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A gift that is time and love

I have been a long time advocate of handmade gifts. A handmade gift shows a person that you were thinking of them and devoted time to creating something for them. I have not met a person who has not said they are time poor, if that is you I have the e book for you, so to give that time to someone is irreplaceable. The year 2020 has given us all a priority shift, people who would normally be avoiding social events are yearning for company. Those who complain about being descended upon for Christmas are lamenting the empty chairs at the table. Giving something to someone that you have made is like giving them a part of yourself, and in this year of forced time apart from those we hold dear that is a precious gift to give.

A handmade gift is so much more than an item it is a part of you and the time you devoted to it.

As we do not have a December full of works drinks and Christmas catch ups, we cannot have the markets and day trips we normally do take some of that time and make a gift.

I cannot say that I am minimalist with the belongings my children have, I couldn’t pull that off even if I tried family and friends are real man and my kids are also magpies so the accumulation just happens. What I do try to do is make sure that things are things of real meaning. Let me be clear that does not mean having a high ticket price; a wooden bus from a charity shop, a book I have kept since childhood.

“Nothing gives me greater pleasure than crafting for my children”

Last Christmas I wanted to make an heirloom gift for them.Whilst I have always been a fan of handmade gifts I want a professional feel. The time has passed when I can create a pasta necklace that stuff does not fly when you are in your forties. I wanted to make a stuffed animal each and clothes for them. 3D is not my forte as an artist so that is where the wonderful craft author Sarah Peel came in. Sarah has created a range of books with designs in for animals and clothing for them to wear. Just a brief digression Sarah is very clear in her books that the toys are not classed as baby/child safe but I know my own children and how delicate and sensible they are.

“What I created was not just handmade toys but a magical world that we have all retreated to time and time again.”

For as long as I can remember Sebastian has asked me for “stories in the mouth”. For those of you who are not his mummy this translates as a story you have made up mummy. This tradition has passed down to Humphrey also. One day as I was preparing breakfast I was asked, “tell us a story in the mouth”. I had been up late sewing clothes for Alfie and Reynard and suddenly their world was born.

a handmade rabbit in an upcycled   vintage suitcase with tiny handmade clothes
tiny handmade clothes for a stuffed animal

Alfie and Reynard are the names attributed to them in the craft books by Sarah Peel. As we lived in Paris for four and a half years, and it was where Sebastian was born and first raised foxes have always been Reynard, reynard is french for fox).

That simple story over breakfast turned into a series of books that gave the handmade stuffed animals life and form.

Alfie and Reynard reside in Obidiah Wood which sits on a hill by a village. A river runs through it and they are only a trek and a camping trip away from the sea. There are stories involving all sorts of woodland animals and humans, in this universe they co exist. The first three books I typed up and added them to the gift.

a handmade fox toy in an old suitcase filled with tiny clothes for him to wear
two vintage suitcases

I found two vintage suitcases that I re-lined with wallpaper and fixed. One for Sebastian and one for Humphrey. Each one would have a woodland friend; Sebastian had Alfie the rabbit and Humphrey Reynard the fox. The case contained clothes and the stories.

printed stories
close up of tiny handmade clothes for a stuffed animal

Since last Christmas more story books have been written and new friends made, The family of otters who live in a narrow-boat were rescued by the quick thinking of Alfie, Reynard and their new human friend Oscar. The toys are beloved and new clothes have been requested, this Christmas they will get some new clothes and I have made two sleeping bags for their adventures and little sketchbooks.

It has been such a joy playing with them this past year, creating worlds and making memories as well as heirlooms.

November 26, 2020

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