When designer/crafter Lauren Bradshaw found a used stuffing machine online and had it shipped to her home, she had an instant reality check. “The thing was huge. And it weights I think 400 pounds. It sits on our screened back porch, and when we had my son’s 2nd birthday party, people thought it was a very large cotton candy machine.”…
Thus began the adventure of Walnut Animal Society – a new collection of charmingly timeless woodland animals from Henry the Fox to Ruthie the Deer. Patiently and lovingly handcrafted in the U.S., each character is made with sustainable materials like kapok (a natural stuffing harvested from the rain forest) and 100% brushed wool to ensure durability – and quality. “I am constantly thinking about quality. The goal for me is that kids actually play with the animals, and spend time with them, and take them places,” writes Lauren.
And to ensure years of companionship, Lauren offers to mend any damages to each character. “I’ll take [wear and tear] as a sign that the animals are a success – kids are actually playing with them enough for a button to come loose!” she writes. “Hopefully it encourages parents to hand over the animals to their kiddos instead of keeping them on the shelves, knowing that I’m still here to help out if something happens.”
Of course, each society member must be decked out in a proper dress code. By offering interchangeable clothing for each character like cuffed trousers and bow ties (and even chambray rucksacks!), Lauren ensures years of fun and imagination. “My husband and I actually sat down and determined personality types for all of the animals, and then I designed their outfits based on those personalities. It’s fun to be a little bit of a fashion designer along with stuffed animal maker,” she writes.
Next up for Lauren: “I’ve spent this week prototyping a new animal, a frog!” Here’s hoping a curious Abbott the Frog greets us in 2013.