Inspired by George Bernard Shaw's maxim: 'We don't stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing'
Pandemic update: We've shifted up to Vancouver BC and are exploring keeping printed patterns flowing via Canada Post. Patience may be required.
Hello. I'm Pippa Mars. I normally live in the Pacific Northwest in a country hideaway with my family and our two marvelous cats. I’ve been crafting since I was a little girl growing up in the Dick-and-Jane world before television, a world full of stories and imagination.
As a professional toy designer/handmaker in the 70s, I partnered with Babs Kavanaugh to create Wondrous Tales Toys. We designed, produced, and sold our finger puppets, stuffed mouse characters, and dressed animal dolls at fairs and via wholesale. You can find some of our designs and patterns from that era in Sunset Books Children's Clothes and Toys (those are my little sock dolls on the cover).
I'll never forget the rainy day--I was 6--when my best friend's mother gave us a small basket of fabric scraps and trims to use to decorate the paper girls we had drawn. What magic!
Every creative person seems to have had an important adult in their life who encouraged them to embrace their own creativity. For those of you who believe you're not creative, I think you most likely didn't have that important adult to validate your abilities and imagination. Someday we will teach children that every one of us has unique gifts.
Like love, creativity isn’t limited to the special few, but is a human gift we all share. Every one of us who wants to write has a voice. Every one of us who wants to imagine has a vision. Every one of us who can pick up a pencil can draw. Every one of us who feels the need to make things can make something wonderful.
Craftdesignworks is my place on the web to invite and encourage fun and exploration--a tinkery, playful kind of machine with unpredictable results. I invite you to come into the workshop and play. Try stuff out. Fail. Try again, and just keep at it until you make something you like. I know you will.
About the Patterns and Kits
You'll find my patterns are instructive but not too prescriptive. They're intended to be just a starting point for you, like training wheels. If you're new to sewing, you'll find the instructions beginner-friendly whether you have a sewing machine or want to learn hand-stitching techniques for toymaking. None of the Craftdesignworks patterns demand a high level of needlework skill, so they should be relaxing to make--more fun than challenging. (If you're a seamstress or stitcher ready for a more intense sewing challenge I'm happy to refer you onward. There are other toy artisans whose work I admire who use more sophisticated techniques).
Children under 10 will most likely need adult accompaniment in order to succeed unless they already have a bit of sewing experience, and this can be a very enjoyable project to make with them.
My aim is to equip you with the skills to take off pedaling on your own journey and inhabit the land of your imagination (and that of the other toy-lovers in your world). My designs almost always include options for multiple character variations so you can use any Craftdesignworks pattern to make something very personal.
Furhearts are original one-of-a-kind animal characters handmade by me using my treasure troves of vintage fabric, notions and trim from around the world, combined with premium European toymaking fabrics. The Furhearts appear in seasonal trunk shows when a batch is ready for adoption into new homes. You can always see Furhearts from the past and find out what's coming up next by visiting their page.
About names and stories
Especially when it comes to toymaking, we each have a unique personal vision. When I make up names for characters and share stories about them, those are just beginnings, placeholders. Whether you adopt a Furheart or make a character from a Craftdesignworks pattern, it's up to you to listen to its voice and find out who it wants to be in your life.
From the Scrapbasket
Whenever possible I love to make toys "from the scrapbasket". There's absolutely no need to buy a lot of new or expensive materials in order to make completely delightful toys and gifts. I invite you to think instead about how you can use what you already have. Let's continue to honor the upcoming generations--add your imagination and reuse and recycle whenever you can.
To find out more about me and my arts/crafts journey, you can visit my blog.
So...let's keep on making toys for and with the children we love, inviting their creativity. Let's make sure that the heritage of handcrafts (and fun!) continues to flourish in an increasingly digital world. And that, no matter how old we are, we still cherish the pleasures of play.
The song you heard singing in the leaf as a child is singing still -- Mary Oliver