treasure: custom toy portrait

Car keys?  Check.  Cell phone?  Check.  Diaper?  Check.  Snack?  Check.  Thumkin?  Check.  Seven months after Little Friend was born, we had another addition to the family: Thumkin.  You may not know our Thumkin, but you know a thumkin.  You know that thing–the thing that’s so indispensable to baby that you’ll turn the car around an hour into a four-hour trip or buy three extras as “just in case” back ups?  You know, that ratty, thread bare, nubby, worn, loved-t0-pieces thing?  That’s Little Friend’s Thumkin.

Yes.  We have three Thumkins.  The original.  Plus two more, “just in case.”  And we found ourselves debating the other night whether two was enough.  Should we maybe order another one?  I mean, just in case.  It’s Thumkin after all, and we can’t imagine life without him.  He might as well be surgically attached to Little Friend’ chin since he’s her constant thumb-sucking companion.

It may be hard to conceive of it now, but a day will come when Thumkin is forgotten in the crib.  When we don’t turn the car around an hour into the trip.  When he stays in the wash basket for a week.  And then another week.  When he’s packed into a Rubbermaid container and stored on a shelf in the basement.  Leaving Thumkin behind will be a rite of passage in Little Friend’s life.

"Very Fat Lion" by Jennifer Maher, Custom Toy Portraits

That’s why I’m so thrilled to find Jennifer Maher and Custom Toy Portraits.  While our original Thumkin will someday go the way of all beloved childhood toys, his spirit can live on in vibrant brush strokes thanks to Maher’s talent in capturing toys in custom paintings.  Maher’s portraits manage to animate the inanimate through her brushstrokes, conveying all the personality and whimsy you’ve come to know in your child’s favorite toy.

"Burberry Chicken," Custom Toy Portraits

Maher paints each portrait from life (if you live within driving distance of her upstate New York studio and can bear to part with the lovey) or from pictures.  With three different portrait sizes available at surprisingly affordable prices, a Custom Toy Portrait feels as though you’ve torn out a page of a beautifully illustrated children’s book, a page that just happens to feature a well-known family member.  I can picture Thumkin’s portrait hanging in Little Friend’s girlhood bedroom, tucked into a corner of her college dorm, or (dare I strain my brain this far) displayed in her own daughter’s nursery some day.  A Custom Toy Portrait is nothing short of a delicious heirloom.

Custom Toy Portraits are that gift–the one that everyone wants to know where you got it and then copycats at every upcoming baby shower and birthday party.  It is the perfect gift for that little boy or girl who has everything.  And it’s a gift to the nostalgic parents as well.  With a quick, two-week turn around, Jennifer Maher can grace the walls of your nursery or bedroom with a unique and truly personal piece of art.

"Puppy," Custom Toy Portraits

After spending oodles of money on toys and clothes that barely make it through a season of use before being outgrown or discarded, I’m thrilled to make an investment in something that permanently captures an essential element of Little Friend’s childhood.  Long after Thumkin has made it through his last tumble dry cycle, we’ll still be gazing lovingly at his worn face.

Jennifer Maher consults with each client before completing the Custom Toy Portrait.  Personally invested in getting each portrait “just right,” Maher has a looong list of satisfied clients.  The finished portrait arrives framed in a simple, pine frame hand-made by her husband.  One browse through Maher’s online gallery of work will have you digging through Rubbermaid containers of baby stuff or else running out to your local toy store to purchase an adorable stuffed animal just as an excuse to have a Custom Toy Portrait hanging on your wall.  If all else fails, order your own Thumkin from Under the Nile.

"Mousy and Lovey" by Jennifer Maher, Custom Toy Portraits



  1. midnitechef said:

    That is an awesome gift! See and it’s one of those why didn’t i think of that? sort of gifts. If I had the time to paint I would make some for my babies too :)

    January 19, 2011
  2. Julia said:

    So I am trying to decide if a custom portrait of Barney would have the same effect since that was Lydia’s “Thumbkin”.

    January 19, 2011
  3. Jo said:

    LOVE the idea and the quality. Awesome. How about 3 pics of sookie???

    January 19, 2011
    • Lindsay said:

      I still have a piece of Sookie that Julia sent with me when we moved out here tucked away in my keepsake box!

      January 22, 2011
  4. […] I’ve written before about how much I love artist Jennifer Maher’s Custom Toy Portraits.  They’re whimsical, vibrant, captivating, and magical.  But I didn’t know how truly magical Jennifer and her brush could be until the Thumkin portrait emerged from cardboard wrapping. […]

    August 16, 2011

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