Toymaker

Toymaker

Maya

Kansas City, MO

Female, 17

I make dolls and stuffed animals by hand, and I'm learning to do wooden toys also. Sometimes I design my own toys! I've been making them since I was 12 years old, so, nearly 6 years now. I sell them at craft fairs, through word of mouth, and also (soon) online. Ask me anything! :)

SubscribeGet emails when new questions are answered. Ask Me Anything!Show Bio +

Share:

Ask me anything!

Submit Your Question

21 Questions

Share:

Last Answer on December 02, 2019

Best Rated

What's the most difficult part of the process in making a new doll or stuffed animal?

Asked by jaclyn over 6 years ago

Sometimes there isn't one, actually! When I'm working with very small toys (like the amigurumi that are only a few inches tall) then it's definitely attaching the limbs. That's a small space for adult-sized hands to work in. But when I'm working on a very sturdy skin fabric (like for those dolls) then every part is the hardest. It is fairly simple, but the physical strain is nothing to sneeze at. I sometimes walk away with new blisters on my hands, and usually some sore muscles too. But it is still always worth it for the finished product, and I've mostly toughened my hands up now, so it's all good! :)

What's been the hardest part of setting up your online store?

Asked by janey botts over 6 years ago

Not much yet. I have to wait for a couple more weeks until I turn 18 and can get my own PayPal account, and start selling - but so far, setting up the site has been super easy. I use WordPress and it pretty much lays everything out for you. The site is toysofearth.com if you want to check it out! Nothing for sale yet, but I have some more info on there. :)

Hope you don't mind my saying so, but you sound *incredibly* articulate and ambitious for someone just finishing high school! Obviously you're bright, but how much of this would you attribute to being home-schooled?

Asked by brixton baby over 6 years ago

Why thank you! I would definitely attribute at least part of it to being homeschooled. I mean, there are some bright public-school kids out there, and I have definitely met a few absolutely out-of-control homeschoolers; another big factor is parenting, and there's family and school support and encouragement, that sort of thing. I think that homeschooling definitely helps kids with that sort of thing, and being in a particularly bad setting in public school can definitely inhibit it - but whatever method of education you choose, it is imperative for the parents to a) be there for their kids, and b) be choosy about getting teachers who are attentive and positive, as well as knowledgeable. A cousin of mine has stories about 9th-grade teachers who walk into her classroom and say, "Let's be straight, I don't want to be here and you probably don't either, so let's just get this over with." I don't ever want my kids to have to deal with that, whether or not they attend school. Of course I'm biased, but as far as schools go, I do have to give a little plug for Waldorf and Montessori style schools! :) I went to kindergarten and first grade in a Montessori. It was an amazing experience.

If one of your handmade toys was super popular, would you consider getting it manufactured in bulk for wider distribution?

Asked by Krass over 6 years ago

     Probably not, no. This is a very grassroots sort of project for me. But I won't say never, because there are a few companies that I would consider, if they asked. Magic Cabin is definitely my favorite. I always adored their toys when I was little, even spending time on the website just *looking* at everything they had!

     But generally, unless it was a company like that, I would not be too gung ho about that idea. There are just so many legal guidelines and restrictions and policies and tests, honestly, I wouldn't want to do all of that for any but the perfect manufacturer. Plus, one of the things that people love about my toys is that theirs is totally unique! Kids are never going to see one of their classmates with the same toy that they got from me. It's part of the old-fashioned magic of it all. :)

     However, I would definitely consider putting together a pattern and instruction book, and sell that in the "mainstream" market. I'm working on a project like that right now, although I haven't made commitments or deadlines with anyone else about it, so I'm going at my own snail's pace with it. But it is in the works for someday!

Think I see an Angry Bird in your pic... have you made dolls or stuff animals resembling any other cartoon or game characters?

Asked by munkeyluv over 6 years ago

Yep, that's right! I've made a red bird, yellow triangle bird, and even a 'bad piggy.' But those are the only cartoon/game characters I've made. I don't play many video games, so I don't know a lot of other characters. ... I could most likely copy some characters from pictures, but the human and humanoid ones might not have the exact same facial features, because of the translation from photo/illustration to stylized stuffed doll. It's just part of the medium. :)

Do you only make 1 of every doll, or if something's popular do you crank out a bunch?

Asked by StTT55661122 over 6 years ago

I can't make the same thing again, technically speaking. Every handmade toy has its own personality, and if I try to copy it I may have to use a slightly different color or material, which can change a lot about its character!

That being said, occasionally someone will want to buy a toy at a craft fair, but it's already been spoken for, or perhaps they want a different color or something. In that case I often do special orders, and I make a toy that's roughly the same! That's happened with some of my dolls. People really love the dolls. But yeah, in general, I get bored with repetition too quickly, and I move on to other designs :)

What old-school or discontinued toy do you wish they would bring back?

Asked by Karyn over 6 years ago

     All of them! Well, I should amend that to exclude the ones with lead based paint, and excessive plastic. I suppose some plastic toys are now also becoming old school.

     Really though, I get nostalgic about toys that are far too outdated for me to ever remember from their glory days. Hoop and stick sets; whammy diddles; wooden frog noisemaker toys; wooden jigsaw puzzles that were actually cut with a jigsaw at home; dollhouses with real wooden furniture ... It's just all so lovely. I like toys that make you feel like you're in another world, both time-wise and imagination-wise. Modern toys leave less to the imagination. I can't pick just one old school toy. :)