I discovered Sausage Dog in The Manchester Craft and Design Centre just a few weeks ago, and from the moment I walked through the door I was absolutely in love.
Sausage Dog is a craft shop in Manchester that sells the most wonderful and creative toys. Each one of them has a unique story and is made from recycled clothes. Pointedly, the toys are not for children, and being allowed to buy toys as an adult is incredibly liberating.
After discovering the shop I was lucky enough to have a chat with Harriet, the owner, who told me all about her journey and how she came to creating her toys.
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got to where you are today!
I’ve been making toys for about 5 years. I studied illustration and then did a few little things to test what i wanted to do after uni: including more illustration, jewellery type stuff and things with fabrics. I sold them at markets along with handbags, brooches and paintings. But it was all a bit of a mish mash. After about two years I started making toys.
My friends loved the toys, so i tested them out on my stalls and my customers liked them too. It was a lot more related to my illustration. I’ve always drawn characters so to bring them to life seemed like an obvious step
I saved up money and got a shop in Afflex (an alternative shopping centre in Manchester). I did that for the christmas season and then I took a break to go travelling. Then after going travelling for a year and a half I had my eye on the Manchester craft and design centre. Something came up a month after i came back, which was lucky and i applied and got in so that’s how I started my shop here!
Where do you get your inspiration?
It’s hard to say – I guess i’m always on the look out for stuff but i don’t necessarily realise that i’m doing it. Sometimes I’ll just regurgitate ideas and someone will be like ‘that looks like something’ and I will think, oh yeah it does look like that!
I think that’s a lot to do with having a creative and inventive mind. You take on a lot of imagery. I don’t just get inspired by other toymakers…it’s by things I see. I like people watching. I love to stare out my window and draw funny people i see on the street.
What inspired using old clothes to make your toys?
When I would make handbags, I used material I had bought because i loved fabric- my mum was a dressmaker and taught me to sew. When it came to making the toys it was originally about money. I didnt have enough for loads of fabric and I wanted to make a lot of toys so i could open my shop. So i was cutting stuff up out of my wardrobe, old jumpers and so on. I actually enjoyed that process of recycling. I told all my friends and they gave me a load of old clothes and that’s how that started.
Working from old fabrics is more exciting. You can use the nice fabrics and they’ll all worn and knobbly- it’s like an old toy.It makes things unique as well, I can only get a few things out of a piece of clothing. So then I have to find a new jumper and each one has it’s own personality.
Sometimes the fabric will inspire a completely new design, which is something that I didn’t realise when i first started!
What’s your ultimate dream?
What I want to do next year, and it’s already on the cards, is to make a massive puppet. It’s been in my head for ages and I want to start doing bigger scale stuff- as well as smaller scale stuff. I want to make little dolls that have sculpted heads- I have a whole idea for that.
My dreams develop and change as I go along. 5 years ago my dream was to open my own shop and I’ve done it. Now I’m setting up interesting projects so I can make large scale stuff maybe for theatre, maybe for festivals. and i think that also in terms of painting and toys I want to bridge that gap more.
I’m working on a big post-apocolpictic scene with lots of greedy people devouring each other. i want to finish the painting and have an exhibiton, but then I want to create it in 3d, so sculpt it either as puppets or out of clay. I think I’m interested in the whole idea of across multi-media platforms, so I’d do the painting, crafts and performing.
I think that Sausage Dog offers something entirely unique that coincides with the point of Gola Born in Britain. Harriet is a new and exciting talented that expresses something that cannot be found anywhere else. I can’t wait to see what happens next for her!