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Muttley the Toymaker | Mark Uttley - Wooden Toys & Automata

My name is Mark Uttley, I’m 62 and I live in Stafford. My trading name is Muttley the Toymaker for obvious reasons and I’ve been trading for the last 30 years. As well as being a toymaker, I work as a Therapeutic artist within mental health services as I’m also a qualified mental health nurse. In addition, I’m part of a community art partnership and we undertake projects mainly with disadvantaged groups within the community.

Do you have any professional making qualifications or did you do a course?

I went to art school to study 3 dimensional design but most of the skills I use in toy making are self-taught. I was introduced to Tom Smith and Frank Nelson’s work while at art school which definitely influenced the direction I chose to take.

Where do you get your ideas?

My ideas come from anywhere and anything such as fairy tales, sayings, situations and my imagination going for a wander!

How long does one of your toys take to make?

The length of time it takes to make a toy depends upon its complexity, especially if it’s an automaton. If the toy is unique it takes longer as it is individually designed but if I ‘m making several of the same type of toy or re-making something I’ve made before, it’s much quicker. Over the years I’ve amassed a huge collection of toy designs and sometimes it takes longer to find the design than to make the toy!

What's your favourite toy?

I would have great difficulty choosing a favourite toy but the one I’m most proud of is the Good Grief Toy-set which I make for a customer who uses them to enable children and people with learning disabilities to understand grief and to start healing.

Are you working on anything new at the moment?

At the moment I ‘m working on a chess set that incorporates the customer’s numerous family pets which the pieces are designed to represent. I’ve got numerous other commissions which I need to start and I also need to re- stock my Etsy shop.

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