I got an email the other day from one Ms. Jessica Yambao pointing me to her Etsy shop, Rock Paper Tekla, where she sells the most adorable paper dolls, many of which happen to be mermaids. And highly fashionable ones at that. I mean, just look at these things:
I was of course immediately charmed and inspired to ask her the following exceedingly penetrating questions. Then I wondered what very lucky person in my life might deserve a paper doll mermaid of their own and after much contemplation came upon what should have been the obvious answer: me.
Here is the aforementioned Q and A.
So why mermaid paper dolls?
Paper dolls were a childhood love of mine. I still have my handmade collection of paper dolls from my younger years. None of them were mermaids, though, just ordinary humans. Evolution has been kind and now my paper dolls have become mermaids.
I thought it would be fun to make a paper doll that wasn’t your run-of-the-mill paper doll. Since I am especially fond of mermaid fantasy I decided to to make my own line of mermaid paper dolls. In addition, I didn’t want my mermaids to be the run-of-the-mill mermaids. As mercurial creatures, I’d like to believe mermaids would hate to be seen wearing the same thing over and over. Wearing the the shells over the breasts thing is such a mermaid fashion faux pas! If fashion exists on land why not in the ocean? When creating my mermaid dolls, I dream of an ocean filled with these sea loving ladies wearing the latest in Underwater Fashion.
So when did you start making them?
I started making my mermaid paper dolls in 2008. I originally made them as gifts to young daughters of family and friends. I wanted them to have the experience of playing with a real handmade doll that wasn’t plastic and commercial. Since I really enjoyed making the paper dolls, I decided to try my luck with selling them. In 2009 I created my Etsy shop “Rock Paper Tekla.” My shop’s name is an homage to my parents and my love of paper crafts. “Rock” is my mom’s nickname for my dad and “Tekla” is my dad’s nickname for my mom. My paper dolls are also available at Make Good, a local San Diego brick-and-mortar art consignment shop.
It’s interesting to note that buyers of my mermaid dolls are largely adults. I find it wonderful to know that the charm of paper dolls and perhaps the lore of mermaids still linger deeply in the hearts and imagination of grown-ups as well as children.
I do need to make a shout out to Kimberly Crick and her amazing rubber stamps. Her rubber stamps provided me with that inspirational tool to help begin this handmade paper-doll adventure.
Have you always been a fan of mermaids?
I’ve always been fascinated with mermaids. I am a big fan of mythology and fantasy in general. As a child I was obsessed with Greek & Roman Mythology and the Arthurian Folklore of Excalibur. I remember watching the movie Excalibur as a young girl and the scene with the Lady of the Lake handing Arthur the sword totally blew my mind. I wanted to know all about the Lady of the Lake… I probably wanted to be the Lady of the Lake.
What is their appeal, for you?
I am forever drawn to the ocean. I find the ocean mesmerizing, dangerous, and calming at the same time. Maybe it’s the vast unknown that is attractive. So to me, mermaids embody the ocean and all its mystery, danger, and beauty. There’s something about mermaids that is devastatingly romantic and elusive.
Are you yourself a mermaid?
It’s fun to imagine myself as one. My husband, Carlos, always tells me that I’m wise and beautiful, a woman full of mysteries and surprises, so perhaps I am. Although I could use a little help on the swimming part.
Do you have any advice for aspiring mermaids?
My mom told me about an exchange between a friend of hers and his young son. The boy loved to play dolls and play dress up. The father was unsure and conflicted about his son’s sexual identity. One day the father took his young son to the beach. In an attempt to find out if his son was gay, the father playfully threw his son into the water and each time asked, “Are you a boy or a girl?” After several dunks into the water, the boy proudly and sweetly answered, “I’m a Mermaid.”
So my advice is always be true to yourself and never give in to conformity. The beauty of life should be enjoyed without limits.