. Would you like your toys to become collectible items, enjoyed not only by children but also by adults? My toys are made for the little kid inside grown-up people, and I think it’s amazing that people collect my toys. There is this moment when they connect with something you made, as if it was made for them, and they’re ﬁnding their Thumbelina. I may have to eat crow someday, but I never want my toys to be mass-manufactured. I don’t use molds and I never make the same thing twice. I love it that there is only one and I think the people who collect my work love that too.
CONTACT INFO Gina Gabriell http://elevenmorning.com/ http://elevenmorning.blogspot.com/ http://elevenmorningstangerine.com/
Please tell us something we would be surprised to know about you. I was once a volunteer ﬁreﬁghter and I don’t like peas.
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Tell us a little about you and what you do besides making toys. My name is Kelice Penney. I recently moved myself from coast to coast. I now live in Los Angeles - but I left my heart in Maine, where I grew up and where my family still lives. So besides attempting to get my bearings in this strange, strange place; I read, play video games, and pretend to be a jogger. I also laugh a lot - it’s my favorite pastime and can make me feel at home no matter where I am. Which toy was your favorite when you were little? She-Ra was a big favorite, and I had an impressive collection of my little ponies. Ah, to be a child growing up in the 80’s. I also started making my own toys at a fairly early age - puff balls and pipe cleaners were my medium then - and hot glue burns were my badges of honor. When did you decide to start making toys? I always made them...I decided to start Selling them when enough people gave me positive feedback from the gifts of plush I would bestow upon them. What is the inspiration behind your work? Superstitions, tales of abduction, mythological animals - the world is ﬁlled with strange stories and giant tentacles. I just want to make them accessible to everyone in plush form. That isn’t weird, is it? What do you want to express through your toys? It is OK to ﬁnd severed heads amusing and adorable. Zombies need love too. Oh, and yetis and giant squid and monsters of all sorts can lounge around on your couch even after you turn thirty. continues page 110
Could you please share with us a little about the process of making your toys? Basically; 1. Something will amuse me 2. I will sketch a bit and make a pattern 3. Acquire mountain dew - critical to the creative process 4. Choose fabrics and cut and sew and stuff 5. Be amazed at how my entire studio is a disaster due to one little stuffed animal What do you enjoy the most about that process? I get lost. I donâ€™t have to live in the world of paying bills and buying groceries for a little while. My absolute favorite part of the process is when Iâ€™m done making a creature and I show it to a friend for the ďŹ rst time. Seeing that something I have made makes them feel happy/nostalgic/amused is the best feeling in the world.
Nowadays toys are not only for children; adults collect limited and special editions of a wide variety of toy. Would you like your toys to become collectible items, enjoyed not only by children but also by adults? Deﬁnitely! I want my work to appeal to kids, inner childs, and serious business men in expensive 3piece suits who still have a Skeletor stashed in their mom’s attic. Please tell us something we would be surprised to know about you. I have 44 tattoos. Well, yeah, they are all very small stars that reside on my shoulders, but 44! Yeah... I’m a badass. CONTACT INFO AquaKoala Kelice Penney http://www.aquakoala.com http://www.aquakoala.etsy.com/
Tell us a little about you and what you do besides making toys. My name is Josh McKible. I grew up in New York but I’m currently living in Japan. We moved here about 4 years ago and live in a nice little beach town, about 45 minutes outside of Tokyo. I like Japan and enjoy living here, but it will always remain a little strange for me... and I like that! Professionally, I’m a full-time illustrator and most of my work is editorial, done for magazines. Since I deliver everything by e-mail, it doesn’t matter were I’m based. In fact, since most of my work is for clients back in the States, being 13 hours ahead (the time difference between Japan and the East Coast of America) can actually be an advantage. You can see my illustrations at: http:// www.mckibillo.com Which toy was your favorite when you were little? I really had kind of simple tastes... I really liked the Slinky. It’s a very simple thing, but I was mesmerized by the kinds of movement it made, it seemed almost alive.
When did you decide to start making toys? About a year ago. Although, I don’t really think of them so much as toys and more as a kind of design platform. A way to make stuff in 3-D. What is the inspiration behind your work? I wanted to make an affordable, DIY kind of alternative to all the designer vinyl toys that have ﬂooded the market. I like the idea of making your own little toy or design object. Just the simple process of cutting it out, folding the paper and glueing it... it seems like you’re really making the thing your “own”, instead of just buying something pre-made. What do you want to express through your toys? Charm, beauty, fun... Could you please share with us a little about the process of making your toys? Well, it’s mostly cerebral... I walk around for a few days with an idea brewing in my head and then when I’m ready I just grab the nearest bit of paper and do a rough sketch. A lot of the designs and shapes come from trial and error, I don’t really plan much ahead. What do you enjoy the most about that process? That it’s something I’m doing for myself, not for any clients. It’s just purely for fun.
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Nowadays toys are not only for children; adults collect limited and special editions of a wide variety of toy. Would you like your toys to become collectible items, enjoyed not only by children but also by adults? I’m not so interested in that... in fact most of the NaniBirds are available for free at http://www.nanibird.com I’ll continue to occasionally make stuff for sale, like the NaniBirds on etsy. Those are printed on high quality paper and the designs are more exclusive but I’m not really interested in the collectibles market. Please tell us something we would be surprised to know about you. I can ﬂy! Not really, but damn, that would be cool. CONTACT INFO Mckibillo Josh McKible http://www.mckibillo.com http://www.mckibillo.etsy.com http://www.nanibird.com
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Which toy was your favorite when you were little? I liked Popples, Pound Puppies, Pound Purries Tell us a little about you and what you do be- and my Battle Scar Skeletor. But I much rather preferred making forts in the living room or backsides making toys. If I’m not making toys then I’m making something yard else. I love to knit, draw, crochet, sew, sculpt, paint, doodle, whatever. My husband and I run When did you decide to start making toys? a boutique design ﬁrm called Studio Collective. Well, I remember making my ﬁrst stuffed animal Through there I do a lot of graphic design and illus- when I was little, maybe 9 or 10 years old. I made tration work for the stationary and product design a stuffed rabbit for my friend’s birthday present industries. Basically that means I get to draw stuff out of fabric from an old pair of jeans. It was intrilike elephants and cupcakes for greetings cards cate and took a lot of planning. I remember being which is really fun. I blog about my work and the really proud of how it turned out. Today, I think I work of other artists daily. And when I get to the made the decision to make toys as a natural propoint where I’m completely overwhelmed, I will sit gression from my illustration work. I love drawoutside on my thirteenth ﬂoor patio, snuggled in a ing little characters, but I have an intense need to have things be real and tangible. So I turned my blankey, and sip wine. little guys into toys.
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What is the inspiration behind your work? The right side of my brain is inspired by the little moments in life that go unnoticed but have meaning. Like, for example, I was at the dog park once and saw a man walk in with his old arthritic dog. The man went to sit on a bench on the opposite side of the park but the dog just stood at the entrance. It was too much work for it to go all the way to the other side. But the moment it saw another dog go over to the man, it quickly hobbled over to show the dog that the man was his. Thereâ€™s something touching and special about that moment that just makes me want to capture it somehow.
The left side of my brain is inspired by the idea of having two contrasting things that you put together to make something better and more interesting. Like, I want to do a painting of my aloe plant. I want it to look like a really formal and classic still life, like something youâ€™d see at the Louvre. But continues page 124
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then upon closer inspection you would see that it’s planted in a cheap white coffee mug with text printed on it that says, “DON’T GET STUCK Without A Source For Infection Control”. What do you want to express through your toys? What I would like to express to people through my toys is to spend some time day-dreaming. To me the way that translates down to my Kitties is through the expressions on their faces. Their faces are all really simple and pretty much identical to each other, but to me all the Kitties look like they’re thinking something different. I love that when I think a Kitty may look sleepy, my mom thinks that the same Kitty is snarky and up to no
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good! Everyone’s imagination is different. I like that I can look at their faces and life slows down for a second while I imagine what they are thinking. Could you please share with us a little about the process of making your toys? It almost always starts with an itch to learn something new or to try and ﬁgure something out. With my Kitties it started with the idea of, “how can
I construct a stuffed animal where I can see all four legs at once?” I get some paper, tape and scissors and try to construct what I’m thinking. From there I draw out a pattern, get cutting fabric, stitching faces, sewing and stufﬁng.
of a piece. And I love when they’re ﬁnished. I’m a sucker for the feeling you get when you accomplish something. I’m the person who will add something that I’ve already ﬁnished to a list just for the enjoyment of crossing it off. I like stitching the Kitty faces too. That’s usually when I start What do you enjoy the most about that pro- making “Marew Reow” noises. cess? I like the beginning and the end the best. I love ﬁguring out the actual design and construction
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Please tell us something we would be surprised to know about you. In fourth grade I got in trouble for selling other Nowadays toys are not only for children; adults kids bracelets and headbands that I made out of collect limited and special editions of a wide pot holder loops. After that, everyone was banned variety of toy. Would you like your toys to be- from selling things at school. That was a sad day, come collectible items, enjoyed not only by sniff sniff. children but also by adults? Deﬁnitely, I’d prefer it! Anytime I can get an adult CONTACT INFO to take a break from being a grown up and act like Penguin & Fish, LLC a kid again then I’m happy. And I think that as a http://www.penguinandﬁsh.com collectible item there is more of an appreciation http://penguinandﬁsh.blogspot.com for the artist’s hand at work, the time it took to http://penguinandﬁsh.etsy.com create it, and the quality and choice of materials. All my Kitties are different and I number them so they are all individuals and extra special.
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THE WHIMSY PATCH
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Tell us a little about you and what you do besides making toys. Though toy making has not been a lifelong activity for me, I have always been doing something creative--writing and illustrating my own childrenâ€™s stories, mixed media collage making, painting, embroidery, etc. Aside from making toys, I am a stay at home mom who absolutely loves what she does. I juggle my toy making with tending to my toddler and taking care of the household chores, cooking dinner, loving my husband. All of that is pretty much enough to keep me busy all day and then some! Which toy was your favorite when you were little? I had this giant plush elephant that I received for Christmas on my second birthday. He was bigger than me and I can still remember lugging him around everywhere. My mom tells me that the dear, sweet Ellie received more than one operation in his plush lifetime!
When did you decide to start making toys? I started making toys after the birth of my son. He was just starting to get mobile and I wanted something to do with my hands while he was crawling about the house. I pulled out my sewing machine and the rest was history! I started making my own patterns almost immediately and fell in love with the craft. What is the inspiration behind your work? I am inspired by so many things, but my son was my initial inspiration. I wanted to do something that would enrich his life and I started by pulling from all of my childhood imaginings, my summerâ€™s with my grandma and great aunt, a childhood of being brought up on rich literature and the storytelling craft. My work is a celebration of all the great pleasures in life--a good cup of coffee, a soothing afternoon tea, beautiful fabric, etc. The Whimsy Patch is my ideal place to live. The characters there spend their days doing all the things I love and/or wish I could do. continues page 134 THE WHIMSY PATCH 131
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What do you want to express through your toys? I express childlike wonder through my toys. So many things in life are complicated, hard, and just plain unpleasant. I try to keep that childlike wonder that I see in my sonâ€™s eyes alive in myself through the creative process. Could you please share with us a little about the process of making your toys? My toy making process involves two different thought processes--sometime intertwined, sometimes not. Oftentimes, the process begins with the fabric. I look over my fabrics, choose the combinations I want to use, and then decide on the patterns that would be most ďŹ‚attered by the fabrics I have chosen. Other times, the pattern chooses the fabric. In this case, the character has come to mind through the brainstorming process. For ex-
ample, my most recent pattern--the Standalone Dollie--came about when my brother asked me to make something that could be used as bookends. I had been thinking of how I wanted to have a female dollie that would stand on its own and that I wanted a different look from my signature, Chubby Dollie. I had also been thinking of how I wanted to have a dollie with a billowing dress but that I do not have the time to sew dresses for my dollies. I put all of these ideas together and came up with the Standalone Dollies. As for the nitty gritty process, once fabrics have been chosen and cut, I start with the machine sewing for the major pieces of the dolls and then move on to the hand sewing. The hand sewing between piecing the dolls and doing all of continues page 136
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What do you enjoy the most about that process? The hand sewing is also the most enjoyable part of the process. I absolutely love this part. I love taking the blank slate of the doll and giving it character through all of the details whether it’s simply the face or whether I have added tummy appliques, details to the shoes, a felt “hairpin,” etc. It’s also the most soothing of the activities. I do a lot of my thinking at this time!
I intend toward an adult audience. I make 99% of my pieces to be unique (the exception being some wholesale work) so that the Whimsy Patch dolls will have a very collectible sort of value. Please tell us something we would be surprised to know about you. I have only been sewing these little critters for about 17 months now!
CONTACT INFO Kim Kamer Nowadays toys are not only for children; adults http://www.thewhimsypatch.com collect limited and special editions of a wide http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/thewhimsypatch/ variety of toy. Would you like your toys to be- http://www.thewhimsypatch.etsy.com come collectible items, enjoyed not only by children but also by adults? This is actually the intention of about 50% of my work. I make most of my dolls to be child-safe but I add a bunch of details to many of them that 134 THE WHIMSY PATCH
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Tell us a little about you and what you do besides making toys. I am a female and 43, living with my sweetie, who pulls my chain about all the cans and bottle caps I own.. My ﬁrst degree was in sculpture my second in Classical Five Element Acupuncture. Art/toy making is my form of meditation. In my practice as an acupuncturist I’m constantly counseling others to slow down and observe their body, to be more in the moment and listen to what their body is saying. I feel every act can be a meditation.
tween my legs as we rode along to our job sites. I would stop and have smartie (hard pill like candy) breaks. When did you decide to start making toys? After I started making whistles...oh no!, years ago in high school I made hundreds of jointed movable teddy bears, my mother was a great sales lady, brought me all my orders. Oops! maybe younger, I made a dragon ﬂy out of smartie wrappers..age 5.
Which toy was your favorite when you were What is the inspiration behind your work? Proportion, scale, i.e. bottle caps come one size… little? A little red plastic dump truck that I ride along on what can I make that puts that size to use. (whis(it wasn’t made for that) I would put one of the continues page 144 kittens in it. The kitten’s head would pop up be138 LORAN SCRUGGS
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tles and animals on wheels) Pondering, an idea or material; for example I ponder Hunt’s tomato cans...tin cans are sharp…I cut myself...Hunt’s.. red…hunt cut sharp...Oee I know I’ll make a Hunting Knife out of Hunt’s tomato cans. Usually with a lot more threads that don’t ﬁnish into anything. What do you want to express through your toys? I am interested in joy. Color is joyous for me so I use painted tin cans for their color and glint. A lot of my work reference childhood and play, for myself play is a time of being in the moment, no past or future worries, a time of joy. I hope that my work puts an amused smile on peoples faces, for when we smile we are in the moment, engaged, attentive and happy. 144 LORAN SCRUGGS
Could you please share with us a little about the process of making your toys? Ponder all the time and any time to come up with ideas. (see ponder above) First: Finding the time…ﬁnd a large chunk of it. Second: Make a pattern out of stiff paper. One offs are interesting but many is compelling. Three: Arrange the base usually wood. Four:: Cut out the tin. Five: Pound it all together. Environment: silly happy alternative rock station playing, warm tools (studio can be cool, if tools are warm then I don’t mind), plenty of water. What do you enjoy the most about that process? Being in the moment, being happy. I’ll look up and
be surprised how little time has gone by. Seemed like an hour yet it was only 20 minutes.
Please tell us something we would be surprised to know about you. Iâ€™m on day 50 of no sugar bombs, no white sugar, honey, maple syrup etc. My goal is a year! Yep no more smarties!
Nowadays toys are not only for children; adults collect limited and special editions of a wide variety of toy. Would you like your toys to become collectible items, enjoyed not only by CONTACT INFO children but also by adults? Loran Scruggs I would like them to be enjoyed whether some- http://www.loranscruggs.etsy.com one achieves that by playing with it or observing it on a shelf with other prized items is for them to decide. I personally am not into collecting with the intent that perhaps one day it will increase in value. I have toys that I have purchased/collected because they make me smile every time I see them.
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Which toy was your favorite when you were little? Tell us a little about you and what you do be- We loved the incredible hand puppets and doorway theater sewn by our mom. We subjected our sides making toys. We are sisters Meredith and Robin Stephens. Mer- family to many ridiculous productions complete edith has a BFA in drawing from Montana State with lighting and special effects. University, where she nurtured a love for dinosaurs and all things wild and natural. Robin has a When did you decide to start making toys? BS from the University Wisconsin, Madison where We made our very ﬁrst toys with our dad when she studied the natural world on a much smaller we were kids. They were mostly folk toys: jenga scale - genetics and bacteriology. Meredith: I blocks, marble solitaire boards, whimmy diddles, am an avid children’s book reader, paper mosaic and acrobatic men that ﬂipped over a string when maker, knitter, dog cuddler, and rhubarb pie eater. you squeezed the handles. Last year we must I will never collect enough fossils, shells, leaves, have been feeling nostalgic, and we designed our stones, or feathers. Robin: I love to knit, drink tea, ﬁrst shadow puppet set. and tickle my adorable son. I enjoy Wisconsin’s beautiful hiking trails, maxing out my library card, What is the inspiration behind your work? The original inspiration for our business was a and I eat my Thai food extra spicy. shadow theater version of The Pied Piper, pro-
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duced as a class project when Meredith was in the ﬁrst grade. The simplicity and realism of traditional Victorian silhouette art has heavily inﬂuenced our style. Animals, fairy tales, history, nature and the local arts of the places we travel have all been important factors in which sets we decide to produce – which you’ll see as time goes on and we get a chance to do more designing. What do you want to express through your toys? We believe kids are full of limitless creativity for imaginative play, and we want to create toys that encourage kids to develop their abilities. By writing plays, building a theater, drawing scenery, playing music, making puppets and cooperating with others, kids can express themselves and be proud of their artistic accomplishments. But really, it’s also just plain fun to wave a puppet around on a stick. Pick one up, be silly and have a great time.
Could you please share with us a little about the process of making your toys? First we come up with a range of set ideas and plan out which puppets belong in each set and what the colors will be. The puppets are drawn either by hand or on the computer using a tablet, and then get converted into a vector image ﬁle. Our mechanical elves cut the puppets from laminated paper or plastic, and we print the fact cards and packaging. We make the sticks by crimping clips onto bamboo skewers with pliers. What do you enjoy the most about that process? Playing with the ﬁnished products, of course! Nowadays toys are not only for children; adults collect limited and special editions of a wide variety of toy. Would you like your toys to becontinues page 154 ORANGE MOON TOYS 151
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come collectible items, enjoyed not only by children but also by adults? Regardless of whether anyone ever decides to collect our toys, adults already do enjoy them. Shadow puppets are an ageless toy – many of our customers buy them for themselves or their spouses. We have countless offers to “help” take photographs for the website, and some of our friends are very impatient, salivating for that miscut that they can play with. There are very few people who don’t feel an urge when confronted with an empty room and an overhead projector... Please tell us something we would be surprised to know about you. Meredith: I can kick through three boards. Robin: I claimed the camp eating competition by downing eleven sandwiches. CONTACT INFO Orange Moon Toys Meredith & Robin http://www.orangemoontoys.etsy.com
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“le sourire ne part pas au lavage” RAPLAPLA 157
Tell us a little about you and what you do besides making toys. I’m a 31 french woman, I had lived in Montreal for 11 years and I really love this city! When I’m not making dolls... I cook! Cooking is my other passion. And of course I take care of Lili, 9 years old and Fé, 5 years old, my two daughters. We love going to the library and borrow mountains of books, or going to hot swimming pool, or else buy delicious cupcakes at “Cocoa Locale” and eat them for a walk...
(I was a sewing teacher for people with mental health problems), so I decided to start my own business. I tried to make lot of little things in fabric for kids and one day I made a very little doll... My youngest daughter stole her from me and she adopted her (she called her Eglantine)! A few days later, we crossed a friend, she saw the little doll (always in my daughter’s arms) and she gave me right advices... Just after that I started Raplapla!
What is the inspiration behind your work? My inspiration comes from fabrics, I love to mix Which toy was your favorite when you were colors, patterns and textures together. And the little? childhood world appeals to me by its naivety and He was Bouba, a brown teddy bear...And I can’t poetry... forget books, and sheets + pencils for drawing! What do you want to express through your When did you decide to start making toys? toys? When I was 14, I made my ﬁrst rag dolls for a Smile and joy! I would give a little friend to kids, friend´s baby, by inspiration of a 1970’s fabric for when they need cuddles, or tell a secret! puppet! But seriously, 3 years ago I lost my job continues page 163
Could you please share with us a little about the process of making your toys? After I have spent a lot of time in fabric stores to select which ones I love, I make a ﬁrst doll to see if I really like her (usually I like her!) or if not I change one or more fabrics, after that I make washing test (in my washing machine), and kid test (with my daughters!). If all is OK, I cut, cut, cut lots of fabrics and with my seamstress we sew, sew, sew lot of dolls!
Nowadays toys are not only for children; adults collect limited and special editions of a wide variety of toy. Would you like your toys to become collectible items, enjoyed not only by children but also by adults? Why not, but when I design my dolls, they are for kids, deﬁnitely!
Please tell us something we would be surprised to know about you. Heu... I didn’t play with dolls when I was a kid, I What do you enjoy the most about that pro- preferred Lego! cess? Of course, I love creative part! I really enjoy to start CONTACT INFO a new product! But I like to run the business too, Raplapla because I don’t know daily routine! http://www.raplapla.com http://www.raplapla.etsy.com
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Tell us a little about you and what you do besides making toys. I love the outdoors. Going camping, kayaking, and quad riding with my family. But I have to admit, I do enjoy vegging out in front of the TV when I get a chance. I’m a sucker for reality TV and the news. Which toy was your favorite when you were little? I don’t remember a speciﬁc favorite toy but I did like Snoopy and Garﬁeld. I also loved to play with anything small. I liked to build houses for my toys out of shoe boxes. I used bottle caps for stools and made beds out of matchboxes and fabric scraps. I had a lot of fun with the details, I even made tiny toilet paper rolls. Sometimes I would use real lizards and frogs I had caught as the tenants, but I always let them go when I was done. When did you decide to start making toys? I made toys for fun when I was a kid. But I started to make them for the purpose of selling when I became an adult. And seeing that other people were having success selling their creations on the Internet was the big orange carrot for me. I thought, “Hey I can do that!”. And I’m so thankful for the success I have had so far. What is the inspiration behind your work? I would say my 2 kids, my own childhood, and nature. What do you want to express through your toys? To see the humor in and fun in everyday things. 168 DREAM A LITTLE
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Could you please share with us a little about the process of making your toys? I like to use natural materials. I like the way they feel in my hands when I’m using them. Making my toys is like a “Zen Garden” for me. I just sort of drift off into a creative trance. It sounds funny but when I’m in that zone, that is when I come up with my best ideas. What do you enjoy the most about that process? It is so relaxing. And seeing the ﬁnished product turn out just as I imagined it. Nowadays toys are not only for children; adults collect limited and special editions of a wide variety of toy. Would you like your toys to become collectible items, enjoyed not only by children but also by adults? Absolutely. My toys are made sturdy so that they can be played with, but there’s no age limit on who can enjoy them. Please tell us something we would be surprised to know about you. Not only do I make “bugs” but I also drive a little yellow one. CONTACT INFO Dana Dunn Dream a Little http://www.dreamalittle7.com http://www.dreamalittle7.etsy.com
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Which toy was your favorite when you were little? I was a really bad kid in a way. I’d wake up really early in the morning and couldn’t go back to sleepeven though my parents didn’t want to get up yet. So my mom would give me little pieces of ribbons and string tied to buttons and bread crust and I’d chew on ‘em. Wow, after writing that I guess you’d think my parents were pretty bad! Seriously, though, I had a really good childhood. Later on I got a really nice Sascha doll-Sascha Morgenthaler was a Swiss doll maker. It was black-I wanted to be black so incredibly bad, but I was stuck with straight blonde hair, fair skin, and blue eyes so I guess you could say it was the thing I couldn’t have. My mom made everything for it: she’d sew pants, shirts, raincoats, swimsuits-she even knitted sweaters for it. I suppose you could say that was the seed for what I’m doing now. Oh yeah, my brother and I had Legos. Lots of Legos.
Tell us a little about you and what you do besides making toys. Professionally I’m a designer-a recovering art director. But that’s only for a few hours a day. I’ve always been a pretty avid gardener even if it’s suffered lately for my toys. My husband and I are also both pretty avid cooks. But the things that I really enjoy are the ones that inspired me to make things: thrift stores, garage sales, estate sales, yard sales, and swap meets. We’re always angling for some sort of thrift score and we’ve found some pretty random stuff. Sometimes the best part of rooting through other peoples’ stuff-and I’m talking about estate sales or intact collections at swap meets-is making up the stories of peoples’ lives. I know the real stories can be pretty awful, but when it’s just a bunch of anonymous clothes, housewares, and photos you can write their former owners into your own play. That beats any TV show hands down.
When did you decide to start making toys? January ‘08, but there was a lot that led up to it. For a few years before I started, I collected vintage materials and fabrics. I bought it sort of compulsively because I liked it, even though I didn’t have an idea what I’d do with it. So for the year or so leading up to my ﬁrst critter, I sort of started building things in my head. After a while I found myself telling people how I’d like to do something. I realized that it was something I just had to dolike a driving force, I suppose. What is the inspiration behind your work? Junk. No, really-junk. Not like dumpster junk, but we’re fascinated with the things that people throw away. It’s really pretty disgusting the way people just discard something because it doesn’t ﬁt the life that TV tells them they have to live, so instead of getting mad about it I use their castoffs in my work. Of course my inspiration is a bit skewed towards materials, but that’s ultimately what moticontinues page 179
vates me to do things. There are other things of course, like that making my critters connects me to a time when I’d sew things with my mom. Plus I just get something cute stuck in my head. What do you want to express through your toys? Something carefree and fun. Something that reclaims something on its way to a landﬁll. In a way I suppose I want to show people what they’re capable of when they put their mind to something. A lot of people get intimidated by the idea of making stuff, but they often can identify with the ﬁnal product. I’d like for people to look at my stuff and say “Jeez, if SHE could do this, why couldn’t I?” Could you please share with us a little about the process of making your toys? There are really two elements: the creative and production. For the creative part I whip up a rough pattern and make a part based on it. If I like it, I clean it up and create a permanent paper pattern. If I don’t, I take apart the piece, tune it up, make notes on my pattern, and stitch it back together again. I might do that once or twice before I’m happy with it. Beyond that and I get frustrated and start over. More than once I’ve used bad patterns to light a ﬁre in our stove. We heat with wood, so I guess you could say I recycle even those. The production is really pretty simple: I pretty much ignore the patterns. I mean I use them, but I’m not too wrapped up in making the panels match the patterns. I sew everything together inside out. I machine sew all of the things like body panels that have to be strong-sometimes I’ll sew them two or three times if I know it’s going to see a lot of abuse. People don’t want things to come apart in their hands-I’d rather put the effort into something the ﬁrst time than have to come back and redo it over and over. Then I hand-sew all of the details. That’s the continues page 181
place where a lot of critters really come to life. When you’re working on something, it sort of tells you what it wants to be. So that’s what I put into something like a face or hair shape. What do you enjoy the most about that process? Hands-down, ﬂipping them right-side out. Since I don’t follow a strict pattern, I never know what I’ll ﬁnd when they’re unfolded. It’s always a surprise. Until that point they just look like chunks of fabric. From that point on they look like things you’d want to know. Nowadays toys are not only for children; adults collect limited and special editions of a wide variety of toy. Would you like your toys to become collectible items, enjoyed not only by children but also by adults? I’d like for my things to become collectible, but in the way that made Steiff toys collectible. When they were new, they were just playthings. Kids loved ‘em until they wore the fur off, and then they loved them even more. So those things are prized because the way they made people feel at a certain point in their life. When kids grow up they buy them for their own kids. I’d hate to know that something that I put so much care into ended up holding down a shelf. I labor over these so people can have them long enough to fall in love with them. And by that I mean adults, too. I try to make them so they feel good, so I sort of expect people to handle them. That’s part of their charmthey feel good. To just put one on a shelf would be to miss the point.
be what makes me make stuff by hand. Maybe it’s cathartic. I’m also a perfectionist. When I’m designing for a client I can agonize over the most trivial things-things that no other person could ever see. I suppose you could say that the critters are a release-there is perfection in the ﬂaws. CONTACT INFO Hasenpfeffer Daniela & Chris Shelton http://www.hasenpfeffer.etsy.com http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/hasenpfeffer/
Please tell us something we would be surprised to know about you. I love plastic. Like hopelessly in love with it. I know it’s ironic since plastic is the cornerstone for mass manufacturing and it’s the poster child for artiﬁcial things, but my fetish for plastic things might HASENPFEFFER 181
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Marta. We made up little voices-Alphii was British, and Martha was a sort of Barbara Walters/Kermit the frog hybrid. They spoke in tongues only we understood. Pretty much all of my animals had really elaborate back stories... When did you decide to start making toys? I don’t think I had a choice, it really makes more sense if you know me, but it just feels right. I could be making useful things with my mad sewing skills...but I don’t. What is the inspiration behind your work? I love, love the traveling circus, anything costumey and dramatic excites me! What do you want to express through your toys? I’d like to think my toys exude playful mischiefand quality in craftsmanship is a biggy for me. I like to constantly challenge myself. I like to make continues page 189 Tell us a little about you and what you do besides making toys. My name is Erin Currie, I mostly design and make toys, but I also take a few months off a year to paint. I’m also a mother to a giant 17 year old boy, and a tiny little 3 year old princess, and a wife-Mr. Curster (Dave) takes care of the other parts of the Curster business. We recently launched the ﬁrst manufactured curster “The Yeti”- a limited run of 1500-which you can ﬁnd in stores all over the world now. There are 4 different faces-so 375 of each face. They are freestanding with articulated arms, which I haven’t seen much of in the plush world. And now I’m about half-way into my next handmade line. Which toy was your favorite when you were little? My sis and I had a lot of stuffed animals-I had a few favorites throughout the years, but most memorable was Alphii. He was a squishy polar bear, and my sister had the same, but a panda she named 184 CURSTER
things as long lasting and durable as possible. I have no interest contributing to the oversaturated market of throw-away trendy toys. Could you please share with us a little about the process of making your toys? There’s usually at least 20 pieces that go into each toy-I paint the face, and cut out by sight on most of my guys-but when I do limited runs, I make a pattern. I like to use materials like vinyl, leather, or quilt fabric to add strength. There is a lot of hand sewing that goes into each guy, and once stuffed, each guy is almost completely stiff. I like to ﬁnd the highest quality supplies and am always on the lookout for fabrics. What do you enjoy the most about that process? I really enjoy every bit of the process-the more tedious the better. It’s very rewarding when I discover that I’ve perfected one little thing that used to be so difﬁcult. Nowadays toys are not only for children; adults collect limited and special editions of a wide variety of toy. Would you like your toys to become collectible items, enjoyed not only by children but also by adults? Funny you should mention...all but a few Cursters are collected by adults and sold amongst the urban vinyl in stores. I’ve sold about 1000 handmade guys, and am lucky to have many collectors already! With my new relationship with distributor DKEtoys I hope to reach an even broader group. Please tell us something we would be surprised to know about you. Ha! I love this question...hmm, I think in general, most online customers that meet me are surprised how young and unfrumpy I am. CONTACT INFO Curster Erin Currie http://www.curster.etsy.com CURSTER 189
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Tell us a little about you and what you do besides making toys. I’m Sarah Campbell and I live a very busy and at the moment, muddy life on a small island in Scotland called Lismore. I live with Yorick and our two boys, Ruben and Tom and I spend a lot of time making stuff in my studio and writing my blog. Apart from toys, I make a lot of pillows, throws and lamps and a lot of custom designs for companies and interior designers. When I’m not making things I’m either playing the ﬁddle, singing, dancing in the kitchen or tidying up (and sometimes all at the same time)! Which toy was your favorite when you were little? I used to love my “girl’s world”...a strange plastic head with a rotating knob on her neck to make her hair grow. You could dye her hair all sorts of colors which was fun until my sister chopped all her hair 194 MOGWAII
off in revenge for me scalping her Barbie dolls. When did you decide to start making toys? I started making toys early this year. Not that long ago really. What is the inspiration behind your work? This island has more sheep, hens, cows and hares on it than humans. They are our constant companions, entertainment and in many cases hassle. I pass them every time I cycle to work and they make me laugh. I felt compelled to make something funny...so much of my work is so serious and arty and I needed a break from high design. What do you want to express through your toys? A sense of fun and whimsy and something about Scotland where we’re all from. Could you please share with us a little about continues page 199
the process of making your toys? I draw round templates and then hand cut each section. Then to the sewing machine to attach button eyes, beaks or mouths and sew the sections together. Each toy is then pressed and the seams are top sewn. Then they are stuffed with 5 heaped teaspoons of the best British Lavender and poly wool stufďŹ ng. Labels and character tags are then attached with waxed linen thread.
children but also by adults? Absolutely!! Everyone should have a Hamish Macpherson and his great aunt Lobelia
What do you enjoy the most about that process? Positioning the button eyes. Iâ€™m always giggling at the different squiffy looks.
CONTACT INFO Mogwaii Sarah Campbell http://www.mogwaii.wordpress.com http://www.mogwaiidesign.com http://www.mogwaiishop.com
Nowadays toys are not only for children; adults collect limited and special editions of a wide variety of toy. Would you like your toys to become collectible items, enjoyed not only by
Please tell us something we would be surprised to know about you. I also sing Jazz and my sisters version of Auld Lang Syne was played over the new year scene in Sex and the City the movie.
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Tell us a little about you and what you do besides making toys. I’m a mixed media artist. I love to paint, cut and paste. I also make jewelry and cute paper mache boxes and sometimes fabric brooches. During the day you’ll usually ﬁnd me taking care of my baby girl or on the computer answering e-mails, shopping for supplies or looking for inspiration, But at night you’ll deﬁnitely ﬁnd me working :)
When did you decide to start making toys? A couple of years ago. I’ve always been kind of childish in the sense that I need to touch the things that I see... So I started thinking that maybe my paintings could become more “real” and I started making dolls. After a while I changed some of the techniques I used so they would look more like the paintings that inspired them, but they’ve basically remained the same.
Which toy was your favorite when you were little? I had many loved toys but I think my favorites were my paper dolls and a rag doll called “Anita”. I used to have a ton of paper dolls. I even cut the ones in the back of the books and used them to play with my cousin’s cars. I loved the fact that you could change them so quickly and make clothes and furniture for them... When I needed a new outﬁt, all I needed was a sheet of paper, my box of crayons and I was ready! And Anita would be with me most of the time. I still have her. She’s with me in the studio right now :)
What is the inspiration behind your work? My own paintings. I usually work from there. It’s like magic. You see the painting and then you see it become “real”. It’s very different when you’re able to manipulate it and play with it! And the inspiration behind my paintings comes from many different sources. I love children’s books and vintage illustrations. I also get a lot from my childhood and watching my child play.
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What do you want to express through your toys? I want them to represent feelings or stories. I want people to hold them and invent an story of their own for them.
add a little crochet ﬂower... or some paper bunny ears. It all depends of the speciﬁc doll. Sometimes I also make a little cart or box where the doll will be. That’s made with vintage books pages and lots of glue :) What do you enjoy the most about that proCould you please share with us a little about cess? When I’m painting the doll. Specially the doll’s the process of making your toys? Well it all starts with an idea and some muslin. face. It what’s gives her personality. For some dolls I use some of my patterns and for others I just go ahead and draw them directly on Nowadays toys are not only for children; adults the fabric. I then sew the fabric and stuff it with collect limited and special editions of a wide poly ﬁll. I apply gesso and then I paint them. I use variety of toy. Would you like your toys to bea mixed media technique for that. When the doll is come collectible items, enjoyed not only by ﬁnished I stain it to make it look old. Sometimes I children but also by adults? It’s funny you ask because most of my dolls are bought by adults for the child inside them. Some people buys my dolls for their daughters but they don’t allow them to play with them, they’re just for display... they’ve told me that it’s theirs until their children grow up! Please tell us something we would be surprised to know about you. If I weren’t an artist I’d love to be a singer... I think many people would be thankful I’m an artist.. I have the worst voice ever! CONTACT INFO DANITA ART http://www.danitaart.etsy.com/ http://danitaart.blogspot.com/
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Tell us a little about you and what you do besides making toys. My name is Melanie Green, I am a British felt maker and textile artist. I studied multi media textile design at Loughborough university and graduated 2001. Beside making toys I create embroidered and felted art pieces, felted handbags and accessories, soft felt sculpture, nuno scarves and much more besides. If that’s not enough I also work in a bookshop full time as well. I have a hectic busy life which is how I like it. 214 FELT ME UP DESIGNS
Which toy was your favorite when you were little? My favorite toy when I was little and is still my favorite toy now, is a teddy bear called AG Bear. My parents bought him for Christmas for me when I was 6 years old. He had a blue tunic with A.G embroidered on it which I have since lost and a voice box which was sound sensitive and zipped into his back. You could speak to him and he would answer in a kind of “mmmmm...mmmm” continues page 217
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way copying your speech pattern. My sister had one too and we would put them back to back and then set them off... they would talk to each other for hours! He still shares my bed when I feel small and insecure. I don’t think people should put aside the things they love just because they have grown up.
What do you want to express through your toys? My toys are very much an expression of my personality. Much of my other work has a very dark undertone to it and the toys are a way of expressing the playful lighter side of myself, especially my birds which have a real sense of whimsy to them. It’s hard letting them go because they are all little pieces of myself, I hope they speak to the joyful part in other people too.
When did you decide to start making toys? I started making toys in December 2007, I never intended to make a business of it but they just Could you please share with us a little about kept coming and on the days it was too cold to the process of making your toys? make wet felt I could always make toys! I design quite intuitively, I have a picture in my head which often I won’t put on paper. I’ll work What is the inspiration behind your work? out the basics ﬁrst like how much ﬂeece will I Lots of things inspire me, often it’s simply the way need, will the toy need a wire skeleton and then the materials speak to me or a conversation with it’s almost like sketching in 3-D until it matches a neighbor about a bird that nests on her window the picture in my head. I make my toys through ledge. Sometimes things just come in dreams, I a process called needle felting, it’s a dry felting keep a sketch book by my bed all the time just in method which involves using a barbed needle to case. Working in a book shop I am exposed to all poke at ﬂeece until it takes on the desired form. sorts of inﬂuences, I’ve been inspired by the front cover of a paper back before or by leaﬁng thru a book of illustrations. FELT ME UP DESIGNS 217
It’s quite a labour intensive process and requires ations is a limited edition in that no 2 are ever the a certain degree of concentration to avoid pricked same, they all have completely unique personalities. I’d love for my toys to become collectibles, ﬁngers! there’s a really satisfaction in knowing that someWhat do you enjoy the most about that pro- one else treasures something you made. cess? It’s hard to pick one thing that stands out the Please tell us something we would be surmost, but the feeling of satisfaction when you prised to know about you. produce something from what is essentially a big I don’t own a TV... It freaks people out! I stopped pile of ﬂuff and it looks exactly like the picture in watching TV when I realized it was eating too you head is a real rush. I love that you can lose much of my life. I watch DVD’s on my computer yourself in needle felting and that it’s a tactile ex- instead and my life is much richer for it! perience. CONTACT INFO Nowadays toys are not only for children; adults Felt me up designs collect limited and special editions of a wide Melanie Green variety of toy. Would you like your toys to be- http://www.feltmeup.co.uk come collectible items, enjoyed not only by http://www.feltmeupdesigns.etsy.com children but also by adults? http://www.feltmeup.etsy.com My toys are really meant for adults although peo- http://www.ﬂickr.com/photos/feltmeupdesigns/ ple do buy them for children. Everyone of my cre- http://www.feltmeupdesigns.blogspot.com/ 218 FELT ME UP DESIGNS
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Tell us a little about you and what you do besides making toys. I am a 28 year old French plush artist. I live in Menton, in the South of France between Monaco and Italy. Besides making toys I am a Marketing and Communication Manager. Which toy was your favorite when you were little? The « Fabulons ». It was a sort of ‘’playmobil’’, but with animal’s heads. I had a wonderful ﬁremen team, which had a bulldog head, my favorite!! When did you decide to start making toys? I began to experiment with toys in January 2007, when I started an art toys collection. I then launched a photographic project called « Toys are Out » under the name Baolaki (http://www.myspace.com/ baolakii), where I get my toys outdoor and took some pictures. Then I decided to create my own toys, and the plush dolls were the easiest way to do it without using chemical products. I created my ﬁrst plush in February 2008 and I really decided to launch the Miss PlusH PlusH’s project in April. Since then, I have designed around 30 art plushes What is the inspiration behind your work? 222 MISS PLUSH PLUSH
Childhood nostalgia, vegetal world, street art, art toys, Japanese kawaii-kowai universe, children’s books… all that has an inﬂuence on my work. What do you want to express through your toys? My ﬁrst art dolls cycle is called the L.A.K.I it stands for the Little Animals Kissing (the) Icebergs. I think that the street art and art toys movements are a good way to vehicle messages to the kidults generation (20-35 years old). Because the plush media seems familiar and reassuring for a generation which fears for its future, I ﬁnd it the ideal media to increase people awareness to the ecological issues. Each of my L.A.K.I as an Icelandic name, linked to Nature and a personality in association with her. They often have a sadly face, because they are just toys and cannot do much more than ‘’kissing the icebergs’’ everyday! Their sad-looking eyes seem to demand us to react to make a greener world. Could you please share with us a little about the process of making your toys? Each L.A.K.I is unique because I never use a pattern nor the same shape, size and colors. I draw continues page 227
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and scan the face, then I print it on old recycled sheets. I use polar ﬂeece or felt, sew the toy with a sewing machine and then stuff it. The whole process is quite long; I often spend between 4 to 8 hours per toy from the paper project to the realization. Then I take them with me for a walk outside and try to ﬁnd a nice place to shoot them with my camera. What do you enjoy the most about that process? It is really exciting to create a character from A to Z. It is quite long, but when I have ﬁnished to stuff them, that’s the greatest moment, like a birth! All the L.A.K.I plush dolls stay with me at home until they are adopted by a new family; thus they are very familiar to me and my heart does skip a beat when I have to send them over through post. But it is great to know that other people will love them and I often receive photos of them in their new surroundings. Nowadays toys are not only for children; adults collect limited and special editions of a wide variety of toy. Would you like your toys to become collectible items, enjoyed not only by children but also by adults? Of course, as my toys are one of a kind and handmade, they are aimed at becoming collectible items. They are still aimed at adults who love art toys and design. People can seat them on their sofa and hug them when they are watching TV I plan to create more precious art plushes with exceptional fabrics, feathers and pearls. They will be more ‘’soft sculpture’’ than toys. Please tell us something we would be surprised to know about you. My 5 years old cat is called Pipolaki, like a French brand of ski hats. It is the origin of the name of my ﬁrst cycle: the L.AK.I Plush dolls Collection. CONTACT INFO Miss PlusH PlusH Emilie Grau http://www.wix.com/Missplushplush/MPP1 http://www.myspace.com/missplushplush http://missplushplush.dawanda.com
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TOYS ARE NO LONGER JUST FOR KIDS. LET YOUR INNER CHILD HAVE SOME FUN. PLAY.