Tin Soldiers, Creative Me, and Megan
“Artists are born not made. There’s nothing you can do for them.”– Louise Bourgeois
I tried to write my About page in the third person and it was as dull as a cup of paintbrush rinse-water. People think it makes you more glamorous when someone else said all those nice things about you, but we all know you probably wrote it yourself. So, here’s my story the way I tell it.
You Don’t Need to Start Out Great to Become Great
From an early age, I was more interested in making toys than playing with them. When I was young I didn’t show much promise as a sculptor, painter, or seamstress but I had a strong will to create and with practice comes skill. With scissors, at age three I gave way to artistic expression by snipping my fringe. When I was five, I shortened the net curtains in my bedroom to make lacy underwear for my dolls. The only thing that never fell victim to my cutting skills was my precious storybooks. Naughty children cut up books and I believe that to this day.
With the book thing firmly ingrained, it was probably not much of a surprise that I decided to become a librarian. I didn’t reckon with dreary colleagues or whinging patrons though. They were in danger of becoming victims of a scissor stabbing daily. To keep me sane, I wrought hand-made chains for a jeweler in my free time. Working with precious metals is hazardous and I usually wore my sister’s bulky cast-off ‘Tin Soldiers on Parade’ jersey over my clothes to protect against burns and acid splashes. From that tatty uniform Tin Soldiers Studio was born and later, when I started teaching teddy bear making to friends around my dining room table, the name stuck.
From a Hobby to a Career
Teddy bear making became a full time job. In fact, from the 1990s onward I produced a prolific number of patterns and taught hundreds workshops. My work was featured in magazines and books, and Tin Soldiers teddy bears became a tradition at craft shows in South Africa and beyond.
In 2014, I decided to pursue further education and to explore new creative avenues. The idea for Creative Me was born in a business studies class and it has become the umbrella company for Tin Soldiers and Tiny Treasures, my little dollhouse business.
These days, I spend time in my tranquil studio in Pretoria doing what I love best. Between managing an online shop, writing, and designing and making toys of fabric, clay, and wood, there’s never a dull moment.
What a rewarding and fascinating journey it has been so far. Who knows what comes next?