Meet Timor Cohen. She’s an artist and etsy seller whose dolls and plush characters come to life in her Jaffa, Israel studio. I find her art inspiring as well as the philosophy behind it. I love what she has to say about being an etsy seller (see last question)…makes me feel like a rebel!
When did you start making dolls and why?
Dolls are simply the current manifestation of “me making stuff”, which was there for as long as I can remember. Part of it probably has to do with house I grew up in: my mother is a carpenter and a ceramics artist. She can also sew, of course. So I had a good role-model, and also grew up surrounded by raw materials, be it wood, Paints, glues, clay or fabric.
The dolls specifically came about almost by accident. I was moving house a few years ago, and when I opened one of the drawers I discovered this enormous textile collection I’ve been gathering for years without really thinking about it. Old clothes I could no longer wear, embroidered pillow covers no one was using, and on and on. Naturally I could not let that go to waste! (So I started to spend the Treasury) The desire to sew these together, to make something new, was born of the materials themselves.
How would you describe the style of your work?
I never thought of my work as minimalist – but I certainly aspire to cleanness. It’s something I seek also in the books I read and the music I listen to. The trial is say much in the fewest words and leave plenty of room for the listener, the reader, the observer – to have your own mental movement.
For example, we need just a handful of features in order to recognize as a drawing of a human face. The material and the general image can be completely sufficient for a viewer to make a complete image by himself or herself, and I believe this image can be much richer and more vibrant than any meaning the creator will insist to force into the work. Perhaps also because it is all born of the materials – and they are very rich in patterns and textures do not have to do much manipulation
As for the philosophical position or ideology, I made a point of operating the studio ecological, both in its manufacturing process and in the sense of social ecology EcoDesign, for me, is a matter of our responsibility toward ourselves and our environment – human and otherwise.
That being said, naturally I feel that in many respects being responsible towards yourself IS being responsible towards your environment, and vice versa.
When it comes to my work, EcoDesign is a matter of proper consumption and proper manufacturing, which means recycling, minimization of waste and keeping the processes as simple as possible.
And making things with a high resistance over time……
Another aspect of it is what is called “social ecology.” That means maintaining a decent personal and sensitive relationship with suppliers, employees, and consumers. Contribution and sensitivity for immediate and global community, employment of vulnerable populations, (buying raw materials from recovery factories),
being sensitive to different cultural phenomena.
Name three things that inspire you…
– I get inspiration from- Things that appear on the street
because the street is filled\very rich with a lot of stimulation for the senses.
-Things that happen on the painting plate and colors in general- because they create exciting and surprising relationship
– I get inspiration from – Many different types of books – Because they are an excellent alternative to reality 🙂
And there’s lots of more reasons (it is difficult to count them all ) –
Books – allow time travel, meet wisdom, fall in love, be moved, learning…. and it all happens quietly
-My main inspiration comes from: Materials – There are many things that stimulate inspiration in general, but for me the main inspiration comes from work itself, when I am willing to be seriously playful with my materials.
Where do you do your work (in a sewing room, on your patio, in front of the TV, etc.)?
I actually have two studios, both in my apartment. One is dedicated to painting , and has canvas, wood planks, paper, color and the likes. The other is dedicated to my dolls, and contains mainly textiles ,threads, buttons, a sewing machine for certain stages of the work and a large collection of needles for sewing by hand.
I love materials, so the “creative process” means mainly surrounding myself with the proper materials for a certain creation or product.
I feel that in painting you have to mix the colors on the palette and in the world of fabrics the palette is ready and I only need to look for connections. It’s also nice not to have to be practical in my designs (like one must be when designing clothes or furniture). When a product doesn’t have to meet any practical need, it allows for a lot of freedom – and it also leaves room for the consumer to decide how to relate to it.
Apart from the work in the studio, I teach oil painting in association of “mentally ill” twice a week, and I love it !! I have to say that this is exciting and important Lesson an art and on stigma ….
What is your favorite thing to create?
Right now I’m especially fond of making my “family dolls” line, because they are different characters that can be put together as families. They come in all skin tones and all ages and genders, so that people can assemble any family they please. I really like to see how they are being bought for every family model that you can possibly think of (two men and a baby, a single mom and twins, a family that consists of a grandmother, a brother and a sister, or of a father dark-skinned Chinese mother and three children, and sometimes even simply a “common” family with uncles, neighbors and a dog.) Sometimes people write me asking for very special families, and it’s a delight to see what a variety of shapes and colors there are for love in the reality of a modern family.
Another product I’m particularly fond of is the book. It’s made solely of textile, and inspired by a fabric book my grandmother made. She immigrated to Israel from Germany, and her children were born in the village they all lived in. She had no books for them at the time, so she embroidered the Grimm Brothers’ tales for them on a length of sheet.
The book I’ve made is also something I see as passing from generation to generation, leaving a vast space for the child’s own imagination and sensory stimulation.
Anything else you’d like to add:
My favorite part about owning an ETSY shop is that a web store has something anarchistic in its very nature. You are not obligated to the “market” or to taste of a gallery/shop owners. You can just run wild, creatively speaking, and not be committed to large series, mass production or style.
That’s also why I like wandering around other people’s (virtual) stores. A web store is like a glimpse into someone’s studio, very private, without a middleman. It is also exciting for me in that it gives a sense of no boundaries. There is this worldwide net of human connections.
Thank you, Timor!
Connect with Timor here: