Gettin' Made: Toy Shopping with Mahar Drygoods
Robert Mahar is just about one of the nicest, smiliest crafty types you could meet. Take a look; here's my proof:
|A super smiley Robert Mahar, proprietor and ringleader of Mahar Drygoods, crafts a bit of a mess|
But don't fret - he's a bit older and wiser now, and has grown up to run online indie craft shop Mahar Drygoods. After the jump, find out just how cool handmade kids toys can be!
Robert Mahar grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has lived in Chicago and San Francisco, and has called Los Angeles home for more than 15 years now, currently living in Santa Monica with his partner of 11 years, Devin. He studied studio arts and art history in college, and graduated from USC, going on to work as an art appraiser for such big museums as MoMA NY, LACMA, MoCA Los Angeles and the American Craft Museum, NY.
It's pretty safe to say after being a part of apprasing the estates of great artists like Roy Lichtenstein (one of my faves!) and the Frank O. Gehry Archive, that Robert Mahar knows great stuff when he sees it. On transitioning from the academic curation of art to starting online children's emporium Mahar Drygoods, he shares a moment that helped get the ball rolling:
"My great aunt was a wonderful and prolific crafter, sewing crazy-quilts and crocheting afghans for the many members of our large and extended family. By the time my sister was married and expecting her first child, my great aunt was elderly and unable to tackle large projects; I set about to continues her tradition and find a way to have a quilt made for my soon to arrive nephew. Hours scouring the internet resulted in a connection with a quilter in small town Kansas - I selected the fabrics and quilt pattern, and she constructed what turned out to be an amazing quilt. It was this successful collaboration that sparked the idea of attempting similar partnerships with other crafters across the US and Canada (and now Europe and Australia!) and ultimately formed the core concept of Mahar Drygoods."
|Your little superhero will get such a kick outta these capes from Mahar Drygoods!|
Mahar Drygoods has been online since 2005, and has been Robert's full-time job since then. He curates this wonderful collection of toys, craft kits, wall art, décor, furniture and clothing & costumes with gusto - clicking near and far on the internet in a search for the best collaborations with artists and designers, bringing you whimsical goodies that are handmade in the homes and studios of their creators with an emphasis on recycled and sustainable materials whenever possible.
There are some limits to what Robert Mahar will carry - don't expect to find anything mass produced, resembling a weapon or cartoon characters owned by major corporations. You will find lots and lots of amazingly imaginative toys and more, lots with a nostalgic feel, like the shadow puppets Robert is head over heels for. He's also pretty fond of the toadstool tea set, which was a collaboration he worked on with a potter in Georgia.
|Toadstool Tea Set by Giana Eden, available at www.mahardrygoods.com|
Next up, what makes handmade toys so much better?