I can't really remember the first time I stumbled upon the work of Florence Forrest of Flying Star Toys but I do remember how her work made me feel. I was immediately in awe of how pretty her work was, how you really could see how much care she put into each piece and how it would appeal to a large audience. With that being said, I decided I needed to spread the good word and asked her to do an interview. It was really fun thinking of questions for her and I am so glad she had fun answering them. Thank you so much for taking the time!
S- It's ironic to read that you grew up in a puppet theater as the last woman I interviewed, Jennifer Strunge, currently works for a puppet theater. I've never thought so much about puppets before! How do you think that growing up in this kind of environment influenced your work today?
FST- I believe that time growing up in the environment of the Queensland Theatre of Puppetry to have had a significant influence on me as a toy designer. The characters from the puppet theatre were characters imbued with stories and I got to see them act out their stories in their soft fabric flesh within the magic precincts of the theatre. The theatre is still a place I'm very much intrigued with today and hence my work with OzFrank Theatre here in Brisbane as design dramaturge.
It certainly has aided my close relationship to toys and characters and the imagination of stories - they were my first friends.
S- You say in one of your blog posts that wholesome is a good word to describe your toys. Can you explain more about this to the readers here?
FST- When I started making toys in 2004 the Plush revolution had just started. Mostly the toys were of the ironic kind or monster plush, my work is, in contrast, poetic and rooted in the skills of the embroiderer. So for a long time I felt my work to be outside the trend....not that I let that stop me :) But Plush has evolved to include so many more sub-genres. It really is an exciting area to be a part of because we are making it happen as each designer develops their own style and contibute to the scene as a whole. I think that there is room for all original toy designers now not just the ironic or the odd.
Wholesome is a one word description that encapsulation what I have called The Flying Star Toys Manifesto: To bring joy the the weary heart, to be a light in the darkness, and to be a vision of compassion is what it means to be a Flying Star. This guides what I develop and what finally becomes a Flying Star Toy design. A Flying Star Toy develops in a relationship to the purpose stated in the Manifesto so, that is to say, that a Flying Star Toy is a manifestation of wholesomeness. It is also another reason why I take great care with all the materials and construction of each toy because it must be a worthy vessel to carry such intentions
S- What I find so interesting about your work is that you seem to think a lot about the world, our environment and how we view our connections to both and then you translate that into each piece you make. It is almost as if every piece you make is a sociological experiment or something. How do you see your work fitting into our environment and surroundings?
FST- Toy making for me is an extention of my curiousity into areas of story creation, mythology, human relations, imagination and the intersection of objects with the mind. That said it is a personal artistic journey of process, myth making and creation. The curious way in which I must come into a relationship with something for a toy design to be born. To let you in on a little secret I rarely ever sit down with a piece of paper and try to come up with a toy. People sometimes ask me, can you make me a duck or a dragon? I say no, that I haven't designed any of those yet and I don't know if I ever will. I simply haven't come into a personal relationship with them yet and so they have not appeared. It is the witnessing of life and thoughts, and one's surroundings both big and small that end up generating my designs.
To read the whole interview go here