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Posted by Margaret Barth on

Where do you find inspiration? I get inspired so many ways; a walk in a beautiful place, visiting a folk museum, reading children's books..yep I love a great kid's book, sometimes examining the most overlooked item or common object, cartoons and the occassional challenge.

One of the first creation's of Reimaginary Friends was Barney the Dog. I'll never forget how this challenge was a trajectory into the fantasy world, I got to create. I was dating a gentleman that was in a serious health crisis, he needed a kidney transplant. When we were able to line up a suitable donor, I would accompany him to the hospitable and various Doctor visits. 

Couple days before the surgery, I asked him what could I make him that would bring him comfort during a very life changing surgery? He was dead serious and said "a blue dog". I chuckled nervously. Then I tried to convince him a cozy blanket or fluffy warm pillow was much more sensible. He said it again while adding "You can make anything, so I want a blue dog". This man was an Executive of a major newspaper, I couldn't have been more surprised while feeling out of my element. I'm not one to bail on a challenge, so why not?

I returned to my studio later that night and started sketching. I remember flashing back to several cartoons I watched. Soon, I had a pretty basic idea. I collected all his favorite color blues and went for the softest cashmere sweaters and polar fleece I could find. I was so immersed in the idea of a 3 dimensional animal, while convincing myself it would be like a tailored coat, that was sculptural. I had made so many coats...I could do this.

In a few days, he was going in for the transplant surgery. I was finishing up the first draft of a pattern and ready to plunge into making the first prototype. The first dog was looking a little droopy, so I added more fill. Then he looked so fat with a tiny head. The proportions needed work, pattern number two. This one was close but not the  beagle like face I had envisioned. I had one more day, and I was going to have this Dog ready. I buckled down and by the third pattern I had nailed it. 

I came to visit him after his surgery, and he eagerly opened the package in front of one of the nurses. He absolutely loved this dog! The nurse absolutely loved this dog! Soon the Surgeon and most of his staff asked where they could purchase Bailey? This was the beginning of my personal menagerie which would later become Reimaginary Friends. 


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