Meet the Textile Artist: Shari Bodofsky of Fresh Crayons

Photos: Courtesy of Shari Bodofsky

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.

My name is Shari Bodofsky, I am the creator of Fresh Crayons, a small handmade toy business. I work a busy schedule; I am also a fourth-year medical student. I started sewing in grade school and am mostly self-taught. I grew up in New Jersey and was always encouraged by family to dream big and think creatively. In college I studied genetics and fine art and saw both my identities, as an artist and as a scientist, blossom. I am proud to do all the artwork, from hand drawing to sewing, for Fresh Crayons.

What inspired you to become an artist?

I am always inspired to make new artwork when I think “wouldn’t it be cool if something like this existed”. It’s a sense of determination to make my wildest ideas a reality. Wouldn’t it be cool to hug an etrog? Wouldn’t it be cool to snuggle a challah? There’s a very satisfying feeling in creating, and I can’t imagine my life without art.

What is your specialty?

I specialize in plushy art, or stuffed toys. I hand draw designs, cut fabric, sew, and stuff each one. The result is an incredible, vivid, unique plushy. My work is bright, colorful, and fun. It is the type of artwork that is touchable, happy, and instantly brings a smile to your face. My ideas come from my life, and thus feature traditional Jewish foods like challah and matzo ball soup, and medical themes like anatomy and microbes.

How and where do you work?

I sew everything at home. I have a dedicated “sewing station” with my iconic rainbow chair, singer sewing machine, and a whole lot of fiber fill. It’s a colorful and happy space that always puts me in a good mood.

What is the most indispensable item at your sewing station?

You’ll always find me with a trusty pair of fabric scissors! I also cherish my sewing machine, and pink tomato pin cushion.

Where do you take your inspiration? Are you pursuing any themes?

My Judaica designs focus in on food. Growing up in an Ashkenazi-American household, traditional Jewish foods were influential on me. Food is such a special part of Jewish culture and identity, and I am so happy to feature some of the classics in my shop.

What projects are you currently working on?

I am currently working on designs for Hanukkah, including a gelt plushy and a latke pillow.

What is or are your favourite items in your current collection?

I am particularly proud of the Matzo Ball Soup plushy. It is so unique and fun, the details are just so cute.

How do you know when a piece is finished?

If I secretly want to keep all the plushies for myself, I know they must be good! That inner child has to speak to you.

What do you want to achieve with your work and what are your wishes for the future?

My hope is that my work brings joy into the world. I hope that my Judaica designs make traditional Jewish iconography contemporary, cute, and friendly. If what I create brings laughter into the room, it’s a success.

Where can we find your work?

My etsy: www.FreshCrayons.etsy.com

My Instagram: @Fresh_Crayons_Art

Photos: Courtesy of Shari Bodofsky

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