Utah woman’s adorable felt robots win Geekie Award

First Published      Last Updated Nov 09 2015 08:55 am

Crafts » Susie Barnard of West Jordan created the first plush robot for her baby boy. Three years later, she’s made hundreds.

A seamstress in West Jordan has poured her heart into crafting hundreds of felt robots, with all their stitches and buttons — and now she has an award to prove it.

Susie Barnard's plush robots won the toys-and-craft category of this year's Geekie Awards, three years after she turned her hobby into an Etsy store (www.etsy.com/shop/GinnyPenny). At the awards ceremony in Los Angeles last month, Barnard was so stunned and wide-eyed, she had to have a little push to proceed onto the stage.

"My husband [told me], 'I got a little teary, because I know how much work and effort you put into your business,' " Barnard said.

The robots were born not long before Barnard's son. While she was pregnant three years ago, she was making a felt book for him and filled it "with geeky pages and fun things" — including a robot page.

"I decided I wanted to make a 3-D version … a plush robot in his nursery," she said. "I put the book aside … and it turned out really cute, and everybody wanted one."

She opened an Etsy shop for the felt robot plushies, and "it's just been kind of a whirlwind from there," Barnard said. The robots have been so successful, crafting them has become Barnard's full-time job. By now, she estimates she's made between 800 and 1,000; some of them are sleepy, with bunny slippers and night caps; others are decked out for a wedding; and others resemble bunnies, pirates or both.

But of all her creations, her favorites are easily the limited-edition steampunk robots, decked out in cuddly cogs and tilted top hats. She only makes about two of them a year, with antique buttons and metallic threads she happens across at the store.

After years of stitching together a virtual army of felt robots, Barnard still has the first one she made for her son. In creating a handmade friend for him, she did what her mother did for her.

"My mother made toys for me when I was growing up. I had blocks that my uncles had cut and sanded. I think that there's a real quality to it," Barnard said.

She could standardize her creations and make sure their stitching lines up perfectly — but she's drawn to the messy quality of something handmade. That way, each robot turns out slightly different. "Only you are going to have [that one]."


Twitter: @MikeyPanda