The Carrot Creek Calico Critters Collection
My family shares an interest in animation and dioramas, that is – placing seemingly inanimate objects into “life like” scenes so they seem to be alive and interacting with the objects and other creatures around them.
There is just something wonderful about seeing something you know is an “action figure” or toy exhibit characteristics that could mean that they really have a secret life when you aren’t looking.
My daughter’s interest in Calico Critters and Sylvanian Families sparked my interest in how these small flocked animals who just ooze cuteness could be photographed and animated so as to seem alive.
I’d seen a few videos on youtube and wanted to check out how other people photograph and display their critters.
This let me to Beverly Wladyka and her site www.sylvanianvillage.com.
Carrot Creek Sylvanian Village
Beverly Wladyka is based in Canada and has a huge collection of Sylvanian Families. Not only that but she also photographs them in a large homemade environment she has called Carrot Creek.
Beverly’s commitment to the toy line as well as to her own creations, beyond just collecting, is infectious.
Her website documents the construction of her large diorama set as well as the processes she goes through to make videos (see them on youtube).
Beverly really went all out with her set design and her blog details everything from the preliminary planning stage, to choosing fabrics for pseudo-ground covers, making Critter-sized brick walls, to blending sponges to make critter-sized trees and shrubs!
If you have ever contemplated making a fully-defined location to place these little animals in then you should definitely check it out.
Beverly kindly agreed to answer a few questions I had about her collection:
*What about the Sylvanian Families toys appealed to you when you first saw them?
Of course, my first impression of Calico Critters was that they were so very cute! I’m not what I’d consider a “cutesy” person, but little furry animal toys dressed like people were hard to resist. That they lived in houses with furniture was even more enticing. I brought home almost every Calico Critter in the store when I first encountered them in November 2006.
*What made you go from simply collecting the Sylvanian Families toys to making a 14 foot set?
A few months after my first Calico Critters purchases in late 2006, we built a small display table with a removable Plexiglas top to house the Deluxe Village House, the Baby Play Park and the Baby Playhouse. After producing several videos of our saltwater aquaria years earlier, it was a logical step to create my first Calico Critters video.
It currently has over 73,000views (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YCTwrqC176w)
The ultra large display cabinet now in our basement was designed and built to create better and more varied videos. We created the scenery, such as trees, flower borders and shrubs, from scratch. One part of the display has hand-sculpted mountains and a stone path.
We crafted brick walls using Lego as moulds, and built a wooden bridge. Most of my figure, building and accessories collection are stored in cabinets beneath the display area.
Because I’m running out of storage space, I’m in a very selective stage of collecting.
*As part of extending your collection, you purchase online from Japan, have you had any problems so far?
The selection of Calico Critters in Canada is very limited and Sylvanian Families are not available at all, so I have to import everything.
Ordering from Japan is as easy as ordering from anywhere else in the world. Language differences aren’t much of a problem because most Japanese who do business internationally speak English.
Before ordering from any particular international store, though, I research prices and store reputation as muchas possible.
I’ve had many positive experiences and have become friends with some of the people I order from.
*Do your grandchildren get to play with any of your toys?
My six year old granddaughter has a small collection of Calico Critters and Sylvanian Families of her own that she plays with when visiting us.
Rebecca has come to understand that Grandma is a bit “eccentric” with her toys and that they are only for video production.
However, Rebecca sometimes helps me unpack and open boxes when new shipments arrive.
We definitely have a special bond when it comes to our shared interest in Sylvanian Families and Calico Critters.
Thanks Beverly for your time and I encourage you to visit Sylvanian Village if you are looking for inspiration in setting up your own Calico Critters/Sylvanian Family Village.
It is a wonderful resource for creating your own Calico Critters stories.
All photos are © Beverly Wladyka and http://www.sylvanianvillage.com