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ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: The Creative Frog

Owen here! Today I’d like to introduce you to the Creative Frog!

Recently I made the decision to reach out to creative people in my area, and to share what I learned. I had just decided on the format I wanted to use when I stumbled across the work of Margaret Nathon, the artist behind the Creative Frog.

She makes whimsical felted wool dolls called Jabberwoolies. Turnip is an adorable adaptation of the vegetable she’s named after.

Margaret also offers hand puppets, which give her a way to use up any leftovers from her doll making (Thus eliminating waste!) This bright and cheerful one is named Saffron, and is made up of parts from 7 different sweaters!

I’m also a huge fan of her felt foods, which have simplified designs but also contain wonderful and clever details. Check out the crinkles on this set of burger and fries!

Now that you’ve seen some of her work, it’s time to get to know the Creative Frog a little better! Margaret was kind enough to take time out of preparing for the holidays to answer a few questions.

Q: How long have you been making art?
A: Creating with fibers has always been part of my life…you brush your teeth, you create. My mom and her mom were tailors, quilters and seamstresses. It was just something we all did. Guess I started selling my items in the 70’s when I was at home while my children were young. I started working with wool in 2006.

Q: What has been your favorite art experience?
A: One of the sweetest compliments was overheard as a customer looked at a grid of my dolls and commented “Well, this person certainly LOVES her work!” Humor and whimsy are important to me and my soft sculptures also evoke a sense of the past…figures in pleated skirts and cardigans…the “Nancy Drew” look.

Q: What has been your biggest hurdle?
A: So…fiber is my medium, inspiration is from my past and the desire to make people smile. My technique is to take wool fibers and manipulate them… Recycled wool is dyed, twisted, felted and manipulated until a soft sculpture figure appears! My dolls called Jabberwoolies, are little testaments to my having overcome the fear of putting myself out there. I never have a set plan when I begin. The dolls just evolve and no two are alike. I sometimes look at photos of all my dolls and puppets and can’t believe I actually made and sold them all. I think hand-crafting is sometimes considered a second class art to studio art… but I have always been drawn to folk art of all kinds. I have never taken art classes and my college degree was in English lit and creative writing.

Q: What piece are you most proud of?
A: All of my creations are special but I have 2 painted muslin frog dolls, one is dressed in vintage linens to look Eastern-European…with a babushka on her head; the other is wearing a petticoat only and has a red wig.  They were created in the 1980’s. That is why I use The Creative Frog as my business name.

Q: What advice would you give someone just starting out?
A: It is wonderful to create art that people like to buy so then you can keep doing it. NEVER create to sell would be my advice to a new artist. Create for the sake of creating. I rarely duplicate any doll or puppet. Look everywhere for inspiration…library, museums, thrift shops, photos, nature…and be patient as your craft evolves.

Here are some of the places that you can find Margaret Nathon’s work:
The Creative Frog site
Etsy