This week's featured sponsor is Wild Marigold, an Etsy shop chock full of beautiful play food and Waldorf dolls. Jennie, the creator and "cook", recently answered the following questions from me.
Me: Wild Marigold is largely stocked with pretend food for kiddos. (It all looks so good that I could eat it!) How did you get started making toy food? And what's your favorite "dish"?
Jennie: When I started my shop, I made a list of all the toys that I wanted to make (it is truly never-ending), and play food topped the list for so many reasons... I love play food because it is such a versatile and open-ended toy that is just as fun for one child to play with as a whole group of children or the family to play with together. I also know the importance of pretend play for children’s development – particularly sociodramatic play that allows children to express themselves by trying on different roles and acting out familiar scenes and scripts. I think it is important to nurture and develop this type of play that comes so naturally to children. With play food, children can act out so many different scenarios they encounter in their daily lives (restaurant, farm, market, picnic, tea party, shop, house, etc.). Finally, my family grows a lot of our own food and we have a small flock of chickens, so I was excited to make things - like the heritage breed chicken eggs - that resembled the food we ate ourselves. My favorite play food is yet to come! I have some new ideas that I'm very excited about!
Me: And I loved reading about your choices of material--thrifted sweaters, wool from "real, live sheep", small, local companies. Tell us a bit about how you source materials and why it's important to you to use quality materials.
Jennie: The sourcing of my materials is very important to me. As the sole maker of all my toys, I have the power and privilege to choose whatever materials I would like (within reason!). I love to source my materials, and spend lots of time doing so, always trying to balance quality with affordability. I only use natural materials because I want my toys to be as healthy as possible for both children and the environment. I want all my toys to eventually biodegrade completely, and leave as small a footprint on our earth as possible. I like the fact that my small business can, in turn, help support other small businesses. As an aspiring farmer and shepherdess, I especially like that all my dolls and stuffed animals are stuffed with sheep’s wool – I use such large quantities of stuffing that I’m glad my toys are not requiring the production of more petroleum-based products, but instead, are supporting all the wonderful farmers making their living from the earth! This makes me very happy.
Me: My other favorite thing in your shop is your beautiful Waldorf dolls. The Kid has a similar one, and it's one of his favorite companions. I love the way no two dolls are the same. Can you tell us a bit about the artistic/creative process you go through when someone orders a custom doll from you?
Jennie: I love to make custom dolls, and almost all of them are made to resemble the children who will receive them. Sometimes I receive pictures of these children, and this makes the whole process even more special. Every doll I make is unique—there will never be another one like it, and I think this carries a particular kind of meaning in our age of mass-manufactured toys. When someone orders a doll from me, the creative process is really in their hands – they choose all the features they would like for their doll. My artistic process is in the crafting the dolls. A slow process that involves a lot of hand sewing – which I love!
Me: Lastly, is there anything new in the works for Wild Marigold?
Jennie: The answer to this question will always be yes! Right now, I am working on a line of stuffed animals made from organic cotton and stuffed with wool. I am excited to be introducing these to my shop soon! I also have plans for new play food and wooden toys, and some other styles of Waldorf dolls and toys. Currently, my idea list is greatly hampered by the speed at which I can actually develop new patterns for and create those ideas!
Jennie has generously agreed to giveaway a big handful of beautiful pretend strawberries. To win, please visit Wild Marigold, then come back and leave a comment about your favorite item. I'll pick a winner on Wednesday.