October 09, 2014

Handmade Marathon: Humble Toys

Editor's Note: I found Anwen on Etsy when I was looking for the perfect handmade doll for my daughter NJ.  I fell in love with Anwen's dolls, and subsequently had a custom doll made just for us (shown below with the purple bunny ears).  I've been wanting to feature more Canadian makers, and am so happy to share Anwen's story/business with you today.  Enjoy!

Handmade dolls

 (+) Tell us about your business

My business is a bit ad-hoc.I I have two etsy shops but my main focus right now is my humbletoys shop where I sell the dolls that I make. You can find pictures of all the goods I make (kids and adults) on my facebook page . I love to sew and crochet and dream. Right now I am making lots of dolls, hats, scarves, fingerless gloves and other crocheted goodness - coming soon for Fall. 

For kids I strive to make dolls and creatures and things that I would have longed for as a child -- and er ... still do?!  I get a lot of joy from creating little beings that I know will be loved and played with and help to create a strong imagination and ignite creative play. I think play is a really important part of childhood - AND adulthood -
and making is a form of play for me.

handmade dolls

(+) How did you get started?

I taught myself to crochet when I was about 13 - from a book. I pretty much have not stopped since then! I also got pretty interested in Waldorf philosophy and dolls around that time (and a bit earlier) and made a few waldorf dolls in high school and after. When I became pregnant with my first daughter I thought: Awesome! now I can have dolls and make dolls again! (thinking that this sort of behaviour needs justification - which I have since learned it certainly doesn't! We can have and make dolls without needing the excuse of kids being around! 

I started selling my crochet goods at the Guelph Farmer's Market after my husband insisted I do SOMETHING with the bags and bags full of handmade hats in the closet. I was always making something. This was the beginnings of my business as it is now. I have really only gotten *serious* about it the past few years - on and off. The style of dolls I have been making the past year and a half are a new era for me, in my business. 

(+) The gal/guy behind the business - Tell us about yourself, how do you spend your mornings, a little glimpse into your life, your family etc.

My name is Anwen. I live in a little village in southern Ontario, in a messy red-brick home full of messy love. 
I have 4 darling children- all girls, whom I adore. We spend our mornings eating pancakes or oatmeal, probably tiffing a little, cleaning, then being regular lay-abouts, it seems. Me with my trail of yarn and thread-bits trailing about the house - the rest of the family lolling about in play or chores. Sometimes we spend our mornings a little more diligently by waking and hauling my goods and the whole family off to the Farmer's and Artisans Western fairground market, in London, Ontario. A much better use of our time, to be sure. Our family's dose of adventure for the week!

(+) What inspires you? Where does your creativity come from?

That's a toughie. I find so much inspirational. The dawn, the birds, my girls, my friends, my friends' girls...WIND, wind in the trees, to be sure. Water, rain, mud, spiders, stars, quiet-quiet, strange dreams... Love, in general.  I like to do my making from the heart - creating something that I hope can bring a wee bit of joy and creativity into someone else's life. To inspire a small moment of play, reverie, forgetfulness, nostalgia. I don't much consider my creativity my own. I know it's kind of cliche, but a big part of being creative, for me, is getting my fearful self out of the way, so that something good can come to be. That is why, I think, I often set out to make FOR someone. It's not for me, it's for that special someone. Keeping this in mind makes making a real joy for me.

(+) What's one thing you would like to improve about your business?

Basically everything. I really struggle with the business side of business, so I'd like to improve my keeping blogs updates, facebook/interaction with clients, etsy announcements and connections etc. If I could just MAKE STUFF - and have the rest take care of itself that would be great - although the interaction is a big part of what fuels me - hearing sweet stories of people loving what they have received is a huge joy for me. Right now, with little kids, I find it hard some days to make myself do the nitty-gritty that I need to do. 

handmade dolls(+) What is the best gift you have ever given or received?

Definitely the best gifts ever are my children. And my husband is pretty awesome, too.

(+) How do you celebrate special occasions?

Usually I make a big list of yummy foods to make and decorations and make a big plan and all - then throw everything together ad-hoc at the end and make a big mess. We definitely have a family tradition of not making a big enough deal of special occasions!

(+) What do you do when you make time for yourself (you and only you)

Me, and only me? (what's that?) -- but really - If I do find myself with some time and I can stop myself from trying to catch up on something I think I need to do and/or creative business work (my "work" is really my "studious play", so I often DO spend my "me" time making things) ... I love to bubble a hot pot of tea (OOLONG) and sit
somewhere quiet - early mornings on the porch? - and do some writing, reading or drawing. I also LOVE spending time in the woods, so if I had a whole day or week I would definitely be there. Sipping tea, walking and playing guitar in front of the fire. *sigh*

You can find out more about Anwen here:

Blog (+) Shop (+) Facebook (+) Pinterest 


  1. Her dolls are beautiful! Thanks so much for sharing Anwen and her work with us.

  2. Beautiful dolls & such an amazing person behind them!

  3. She is an amazing artist and her dolls have so much love and soul. <3 They are even better in person. ;)