It started with a fox

So much has been going on with my toys that I haven't blogged in a while.I thought that I would tell the story of how Little Bellwoods got started.

My son painted this fox on a ceramic tile when he was young. I loved this little fox, such a cute character. I thought maybe I should make a toy of him.  

My son painted this fox on a ceramic tile when he was young. I loved this little fox, such a cute character.

I thought maybe I should make a toy of him.

 

I started sketching. I also started doodling ideas for a name. The problem was all of the names had already been used. So frustrating, I almost called it everythingistaken.com. I turned my attention to sewing.

I started sketching. I also started doodling ideas for a name. The problem was all of the names had already been used. So frustrating, I almost called it everythingistaken.com. I turned my attention to sewing.

This is my first try. It's made out of different felt scraps that I had. I didn't like the muzzle though.

This is my first try. It's made out of different felt scraps that I had. I didn't like the muzzle though.

Different profile but I still didn't like it. At this point I decided to go back to the drawing board.

Different profile but I still didn't like it. At this point I decided to go back to the drawing board.

I started drawing other creatures too. I turned to Abby Glassenberg"s book "Stuffed Animals." It was very helpful. I changed the pose.

I started drawing other creatures too. I turned to Abby Glassenberg"s book "Stuffed Animals." It was very helpful. I changed the pose.

New sketch.

New sketch.

First muslin dummy. Starting to take shape!

First muslin dummy. Starting to take shape!

Next muslin dummy with marker indicating eye placement and details.

Next muslin dummy with marker indicating eye placement and details.

Fox made out of acrylic felt. Darn ears won't stand up.

Fox made out of acrylic felt. Darn ears won't stand up.

How about red?

How about red?

Fatter?

Fatter?

Corduroy?

Corduroy?

Cotton twill? That #%/* ear is down again!

Cotton twill? That #%/* ear is down again!

Success! Wool felt and the ears are up! Thanks interfacing!

Success! Wool felt and the ears are up! Thanks interfacing!

Finally I decided on wool that I felt myself and the name is Little Bellwoods named after my neighbourhood Trinity Bellwoods. Such a long journey from my original inspiration but an interesting trip!

Finally I decided on wool that I felt myself and the name is Little Bellwoods named after my neighbourhood Trinity Bellwoods.

Such a long journey from my original inspiration but an interesting trip!

New toys

Here are some new toys that I have been working on. They're sewn with wool felt.

Here is a little fox that I made, he has embroidered features.

Here is a little fox that I made, he has embroidered features.

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A little raccoon wearing a dapper vest.

A little raccoon wearing a dapper vest.

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In our neighborhood we have rare albino squirrels. We have always had at least one white squirrel here. They are quite the celebrities. I decided to make a toy version of one. He's holding a happy acorn.

In our neighborhood we have rare albino squirrels. We have always had at least one white squirrel here. They are quite the celebrities.

I decided to make a toy version of one. He's holding a happy acorn.

This is another version of the white squirrel.

This is another version of the white squirrel.

SquirrelA02.jpg
This is the latest version of the squirrel, he now has some hair and his eyes have changed.

This is the latest version of the squirrel, he now has some hair and his eyes have changed.

Here is a little sleeping skunk.

Here is a little sleeping skunk.

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Handmade toys

I've made a lot of toys over the years and I decided to record them here for posterity.

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I designed these monkeys ages ago and I had a professional sew them. I made a prototype first. I sold them at a gallery show that I had at Reactor Art and Design.

Later they were featured in a book called Designing for Children by Stephen Heller and Stephen Guarnaccia.

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Unfortunately I can't find my own monkey toy so I had to use the photos from the book.

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After the monkeys I was asked to be in a show featuring artist made toys. A girl that I worked with took a screening workshop and wanted to do something with me. I made tiny pencil drawings of imaginary insects and blew them way up using a copier. My friend silk screened them onto fabric and we sewed them up using really simple legs and antennae. I called them Bedbugs because I thought it sounded kind of cute but since the huge infestations we have had here in Toronto I now think it sounds kind of itchy.

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After I had my son I remembered a handmade penguin that my Grandmother knitted for me. I loved it so much and I wanted to do that for my son. The first thing I made for him was this sock monkey, my mother in law embroidered the mouth and eyes. We also made a sock elephant which sadly can't be found. This monkey is missing a pompom from his hat (the dog got it).

When we first got our dog he really like chewing toys particularly Lego. One day I was cleaning up some poop in the backyard (oh the joys of owning pets) and there was a Lego cap sitting on it at a jaunty angle. I wanted to send it to Lego's Create and Share site but I chickened out.

All the toys here were well-loved so they aren't in tip top condition.I have made about 50 toys for my son over the years but the majority of them were following somebody's pattern at my sons request. I'm only posting the ones I made up for him.

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These are characters that show up on a Tamagotchi  screen. The one guy is missing a foot, I also made some that were like eggs but they are MIA.

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This bat was based on an imaginary pet my son had. He called him Sticky Bat because he said he would stick to his shoulder.

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At one point my son was really into owls so I made him this guy.

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This is my favorite toy, Marshmallow Cow. I felted some wool and it ended up being really thick and difficult to work with but I made this guy out of it. He's only about 4" high and the mouth ended up a little crooked but I think that's what I like about it. He looks like a bad ass to me, you wouldn't want to meet him in some dark... er pasture.

My Studio

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This is where I work and play. My studio is on the second floor of our newly renovated house and has lots of light thanks to 2 large skylights. I used to work in a closet. The stuff on the walls and shelves are things that I've collected over the years. Weird stuff mostly but I like it.

More nick nacks and some art books.

More nick nacks and some art books.

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The portrait to the left of my drawing table was painted by my Dad. It's me when I was a little girl.

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Sometimes I get the feeling that someone else is controlling the mouse...

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This is a silhouette of my son that I painted on some fabric that I designed for the now defunct fashion label OK47, but that's another story...