The Toymaker Comes To Visit-An Interview with Marilyn Scott-Waters
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In September I went to St. Paul MN to attend The Creative Connection and was sitting in a hotel lounge writing in my notebook when this very cheerful woman came up to me and said, “Oh you have a moleskin. Can I pull up a chair and sit down?” Never would I say no to such a request. As she sat down she said,” Hi I’m Marilyn from California.”
And that’s when it all made sense. ” Are you Marilyn Scott Waters The Toymaker?” I asked.
Surprised, she admitted that she was. For the next four days we, the Toymaker and I, had ample time to become friends and I even got to make toys with her. For years I’ve been downloading toys from her site The Toymaker, as well as, making beautiful toys to share from her awesome books. Marilyn graciously sat down for an interview and gave us a look into her creative life.
1. Where did the idea for The Toymaker come from?
I’m always writing little stories about the Toymaker’s Workshop and hope to publish a book of them someday. When I first started freelancing, if I could get all my work done, I would treat myself to a totally fun art project. I started making paper toys just to stay creative. After a while I had a whole closet of them and thought it would be neat to put them on the internet.
2. Which came first for you, drawing or making paper toys and crafts?
Bunches of both! My mom always told us to “Entertain yourself” and we had tons of art supplies as well as the free time and space to make messes. I don’t think kids have that as much anymore.
3. What inspired you to become an illustrator?
I remember seeing a movie about Maurice Sendak and how he got to sleep late and work all night. I thought that sounded like a good life to have. However, I didn’t think that there was a career in it for me. I ended up doing product design for years before finally getting back to my dream of being a published writer and illustrator.
4. Who are some of your favorite author/ illustrators?
Ooh, so hard to pick! I’m drawn to the greats, Beatrix Potter, Arthur Rackham and Henry J. Ford who illustrated the Arthur Lang Fairy Books. Martin and Alice Provensen are wonderful. Alice is in my art group, Studio Five. She’s 92 and still working.
5. Tell us a little bit about your family and the life that you share together?
We all have our manias. My husband builds beautiful guitars and ukeleles as a hobby. Our son loves to build things and paint models. I have paper toys. We live very much like Hobbits. Music, books, food, and good company are better than diamonds.
6. How has the online community impacted your creativity?
I had no idea that www.thetoymaker.com would become so popular. It really is a gift. I received so many kind emails from all over the world from families that are making my toys.
7. What have you gained from being a part of such a connected online world?
Besides getting to share in people’s lives online I’ve also been lucky enough to actually meet people in “the big blue room”. We’ve had artists and writers stay at our house for ComicCon.
I also have almost thirty thousand people on my mailing list for my monthly newsletter. It’s neat to think that families all over the world are making things together.
8. Where do you get your ideas from? What inspires you?
Good ideas are everywhere. Libraries inspire me. I have a hefty collection of antique arts and crafts books. I keep a big shopping bag full of paper toy “tests”, just fiddly bits that often grow in to a more polished idea.
I’m also inspired by my artist group, Studio Five. We are a group of eight working illustrators and meet twice a month to share our art and set goals for the next month.
9. What are you working on now?
Right now I am inking up the second Haunted Histories book. I’m writing and illustrating it with J. H. Everett. He’s a historian as well as an amazing writer and illustrator, so it’s been tons of fun to collaborate on this series.
I’m also finishing up the Toymaker calendar for 2013, as well as writing stories and working on the website.
10. What’s in store for you in the future?
I’d love to do an eBook that has interactive toys that go with the story. How cool would it to be reading about a flying machine and be able to download a model of it to make?
Our Resident 6 year old “G” had a few questions of his own to ask his favorite toymaker.
1. What’s your favorite letter? “Mines M because it’s half way between A and Z. Your name starts with M.”
I like to write the letter “M” because it has a lot of swooshes in it. And it starts a lot of nice words like, Mom, Marilyn, Moose and Mittens. Although, “C” is a nice letter too. With the letter “C” you get Cats, Castles, Cookies and Chocolate.
2. What’s your favorite color? I love red and blue.
I like green and red. My studio is painted light sage green. Green is the color of Christmas trees, meadows and spinach soup. Red is the color of valentines, cinnamon bears and apples.
3. Is it OK to trace?
Yes it is. And it is also very helpful to copy artists that you like. That is one of the ways to get better. I use a light box to do my finished pieces. I do a rough sketch underneath and then trace the clean finished version on top.
4. Do you draw all day long? I like to draw in the afternoons.
I like to draw in the mornings when it is quiet and then color in the afternoon when it gets a bit more hectic. I also like to doodle late at night, just making notes and jotting down ideas.
Thank you so much Marilyn for stopping by Jump Into A Book and sharing your joy of making paper toys with us. Marilyn has a new book out called The Toymaker’s Workshop: Paper Toys You Can Make Yourself. This is an incredible book which will have your whole family becoming the most incredible toymakers.
In the past year 750,000 visitors have come to The Toymaker and 7 million toys have been downloaded. Don’t miss the fun. Go make some toys.
This holiday season, give your children the gift that will nurture a lifetime of positive habits; give the gift of a book.
As parents, we want/need quality books with extension activities to help our young ones unplug and create memories. Pulling books from shelves, and stories from pages, is also an important act that will aid in them being life-long readers. Quality books with companion book extension activities are not only work to create special family time, it allows kids to solve the world’s problems without major consequences. A Year in the Secret Garden is just such a book. This delightful children’s book from authors Valarie Budayr and Marilyn Scott-Waters offers unique and original month-by-month activities that allow readers to delve deeper into the classic children’s tale, The Secret Garden! With over 120 pages, with 150 original color illustrations and 48 activities for your family and friends to enjoy, learn, discover and play with together.
This book will make a great gift and be the catalyst of many hours of family growth, learning and FUN! Grab your copy ASAP and “meet me in the garden!” More details HERE!