Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Interview with Mary Ann Hudson of Rumpos (and GiveAway!)

I am delighted to share this interview with a very talented designer of childrens playscapes. Her creations are unique and inspire the imagination of the young an d old alike.

Tell us a bit about yourself

My name is Mary Ann Hudson and I am getting ready to celebrate my 10th wedding anniversary with my nerdy husband, Matt. We have a hilarious two-year-old son, Gus, who inspires us to use our imaginations every single day. My husband and I are originally from the midwest, but consider ourselves pacificwest for a a few years to complete graduate programs and are planning to return home to the rain and sea afterwards.

How did you get started creating your unique playscapes?

A dear friend wanted one for her super magical daughter, and though I had been making mostly clothes and quilts up to that point, her request really resonated with me. It makes sense, really--as a kid I was always making tiny worlds. I created dioramas, built elaborate fairy houses and bird cemetaries outside, made things for my dollhouse that I would spend hours with, collected minatures. As a "grown-up" I got an MFA in poetry--another way to make tiny worlds. That first playscape I made for my friend's daughter, in many ways, wasn't my first at all--it was just the first one using the materials and skills I had available to me then. I love to plan and imagine the little playscapes, and in my head there are always particular inhabitants and kinds of magic associated with each one. Then, when I give them away or someone acquires one for their family, I imagine that they make themselves new, waiting for their recipiants to imagine life into them all over again.

As far as the creation of them, specifically, I am able to reinterpret quilting, applique, and softie-building skills. I love that I can take skills that I've learned and then, in a way, free myself from those skills by "playing" in the making of these little worlds. For example, I love piecing and creating quilting designs, but it's very precise work that requires adhering to a certain skill set. However, in the playscapes, I can free-cut designs in both two and three dimensions, put everything together as I go, and free-motion quilt according to whims of texture and organic shape. So, those good skills got me started, but the playscapes go their own direction.

What most inspires your work?

Nature and the outdoors. I feel pretty strongly that I want these items to represent what we can find in the out-of-doors and to remind children of all ages how much possibility and play there is just outside our doors. I do incorporate the human and magical-being made into the playscapes, but with a light hand. For example, I love creating a pastoral/farm scenes because all of us have a connection to farms for our food and it is something important to teach our children about--but the emphasis is still on the natural world and the water, mud, and plants. I think that it's no wonder that children and children's poets and authors have populated the natural world with magical creatures and talking animals and adventures and quests--the outdoors is the normative backdrop for big ideas, possibility, imagination, and magic. Trees and fairy rings and flower-covered hillsides are infused with beauty, possibly, and real magic simply by being what they are. I would hope that the idea that we are all gorgeous and meaningful and magical simply by the virture of being ourselves would be something every child everywhere can learn.

What are you up to when you're not creating playscapes?

I am a full-time graduate student in a pediatric nurse practitioner program--from an MFA to a science career! I found this path via volunteering and realizing, with the help of some amazing mentors, that there was a calling I couldn't ignore in service to mamas and papas and their kids. I am also a mama, a writer, and walker/explorer. Anything else you'd like to share.

I really appreciate the opportunity to share what I do and to participate in a culture of handmade. I feel really passionately about keeping my family's resources local, handmade, repurposed, recycled, and low impact and I know that more and more families feel this way everyday. I think that kids "get" these kinds of values instinctively and that every time we reinforce those integral values by introducing a handmade toy into the playroom or making something ourselves or making (beautifully) do, we are giving our kids room and love to take care of their planet and each other.

I am giving away, in honor of the opening of the camping season, my lakeside campsite playscape (pictured above)! My lovely blog hostess will explain the raffle rules and get your info to me for shipping. Even if you don't win, please visit my shop and enter 'Whimsy' in the "notes to seller" and get 10% off of your order until the end of June (or convo me for a custom listing that reflects the discount if you're not fond of paypal refunds)!

Please enter a comment at the bottom of this post to entered in the drawing. The winner will be chosen on June 8th at random. I will post the winner on the blog that day!

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Just wanted to write a quick update as to where I've been lately.
I have had good intentions to blog, taken many photos of my boys and my crafting, made up blog entries in my head, but just haven't had the time to get 'em out here!

My family and I are unexpectedly moving this weekend! It's been a whirlwind for the last couple of weeks.

So, I'll be back at it as soon as I'm settled in our home :-)