It is not often that we come across toys that are so special and one-of-a-kind that they completely blow our sox off. The incredible creations from Mini Pomme are each a masterpiece in their own right and those lucky enough to get their hands on one know that their treasured toy is the only one like it in the world...
We asked artist Erika Olson Gross a few questions about what inspires her...
What do you love most about creating things for children?
I have such strong memories of the comfort and emotional connection I had with certain special toys as a child. The idea that a toy that I dreamed up and created with my hands might become a treasured plaything for a child is absolutely intoxicating to me.
I get to see this connection to my work with my own children and I also have this generous community of supporters/customers who share images and stories with me about their own kids falling in love with my toys...It's just incredibly satisfying.
What inspires you?
I'm inspired by so many things! I love vintage toys; I started picking up little vintage animals and dolls as a child even. I'm inspired by materials; Over the years I've developed a great appreciation for the difference natural fibers make in terms of the look and feel of a toy but also in the way wool and mohair in particular age so gracefully. I'm inspired by folk art...especially Japanese, American and Scandinavian.
I'm inspired by children's art...I'm also an art teacher (and have been in one form or another for nearly twenty years) and I never ever tire of the fresh look on the world I get reflected back on me when kids create. I'm inspired by my own children. And other people's children. And Nature. And Moomin. And Pippi Longstocking. And Pee Wee's playhouse. Oh boy...the list goes on and on.
All of your creations are entirely made by hand, what do you think this adds to the final product?
I think the care and attention to detail always stands out in handmade objects. There's just no comparison. They feel special because someone has treated them as such and and that little bit of magic becomes part of their very fiber.
It's so impractical to make things the way I do...entirely by me, mostly one at a time, forever fussing over little details but I can't imagine doing it any other way. It means by business will probably always be very small but I'm totally fine with that because it makes the work more meaningful for me and I believe the quality shows in the finished product which is extremely important to me.
Do you find it difficult parting with your designs when you've put so much love and care into them?
Oh sometimes, a little. I've been making and parting with things for so long though that I guess I'm pretty used to it. Every once in a while I keep one, too!
What was your favourite thing about being a kid?
Spending time with my sister Alison, and she's still my favourite.
If you were to bake a cake to share at a tea party with all of your creatures what would you make?
This question is begging for a child's imagination and hand... I'm going to ask my son Jude do this drawing!