The collective goal of the Natural Kids Team artisans is to create children’s imaginative toys, decor, and clothes from environmentally-friendly materials. Individually, we have different inspirations and objectives for why we make what we do. Recently, I asked my fellow Natural Kids Team members to tell me the stories behind some of their creations. I asked, “Why did you make it?” What follows are five artisans’ answers, including my own.
Sara Sacks of Woolies:
I think in another life I may have been a horse. I was born in the Chinese year of the horse. I’ve been in love with horses since the age of 2. Where our backyard ended, a stable began. My mother used to find me hanging on the fence, just watching the horses. I started riding at 4. I started a horse club at the age of 7. We were only allowed to play ‘horses’. I finally was able to purchase my first real horse at the age of 30. We now have 2 horses. They are the most amazing animals. I adore to make horses, in every color of the rainbow. Here is one of my Earth Ponies:
Kristi Ashley of Tickety Bu:
Everything I make has been born out of necessity for our family, but the colors I use in my dyes tell the real stories of our lives. Each colorway has been inspired by an experience, most often with the kids. This one was picked straight from our garden. We spend all our time outside when it’s warm and we are lucky to have lots of heirloom hydrangeas in our garden. We dry the blooms every year and my daughter is especially fond of them. I think of her and all our summer adventures outside each time I dye this up:
Julie Ouimet of FeéVertelaine:
I gave my daughter a little heart a couple of years ago and I still use it frequently as a little love note. When I make her bed, I leave the gnome on the pillow or I leave him with a little “snack.” It’s become a habit, and my daughter always enjoys this little gesture. The Valentine Love Gnomes I make for the shop leave room for your imagination. They’re good anywhere, just to say I love you!
Stephinie Miner of Gypsy Forest:
My Spindrift quilts are the most loved handmade item I offer in my shop. The shape of each quilt is hand drawn with a curvy edge that gives it a soft organic feel. The name spindrift is a nautical term meaning spray blown from crests of waves by the wind and was chosen to honor our family’s deep connection with the sea. The quilt however was inspired by a lovely colorful whole cloth quilt gifted to me over 15 years ago when my first baby came into the world. I was given kind but stern instructions that the quilt be used, and not hung upon the wall. It was a cherished gift that in time swaddled 4 babies, became the roof and walls of many blanket forts, and was clothes-pinned under chins as a cape. I always hope the quilts I send out will receive this much use & love.
Farida Dowler of Alkelda Dolls:
I wish I could have been one of those children who loved math from the beginning and learned to use it as a tool to comprehend the science I wanted to study. I wish I’d had a math gnome nearby to inspire and encourage me to persevere and be patient with myself when I puzzled over (and sometimes cried over) fractions, theorems, and story problems. As a grownup, I was inspired by the math gnomes used in the Waldorf educational curriculum to make math-themed dolls for children, teens, and adults who would like some company during homework, check-book-balancing, and tax return times. I know I still do!
These are just some of the stories my fellow artisans have shared with me. I look forward to bringing you more of their stories.
Farida Dowler of Alkelda Dolls lives in Seattle, Washington, USA, with her husband and daughter. Saints and Spinners is her song and storytelling blog. Her favorite math songs are “Ten Tiny Turtles” and “Ladybug Picnic” by Don Hadley and Bud Luckey.