We are very excited to have Fidoodle at our Summer Craft Fair. Jen is bringing some of the quirkiest and cutest creations that are aimed at kids and young people, although I'm sure even the oldest among us will be charmed by some of her pieces.
Melanie Senko: Tell us about yourself.
Jen Bulthuis: My name is Jen Bulthuis. I grew up in Hamilton, but have spent the majority of my adult years living in Toronto. Years ago I primarily worked with people through community arts initiatives in Toronto as I continued to develop my printmaking and general making practice, but Fidoodle has developed over the last 6 years paralleling my journey into parenthood. I have two children (age 6 and 1). We live in a great neighbourhood in Toronto and for the most part, everything that I make is built in my home studio.
M.S.: Where/when did you become acquainted with your craft?
Jen: Trained as an educator and woodblock printmaker, I’ve been developing Fidoodle out of a long running interest in art as interactive object, and in the imagination of children. My fascination with the materiality of wood evolved from printmaking to include intricate construction of traditional wooden marionettes. Printmaking led to an interest in bookbinding, then the creation of flipbooks involving stop motion animation. Years of work in the community arts, particularly with street involved youth, led me to a style shaped by drawing together, in the moment.
M.S.: Where do you draw creative inspiration from?
Jen: I’m inspired by the stories that we create through objects in our lives and especially the stories that children build through objects that they play with. I’m also intrigued by small details of our natural environments and by the worlds we create for ourselves. I love the feel of sanded maple in my hands and the versatility of industrial wool felt for building objects.
M.S.: What do you love most about your craft?
Jen: I’m very happy that I get to make up or invent so much of what I do. I can choose materials and I can make up processes. I love to draw and with screen-printing, I’m able to tell stories through illustration on several objects that I make.
M.S.: What are your most favourite materials to work with?
Jen: I especially love to work with wood, industrial wool felt, organic cottons. I like surfaces that I can print onto easily and materials that I can build with.
M.S.: Is there another craftsperson/designer/artist that you admire?
Jen: I admire lots of makers. Here’s a little list: The illustration of Fiep Westendorp, and Tove Jansen, the wooden dolls of Alexander Girard, furniture by Charles and Ray Eames, Trashbonbon, Brothers Dressler, ceramics by Jeremy Hatch, Rob Southcott, Coe and Waito. So many more.
M.S.: How do you get your work out in the world? Where else can one find it?
Jen: Fidoodle is out there through a variety of weekend fairs and Etsy and I sell my work in a few small boutiques in Toronto. This information is all on Fidoodle’s website.