I get so incredibly giddy when I find items or shops that thrust me back to my childhood games of imagining fairies were among us, and Cheryl and Madlyn Smith's precious shop, Miss Teapot, is precisely one of those fantastically curated works of imagination. As a mother and daughter collaborative, these ladies have fantasy fairytale down to a pat that simples radiates their love at creating inspired playthings for children to enjoy. I delight in their treasures because they look like they came straight out of a fairytale book, and one would have a hard time arguing that fairies weren't real with accessories like these!
1. How do you define art?
I think it is how one sets about providing for and following ones longings and inspirations. The bloom of the inspiration I think is art. This makes art not just capable of physical happenings in form but also emotional, like how we approach and see the world around us and decorate it with us, our own unique design of what we would like to see in the world. Not just paintings and sculptures but parenting and caring for others too is art to me.
2. How would you define your art?Old world, fairytale imaginings with modern sensibilities. Kind.
3. Name 3 adjectives that describe your artistic point of view.Honest, pure, happy
4. Who has most personally influenced and inspired you as an artist?Walt Disney and his vision of Disneyland. Costumes, lands, fairytales, miniatures, innocence. It’s a small world (and all those costumed dollys singing), storybook canal boats (with the tiny castles and homes, Swiss Family Robinson treehouse...me in a nutshell. I could have lived in any of those places happily and still do in my art.
5. Has your artistic sensibility changed since you first began?Yes, so much. I first started with making fairy crowns for wholesale 13 years ago, and I was using so much readymade floral materials and wasting a lot as I broke all that down and discarded things. I was always uncomfortable with that process of discarding and waste. The discomfort helped me move in a direction of being more conscientious by using recycled and thrifted materials and natural materials and starting from scratch. We also use less glue and more sewn and wired details for better quality. It's slower to be conscientious but it feels better for us and more honest in the end.
6. What inspires your art?Fairy tales, folk costumes, tiny natural forms, plant life, flowering forms, dollhouse miniatures, kindness
7. Do you have a favorite artist from another field?Mary Blair. We love the happy innocence in her art. Her simple forms and color palette. And Masha Dyans, such whimsy and free expression!
8. Who is your favorite competitor from your field?We haven't ever looked to see who may be offering the same sort of things. Our vision is purely from our hearts place.
9. Do you have any occupation hazards or mishaps?Needle pricks from all our hand sewing. Lots of accidental pin stabbings :)
2. Acorn Pouch
10. What did you wish you would have known when starting out?That we should believe better in our art and our abilities. That being who we are in our art is really important. It is okay to be us.
11. What is your favorite item currently for sale in your shop?All our dolly comforts (ie. miniatures). They are so pure and delicate and natural and earthen. They are so simple. But then there are all the vintage textiles in our dress up pieces, they are so precious to me. Hmmm..? Such a hard decision to pick one item since I love them all. Maybe the teacup with tiny spoon crowns? They are miniatures and textiles all rolled into one :) They feel simple and perfect to me.
12. Who is your favorite author? What was your favorite book as a child?
We love children's authors...Frances Hodgson Burnett for all her positivity in her stories and Rumer Goden for the sweet simple nature of her characters and stories in her books for children. My favorite book as a child was "The King The Mice and The Cheese" (a Doctor Seuss beginner book) for reasons I don't really remember but I loved tiny animals and cheese. I always thought the book smelled like cheese, probably just the glue, but it always smelled delicious to me.
13. When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?A hair dresser. I loved making dress up dancing costumes for my doll's dancing shows and cutting and styling their hair. My mom discouraged me from that, which is probably a good thing, although I wish I knew how better to cut my children's hair and style my own.
14. Where is the farthest you have traveled? Where did you dream about visiting as a child?Cairo, Egypt. Physically, mentally, spiritually the furthest from home I have ever been. I was always really fantasy-oriented, so probably only make believe places. I used to love to make Barbie campsites in the green, mossy, moist places in the yard. It was magical there imagining visiting through my doll's experience.
15. Which musician or musical group inspires you the most? What was your favorite childhood song?We love old records, big band and twist records especially. So anyone who plays that flavor of music on a record uplifts us. Favorite song from childhood was probably on my favorite record of "Alice in Topsy Turvy Land." Probably "Topsy Turvy Flowers" or "Copy Cat Crows" from that record. In fact the name "Miss Teapot" came from a character in a song on that record about a tea set ballet :) Miss Teapot was the prima ballerina.
16. Where can people find you and your art online?Currently only in our Etsy shop www.etsy.com/shop/missteapotdressup