Having a child is fundamentally, a creative act - and for my next maker - having her first child has not only stimulated her creativity but provides her with an unending source of inspiration. Ofunneka is originally from Nigeria and now lives with her family in a country town in Australia. She juggles the challenges of her life in a new country, maintaining her home country ties and commitments plus motherhood and out of this busy life she creates her own unique world of wild monsters and animals and you can find them in her etsy shop C3N2KIDS.
Can you tell me a little about your background?
My name is Ofunneka Anyanwu, I am married to a wonderful man and we have a blended family of two teenage boys and a beautiful daughter who just turned two and is proving to me that the terrible twos' which a lot of mum's have "warned" about, is certainly true, oh so very far from being a myth. We live in Bathurst, NSW, Australia.
Apart from running my Etsy shop, I also function as a social entrepreneur, running my not-for-profit organisation back home in Nigeria, Africa. Our main focus is to help educate the disadvantaged girl child, although we started off setting up libraries in public schools, but due to my move to Australia a little over two years ago, we had to move away from capital intensive projects and those that required my continued physical presence. I also write for and am the managing editor of an African magazine, called Change Magazine, based in Adelaide, South Australia. In all of this I still find time to volunteer at a public school here in Bathurst, NSW, where I assist in teaching bible study to year 1 and 2 school children, a truly fulfilling experience. I have a B.Sc in Pure Chemistry, but I have always had a keen eye for all things that explore my creativity, either cooking, arts and crafts and even a bit of acting..
What do you make?
I make soft toys (elephants, owls), rag dolls, felt and fabric educational books, greeting cards and recently I just started making monster dolls. I love the versatility of making soft toys, as I can interpret any of the creatures which ever way I choose, since I don't believe there is necessarily a wrong or right way when it comes to creativity.
I use various mediums or in my case fabrics / materials, varying from fleece, African prints, felt and recently up cycled items (e.g. mufflers, sweaters) to make what I like to call my "little treasures"..so I guess my attraction to any of the above mentioned mediums depends a lot on what it is I am creating. I have always played around with all things crafts, right from when I was in primary school, but I would say the moment when I ventured into showcasing my work in a public arena would have to be May 2013, and it has been a FUN run since then, choosing not to think about the sleepless nights or several needle pricks I have had along the way, there have certainly been lots of "ouch" moments in that respect...LOL!!!
How long have you been making?
Since May 2013..
How does your practice fit in with your everyday life? Do you have your own studio space and when do you work and where?
When you become a wife and then mother, not a lot fits into your everyday life, you just have to find a way to make all your daily chores, work, social and all other varying interests fit, it is a constant case of re-adjustments and sacrifices, but I guess at the end of the day, I am able to make it work. The whole house is pretty much my studio space for now…LOL!! Although I have a room which doubles as a store for my equipment and fabrics and bedroom for one of the boys, I find that I need a lot of space for my work area, so right now I have taken over the dinning table, my husband's study table and sometimes the floor, but right now the haphazard fashion of executing my "little treasures", seems to be working for me. I create mostly at night, from the hours of 9pm through to 2/ 3am depending on how much coffee I have had and how long the inspiration lasts for and of course how long I am able to avoid the guilt I feel for ignoring my hubby while I work..Thankfully he understands..
What are the best and worst aspects about working with this medium?
As mentioned previously, I do work with different mediums and each one presents it's own challenges, based on what I am creating and the look I intend to achieve.
Who or what inspires you?
I would have to say the first place I get my inspiration from is my now, 2 year old daughter. When she came along, I explored making unique outfits for her, but I still felt that my creativity was stifled, this burning desire to explore all angles of my creativity birthed the idea, then C3N2KIDS became a reality, a shop for soft toys, rag dolls, throw cushions and mini cards for all occasions, catering specifically for children of all ages…I also get inspiration from the TV programs I watch with my two year old, that's what I tell myself when I sit with my little one enjoying all her programs…lol!!!
I like to call them creative stumbling blocks, when I get to a point where I just cannot put all my brainstorming ideas or thoughts into a cohesive project or creation. I have various ways of dealing with this, I either sleep on it, wake up refreshed and ready to revisit all the ideas or I go for a long walk trying to clear my thoughts and get inspiration from things I see around me and finally if all else fails I head to the library for good old fashioned research, that hasn't failed me as yet.
What other mediums would you love to explore?
I am quite happy with all the mediums I am presently working with. However I have been thinking of the possibility of trying my hands on knitting, but that to me is a scary thought, cause it just looks like it would be so intricate and delicate…but we'll see...
In the next 5 years, as long as God gives me life, I hope to open a physical store where anyone can walk in and buy my OOAK "little treasures" or just enjoy the unique experience all my creations will give them during their interactions, especially for the kids.
I would also love to add a service I have already tagged in one of my brainstorming notes - "revamp your old into new" , where clients can turn their old and preloved clothing items which are taking a lot of wardrobe space, but are too precious to throw away into soft toys, be it rag dolls , monster dolls, whatever ideas we are able to conceptualise. This way those prized possessions will always remain with them without constituting nuisances…
Thank you Ofunneka! Are you a collector? I would love to feature your collection, just contact me!