Welcome to L&L’s Etsy Shop Feature! This week we will be presenting the one of a kind, unique carpentry work of Lemon Bay Doll Co. created by the fantastic Michelle Weber and her family! She has very kindly provided one of her beautiful pieces as a giveaway for this post.
The interview is presented first, then the review, with the giveaway is at the end of the post.
LB = Lemon Bay
~Interview with Michelle Weber of Lemon Bay Doll Co.~
Cecile: Bonjour everyone! Thank you all of joining us today. We have a very exciting feature for you!
Sam: Cecile is absolutely correct. We at L&L have presented to you shops that sew and design fantastic outfits for your dolls. As well as shops that sell patterns for you to make your own.
Cecile: We have presented shops that sell delicious delicacies and even a shop that creates outfits for mini dolls.
Sam: However, today, we are all so thrilled to introduce you to Lemon Bay Doll Co. created and run by Michelle Weber and her family.
Cecile: Ms. Weber works with her family to design and build fun set pieces for all your doll’s play and helps in bringing your ideas to life through custom orders.
Sam: Please put your hands together as we welcome Ms. Weber to the studio!
Sam: Thank you for joining us today Ms. Weber! I will begin with the first question we all have been wondering, how did you get started with building and carpentry?
LB: I would have to say my love of building started in preschool. Given the choice between a paint box and play dough, I would choose play dough every time. True, most kids love to build in preschool, but I never grew out of this love of creating in three-dimension. 14 years later I was working on my undergrad degree in art history and…sculpture. After college, I was employed for several years in Washington, DC at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Woodworking, in particular, runs in my family. Both my maternal and paternal grandfathers were hobbyist woodworkers and my husband is an incredible craftsman (as is his grown son after him!) Even my oldest daughter now has a workbench set up in the woodshop next to Daddy’s. Deferentially, my husband/business partner likes to call himself a “wood butcher” critically comparing his work to his favorite artisans Doug Stowe and Thomas Moser. Disproving his humble opinion, I have countless times watched him take my simplest sketch or vague idea and turn it into an astounding treasure. His experience in woodworking ranges from hand wrought shaker furniture to commercial wine displays for Fetzer Wines, and 18-foot sailboats to skiffs for the 18-inch doll.
Lemon Bay Doll Co. uses different woods and stains them different colors depending on what the piece is, such as the darker garden bench compared to a lighter sideboard hutch.
Sam: My! It is quite astounding to hear how woodworking has been a part of not only your life, but several generations of your family down to your daughter no less.
Cecile: Oui, I agree avec Samantha. With your background and training then, why did you choose to create and build pieces for American Girl sized dolls?
LB: About 10 years ago, AG’s Felicity and Elizabeth entered our home, and our hearts. We have been collecting dolls as well as designing and producing toys for imaginative doll play ever since. One afternoon we watched the girls pushing their dolls in a laundry basket with a yardstick for a mast and a handkerchief for a sail. They had just read the AG Caroline books and as happens so often around our home, they were acting out the adventures with their own dolls. “We should build a boat for the dolls,” we mused. “How hard could it be?” We had built several full-size wooden sailboats and scaled down many furniture designs for the 18-inch dolls already. Later that year, with squeals of delight, the girls found the prototype for our doll skiff under the Christmas tree. Four months later, prompted by the pulse of entrepreneurial blood coursing through my husband’s veins, we decided to try and sell our 18-inch doll skiff to the public at large. Lemon Bay Schooners opened on Etsy with one listing: “Handcrafted Wood Schooner for 18” Dolls.”
Cecile: Genius! C’est magnifique! But we must not let Lissie find out a Felicity doll was one of the first to enter your heart and start the wheels for the creation of Lemon Bay Doll Co.
Sam: On that subject, may I ask you, Ms. Weber, where does the name Lemon Bay Doll Co. come from? Is it a real location or a real location only in your doll world?
LB: When we opened our Etsy shop, we were living in Englewood, Florida, the location of Lemon Bay. We are boating enthusiasts, as well as amateur boat builders, and we docked several of our boats in a Lemon Bay marina. As the skiff was our only listing at the time, Lemon Bay Schooners seemed to work as a shop name. Although the skiff will always be one of my favorite items to build, over the past few years our product line has grown to include 30+ items. In the process, it has outgrown our original shop name. In April of 2015, we officially changed our DBA to Lemon Bay Doll Company. We felt it was time to have our name and logo better represent what we do here.
Lemon Bay Schooners offers many options from a single dock, to a double dock, down to custom sail colors for their original namesake schooner.
Sam: Ah, that makes sense! It is wonderful to hear how your store has grown and now carries such a vast array of pieces.
Cecile: Mais Ms. Weber, I understand that Lemon Bay Doll Co. also specializes very much in custom work and projects as well. Could you tell us what you enjoy most about creating custom pieces for your customers?
Sam: Oh yes! What are some of the coolest and/or most challenging projects you have tackled?
LB: We really appreciate sharing the creative process with our customers. It is always rewarding when we receive positive feedback from people who have purchase our toys. Working with them more directly to make their dolly dreams a reality however, is truly gratifying. We have started to carve a niche for our shop as the go-to place for custom wood 18-inch doll accessories, pieces someone may have always fancied owning for their collection but could not find. Maybe the piece longed for represents a unique interest: an opera stage for a collection of Phantom of the Opera costumed 18-inchers, or a bee-keeping set for a daughter who is a budding apiarist. Perhaps there is a sentimental motivation: a barbecue that looks just like the one grandpa grills on whenever the grandkids are over. Sometimes pieces are needed to fit a particular space: a canopied trundle bunk bed for a college student’s cramped 1-bedroom apartment, or a roof-top fenced garden for a 12’ x 5’ x 4’ doll house. These are just a few of the exciting projects we have had the opportunity to work on. We love the challenge of taking an idea out of the realm of the imagination and bringing it into three-dimension. We love the communication process that is necessary to make this happen. (The stage took 73 emails to accomplish!) Bringing a customer’s dream piece to life becomes a collaborative effort, and in the end, they take pride in the knowledge they were an integral part of the creative process.
Sam: That really sounds so very lovely! You have really worked on some very unique and specific requests. A beehive of all things!
Cecile: Non, the opera stage! Je voudrais, I would like to have my own opera stage someday. It seems like everything you do is so much fun Ms. Weber, but can you tell us what your favorite part is? Et perhaps the least favorite part?
LB: Getting paid to play with dolls! Least favorite? Paperwork – and shipping nightmares.
One of the custom projects Ms. Weber has built, a beautiful beehive complete with a lined hat and veil.
Sam: I have been wondering, Ms. Weber, with so many custom projects and adding new stock to your shop, do you ever get a creative block? If so, how do you overcome it?
LB: Knock on wood (pun intended), hitting a creative block hasn’t been a problem. With several avid doll lovers in the family it seems we are never short on ideas. More often the problem we face is not finding enough hours in the day. We considered relocating to Mars, whose day is about 40 minutes longer than here on Earth, but the shipping would have killed us.
Cecile: Ah yes… shipping from Mars would be très cher, too expensive.
Sam: I doubt it would be worth the extra 40 minutes though they do say time is priceless.
Cecile: Ms. Weber, could you tell us what are some unique differences or challenges people wouldn’t normally think of when it comes to building things for AG sized dolls?
LB: I am sure there are plenty of exceptions, but I have found that doll collectors tend to be perfectionists. (Come on, admit it. I have.) This recognition, however, encourages a strong commitment to high quality and craftsmanship. It keeps our tools and our eyes sharp! Selling online, we don’t always know who our customer is. Perhaps our toys are going to someone’s eight-year-old daughter whose three-year old little brother is affectionately called Hurricane. Then again, they may be headed to a display shelf in a collector’s converted mother-in-law suite which has a box of cotton gloves by the door and a sign reading, “Please refrain from messing up my elaborate displays that took the better part of a month to set up. Thank you.”
Another custom project, the opera stage. You can see how the process from design develops into the final, elegant piece.
Cecile: A perfectionist? C’est un mensonge! It is not true, is it Samantha?
Sam: Well, our Big Person really is a perfectionist, if you think about it, in regards to everything except the state of her desk. Oh, and how much chocolate she eats of course.
Cecile: C’est vrai, that is true. She is very picky when it comes to us. Perhaps she should get a sign as well?
Sam: Now Lemon Bay Doll Co. creates such a variety of items from docks, to gardens, to archery sets. Can you share with us what or who inspires your creativity when building and making these projects?
LB: Our children and our customers. We gave up parking our cars in the garage a while back, and now under air, our garage is the home of our shipping department and “Dollville.” Dollville is an ever-evolving test ground for all our prototypes. It is also the fertile ground of our children’s doll play – where most of the ideas that develop into our products are born. The love of adventure is one of the trademarks of our family. The other is erring on the side of caution. When we create toys for our children's imaginative play, we seek to impart skills that they may someday apply in life. We try to share our love of adventure and provide a means to teach them how to enjoy the adventure safely. We hope our toys offer this same possibility to others. Our customers run a close second when it comes to inspiration. Several of their imaginative ideas have become Lemon Bay Doll best sellers such as the archery set and the two-doll canvas tent.
Cecile: That is very well said! It is good when a toy stimulates the imagination and imparts skills while doing so. Before we end, is there anything you would like to share with the readers? Any advice?
LB: Don’t be afraid to buy from Etsy sellers. Many collectors I know hesitate to buy outside the big names, questioning quality or resale value. Over the past few years, I have seen incredible talent and craftsmanship on Etsy. Give cottage artisans a chance to impress you. You never know who might be the next AG . . . Someday you may be able to boast, “I own pieces from when they were still selling on Etsy!”
You dolls can have all the outdoors fun they want with this beautiful BBQ grill and the Camp Set, complete with the accessories as well.
Sam: Now I apologize for the informality Ms. Weber, but our fearlessly shameless leader Lissie does insist on having us ask you this 1 Word Bonus: Hamburgers or Honeydew?
LB: Laconic answer: Both! Prolix answer: This sounds like a perfect Labor Day barbecue menu to me with something to satisfy the carnivore, omnivore, and herbivore. If you skip the bun, the gluten intolerant are happy too. (This answer also demonstrates why I was never very good at multiple-choice exams but always find my way out of difficult design dilemmas!)
Cecile: Merci beaucoup Ms. Weber for taking the time out to join us and answer our questions!
Sam: You can find out more about Lemon Bay Doll Co. at these following websites:
Etsy Shop – https://www.etsy.com/shop/LemonBayDollCo
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/lemonbayschooners
Twitter – @LBSchooners
Cecile: Now, prepare yourselves for a most fun and exciting review by Lissie and Sawako Lilly!
Lissie: Good pass Cecile and Samantha! Alright folks, you've heard the story, now you want to see the goods right? Well that's what I'm here for! I, her royal majesty, Captn' Lissie herself, will be reviewing this dangerously thrilling Archery set from Lemon Bay Doll Co.! That's right, I told Lilly to save herself and that I would wrestle the fearsome threat of a bow and arrow myself, so prepare yourselves!
Lissie: We're starting off with the tripod that holds the target. It is made of sturdy wood, and stained darker to fit the image of a rugged sport like archery!
Lissie: Look closely at the top and you can see how the back leg of the tripod was cut into a wedge to give the tripod a better fit and motion. This also stops the tripod from opening too far.
Lissie: You want to see the target? Alright then, take a look for yourself! It's made from nice, thick rope coiled tightly onto a thick wooden base.
Lissie: The tripod has a lip to hold the target circle. I suppose the more artistic, less bow inclined of you could also use it as an easel but really, why would you want to paint when you can wreck havoc with sharp arrows?
Lissie: Mayhaps some of you have never tried your hand at archery? Have no fear! With every set, Lemon Bay Doll Co. includes a set of basic rules and score-sheet, and not one, but 4 target circles printed onto thick card-stock for you to cut out and practice on. But as a master havoc wrecker, I of course, have no need for such trifles as rules and practice!
Lissie: Alright, we're coming up to the fun part, the bow and arrows themselves!
Lissie: There are seven arrows that fit neatly in this leather quiver, with an embroidered pattern.
Lissie: The arrows themselves, also made of wood, have blunted tips, so you and your dolls don't hurt each other.
Lissie: The center of the bow is reinforced with this rectangle of darker wood with a small hole through it, perfect for your arrow. Sure, this might not be exactly how Big People place their arrows but for us it's great because it holds up the arrow for awesome action shots. And destruction. Always destruction.
Lissie: The bow is strung with an elastic cord that loops over the notched ends of the bow. It's easy to pull the loop off if you need to, for setting up a scene, and then you can help your doll string her bow back up like a true archer.
Lissie: Ah, and what dashing hero would dash without a jaunty cap they can tilt at need eh?
Lissie: This beautiful leather cap is sewn with thick faux leather material. The feather is not attached so you can change it out easily. The folded up brim of the hat holds the feather tightly so you don't have to worry about losing it as you dash in your heroic ways!
Lissie: The hat is embroidered to match the design on your quiver so no scalawag can claim your goods as their own.
Lissie: Now that I've shown you the goods, you can see them in action as I make my friends and foes quake in their boots with my archery prowess! Be prepared, Lissie has arrived!
Lissie: Focus on the target. It takes masterful concentration, you see. Not everyone can pull such an intense look off but with enough staring in the mirror, you can grow your ego to half mine some day.
Lissie: Smoothly pull back your arrow and... LAUNCH!
Lissie: *huff* What?! *wheeze* No! *pant* How could I miss every single shot??? I am the Lissie!
Lilly: What is it Lissie? Are you alright? I know you said you could do the review on your own but I heard you yelling and came to see if you were alright.
Lissie: No problem! I just need... More... FOCUS!
Lilly: Here Lissie, let me have a try.
Lissie: Okay, but don't say I didn't warn you. Archery is not for the faint of heart! It takes great conniving, great dedication, great-
Lissie: H-h-how did you do that? That was a perfect bullseye on your first try! This is your first try right?
Lilly: Oh Lissie, some questions are better left unanswered.
Lissie: Wait! Lilly! Where are you going? Teach me your ways!
Lilly: I don't know what you're talking about Lissie. I have to go present the now since Lydia Charlotte and Marie-Grace are away this week.
Lissie: Come baaaaack! Come back you secretive doll filled with dangerous skills!
Lilly: Now that you've seen our fearless Lissie demonstrate one of the beautiful pieces created by Ms. Weber, you can enter for your chance to win another unique set by Lemon Bay Schooners. Ms Weber has very graciously sent us one of her beautiful doll garden sets for us to give to one lucky reader. The set comes with the garden box, trellis, vines, 3 tomatoes, 3 carrots, 3 heads of lettuce, 4 seed packets, 4 garden row markers, a basket, and watering can.
Lilly: Now in order the appreciate this set, I first wanted to give you a quick highlight my favorite part of this set, which is the fact that all the vegetables and the dirt is made of felt.
Lilly: Now you might wonder if felt would give everything a very cheesy look, but the level of detail made in these pieces are not at all lacking. Take a look at hairs on the onion and the ridged leaves of the carrots. Plus the felt material not only feels great, but also is safe for younger hands as well.
Lilly: The seed packets actually have seeds inside and rattle when you shake them! The dirt is foam covered with felt and has rows for your to fit the carrots and onions in to grow.
Lilly: This set is so much fun with so many pieces for you to plant, nurture, and harvest your garden! To enter, just visit Lemon Bay Doll Co's Etsy shop, then come back and comment telling us what your favorite item in their shop is.
Lilly: Everyone can enter, even international readers, though if you are under 13, please ask your parents to enter for you. There is no purchase necessary, though we won't stop if you if you simply can't resist any of the goodies in the shop.
Lilly: Please don't forget to leave your name with your comment. Good luck everyone!
The giveaway will run from Aug. 31 - Sep. 10 (midnight Central USA time).
Visit Lemon Bay Doll Co.'s Etsy Store by clicking here. Comment below with your favorite item in the shop.
For bonus entries:
Favorite Lemon Bay Doll Co.'s Etsy store. (include username in comment for verification)
"Like" Lemon Bay Doll Co. on Facebook (click here to go to the page) (include username in comment for verification)
"Like" Lissie & Lilly on Facebook (click here to go to the page) (include username in comment for verification)
Follow/Google+ this blog. (If you are already a follower/google+, just comment with you account. ^_^)
Share about this giveaway on social media (Facebook, Your Blog, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, Google+, Pintrest, other forums, etc.) - Be sure to include the link(s) to your post(s) in your comment so we can verify where you shared.
*max 7 additional entries*
The winners will be announced in 2 weeks on Friday, September 11th on this post, so check back then! ^_^