|Monica Rodriguez Fuertes in her design studio|
She loves to draw and do all sorts of crafts including drawing, embroidery, sewing, collage and paper garlands. She has been painting and making little dolls and animals since the age of four. She would make them from pom poms and is still making them now! You can find her pom pom creations in one of her (two) Etsy online shops, "The Cup of Tea".
These are not the average pom pom creatures common to the local fête but highly detailed models styled with appropriate hand-made props for display. The website stipulates that these are "not toys" because they are so delicate and have small pieces. They are perfect for anyone with a love of dollhouses, miniatures or collectibles.
HandMadeAwards". They are very popular and her "Vincent van Gogh teddy bear" is currently a prize in a competition to promote a new short film about Vincent van Gogh ("Loving Vincent") by Oscar-winning Breakthru film company.
Monica currently has a series of patterns published in Crochet Today magazine for an amigurumi cat called "Coco" who is a world traveller. Monica has designed crocheted outfits and accessories for every country that Coco visits. A bunny character similar to Coco is currently in development. I am looking forward to that one because I have a pet bunny and am quite partial to cute and cuddly pet bunnies and their soft angora fibre (but not feral rabbits). Monica is also working on some finger puppets based on fairy tale characters and tea cosies.
Tea cosies! The more I learn about Monica the more I can see why I am drawn to her designs. Monica loves to relax with a good cup of tea, as do I, together with the compulsory dark chocolate to eat.
That's not the only thing we have in common. We both grew up near the beach and Spanish-born Monica comes from a long line of women who are highly skilled when it comes to handcrafts and needlework arts.
"I grew up between a mum who was always knitting amazing items and a dressmaker grandmother who was always sewing and embroidering," Monica recalls. "The women of my home were always crafting, making amazing quilts, designing clothes and dresses, cooking cakes, making new clothes for the toys and dolls for me and my sister, making beautiful garlands for the parties and all the things you can imagine."
(Similarly, I come from a line of creative Dutch women who created exquisite knitting, crochet, cross-stitch and other needlework. In my case I grew up with my mother who knitted all our winter jumpers and had the most even tension whether it was a plain stockinette stitch or fancy patterns of technical stitches like cables, lace, bobbles, etc. My grandmother could knit, crochet and sew. Even into her 90s she was still knitting socks and very neat squares for charity despite arthritis and failing eyesight. My grandfather was a tailor and memories of watching him working over his sewing machine are still with me today. My mother and great aunt made large and beautiful cross stitch embroideries which are now heirlooms. Somehow all of those hours observing their work and holding up my hands as a substitute yarn swift for my mother to wind her wool have rubbed off on me!)
Monica learned to crochet from her mother Loly who learned to crochet as a young girl from Monica's great-grandmother. These days, Monica and Loly are a great mother–daughter team.
Daughter Monica is trained in Applied Arts and she designs all the toys which often begin life as drawings. Then she chooses the colours and materials, sews the details and embroiders the faces, leaving the crochet and knitting to mother Loly whom Monica credits as an expert knitter and crocheter with over 40 years experience. It usually takes between 4–7 days for a new pattern to be created.
Monica loves the way that each amigurumi toy has its own personality. This quality was certainly evident in the Fab Four Amigurumi. Instead of trying to make each one exactly the same, I used the slight variations in heights and stitches to give each doll a unique look. Monica and I both agree that special attention to the small details and materials can make a big difference to the finished product. She likes to choose colours carefully and use the best materials possible.
"Pippi Långstrump" is another favourite, which many in Australia will know as Pippy Longstocking, and "Paddington Bear" by Michael Bond – the illustrator Fred Banbery is an inspiration which is evident in Monica's teddy bear designs.
When it comes to selling patterns and toys, Monica's advice is to take great photographs. They certainly show her work well. Make sure to visit the links for more amazing designs.
Crochet Today magazine: http://www.crochettoday.com/
The Cup of Tea Etsy Shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/thecupoftea
HandMadeAwards Etsy Shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/handmadeawards
HandMadeAwards Ravelry group: http://www.ravelry.com/groups/hma
HandMadeAwards Facebook fan page: www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/HandMadeAwards/143242645693236
Loving Vincent Facebook competition page: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=397637116994728&set=a.190238587734583.44527.190101704414938&type=1&theater
Loving Vincent film trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3LSfvcmrf0
Breakthru Films: http://www.breakthrufilms.pl/