Saturday, January 9, 2010

Interview with Grandpa Toys

 I have been trying to update twice a day instead of three times like I was doing last year, but today I have a treat for you. I have an interview with Grandpa Toys, a little shop I bet most of you have never heard but deserves a lot more attention!


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Bio:
By way of introduction, I live in Cherry Hill, NJ, with Lois, my wife of 37 years. We have two great kids, both also married. My daughter has a 1 1/2-year old son and my daughter-in-law is due in the next few weeks. "Grandpa Toys" is a happy guy! (My profile explains where that name came from. By the way, my slogan, "Ceramic-induced smiles since 2008" doesn't refer to when I opened my shop. That's when my grandson was born and when a Finger Face evoked my first "ceramic-induced smile".)

When not pursuing my creative interests, I'm a social worker, working with the mentally ill population of Philadelphia for the past 25 years.

How did you find Etsy? How long have you been selling on Etsy?
My son first discovered and told me about Etsy just about a year ago. Although I registered my shop's name in March, 2009, I didn't actually have the self-confidence to start offering my crafts for sale until the end of August.


How would you describe your style? Has any other artist etc influenced your style?
I suppose I would describe my style as whimsical. Those who have had the greatest influence on my style? That's simple: Cartoonists. Although I've always doodled, I started crafting lightswitch plates and wall plaques from plywood to decorate my children's bedrooms 30 years ago. Since that time, I've gone through periods of sketching with felt tip markers, painting furniture, and writing (humorous or personal essays). Almost four years ago, I took a class in ceramics at the Cherry Hill Recreation Department. It was so much fun, I bought 25 lbs of clay (and another 75 lbs since then). My only "formal" training in art came from watching "Learn to Draw with Jon Gnagy" on TV in the 50s.

Do you sell more at one time of year than others?
Having only opened my shop since the end of the summer, I'm too much a "newbie" to comment on seasonal ebbs and flows of business. I can tell you that my most gratifying experience in terms of customer reaction to my work came from my first customer, Kathleen. She wondered if I could make Finger Faces to resemble her which she might give to friends who lived far away. Her feedback was so totally warm and energized and positive, it practically knocked me over.

Do you have a favorite item you have made?
I really love my more involved Finger Faces -- Ben Hawke, Homey, RatMan, Clive. I also enjoy developing the brief "bio" note which accompanies each one. My hands-free candlestick holder makes me laugh every time I look at him. I think the cartoon balloons I've recently added to my Finger Faces are pretty funny, but, I'm looking forward to developing many more Door Faces and magnetic Fridge Faces, both with cartoon balloons.

I must say, though, that my favorite item so far is a Tarzan shadow-box I made for my grandson. Tarzan is a ceramic reproduction of a picture I copied from Mad Magazine over 50 years ago. And I made a photo frame for my son's friend featuring Superman. I look forward to making custom-ordered picture frames for others (but, not with licensed images).