Tell us little about yourself!
I am a wife, mom of 3 boys, toy maker, believer in fairies, fiber addict, avid gardener, devourer of books, owner of too many pets…or maybe they own me, and doll artist!
What do you make and how long have you been creating?
I have always loved dolls and my sister and I spent much of our childhood making up elaborate stories for our many dolls. I made my first doll when I was 6; it was a simple cookie cutter shape with yarn hair and one button eye. For some reason that’s all the face that doll ever had but we called her “one eye Susie” and played with her all the time! My mother, an excellent seamstress, taught me sewing and knitting, and I had a very “crafty” grandmother who was always trying some new technique and then passing it on to her grandkids. I definitely learned a lot from both of them, and I’m pretty sure I also inherited my mom’s acute fiber addiction in the bargain. I learned costume construction in college where I majored in theater, and it was there I started making cloth masks for mime performances. Being a fiber junkie, I took classes in all sorts of needle arts along the way but curiously none in doll making. I really got into making dolls again when my sons were small, creating a cast of occupants for a castle my husband built. It was so much fun I just had to keep at it. I started out making Waldorf style dolls and my dollhouse dolls developed from this technique. Later, I tried a few patterns by other doll makers, but I couldn’t find a style that fit the dolls I saw in my head. It was after reading Suzanna Oroyan’s wonderful book, Anatomy of a Doll, that I was inspired to develop my own designs. It’s been very much a process of trial and error, but I have learned so much along the way.
What inspires you?
Other artists definitely! Wendy Froud – I love her fairies so much- and I find doll artists like Jane Darin, Akira Blount and Akiko Anzai very inspiring. I also get a lot of inspiration from books, contemporary and traditional fairy tales, and of course Mother Nature. There’s nothing like a hike on a mountain trail to bring out the fairies! I seriously always have several fairies knocking around in my head waiting to get out…it really gets crowded in there!
Of course I love being able to create toys that are natural for kids! There is something so much more magical in a handmade doll or stuffed animal, a perceptible feeling of love in every stitch. And the knowledge that you’ve made something that is environmentally friendly to boot?! Now that’s priceless.
How long have you been on Etsy and how has it been for you so far?
I had to go look and see! I joined February 16 2007, so I’m coming up on my 3 year anniversary…wow! It’s been one of the best things for me in so many ways. My business has really done well and I’ve met so many wonderful, encouraging, and inspiring people…many right here on the Natural Kids team.
What advice would you have for other Etsians?
It takes more work then you think to have a successful business on Etsy. You really need to step outside of Etsy to advertise and promote. I know everyone says that, but it’s true! Start a blog, find on line groups, hand out cards, and join a team…or several! Some teams are much more successful and active then others so it really is worth the time to try several out…I highly recommend the Natural Kids team of course. 🙂 And be open to change! I find lots of great ideas for improving my shop all the time. Read the forums and the Etsy blog, but also take the time to look at successful shops and see how they are set up, what kind of tags they’re using, what their pictures look like. Always be willing to learn.
What do you hope to learn/gain/contribute from being part of the Natural Kids group?
I’ve been a member of The Natural Kids team since it’s beginning – through all the many changes, holding a variety of positions, and I have always found it to be an amazing group! There is no other team that is so encouraging and caring and it has been wonderful to see the team grow and become so active! I hope to see that growth continue and to help in any way that I can.
What thoughts do you have for parents on the importance of natural toys for creative play?
With all the over stimulation that children are exposed to in our modern culture they need the time and the tools to connect with the natural world in a peaceful and harmonious way. This is how we learn to think creatively and critically! Natural toys are a part of this because they allow for open ended play that requires imagination. And just getting kids outside is so important…let them make up their own games, build forts, and find treasures like acorn tea cups and magic stick wands. This is the stuff of magic!
Your items can be found where:
In galleries across the country and my shop http://fairiesnest.etsy.com
You can also see my online gallery here; http://fairiesnest.deviantart.com/gallery/#_browse
Interview by Beccijo of The Enchanted Cupboard