In this blog I want to talk about one of my sources of inspiration and favorite toy; Polly Pocket. In the 90s the Polly Pocket came to the Netherlands. For me, this was the greatest toy there ever was and will be. I saved up for new Polly Pockets and got them for my birthday. I could play with them for hours. My Polly Pocket collection grew over the years, and in the end I had about 25 of them. I was also very careful with my Polly Pockets and made sure I had all the dolls of my Polly Pockets in the right Polly Pocket. For someone who was very sloppy as a child a great achievement.
A Little Piece of Polly Pocket history
The very first Polly Pocket was invented by Chris Wiggs, who turned an empty make-up box into a miniature dollhouse for his 3-year-old daughter Kate. Her father took his idea to Swindon, England-based Bluebird Toys, and six years later in 1989 Polly Pocket was born out of plastic and compact carry-on luggage. Later, production was taken over by Mattel, who drastically changed the design of the dolls and sets in 1998 by making the dolls and houses larger. Much later, Polly Pockets were made that were about 10 cm in size and where you could comb the hair or change clothes. Since 2018, a whole new collection of Polly Pockets has been launched by Mattel. It will be no surprise that I personally am not a fan of the later Pockets. I only love original, the small portable boxes with the little dolls.
My love for Polly Pocket and what they represented for me, namely small hidden worlds where I could lose myself. That did not stop when I got older. I also preferred to make small things myself. Although I could not make that when I was younger, because I was very impatient and sloppy. When I made something, I wanted to finish it right away. The end result never looked the way I actually envisioned. At the Graphic Lyceum, a teacher also told me that my ideas were good, but the execution was messy. That has always stayed with me and from that time on I tried to curb my enthusiasm and be patient when I was working on something. Enjoy the process instead of rushing through it to the end result.
For some time I have been toying with the idea of incorporating what I loved about the Polly Pocket into my work in some way. I loved the idea of making something where it was not visible on the outside what was going on inside. So that people could go from being curious to excited when they looked inside. So I had to make something that looked simple and ordinary on the outside (what was the case with the original Polly Pocket). I was already making larger sculptures like “Evolution” where I made small parts for, but I wanted something different. But I didn’t know what yet.
In the meantime I was also drawing a lot and I thought that I would really like to convert the essence of the drawings into 3D. I was looking for something to make these drawings in, something with a frame when I came across a metal box from Fisherman’s Friend. This was the first box I made inspired by a drawings I had made and the old toy I lover, Polly Pocket.
There were still some metal boxes here and there in the house, but I found out that cigar boxes were also a good shell for my “Little Box Project”. So I now search on Marktplaats and thrift stores for this. If you still have these boxes, I would love to hear from you! The series is growing steadily, each box is unique and different. This also makes it fun for me to work on, because nothing kills my creativity like making something in the same pattern every day. So the inside is a surprise until you open it. Just a little gift. The outside says nothing about what’s inside the box. As with many things in this life, the outside can be deceptive.