Category: toymaking

hand work is heart work

A view from above of a mohair bear artist in a grey linen dress, stitching a teddy bear head by hand.
Handwork has always been a passion for me. As a child, some of my earliest memories are of me sat making on my bedroom floor, surrounded by scraps of fabric and cardboard boxes. Even back then, I was passionate about dolls & teddy bears, as well as enthralled by Doll’s Houses – more often than not, the things I made were so tiny that to properly appreciate them required looking through a magnifying glass.  As a child, then teenage maker, I never thought about why I was doing it.  I just knew that I felt better when my hands were busy, when my whole attention could be trained on something small and contained. It was therapeutic and soothing. And always resulted in something lovely to play with or love…more often than not I’d be so impatient for the object to be finished that I’d rush through and get myself into a pickle…Now that I’m an adult, I’ve learned the value of slowing down, taking my time and aiming for the very best finish I can manage. Whilst I still enjoy holding a finished object in my hands, it is often more the act of making itself which brings me the greater joy these days. It is a quiet, contemplative pursuit, which I can enjoy on my own at my own pace. Making has also guided me into building deep and satisfying friendships with whom I share a passion for mindful making, and who accept and know me as I am.

Making is a gift for me as a mother as it helps me rest and refill my cup in this particularly hectic season of life. I’m increasingly convinced that the work of my hands is first and foremost an overflowing of the heart, none the more so when it comes to the craft of making play things for my children. It is one of the many ways I connect with my eldest and am learning to bond with my youngest. At a particularly vulnerable moment in my life as a woman and mother, these slow stitches has felt akin to meditation or prayer.

why I work slowly

A OOAK artist's mohair bear, sewn from sandy coloured sparse mohair and with black glass eyes and a hand embroidered face..

I work at an intentionally slow pace, striving to create pieces imbued with longevity. My hope is that they will be around for a long time. It is labour intensive, but therapeutic work. It is also immensely satisfying to be able to combine so many of my fibre interests together into one piece. Last year, I created a small collection of bears that incorporated elements of hand-spinning, felting and lacemaking. I also started naturally dyeing my own mohair with traditional dye sources like madder root, weld and indigo. The only downside is trying to find the room in my studio to store all the paraphernalia that inevitably accompanies each craft.