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A World of Paper and Wool
Gretel Parker
One day in February, the postman it was simply that I was waiting
delivered a mysterious parcel. for the right medium. Patterns I
It was a needle felt kit. Co- find difficult. Knitting is boring.
incidentally, I had had suggestions Crochet is beyond me. But give
on my blog that my paintings of me a hank of merino roving and
toys would look great in needle a felt needle and somehow I can
felt, but although I did a little sculpt a wisp of colour into a solid
research online, it didn’t really creature with a personality all of
grab me. I simply couldn’t imagine its own. And while my career as an
how the technique worked. Then artist and commercial illustrator
I received the felting kit - which has been, to say the least, hit and
had no message and no indication miss, I have been astounded at
of sender. I began playing with it the reaction my toys have evoked,
and it was like falling in love. I have and how quickly they sell.
had an obsession with toys for Ironically, just as I was hitting my
most of my life. I had a secluded stride with the toys I snagged a
and often solitary upbringing book job out of the blue. A job
and as a tot, my first and only is a job, so I was pleased to take
playmates were my little family it, even though I had to use my
of battered, second hand toys. commercial painting style and
Later, toys would emerge in my produce very bright, mass market
artwork - patched and threadbare, illustrations. And it involved a lot
sometimes with wheels or with
internal imaginary worlds and so
of work in a short space. I don’t
their own little toy. Being blessed
I know why my paintings exude a
think that people who aspire to
with a photographic memory that
melancholic, wistful atmosphere.
illustrate children’s books have
can go right back to babyhood,
But I don’t know why I never
any idea of just how much tedious
I can trace the origins of my
made ‘real’ toys before, unless
slog is involved: at the end of
8 ukhandmade Winter 2008
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