Friday, 9 May 2014

Materials and Techniques - 'Hearts Desire'

Here on the kaetoo Blog, I run a series of interviews talking to other crafters about how they do what they do. Today I am talking to Karen, who is based in East Douglas, MA in the United States. Karen and her husband create a wide range of wooden products for their store Hearts Desire, including home decor, perpetual calendars and kitchen accessories, but since Karen is a fellow EtsyKids team member, today she is talking about the toy side of their business.

Please tell us a little about yourself. 

Hearts Desire is a husband and wife team that began many years ago. When my husband and I first met we discovered that our talents really complemented each other. He was fascinated by my talent in painting, which I did a great deal of then, and he began presenting me with pieces of his own design carefully handcrafted from wood. I didn’t know it then but I quickly learned that he was the fussiest, most determined and creative woodworker I’ve ever met. I remember I kept telling him that my paintbrushes had found a true friend indeed. His craftsmanship is impeccable! 

Going through life, children, jobs, etc we tried our hand at selling our creations, but back then it was difficult to find a market for them. Wow! Have things changed since the wonderful world of the Internet! We have truly found a home on Etsy.
It’s rather ironic though, we didn’t open our shop to sell children’s toys. It wasn’t until one of our customers who purchased our toaster tongs, contacted us and suggested that we sell them for children, since they made great tools for picking things up, going on nature walks and developing eye-hand coordination. It was suggested that we look into the wonderful world of Waldorf inspired toys.

And hence, our Grabbies were introduced! They weren’t any different than our toaster tongs, yet giving the idea that they were great for children started our venture in toy making. We, as parents of five (now grown) children, were always interested in the classics. We reached back into our memories and started writing down all the toys we enjoyed as kids, and the toys that we enjoyed giving to our children. We found the list to be endless. So, with all these great ideas in mind, and a lot of encouragement from our friends, family and customers, The Toy Store was born. We have truly found our passion and our niche.

What materials and techniques do you like to use?

Wood of all varieties is most definitely our material of choice. We have used all types of hardwood and softwood from pine, to poplar, to maple and many more. My husband chooses the best wood for its application, whether it be toys or keepsake boxes. I have a passion for paper as well and enjoy creating greeting cards, photo albums and the like. As much as I would like to pursue that part of me a little more, for the time being, I’m having too much fun creating for children! 

What challenges have you faced in the creative process?

The number one challenge we face, and like so many others I’m sure, is TIME! There never seem to be enough hours in the day, or perhaps it’s just that our imaginations never stop! It’s difficult to stay focused sometimes wanting to create new product and keeping up with inventory. It’s a learning process for sure, and we strive to do the best we possibly can, while still enjoying what we do! 

What drives you to create? 

Inspiration is everywhere! It just all depends on your view and how you see and interpret things. We are constantly brainstorming, searching the internet, reading parenting magazines, and researching fun and unusual games and toys. Our eyes and ears are always open and we happily accept suggestions from anyone, shop owners and customers alike. Doing custom work is one of our specialties, so we’re very in tuned to our customers and their needs and desires. We really hate saying “No”.

What is coming up next? 

More toys!!! We’d like to eventually start offering more games and craft projects for the older child from ages seven and up. We already have some things in the works, and as time allows we will begin offering them in our shop. Always feel free to stop by and see what’s happening. The other plan I have is to really vamp up our website and be more committed to writing a Blog. But, as I said, time is our biggest challenge! ;)

All images provided by Karen of Hearts Desire.

Want more materials and techniques interviews? Read the archive. Or leave a comment if you want to contribute.

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