My name is Rachel and I'm the designer/maker behind Ophelia Dolls. I create unique heirloom dolls using natural materials including local wool in a variety of skin colours and interchangeable outfits. My home studio is in Kent, South East England.
1.What first drew you to toy making?
Making has always been a big part of me, and I've always loved small things, but it was only when my daughter, Ophelia, was born that I was pulled to start creating toys. Her little brother, Seb's arrival two years later encouraged me to experiment with making other soft toys. From what I understand having children is often the catalyst for toy making!
2.What's your favourite toy or part of a toy to make?
By far my most favourite part is hand embroidering features and hair onto a doll as it creates their personality and uniqueness, every doll looks lifeless until this point so there's an element of surprise as to who will emerge from the stitches. This part is a strange paradox as it is also the most time consuming and often frustrating part, one eye positioned in the wrong place can look very quirky and we won't talk about what happens then!
3.What does your typical day look like?
No two days are the same for me, in order to earn a sensible income I do need to juggle several freelance jobs. Generally speaking the day starts with getting the children ready for school and then I spend a large portion of the day in the studio either creating dolls, making products for Romney Marsh Wools or technical drawing. My goal is always to finish with the school run and then focus on family time and making supper but the reality is often needing to work into the evenings in order to get everything done!
4. What's your best seller?
Custom dolls are by far my most requested toy and it's wonderful to work with someone to create a unique doll that's special for them. A true family heirloom with all the meaningful details. Some people ask for dolls that look like someone, sometimes it's a special outfit or material, repurposing baby clothes into dolls clothes makes for a special gift.
5. What was your favourite toy as a kid?
It will come as no surprise that my favourite toy was a Holly Hobbie cloth doll with removable clothes, two plaits and a patchwork dress and bonnet. I also loved the Rag Dolly Anna series and how the doll would come to life when nobody was watching and go off on adventures! The rest of my childhood was spent mostly drawing, crafting and being outside. Not very much has changed really...
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