Why buy your kid an ordinary stuffed animal when he could have a cuddly grilled cheese sandwich or an adorable roll of toilet paper? Heidi Kenney, the woman behind My Paper Crane, specializes in huggable plush versions of everyday objects. Over the past few years, she’s sold everything from cupcakes to cacti, all of which she designs, sews and ships herself. – Gwynne Watkins
You make kids’ toys, but you have a large adult following. Are different products popular with different age groups?
For the adults, the tampon doll is quite a popular one – and it wasn’t ever intended for kids, so of course that makes sense. Some kids seem to really like the sad things: bruised bananas, burnt toast, sad tree stumps. I think because it means they need to give them extra kisses and love.
How do your two boys interact with your stuffed toys?
My older son likes to keep one of each thing I make, even the tampon doll. My younger son has a big fondness for the bananas. He likes to tuck them intohis baby doll’s crib and cuddle them.
Do your kids give you advice on what to make next?
My oldest son does, yes, and sometimes he has some great ideas. When I was making the burnt toast, he asked me if I could make moldy bread. I thought about it a bitand then decided I really could. He also inspired me to make a “glass of milk” plush once, just on the challenge from him that it could not be done. So of course, I had to do it.
What’s the story behind some of your more bizarre plushies – like the tampons, the toilet paper and the used tissues?
Well, the tampon was one of the first plushies I ever made, and it was just something I thought would be amusing. I don’t usually sit down and brainstorm plush ideas. With the toilet paper roll, it was the construction of it that hit me one day and inspired me to sit down and try. The used tissues came about because I had made a plush tissue box and it felt a little lonely. Making usedsad tissues to go with it just seemed the logical choice.
What crafts can parents make for their own kids that are easier (or cheaper) than they’d think?
I think papercrafts can be such a fun thing to make with your kids. Even if you think you cannot draw to save your life! One of my kids’ favorite things is for us to sit down and draw a bunch of creatures and then cut them all out so they can play with them. Paper is, of course, much cheaper then a real toy – but my kids love the paper cut-outs.