The post is part of an occasional series called "Awesome Handmade Toys." These posts feature toy makers whose work I think is particularly fresh and inventive. I also pin toys to my Inspiring Softies pinboard on a regular basis if you're looking for more inspiration.
There are a few softie makers out there whose work is truly unmatched, at least in my opinion. These are artists who have a clear, unique vision, whose work is immediately recognizable as their own, whose craftsmanship is so remarkable it takes your breath away.
Mole by Violetta Testacalda.
Look, I'm really into plush, and I can get excited about a pretty wide variety of stuffed animals, but there are a few people whose work I would literally do almost anything to see in person.
Violetta Testacalda is one of those people.
Violetta is an Italian softie maker and I first found her work years ago on Flickr (Remember when Flickr was awesome? Ah, those were the days.). She sews her stuffed animals from cotton and often paints on them and sometimes she adds yarn, too.
Her photo styling is incredibly charming.
And her toys are like fresh illustrations that have jumped off the pages of a favorite storybook.
And here's something else I love about Violetta Testacalda: she shows us her process. I feel at times like there is an unsaid agreement among craft bloggers to not show what you're working on until it's all done. Don't show that quilt you're making until you have a chance to photograph it perfectly made on the bed. Don't show that product you're creating for the hot new company until it's on store shelves. Don't reveal the book, or even that you got a book deal, until it's available on Amazon. And then...ta da! The big reveal.
But we all know that making things is slow, and messy, and doesn't happen by magic.
And I love honesty.
Violetta openly shares progress photos of her pieces on her blog. You can witness how a sketch becomes a pattern, and you can see how it all looks before she's painted it.
And you know what? These steps don't detract from "the big reveal." On the contrary. When you look at the final piece you appreciate it all the more (at least I do) knowing what went into it.
Thank you for your beautiful work, Violetta! You've been an inspiration to me for so many years!