Soft Wonders

Tamar Mogendorff

The soft-sculpture artist reveals the story behind her mythical creations

Shop Tamar Mogendorff

Sarah Wilmer

Born in a small community in the north of Israel, Brooklyn-based soft sculpture artist Tamar Mogendorff has a long-held fascination with natural forms; translating them into one-of-a-kind creations that provide wonder for children and adults alike. Here she talks us through her organic process – and reveals the stories behind the whimsical creatures she creates.

Ngoc Minh Ngo
Ngoc Minh Ngo
Who or what motivated your creativity?

I always felt the urge to create, but it was fluid and inspired and consistent. I did have support from teachers and artists.

When and why did you begin making your incredible creatures?

I loved to sew and took it on as a form of drawing and sculpture at the same time. I began making objects and dolls when I was in school, always moving toward that fine line between fantasy, quirkiness and simplicity. I moved to New York in 2001, where I made soft-sculpture gifts for friends.

Ngoc Minh Ngo
Can you tell us about your creative process?

It changes. Sometimes I will have an idea for some time. I will let it form through thinking and there will be a day where I enter the studio and make it. No paper sketches, just straight away. If I have a collection in mind, I will explore fabrics to challenge me. Most of the work is in the editing, what stays what doesn’t. What’s an important shape - I always strive to simplify. I know it when I see it.

“I do not create with children in mind, but with that place where children and adults meet.”

Of the way you work, how much was taught? Or have you defined your own ways of working?

I never learned sewing or the art of textiles formally in school, classes or books. I believe this is why I have strange solutions in the way my style emerged. I never felt limited by techniques. I saw this as a benefit versus a limit the more I created.

Ngoc Minh Ngo
Where do you draw inspiration for the designs?

Everywhere. It’s random. I travel when I can, or dive into research. But I create only in the studio.

Are there stories behind them that you aim to tell?

I always work with a storyline in mind. The forms always have some voice, but this is kept private. The eyes are important for me, or small details that give the feeling of secrets, both past, present and future, for wherever they end up.

Ngoc Minh Ngo
Are you influenced by children and childhood?

Evidently, we are all drawn to the child-like sense of fantasy, being present, observing, imagining and so on. That is what I am compelled by, yet not children in general. That is to say, I do not create with children in mind, but with that place where children and adults meet.

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