Handmade and Hot: Timo Handmade


After finding Timo Handmade on Etsy whilst researching Handmade Christmas Decorations, we have been big fans. Read our interview with Timor and see how it all came about.

Who are you and where is your studio?

My name is Timor Cohen. I’m 33 and I live in Jaffa, Israel. It’s a port city, and the port itself is a only a few minutes’ walk from my studio.

I studied painting in a master class in Israel and Italy, while making a living at stage design, working at an etching workshop and at the Israel Museum art collections…

Timo Handmade

What is your studio like?

I actually have two studios, both in my home. One is dedicated to painting, and the other is dedicated to fabric.

I love materials, so the “creative process” means mainly surrounding myself with the proper materials for a certain creation or product. Then begins the process which in essence is to be seriously playful.

I feel that in painting you have to mix the colors on the palette and in the world of fabrics the palette is ready and I only need to look for connections. It’s also nice not to have to be practical in my designs (like one must be when designing clothes or furniture). When a product doesn’t have to meet any practical need, it allows for a lot of freedom – and it also leaves room for the consumer to decide how to relate to it.

Timo Handmade

When and why did you decide to start Timo Handmade?

Dolls are simply the current manifestation of “me making stuff”, which was there for as long as I can remember. Part of it probably has to do with house I grew up in: my mother is a carpenter and a ceramics artist. She taught me to sew. So I grew up surrounded by raw materials, be it wood, paints, glues, clay or fabric.

The dolls specifically came about almost by accident. I was moving house a few years ago; I discovered this enormous textile collection I’ve been gathering for years without really thinking about it. Old clothes I could no longer wear, embroidered pillow covers no one was using, and on and on. Naturally I could not let that go to waste! (So I started to spend the Treasury.)

Timo Handmade

Why do you hand make your products? What do you get out of it?

The desire to sew these together, to make something new, was born of the materials themselves.

As for the philosophical position or ideology, I made a point of operating the studio ecologically, both in its manufacturing process and in the sense of social ecology or EcoDesign, for me, it is a matter of our responsibility toward ourselves and our environment. Being responsible towards yourself is being responsible towards your environment, and vice versa.

When it comes to my work, EcoDesign is a matter of careful consumption and proper manufacturing, which means recycling, minimization of waste and keeping the process as simple as possible whilst producing things that stand the test of time.

Another aspect of it is “social ecology” through maintaining decent personal and sensitive relationships with suppliers, employees, and consumers. Contribution and sensitivity for immediate and global community, employment of vulnerable populations.

Being Sensitive to different cultural phenomena with products like my family dolls.

Timo Handmade

What are you currently working on? What is your favourite process? 

Right now I’m especially fond of making my “family dolls” line, because they are all different characters that can be put together as families. They come in all skin tones and all ages and genders, so that people can assemble any family they please. I really like to see how they are being bought for every family model that you can possibly think of (two men and a baby, a single mom and twins, a family that consists of a grandmother, a brother and a sister, or of a  dark-skinned father, Chinese mother and three children, and sometimes even simply a “common” family with uncles, neighbours and a dog.) sometimes people write me asking for very special families, and it’s a delight to see what a variety of shapes and coluors there are for love in the reality of a modern family.

xmas decorations by Timo Handmade

What is the best thing about what you do?

My home is also my studio and is now my main source of livelihood, though I sometimes do some design work for others and still teach painting (I teach oil painting in association for the “mentally ill” twice a week, and I love it !! I have to say that this is exciting and important lesson on art and social stigma).

I sell stuff through the studio itself, in several boutique & galleries around the world and through my Etsy store: My favourite part about owning an ETSY shop is that a web store has something anarchistic in its very nature. You are not obligated to the “market” or to taste of gallery/shop owners. You can just run wild, creatively speaking, and not be committed to large series, mass production or style.

That’s also why I like wandering around other people’s (virtual) stores. A web store is like a glimpse into someone’s studio, very private, without a middleman. It is also exciting for me in that it gives a sense of no boundaries. There is this worldwide net of human connections.

Timo Handmade

Where would you like to see Timo Handmade in the future?

I hope to do what I’m doing now, hopefully better, and living happily…

My shop: www.timor.etsy.com

My Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/timohandmade


Thanks Timor! We look forward to following your work.

Tamra & Gwyn