Original and beautiful, Karin Emsbroek’s fabric animals are true works of art.
Can you tell us something about yourself?
“I grew up in a little village in the Achterhoek (a region in the east of the Netherlands), with our back garden literally leading straight into the forest. I loved to play there, building huts and climbing trees. Nature always was, and still is, a great source of inspiration for me, but nowadays I live in the center of The Hague with my boyfriend Joost, and our cats Pipkin and Rezza. I studied illustration at the HKU (Utrecht School of Arts), and then started to work independently as a designer.”
Where did you get the idea to make fabric animals?
“I love working with textiles, because it’s like having an endless supply of colors and textures to work with. At the academy, I started making illustrations with textiles and after that, the transition from illustration to cuddly toy was easily made. At first, I made sock animals, but then I wanted to make something that was more my own. My very first character was a fox and secretly I still love that one very much. You see him pop up in my illustrations often, too. He has such a cute little face, great colors and a big tail. But my favorite cuddly toy is the wolf, because of his big nose, woolly fabric and naughty demeanor.”
How do you go about designing a new character?
“I sketch out my idea on paper and then get to work with shapes and fabrics. For each model that I make, I play around a bit, tweaking things here and there until it is just right. All of the cuddly toys have been adjusted often over the years. Some fabrics for example turn out to pill a lot, or just aren’t pleasant to work with. It is a process of years that has ended up producing a whole family of forest animals!”