Hello! I'm Laura Mirjami, a Finnish born designer maker, but I have been living and working in the UK for nearly 20 years. I love writing stories featuring animal characters that I’ve created over the last five years. In fact the writing about my characters has now expanded to a whole new world called Bilberry Woods where many of my characters live and I’m currently writing a collection of animal stories – the Tales of Bilberry Woods.
The animal characters themselves are all designed and handmade by me and I use mainly 100% wool felt which takes me right back to Finland where felt always played a big part in my childhood from slippers to home decorations.
Felt is naturally eco-friendly product and it is wonderful to work with. It has a slight stretch which suits perfectly my style of making which combines carefully cut parts that are then stitched and stuffed to create animals’ unique shapes.
Other materials that I use are UK sourced and eco-friendly where possible. For example the steel used to weight the animals is a byproduct from steel industry. I also value history and antiques highly having a degree in paper art restoration and having run my own antique furniture reupholstering business. Although my restoration days are long gone, I still take a lot of pride in my work to make my items last for years to come, hopefully becoming heirlooms.
My studio is currently in the New Brewery Art Centre in Cirencester and there you can find me surrounded by my little felt animals, sets I build around them depicting their beloved Bilberry Woods and a slightly mad rescue Jack Russell that is making sure I get up every lunchtime to stretch my legs and have a lovely wonder around our beautiful market town or the peaceful park.
I draw a lot of my inspiration from my childhood in Finland and the whole of Scandinavia. I just love the clean Nordic lines and seemingly simple forms. Like the great Danish designer Kay Bojensen once said: “lines need to smile” as he was creating wooden toys that he wanted to be round, soft and have a good feel to them and that is what I am hoping to achieve with my work. My design don’t even have arms and legs which I like to think invites you to use your imagination more and that must only be a good thing.
And there are other designers/brands too dear to my heart, some that have been a big part of my childhood and to name a few: Marimekko, IIttala and Alvar Aalto. And then last, but not least there are two remarkable women that I try to live up to every day: Margarete Steiff who’s legacy in teddy bears and other soft toys in this world is beyond believe and Beatrix Potter who must be my biggest hero of all time.
And then there is magic that I just have to mention. I truly believe that if you let your imagination run free and never accept the world for what you just hear or see, you’ll discover how everything truly comes alive. Lewis Carroll once wrote: “Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality” and lets face it, sometimes reality is harsh and I think that we all need a bit of magic and quirky little things in our lives that will inspire us and delight us.