Growing up in Melbourne in the 1960s, my parents both worked for manufacturing companies around Melbourne. My mother had the job of toy designer at Joy Toys in Stephenson Street Richmond. Those were the days before manufacturing moved off shore and designers and crafts people still had great skills. It was wonderful as a small child, during school holidays to groom the samples and arrange them in the showroom where I marvelled at the gorgeous plush toys. I roamed the factory floor watching the Italian ladies use the stuffing machine to fill the bears and other animals. On a huge table, men used tailors’ scissors to slide through the fabric, carefully cutting only the fabric base and not the fur. When I tired of all of this I would hide out in the crates filled with big toy eyes that blinked and voice boxes that mooed with animal noises.
The faces on the toys that my mother made were more expressive than the average teddy. They had a sort of spunk that impressed me as a small child and imprinted a kind of graphic style in my mind that formed the way I see things. The fur of these toy animals was brightly colored and made of materials that hadn’t been available before and they were softer than most other stuffed toys.
I’ve still got a few of the prototypes of toys that my mother made. They’re a bit batted and old looking now.