when my oldest was about 1.5 years old, she received her first play kitchen. she adored it. I was eager to stock it with some delicious food! I knew I didn’t want to get plastic and, while we ultimately started her off with a small wooden haba set of play food, I knew we couldn’t afford to stock her completely in that way. so, I decided I would sew her some food out of felt.
what began as a project to fill my daughter’s needs soon turned into a project that filled a very real need of mine. creativity. I became pregnant with my daughter a few short months after receiving my fine art’s degree in painting. I quickly abandoned painting for motherhood…but ached for creative immersion. I still felt that painting was out of the question, but felt food…now that was something I could accomplish in an evening (or two..or three).
I enjoyed the challenge of translating a food to felt three dimensionally. my children’s felt food stash grew and grew. I soon began to give the food away for birthday and holiday gifts.
when I first began to make felt food (and often still for prototypes) I used the cheap craft felt you can find at the craft store and poly-fill. a desire to use more natural materials (and to ensure the non-toxicity of the dyes used) led me to begin using 100% wool felt and fill. once I began using the wool felt, I was hooked. not only could I be sure the felt was safe, the quality and durability of the wool felt compared to the craft felt was apparent. craft felt tends to tat rather quickly and becomes ragged when handled and played with extensively. 100% wool felt on the other hand, looks great after years of rigorous play…really. my children have felt food pieces that are a few years old that have been submerged in water (repeatedly), sucked on and generally mouthed extensively and played with over and over and over again and they look great.
with more felt food than my kids knew what to do with and a limited amount of children to gift it to, I decided to test the waters by promoting the felt food and offering it for sale through facebook a few months ago. a warm response and positive feedback led me to open my etsy shop a few weeks ago.
I am so happy to be able to offer safe, handmade quality toys to children. my kids have enjoyed this food so much and have gotten so much creative play out of it…and I’m happy I get to keep making it (without maxing out my children’s kitchen space!).