Mauvais Marie: Elsa Boucinha’s quirky creatures, lovingly crafted by hand

Elsa Boucinha’s range of soft toys, Mauvais Marie, is a lovingly made up of quirky characters, embroidered by hand.

Portugal-based Elsa’s handmade adventure started two years ago when she tried her hand at sewing some toys for her first baby. “It was a hormone infused soul-searching period, where I tried a bit of everything that I loved doing, from drawing nature to watercolours, to children’s illustration, and finally to sewing some toys and room decorations for the baby to come,” she says.

“I had never sewn a button before, but soon found out how hard it could be! After a lot of punched fingers and failed experiments, I started to have some control over the result of my creations, and a lot of fun. My home was invaded by colourful fabrics, whimsical sketches and little bits of thread.”

The inspiration for her characters, which include Felicia the Fox, Leonard the Lion, Marvin the Monkey and Larry the Lamb, comes from Jean de La Fontaine’s delightfully charming Fables, based on tales by an array of classical writers. The likes of The Crow and the Fox, The Grasshopper and the Ant and The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse offer perspectives on greed and flattery, envy and avarice, love and friendship, old age and death, with plenty of humour and room for interpretation.

Elsa launched her first collection under the name Mauvais Marie (from the Portuguese expression ‘Mau Maria!’, a form of scolding when someone does something naughty) in September this year.

Each creature crafted and embroidered in cotton by hand, with very slight differences between them so that each is unique and individual. They're available from her online shop, with prices starting at €42.00.