Naming a plushie was not a deliberate decision. Even the crooked, unpublished ones all have a name. A name is a word or phrase we use to label a person or object. It identifies “things”. Initially, I decided to name each plushie based on their unique features. Fan Ye was one of the first plushies I ever made. She is pink, with long legs and black hair. The real Fan Ye is a former Chinese gymnast and well-known for her work on the balance beam. It made sense to me to call my long legged plushie Fan Ye. The little biographies / stories for each character developed because of the naming process.
Fan Ye didn’t have a very long story but soon after, I started writing these stories in an attempt to explain the names. A good example is Yaskomo. Knowing what a yaskomo is will explain this character’s story. The yaskomo of the Waiwai (an ethnic group of Guyana), also called a medicine man, is believed to be able to perform a soul flight. The soul flight can serve several functions:
- flying to the sky to consult cosmological beings (the moon or the brother of the moon) to get a name for a new-born baby
- flying to the cave of peccaries’ mountains to ask the father of peccaries for abundance of game
- flying deep down in a river, to achieve the help of other beings.
Naming a character is just as much fun as making one. It is a random and fun process with not too much thinking involved. Some names are simple with short little stories – Fleur looked like she was about to sneeze so I started writing her “sneeze story” and named her Fleur – the French word for flower.
Moving to Dubai in 2012 I had to make sense of my new surroundings and I had to learn new names, places, faces and the seven Emirates. And that is how the Emirati Plushie Family started – I had the beautiful Shar (from Sharjah), Fuja (from Fujairah), Ras (from Ras Al-Khaimah), Umm (from Umm al-Quwain), Abu (from Abu Dhabi) and Ajman. I didn’t feel the need to make a Dubi from Dubai as I was living in this Emirate already.
Currently I am busy with the Scottish Single Malt family. They have beautiful names and stories. This little guy is part of the Malt Family and is called Livet (from Glenlivit).
Little Livet lives in a tiny room in the hills of Speyside because that where Glenlivit is from. She sleeps on a bed of sawdust due to the fact that sawdust is one of the aromas associated with the Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve. Her friend is called Glen for obvious reasons, and they sip on natural spring water from Josie’s Well. I have referenced Josie’s Well because that is the water used in producing Glenlivit single malts. These two (Livit and Glen) also chew on grass, pears, apples and the occasional toffee because that is the flavours you can expect from the Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve.