Indie Artist Spotlight: Kristin Mayberry of Mama Mayberry’s Cute Plush Toys

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Hot diggity dog! It was love at first sight when I stumbled upon this adorable wiener sandwich plush toy on Etsy not too long ago.

This cleverly conceived canine looked so well made with his soft floppy ears and bun, and he even had pickles, mustard and ketchup on him. 🙂

wienerrearJust too cute! Nevada-based artist Kristin Mayberry’s favorite saying is, “Toy making is joy making,” and her handmade plush toys truly bring a smile to your face. Though she makes several different types of animals (octopuses, owls, bears), I especially love her food plushies (no surprise). There’s just something about those shiny black button eyes and simple embroidered smiles that make me want to hug myself. The facial expressions have so much personality!

raspberryI’m so glad Kristin graciously agreed to tell us more about her Mama Mayberry toys. It certainly looks like she’s having a lot of fun making them. What could be better than spreading happiness with your art? I’ll have a side of fries with my hot dog, please. 🙂

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🍑 SPOTLIGHT ON KRISTIN MAYBERRY 🍐

Name of shop or business: Mama Mayberry’s Cute Plush Toys

Year established: 2012

Items you make: Custom plush toys

Studio Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

Three words that best describe your art: Funny, Silly, Cute

Self taught or formal training? Self taught seamstress (with some help from Mom), BFA and MFA in Fine Art

Tools of the Trade: Janome sewing machine, Brother embroidery machine, my hands, and anything that works! If there’s a trick, a hack, or a gadget that makes things easier then I’m first in line to try it out.

Tools of the tradeInspirations and influences: Japanese Kawaii, My family, Norman Rockwell, Claes Oldenberg, Wayne Thiebaud, and Santa Claus!

Santa Claus and Rudolph from Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Claes Oldenburg Giant BLT
Claes Oldenburg Giant BLT
Wayne-Theibaud-detail-Folsom-Street-Fair-Cake-Crocker-Art-Museum-2013
Wayne Theibaud Folsom Street Fair Cake

Three significant milestones in your career: The day I realized making toys was fun. (I had to make more!) When my daughter received a handmade blanket while she was hospitalized with an illness. (Handmade is wonderful and thoughtful!) The first time I received feedback on Etsy from a customer. (I can make something others can cherish and that may even bring them comfort and joy!)

Food that inspires your best work: Anything bright or colorful.

Bestseller: Take out noodle box, and the blueberry.

Mama Mayberry's take out box

Mama Mayberry's blueberryWhat is your earliest memory of being creative? What is the first thing you ever made as an “artist”?

I loved to draw people as a child. I often drew clothing and dreamed of becoming a costume designer. My first real piece of artwork that was my own and not a study or still life for class was a 5×8 foot pastel self portrait from an ant’s eye view of me. All throughout art school my work tended to be very large and now I make little toys that fit in your hand!

What prompted you to start making plush toys? Was this your first time creating three dimensional art? Was there a big learning curve?

I first started making plush toys when one of my children asked for a plush version of a character named Ruff Ruffman from her favorite cartoon. I decided to make one for her since it wasn’t available in stores. I drew out the shape of the character and made a small flat pillow-like toy. It was very simple. I didn’t know how to embroider so I painted his facial features with fabric paint. Now I look at that toy and think of all the ways I could make him look better, but it does make me smile when I realize he has survived all these years intact. My daughter still loves him.

Ruff Ruffman
Ruff Ruffman

I had created a few 3d works in art school. But they were made from wood or metal and not fabric. I had also created costumes and apparel for myself and my children for years but never a toy. The learning curve was huge! Making a three dimensional object from fabric requires a different way of thinking. I guess I’m lucky that I can visualize things this way, but if I had to sit down and draft a flat pattern using a ruler and math then I’d struggle a lot! I approach toy making in a more sculptural way by draping the fabric around a form. But I also make tons of mistake toys. Trial and error helps me figure out the best way to construct the toys. Our home is full of misfit toys that didn’t quite work out. Many of them have odd heads, missing limbs, or other flaws, but I hate to throw them away. My children are always happy to rescue them from the trash bin.

Mama Mayberry's Oysterpanda2Back before I thought of making and selling toys, my daughter was hospitalized with an illness. She received a handmade quilt from some lovely ladies – whom I’d never met. We were so touched that a group of women would put so much time and love into making something and then give it to a stranger. A gift is always nice but a handmade gift is extra special. This got me thinking about handmade items and my handmade toys. At that point I had only heard of Etsy, a website for selling handmade items. A friend encouraged me to check it out. I opened my Etsy toy shop soon after.

Not long after that I sought out the ladies group who made the blanket for my daughter. I was amazed to discover it was a group of more than 100 women who hand make all sorts of wonderful items to distribute to hospitals, and shelters. I joined them and now I try to donate toys to their cause as often as I can. However someone receives one of my toys, I hope it brings a bit of joy to their life and makes them smile.

octopussnorkelMama Mayberry's Banana Octopus PancakesWhat is your favorite part of the process? Are most of the items in your shop made from original patterns?

My favorite part of toy making is stuffing the toy. It’s so much fun to see it take shape. I also love adding the expression. It’s when the toy really comes to life.

I make some of my own patterns and I also use patterns designed by others. I always try to give credit to the original designer and add a link to their pattern in my toy shop descriptions. Drawing up a pattern is a lot of work and I want to support those who share this talent. Thanks to the many patterns and pattern books I’ve purchased over the years I have learned many new ways to create toys. I’ve discovered many techniques I wouldn’t have thought of on my own.

icecreamlambconeI especially love your food plush. The humorous touches you add to your toys are adorable. Who or what makes you laugh?

Thanks! I love making the food plush. I think it’s safe to say that most people love food. I certainly do! Making funny food plush for foodies is a perfect pairing. A teddy bear is sweet but a bit expected. A plush blueberry or peach is a goofy surprise. I want people to have a reaction when they receive one of my toys. A giggle and a grin are the two best responses!

Mama Mayberry's peachI love to laugh and be silly with my family. I usually watch or listen to my favorite TV show, Seinfeld, while I sew. I quote it often to people who look at me like I’m crazy. At my day job I listen to comedy pod casts on my headphones and laugh out loud like a weirdo while I paint. Comedy and humor make my life more fun and I think they make my toys more fun as well. I have a blast brainstorming with my husband and kids who also have great senses of humor. They come up with some of the best and most hilarious ideas for toys! My oldest child came up with the meatball and spaghetti on the fork plush. She keeps a running list of her ideas and frequently asks me when I will make the next one. Of course she always expects the first prototype to become a part of her own collection!

Mama Mayberry's meatballDid you have a favorite stuffed animal when you were little? Who were some of your favorite children’s book characters?

I adored my stuffed animals as a child. And oh boy did I have a huge collection! Each night my Dad would choose a stuffed animal for me to sleep with. It was our tradition and a tradition with my children as well. All of my stuffed toys had names and I still have many of them today. They have become some of the toys my children sleep with at night too. When I was young I also had many handmade toys given to me by family members. Those toys hold a very special place in my heart.

I related a lot to Christopher Robin from the popular Winnie the Pooh series. His toys were more than play things, they were his companions. I used to think of my stuffed animals in the same child like way. Winnie the Pooh was my favorite character and to this day his sayings and euphemisms still make me chuckle. My favorite, “If the person you are talking to doesn’t appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.”

Misfit toys from Rudolph the Red Nosed ReindeerLike most kids I was also totally enamored with the Rankin and Bass Christmas TV programs. Santa Claus is Coming to Town and Rudolph and the Misfit Toys are still fun to watch. It’s magical to imagine a special toy is being made just for you far away in Santa’s workshop. When I make a toy I am thinking about the person who may receive it. I offer to customize any of my toys for my customers to make it extra special and personal. A special gift hand made just for you.

elvisDescribe your studio or workspace. How have you fashioned your work environment to enhance creativity and maximize productivity?

I wish I could say that I have a beautiful organized studio overlooking a garden or something. I see pictures of amazing sewing room ideas on Pinterest and drool over them all the time. Instead, my studio is smack in the middle of our home. My family is very forgiving about my clutter and the noise. The “sewing room” is actually the dining room and most of the living room. In some ways it is ideal. Our family desk and computer is right next to my sewing table and the family TV is right behind that. I get to spend time with my husband and kids while I sew. The kids can sit nearby and watch their favorite TV shows or read while I sew or stuff toys. We chat about the day’s events and they give me critiques of whatever I’m working on. I like that they get to see something being created from start to finish. My hope is that it will inspire them to create things of their own and learn to enjoy the process of making something.

Mama Mayberry's pair of pearsMama Mayberry's popcornMama Mayberry's ice cream cone

Which of your custom orders was the most fun to make?

I enjoy making odd custom order requests. They are often a challenge and I always learn something in the process. The best part about the custom toys is that I get to know my customers more personally. There’s always a story behind the toy they want. Whether it’s a sentimental memory, a gag gift or a joke, or a unique gift for a special occasion, I am always excited to make specific personal gifts for people.

jalapeno
Kristin’s fave custom order: Wolfgang Jalapeno

jalaenoAny tips for those wanting to make plush toys?

If someone wants to make toys now is the best time to start! Thanks to Etsy, craft is having a well deserved moment in the spotlight. Because of this it is easier than ever to buy affordable toy patterns and to connect with others who make toys. There is a ton of information on toy making on the internet and even at the library. The best part is that you can make a toy from just about any type of material and all you really need to start is a needle and some thread.

Any new projects you’re especially excited about?

I am starting some new toys that are a cross between animals and desserts. It sounds odd but hopefully the end result will be a perfect mix of cute and yummy. I have a marshmallow chicken cupcake in the works with her comb made out of tiny strawberries and a baby chick made from cookies. I am becoming obsessed with Japanese Kyaraben Bento boxes which involve arranging food into little scenes, shapes, people, animals, or familiar objects. I’d love to offer my customers Kyaraben Bento boxes that are cuddly and never spoil!

Mama Mayberry's olive*    *    *

🐶 Thanks so much for visiting, Kristin! 🐥

♥ See more of Kristin’s plush toys at her Etsy Shop, Mama Mayberry’s Cute Plush Toys. Everything is made to order, so do allow some lead time. Kristin is also open to custom orders. It’s not too early to think about holiday gifts! 🙂

♥ You can also keep up with Kristin’s new items via her Facebook Page.

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Copyright © 2016 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup.  All rights reserved.

9 cool things on a tuesday

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abc bear pillow (made of natural organic hemp with embroidered alphabet and felt pocket) by Pi’lo

1. This could be the pillow of my dreams — the alphabet + a pocket with a teddy bear! Shall we pause for a moment of deep appreciation?  *sigh*  Toronto-based Heather Shaw is the artisan behind the P i’ l o collection of home goods, which includes tea towels, bags, mobiles, toys, notebooks, sachets, printed tapes, shawls, stationery and wall art. Everything is carefully made by hand with natural materials (cotton, linen, hemp, rocks) in a coach house studio with the hope that these items will be passed down as family heirlooms.

cooltypewritercase
Typewriter Case
coolpilotape
Printed Tape

Both her home and work space are serene and soothing environments filled with inspiration. Heather creates objects of beautiful simplicity — just looking at her collection makes me feel calm, cleansed and relaxed.

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Recipe Card Case

Find out more at the Pi’lo website. You can purchase there or at Heather’s Etsy Shop.

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2. New book alert! Coretta Scott King Honor author Tanita S. Davis has just published a young adult novel called Peas and Carrots (Knopf, 2016)! Ooh-la-la — is that the best title ever, or what? This story is about 15-year-old Dess and how she adjusts to her new foster family. Check it:

coolpeasandcarrots

Dess knows that nothing good lasts. Disappointment is never far away, and that’s a truth that Dess has learned to live with.

Dess’s mother’s most recent arrest is just the latest in a long line of disappointments, but this one lands her with her baby brother’s foster family. Dess doesn’t exactly fit in with the Carters. They’re so happy, so comfortable, so normal, and Hope, their teenage daughter, is so hopelessly naïve. Dess and Hope couldn’t be more unlike each other, but Austin loves them both like sisters. Over time their differences, insurmountable at first, fall away to reveal two girls who want the same thing: to belong.

Tanita herself was a foster sister from the age of nine until she graduated from college. I’ve been a fan of her writing since first reading A la Carte (Knopf, 2008) — yes, a foodie book with recipes! — and then, of course, thoroughly enjoyed the award winning Mare’s War (Knopf, 2009), as well as Happy Families (Knopf, 2012)the first YA novel I ever read featuring a transgender character. She is brilliant at exploring family dynamics and personal identity, making the reader question long-held stereotypes and assumptions about race, gender, and body image. I just started reading Peas and Carrots, which is told from Dess’s and Hope’s points of view in alternating chapters, and I love how both voices ring true with raw emotional honesty. The book has already garnered very favorable reviews from School Library Journal, PW, and Kirkus. Check out Tanita’s guest posts at Stacked Books and John Scalzi’s Big Idea, her Five Questions interview at The Horn Book, and her YA Open Mic contribution at Barnes & Noble.

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Continue reading

Please Look After Michael Bond on His 90th Birthday. Thank You.

via The Sunday Times

HOLY MARMALADE!

The one and only Michael Bond is 90 years old today!

All of us here at Alphabet Soup — especially the 50-something resident Paddingtons — are in a full out tizzy of joy. We’ve been rereading the stories, noshing on marmalade sandwiches, sloshing about in our wellies, and ever-so-politely tipping our bush hats to honor the man who gave us our beloved bear from Darkest Peru some 57 years ago.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Rescuing a lone bear from a department store shelf on Christmas Eve says a lot about a man. This small kindhearted gesture would prove to be delightfully fortuitous, spawning a bear chapter book written in just 10 days, 25 more published novels, numerous picture books, board books, an avalanche of Paddington-related toys and other merchandise, several television series, a play, and an award-winning motion picture. Paddington’s likeness has appeared on postage stamps and marmalade jars, and a Paddington balloon was recently introduced in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Paddington as a stop-motion puppet for his FilmFair television series (1975).

Continue reading

sunday bunny: mary oliver from Evidence

“Bordeaux” by Hillary Hulen (clown bunny, dyed mohair, white lace collar, bell buttons, pink rosebud accents, 1988)

 

 

With Thanks to the Field Sparrow, Whose Voice Is So Delicate and Humble

I do not live happily or comfortably
with the cleverness of our times.
The talk is all about computers,
the news is all about bombs and blood.
This morning, in the fresh field,
I came upon a hidden nest.
It held four warm, speckled eggs.
I touched them.
Then went away softly,
having felt something more wonderful
than all the electricity of New York City.

~ Mary Oliver (Evidence, Beacon Press, 2009)

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Last Week’s Door Prize Winners ♥

  • Bookspeak by Laura Purdie Salas and Josée Bisaillon: the winner is Anna J. Boll!
  • Hidden by Helen Frost: The winner is Robyn Hood Black!

Congratulations, Anna and Robyn! Please send me your snail mail address: readermail (at) jamakimrattigan (dot) com.

**Thanks to everyone for commenting last week!

Week of April 9 – 14, 2012

Guest Poets:

  • April 9: Martha Calderaro
  • April 10: Kathi Appelt
  • April 11: Robyn Hood Black
  • April 12: Charles Waters
  • April 13: Adele Kenny

Door Prizes:

  • Water Sings Blue by Kate Coombs and Meilo So (Chronicle Books, 2012)
  • Guacamole by Jorge Argueta and Margarita Sada (Groundwood Books, 2012)

**Comment on any post during the week to be eligible to win!

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♥ This week’s Sunday Bunnyish Bear Hug is brought to you by Mr. Cornelius, who wishes you a very Happy Easter and a hundred jelly beans!

((NOSE WIGGLE))((HUG))((WHISKER TWITCH))

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Copyright © 2012 Cornelius Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights hard boiled.

sunday bear: mary oliver from The Leaf and the Cloud

“Isabella,” by Marcia Sibol (golden mohair, vintage lace dress, antique cameo, pearl earrings, straw bonnet, 1991)

 

 

From The Book of Time

     1.

I rose this morning early as usual, and went to my desk.
But it’s spring,

and the thrush is in the woods,
somewhere in the twirled branches, and he is singing.

And so, now, I am standing by the open door.
And now I am stepping down onto the grass.

I am touching a few leaves.
I am noticing the way the yellow butterflies
move together, in a twinkling cloud, over the field.

And I am thinking: maybe just looking and listening
is the real work.

Maybe the world, without us,
is the real poem.

~ Mary Oliver (The Leaf and The Cloud, De Capo Press, 2000)

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Week of April 2 – 7, 2012

Guest Poets:

  • April 2: April Pulley Sayre
  • April 3: Mary Quattlebaum
  • April 4: Helen Frost
  • April 5: Linda Ashman
  • April 6: Gail Gerwin

Door Prizes:

  • BookSpeak by Laura Purdie Salas and Josée Bisaillon (Clarion, 2011)
  • Hidden by Helen Frost (FSG, 2011)

**Comment on any post  during the week to be eligible to win!

Click here for complete Potluck Menu/Guest List and Giveaway info.

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♥ This week’s Sunday Bear Hug is brought to you by Mr. Cornelius, who is, at this very moment, eating a chocolate bunny. Please do not tell anyone.

((((((((((((((((((((((((HUG)))))))))))))))))))))))

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Copyright © 2012 Cornelius Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights dipped in chocolate.