I interviewed Ms. SÃlvia Leite, creator of handmade dolls and miniature play food on LookMamaMadeIt.Etsy.com. I asked her a few questions about her creations and the work she puts into her craft.
What made you start creating children’s toys and accessories?
To tell you the truth, this is something I wanted to do since my early childhood. I simply can’t get tired of small scale objects. I started to make my own toys when I was about my daughter’s age (she is 6). I used to build large mansions with furniture made from cardstock and homemade glue, and to populate them with happy families of paper dolls. I also sewed, knitted and crocheted for my dolls. My deep love for miniatures lead me to unwillingly kill two innocent bonsai trees, and also made me want to become an architect. I gave up this project when I understood that what I really wanted was to build 3D models and maquette- and that is not what architects do.
Latter in life, and even though I was able to follow another dream of mine (taking a degree in Art History), I found myself doing repetitive, administrative work, and forgot all about toys and miniatures. Till the day when my daughter asked me to make her favorite doll a birthday cake!
Then, in the beginning of this year I had a little spare time in my hands (I was in between jobs) and decided to give it a try. I made my first felt cakes, cookies and dolls for my friends’ children, and they were the ones who encouraged me to start selling.
What is your inspiration for your creations?
My daughter was my first client, and the main cause and inspiration for everything I’ve created since her birth. A lot of the toys and accessories I make are also based in memories from my own childhood. Of course, this means I am particularly at ease with girl’s toys! I believe children should play with good quality, beautiful objects. I design my products to be visually appealing, pleasant to the touch, and easy to play with. They must have the right size, feel and weight for children’s hands, and to be stimulating and suggestive enough to encourage pretend play. Finally, everything is carefully and lovingly crafted, and tested in my home lab (my daughter’s playroom)!
What kind of materials do you use for your handmade toys and accessories?
I use mainly felt. Just love this material! I choose a high quality, rich wool blend felt that I can buy in a wide range of lovely colors. I always try to use non-allergenic, all-natural materials, and also use recycled materials when possible.
How long does it typically take to make one of your creations? Small (e.g. a cupcake) and large (e.g. a doll)?
Well, with a 6-year-old child and a full time job I have very little spare time to craft. I mostly craft at night, or on weekends, though I also need to take time for my family. I usually cut several pieces in one crafting session, then sew them all in another session, and then make all finishing in yet another day, so it is hard to answer this question. But if I had to make a doll in a single session I would need
at least 5 hours to finish it whereas one cupcake would take me about 1-2 hours.
Do you take into account customer feedback and suggestions when you start a new creation?
Yes, by all means. Clients can customize almost anything from my shop, and I am always glad to have special orders, because they help my work to evolve. Feedback is very important, since I really want my clients to be satisfied. My toys are conceived to make people happy.
What is next for SÃlvia Leite and her handmade children’s toys and accessories?
I don’t know. Maybe I should, but I am not really making plans. I love to craft, and would love to be able to do this full time, but the right moment hasn’t arrived yet. Anyway, a part of me likes to keep this business in small scale… like my toys. But I always have ideas for new products!
Tell me what you think of SÃlvia Leite’s handmade children’s toy and accessories. Please leave your comments and let me know if you enjoy handmade and handcrafted gifts.