Artist of the Month: Michelle Sasscer, Babus Toys

IMG_8997The following post is by Michelle Sasscer, owner of Babus Toys, Herban Lifestyle’s April 2014 Artist of the Month.

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Women have traditionally learned their crafts from their mothers and other family elders, and Michelle Sasscer is no exception – her mother taught her how to knit, albeit over the phone, 3,000 miles away, while Michelle was laid up with a broken leg in a 3rd floor flat in San Francisco.  It was very slow going at first, and she timidly moved from basic stitch swatches to washcloths to eventually scarves.  After a multi-year hiatus, she returned to the craft in earnest in 2011, relishing the opportunity to nestle into an easy chair with gorgeous yarns and new patterns.

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But it wasn’t until 2006 that she learned about felting, and when she finally started to experiment with the technique, she was immediately, completely hooked.  Something about the smooth, fuzzy, warm wool texture and apparent magic of all of those stitches melding into one thick solid material, was irresistible.  And not coincidentally, this all came about while she was making toys and decorations for her newborn son, Nicholas (who was nicknamed “The Babus”, in utero, just like his daddy had been).  The moment she saw Nicky’s reaction to his first set of felted wool teething rings, Babus Toys was born, at least in her mind.  Many years later, Michelle has created toys and treasures for babies as well as children of all ages.  Using choice, sustainably produced yarns from Michigan and Peru, as well as an organic line from Australia/US, Michelle makes every piece by her own design and with her own hands, from that original Gnot teething ring to nesting finger puppet sets, to mermaid dolls, even ornaments (once she even made a bride and groom squid couple as a wedding cake topper). Oh, and her mom Ruth is still helping her out, doing yeoman’s work as a supplemental knitter.  Michelle works out of her home in downtown Silver Spring, MD.

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Babus Toys can also be found in Michelle’s Etsy store, on Facebook, and at Eastern Market in Washington DC.logo

Duck Soaps for Aaron

All Natural Duck Soap Party Favor

All Natural Duck Soap Party Favor

I just finished creating 50 party favors for one of my wholesale clients in celebration of her son’s 1st birthday. She wanted all-natural soaps embedded with a bath toy. So, I did some research and found this great soap base from Bramble Berry Soap Making Supplies, which has all natural ingredients, and adheres to the Whole Foods Standard for Premium Body Care. It’s a nice, opaque base made primarily from coconut oil. I then colored the soap with pure vegetable coloring that I bought at Whole Foods, and scented it with organic essential oils from Mountain Rose Herbs. I had mixed feelings about the toys, not wanting to add more plastic to the world. However, I came across these phthalate-free birthday ducks, which look adorable.

I made the packaging as earth-friendly as I could, using compostable vegetable-cellulose bags, and recycled paper printer labels. My client was delighted — not only did the favors turn out to be adorable (even if I do say so myself), but they meet her criteria of being all-natural.