Maker of Memories | Milkbottle

Maker of Memories

Erika Barratt

As an artist who creates her one-of-a kind fabric dolls and toys in the presence of sewing supplies originally belonging to her grandmothers, artist Erika Barratt clearly understands the power of cherished objects. It is with this insight that Erika began her eponymous brand, utilising her passion for textiles and embroidery to create her collection of unique pieces. Each toy is sturdily made by hand of quality materials with the intention that it become a treasured heirloom, to be passed down from generation to generation.

Erika had her own studio for 2 years in a building that houses a community of about 60 artists. One day, a fellow maker suggested we switch spaces. ‘I didn’t have windows in my first space and he did, so I took him up on the offer. At the same time, two friends of mine were looking for a studio space and so I asked if they wanted to join me. It has worked out really well! When we are there together it’s fun and we always share ideas. Even our aesthetics work well together – we each have our own areas that kind of seamlessly blend into one another. I like working alone as well as having company, the balance is great’.

‘All of the patterns for my animals and dolls are original and created by me. Following my pattern, I cut what pieces I need and then start to embroider on them. After they are embroidered and sewn into their shape, I dye the felt (I like doing them piece by piece rather than the yardage). When dry, I stuff each piece with wool. This part actually takes much longer than one would think! I like them pretty dense. My dolls are especially substantial – people are always a little surprised when they pick them up! When stuffing is complete, I sew the piece back up and add little detail stitches. I paint doll cheeks and rabbit ears with natural dye. Then I attach limbs with strong upholstery thread and add joints using wooden buttons to give my pieces mobility. Lastly, I make their clothing and accessories’.

Collection of cherished objects and thrift store finds Erika's fabric and sewing supplies archive
left Collection of cherished objects and thrift store finds
right Erika's fabric and sewing supplies archive

Images: Paul Lowe via Taverne Agency. Words: Larisa Makow

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