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Remember the poor shoe maker whose steadfast, honest work and generosity was richly rewarded by wonderful, little elves?  (Click here to recant this lovely Grimm Brother's fairytale.)  Enchantingly, our local, humble toy maker, Cheryl Smith a.k.a Miss Teapot, has a similiar story to share about a spritely girl whose crafty hands are bringing golden rewards to Miss Teapot's business and heart. 

The story begins with Cheryl Smith, a creative woman who began down the path of “homespun artisan” learning knitting and sewing under her own mother’s wing. In her young teen years, Cheryl ran with her new skills crafting stylish clothing to expand her budget constrained wardrobe. Even designing and stitching her own prom gowns! Cheryl found she loved to work with fibers, but also to create with color, foods, and many other mediums. She left her parent’s home as a young adult to seek out a formal education in Home Economics and Culinary Arts.

After a brief foray into careers such as Interior Designer and Pantry Chef, Cheryl married and birthed a daughter of her own. Her new, innocent, little babe called to her to stay by her side, and Cheryl began a new career as a full-time mother. she began immediately to “home school” this wee girl , determined to raise her daughter in a spirit of appreciation for the magic of the world through adding back one’s own beauty. Drawing from Waldorf and Un-Schooling approaches, Cheryl happily engaged her daughter in outdoor play, fantasy, and of course children’s crafting. Still, her inner tradeswoman yearned to produce and earn…

One day, in preparing for her daughter’s fourth birthday party, Cheryl discovered her new career path. While creating flower crowns and “floaty fairy skirts” for her daughter and friends, she began to think what fun making such toys could be as a create-at-home job. Thinking of the whimsical toys she discovered at the delightful The Ark Toy Company stores in Berkeley and San Francisco, she sought to exclusively sell her crowns through this special venue.

Cheryl carved out a workspace in her home and heart, affirming her need to support her own inner life while providing an important model for own children’s creative manifestations. She found making crowns very rewarding to her own need for whimsy and creativity. Most exciting, she found she could apply many of her skills in crown making – dying, sewing, felting, knitting, paper crafting and more. Now after ten years cobbling crowns, Miss Teapot has made over 1709 crowns for 40 different seasons.

Her wee babe of a daughter, Maddy, is today fourteen and is now joined by a brother, Wes, about to turn ten. These two little sprites have grown up at the feet of their mother the toymaker. Their childhood is infused with the whimsy of living in a toyshop - fairy crowns, wands, flowers, and all of the other magical bits of wool, fabric, glittery beads, and wire float on every surface and ceiling of their home. The children are encouraged, although not pushed, to grab Miss Teapot’s tools and these bits of materials to fashion their own creations.

Through the years this family has dabbled in many creative realms including playing the violin or piano, Scottish dancing, paper making, painting, beading, and much more. The children engage in rich, fantasy play where they hone their imaginations, initiative, tool mastery, handwork skills and appreciation for beauty. Their daily rhythm revolves around having time to dream, process, reflect, and just “be.” Evidence of their resulting creativity are abundant - even toy hamsters in this home get the grand treatment with a tree house, handmade clothes, and party hats to boot!

However, it has only been very recently that our humble toymaker discovered she had a toy making elf afoot…Daughter Maddy no longer needs her mother to suggest projects or provide tools. She’s created her own workspace and began her own handwork – now reading and understanding patterns or how to use tools all on her own.

Maddy’s even running with her own creative spirit and crafting her very own toys. Maddy’s fabulous felted creations show the mistress toymaker in her blood.

Cheryl revels in the idea that her daughter will never have to work for someone else, as she is already displaying she can create something that is “good and sellable.” This little elf is currently at play creating a blog and considering selling her toys on Etsy. Miss Teapot may soon have a business partner!

Tips for Supporting Your Elves

 Create time and space for your own inner life and creativity

 Preserve unscheduled time for kids to dream, process, reflect and  create

 Provide your kids with high quality tools and materials for play and creating

 Celebrate your children’s art by giving it space in your home above and beyond the refrigerator door


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