Maker Monday – Handmade Family

Happy Maker Monday!!  
Starting today, we’ll be featuring a new maker each week both here on the blog, and in the shoppe!! Be sure to stop by and see their products in person (open Wed through Sun)!!

First up: Handmade Family! 

We were introduced to the awesome Handmade Family when our dear Sally Harless moved to St Louis. There’s a whole AWESOME crafty community in STL that we didn’t even know about, and Handmade Family were one of the first we adopted! We carry their nerdy pin-back buttons sets, hobby horses (dragons & unicorns), as well as their felt fruit and vegetable sets and peg people a-la Fisher Price throwbacks!! Let’s learn a little about them shall we?

1. Tell us a little about yourself and your business – 

My name is Jeffrey Johnson. My wife Amy and I have been working together on our business Handmade Family for about six years now. While we have and use electronic devices regularly, we also notice that we interact best as people and as a family when we’re playing together. Our first product was the Baby Burrito Receiving Blanket. It was big enough to swaddle for months, could act as a play mat, and even works as a lap blanket for adults at nap time. From there we began developing toys and games that encourage interaction, imaginative play, role play and storytelling. I  guess put simply, we make back to basics toys, gifts, and games for kids of all ages.

2.Where are you from?

Our studio is located just outside of Saint Louis, MO.

3.How long have you been making?
I’ve been making things literally as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories are of making a paper mache, gamorrean guard mask and a wooden sand skiff for my Star Wars figures. Return of the Jedi was HUGE when I was six. I’m one of those people who’s really happiest when they’re making things. There’s just something about bustling activity in solitude and the rhythm of a project as it all comes together.

4.What is YOUR most favorite handmade item that you own?

That’s a tough call, because we’ve been doing this for a long time and have met so many wonderful makers along the way. Each item has own story and…feelings that go along with them. That’s really the best part of buying handmade for me, is that it really is more than an object. Each thing is made with a certain amount of love so we’re buying into that. If I had to pick a favorite, it’d probably be the first Sadly Harmless shadow box that I bought four years ago at the Strange Folk Festival here in Saint Louis.

5.What is your ‘pie in the sky’ dream with your business/art?

My “Pie in the Sky” dream is to get a camper trailer, pack up the kids and do the art and craft circuit, selling and making across the country during the summer. Dream sentences are supposed to be breathless run-ons, right? Other than that, I love to tell stories, and I hope that people continue to listen to them.

6.Where do you draw your artistic inspiration from?

I get a lot of inspiration from my kids. I try to make things that they’d be into, but that Amy and I would enjoy as well. We’re both children of the 80’s, so there’s a lot of influence there as well. Our design aesthetic comes from a combination of the subversive educational qualities of The Muppets and the “go out in the world and have adventures” story lines of movies like The Goonies.

7.Share 3-5 links that everyone who Loves handmade should know about.

http://www.handmadefamily.com – I can’t not put my own website on there, can I? We talk a lot about our work, things we’re seeing in the craft world today, and there’s also comics about daily life, about being a stay at home dad with daughters, and about being a handmade family.

http://thecraftmonster.net – The Craft Monster is an upcoming event in association with the Saint Louis Science Center and the Saint Louis Craft Mafia. It’s part craft market, part community outreach, and part showcase of creative talent and process. The idea is to take steps toward making the handmade story a part of everyday lives that people take home with them.

http://jessicaabel.com – cartoonist Jessica Abel has a great blog about creativity, being a creative professional, and taking care of ourselves.

It’s SO much fun to learn a little bit more about our makers as we go!! Thanks for playing along! (Don’t forget to stop in the store to see other fun facts Handmade Family shared with us!) Until we meet again, I’ll leave you with one of Handmade Family’s favorite quotes, and one to start this rainy rainy spring break with:
“Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.” G.K. Chesterton
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