“Each one of us has a small child lurking somewhere within. I like to think of the creatures as having the ability to draw that energy out of old and young alike as vehicles to put us back in touch with our playful, joyful, whimsical selves.”
Growing up in Victoria B.C, on the west coast of Canada, I was surrounded by capable, creative women who hailed from a long line of Polish tailors. As a child sitting at the feet of the masters, I gleaned the inspiration and ability to transform needle, thread, cloth, and bead into small animal character dolls.
In 1978 the first creation was inspired by that incorrigible rogue of a creature Toad of Toad Hall, with whom I became enchanted while living in a quaint seaside cottage in Mill Bay on the shores of Vancouver Island. Toad charmed me, along with everyone else who came under his spell, and thus began a long cast of other animal characters from which “Toad’s World” was born. This cast included Toad’s companions Rattie, Mole, Badger, and the little Hedgehog. Over time I began creating characters inspired by some of the other beloved stories such as Puss in Boots, Curious George, Babar, Beatrix Potter, The Nutcracker, and many more. Over the years I’ve included animals conjured by my travels abroad: giraffes, elephants, leopard cats, zebras, panda bears, pigs, snow geese, deer, and foxes. Paying homage to the many west coast Native stories and myths, I have also added ravens to the repertoire.
In 1979, armed with my first collection of animal characters, I introduced them to the public at the last Circle Craft Christmas Show held in Victoria at Open Space Gallery. The response was enthusiastic and encouraged me to over the next several years make this work my full time occupation and avocation, particularly after a year spent in Los Angeles in the late eighties where the dolls were a hit with the Hollywood set. On returning to Vancouver, I applied at Granville Island Public Market and have been successfully adjudicated there ever since. In 1992, I began doing the annual Circle Craft Christmas Market, winning the Bronze Award for excellence in craft in 1993. I have participated in that show almost every year since then.