MEET THE MAKER
VICTORIA WHALEY, TOYMAKER, BUTTONY HANDMADE
We were lucky this month to catch up with Victoria Whaley of Buttony Handmade, maker of bespoke heirloom toys, and delve into why she loves what she does, and what the ‘normal’ day of a toymaker looks like.
Which part of the process do you enjoy the most?
I simply love every aspect of the toymaking process. I find it such an honour when a client contacts me and asks for something special for their child or grandchild. It is usually for a happy occasion like a special birthday or Christmas gift. Guiding a client through the whole design process, choosing fabric combinations and clothing and seeing them happy at the final result is very rewarding and a lot of fun.
I also enjoy the stage when my toys have just been filled with stuffing! You begin to see their little personalities emerge at that stage. Some look cheeky, some are more serious and quiet, some happy. All are different, and have their own unique character.
Which part of the creative process challenges you the most?
Embroidering their little faces is what I find most challenging, but is also most rewarding. I like to keep the expressions on my toys simple, and this has taken time to perfect. It’s a job that gives me lots of satisfaction when it’s completed.
Also, wrapping my toys up and sending them to their new homes can be bittersweet. You get to know these little dolls, kittens and bears whilst making them, and even though they all go to wonderful homes, it’s a little sad seeing them off at the same time, knowing that my job is done and they’re off to their new lives!
At what point in your life was Buttony born, and what were you doing/involved with beforehand?
I was taught to sew by my mother when I was a child, but it wasn’t until my own little person was born that I returned to this very rewarding and meditative craft. As my little one grew, I really wanted to make her a toy which was small, engaging and made from natural materials. I began to draft my own pattern for a kitten doll, and after many “interesting” trial versions, I finally managed to settle on a design which is very similar to the kitten I offer for sale currently. It ended up being such hit with her and her chums, so I thought I’d try my hand at selling them! My professional back ground is in graphic design and the skills learnt during my previous career have really helped my in my journey with Buttony.
What does a ‘regular’ day look like for you and your creative routine?
After the school run is finished, I’m off to the post office to send out orders! I work from a home studio, so when I return home I reply to emails and messages from the evening before, and process orders. Then it’s full steam ahead with sewing and making for a few quiet uninterrupted hours! I tend to spend my evenings packaging up orders, posting to social media about my work, hand finishing dolls and toys, replying to client enquiries and thinking up new ideas!
What are you working on now?
Working on some lovely bespoke dolls and kittens is keeping me very busy currently. I am also in the studio getting ready for my busiest time of the year – Christmas! There will be many dolls, kittens, bears and sleeping bags finished off over the next month or so, and it will be such a thrill to share them with our lovely clients.
Keep in touch with Victoria via her instagram profile HERE.