Stephanie Weber of Pickle Things has lived in Portland for the past five years. In her own words, ‘I love it here. Of all of the places that I have lived, I feel the most at home here. I like that it is so beautiful, has a great neighborhood/community feel, progressive and eco conscience and has fabulous restaurants.’ She lives with a dog, birds, fish and soon a cat and roommates who actually own all the animals. A self-described independent, perfectionist who cannot sit still, Stephanie loves fabric (specifically vintage patterns), cool glass jars, 70s embroidered wall hangings, screwball comedies from the 30s-40s, macaroni and cheese, vegetable gardens and rain. Don’t miss Stephanie’s shop and her blog.
Why did you start making felt food?
I originally made some as a gift for my friend’s daughter. I cannot really remember what gave me the idea. Her daughter really liked them and then she mentioned that her younger son had also started to play with them. She suggested that I start to make then for sale. At the time, I was doing mostly bags and bibs so I figured why not.
Can you tell us a little of your process?
I try to think of foods that I like or that I think kids will like. Usually I then go on the internet and search for pictures of that type of food for inspiration and to make sure I am thinking of the right color palette. I make up a sketch then start cutting. I try to think what would be nice little details like putting little lines on the carrots or making a tea bag that you can see through so the tea is visible.
Do you have a dedicated work area/room?
My bedroom is my workroom. In truth, it is workroom with a bed shoved into the corner. I even have the bed blocked off by some shelves and cabinets so you can hardly see it. It did not start out that way but slowly the sewing corner took over the rest of the room. I like it though. It is cozy and makes me feel at one with my work.
Is this your full-time job? Hobby? Fun?
It is my part time job. I have another part time job that is my steady flow of money. It was just something I was doing on the side for fun but a couple of months ago I decided to focus on it some more and try to make it more of a business. I am excited and a little scared but I like that it is an adventure.
Where do you get your materials?
I use all reused/recycled materials. I am lucky that I work at a non-profit called Scrap in Portland that collects peoples left over art supplies and resells then to the community. The goal is to promote art and reuse. So I get 90% of my supplies there. I usually joke that my job is to turn someone’s rejected felt Christmas stocking into tomatoes. I also go to thrift store and scavenge what I can find.
Where do you get your ideas?
Food is everywhere so all it takes is for me to look at something and think…I could make that out of felt.
Do you have a favorite food you make?
I really like to make the felt meat. Something about plushy meat just makes me laugh and I am not even a big meat eater.
Do you do other kinds of crafts?
Mostly these days all of my crafts involve sewing. I make bags and clothing. If I am feeling more artsy I will make fabric collage wall hangings. I also have experimented with other toys like fabric game boards.
What do you see yourself doing in 5 years?
Who knows? 5 years ago I would never have guessed I [would be making felt food] since I was living on the east coast working as a gardener and did not even own a sewing machine. I just hope that in 5 years I will be creating something and enjoying the world. What more can you ask for?