one, two...

 I wish I had three... but two bunnies, into the shop, this afternoon!


4 years ago...

I made this pattern in my old studio. I made this photo with my old camera. In another year, with different light, before I had children, before... and today I started to make two more of these rabbit. It's nice to revisit a different time though the act of making something I'd nearly forgotten.


A week at home and in the studio and around...

I've been working a bit in the studio (in fact I have high hopes for adding two bunnies to the shop this week) but I've also been taking care of the family most of the week- Spring is (so I've heard) on its way and I think we're all a bit antsy for it to get here. We're vibrating with that: so sick of winter and muck - wanting it to just be warm already-  ready to feel the sun on more than just our cheeks- peel off all these heavy layers: crazy. I suppose we'll have to be patient; that, or get a plane ticket. I think the former is really our only option... Anyway, here's some of what our week looked like.

(willow houses studio visit image : CHEERIUP)



 (posted on Manimal Makes)

My time in New York was so very very good. The anxiety of launching this long time project was held at bay by my dearest friend Emily who came along to help me and keep me happily in the moment. The two of us away from our families for a long weekend, basking in the spans of time opened up by not parenting for a short time, had such a good time. Everyone I met with was so kind and excited about the Polka Dot Club. Talking about the project after so long was fun and easy and I met so many wonderful new people... specifically Anna of Misha and Puff and Kristen of Manimal. You know those magic moments when you meet people and you realize instantly that they will be in your life for some time? They are both makers and mothers and deeply good people and I'm so happy I traveled to NYC if it was only to meet them. A few days ago Kristen posted this photo of her son reading to his new Polka Dot Club bear- Monkey. This is what all this work has been for, to make things that will have this life: to be the companion to a child. That's enough. That's perfect.


in New York...

This month has been a whirlwind and finally I'm here in NYC with Misha + Puff and MANIMAL showing our lines to shops and there's a little sample sale too (they have such great stuff- I really want one of everything).
Come by if you're in the city for a sneak peek or snatch up some beautiful hand knits and leather goods at their sample sale...
66 Charlton Street - Soho
At the Four Points Sheraton
Today and tomorrow from 9-5


handmade toys - part two - aka big plans or The Polka Dot Club

and I continue...
I mentioned in my last post I'd been wanting to begin the transition towards making toys for children.  So, over the last few years I've been quietly working on this side project - the POLKA DOT CLUB. I've alluded to it more than once, as it's been moving along in fits and starts but it's been a very challenging road. The biggest snafu came when toy legislation changed in 2007 making it nearly impossible as an artist to make toys and abide by the laws put in place and overseen by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.  Nearly all my work was put on hold waiting to see if Washington was going to see the error of their ways- it could have been a very long wait. Lucky for me, I was introduced to Dan Marshall, the local shop owner of Peapods who became an activist. Dan, started the Handmade Toy Alliancean alliance of toy stores, toy makers and children's product manufacturers from across the country who want to preserve unique handmade and small batch toys, clothes, and all manner of children's goods in the USA. We've met and talked a few times and he gave me insight into the laws, the hopeful changes, and ways to keep working. Over the course of about 5 years Dan, working with others, successfully lobbied congress to make allowances for small businesses making goods for children. I own a debt to him, for his help on both big and small matters but most of all for giving me hope that what I've always wanted to do wouldn't be "illegal" for long...

So here I am now, two children and six years later, ready to begin this new endeavor out in the open. Here's the lowdown- handmade teddy bears, made with all the materials and time honored techniques I've honed over the last 25 + years as a second generation teddy bear maker. These are bears that pay homage to the past but are wholly modern playthings for today. Heirlooms for-now and for-ever. I like that. I believe in that. So I'm starting out with 5 different bears, all a little different, all special in their own right. Everything is made right here in Minneapolis and will continue to be. I'm still sewing, I'm still adding all the one of a kind touches that make each piece special. For one, beautiful neck ties, each unique, from fabric my sister Kindra designed just for the PDC. And ahhhh, the design. My sister is a genius and I owe her so much. She's been working day and night to help me get everything ready, I can't wait to show off all the playful, sophisticated, and all out fun stuff she's created. There is so much in the works and I don't have much online just yet... but more is coming. For now, I have a minimal website- www.POLKADOTCLUB.com and I'm on pinterest and instagram ).

This weekend I head to New York for a trunk show with Misha and Puffand MANIMAL to meet with stores and finally bring this long hidden project out into the open... hello POLKA DOT CLUB.

If you have a store where handmade mohair teddy bears would be a good fit, or know someone who does, please email me- jen(at)polkadotclub.com. I'll be in New York for 3 days meeting with stores and then back home to work on the website and the webshop which will open soon- hopefully within the next month. Phew. That's a lot to tackle in a short time.

 ***All the photos are by Modern Kids Co. and are beyond my expectations.Thanks Sarah! ***


handmade toys - part one - aka big plans or The Polka Dot Club

I'm sure I've mentioned before my love of children's toys and I suppose that's pretty obvious. After all, I do make teddy bears. Vintage stuff animals and illustrations have always been the inspiration for my work, but after I had Claude (and honestly for a few years before) I'd been growing more and more interested in transitioning my focus from vintage inspired- mohair collectible pieces (is there a better way to describe what I've been doing for the last 15+ years? I never know exactly what to call it.) to making toys for children- to be played with. Play! I think about how the toys of my youth inspired my creativity, those without batteries or directed play ignited my imagination and kept me company. Each was an old friend to cuddle and care for.

I've made a number of stuffed friends for Claude. They weren't all interesting to him until recently... but lately the pretend play has really been amping up. Pete (the doll), Snake (the 6 feet long knit wonder), a few odd sock monkeys, and of course a handful of mohair bears and one large "Studio Cat" (named after the location he was swiped from) have been tossed, nursed, fed, tucked in bed, and cared for in umpteen ways. I took these photos this morning. It's evidence of the scatter shot toy explosion that begins each morning and is dismantled each night when the house is reset. But it's also evidence of their prominence in his life. In all the years of making stuffed things, nothing has made be happier than seeing this odd group of handmade friends move around our home.

I've watched Claude, his cousin Hazel, now Vita and so many of the kids in my life play with these and other toys- all the while making mental notes. I've been dreaming up what kind of toys I loved and what seems to spark imaginative play in the children around me now. I suppose I've been working towards this all my life. I learned to make teddy bears while still a child myself at my mothers knee and now with my own children I'm returning my focus back to play and  to the origin of teddy bears...

Which brings me to the Polka Dot Club... my new undertaking and my big plan for 2013. So big, I don't dare fit it all in this one post. So this is the cliff hanger I suppose. More tomorrow!


spring is on it's way... I'm pretty sure anyway.

Though you wouldn't know it by looking out my studio window, more snow, Easter is right around the corner. My guess is there are more than a few in search of the perfect bunny for the season. While I wish I could tell you I've got a studio overflowing with bunnies for the shop all ready to ship out and nestle into each wanting basket, that's not the case. I'd like one in every color myself... (photoshop makes that so easy!), instead I have a sweet pattern with easy instructions. Hello Ernest, you're just in time....

check back tomorrow to find out what I have been working on... a post is forthcoming.