{the interview series} Matilde Beldroega

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Hoje é dia de admirar as deliciosas criações de Rita Pinheiro. Esta criadora portuguesa dá vida a um fantástico universo de personagens humanas e animais que habitam o imaginário de Matilde Beldroega. Temos bonecos cheios de cor, de personalidade e de detalhes que os tornam absolutamente únicos... sorriam, leiam e fiquem a saber mais!

Não se esqueçam de seguir {the interview series} no facebook e de reler todas as entrevistas aqui.
(Por motivos óbvios de extensão e compreensão do texto, tanto pelos entrevistados como pelos potenciais leitores do resto do mundo, a entrevista segue em inglês.)

Today is the day to admire the delicious creations of Rita Pinheiro. This Portuguese artist gives life to a fantastic universe of human characters and animals that inhabit the imaginary world of Matilde Beldroega. We have dolls filled with color, personality and details that make them absolutely unique... smile, read along and get to know more!

Don't forget to follow {the interview series} on facebook and to read all the previous interviews here.

Rita Pinheiro | Matilde Beldroega
Tomar, Portugal (at the moment)
site | blog | shop

1. Let’s pretend we don’t know each other and I’ve never heard about Rita Pinheiro. Tell us a bit about yourself.
I move home quite often. Currently I’m living in Tomar, with my husband and my cat.
Graduated in Fine Arts. Professionally I create and produce fabric dolls and soft toys for my brand Matilde Beldroega.

2. When I first got to know your work I thought that Matilde Beldroega was your real name! But actually is not… it’s the cute name of your brand. When was this brand born and why is it called like that (I’d love to know a bit more about your helper Matilde!)?
Well, That is a funny and very common confusion
When I started making dolls in a more sistematic way and decided to create my brand, I was living in Alentejo. For that reason I decided to associate my cat´s name – Matilde, with the name of an edible plant that I like very much– Beldroega (purslane in english), which is used to make a great soup very popular in Alentejo.

My helper Matilde is my daily companion during the working hours and because she’s so funny she’s my photographic model on several occasions.

3. Your work is all about sewing: handmade dolls and other beautiful things… How was this creative passion born and why was it translated to textiles?
I think the will to create is with me since always, so I’ve chosen to do my studies in a creative area.
My grandmother, from my father side, made me dolls with fabric scraps, my favorite ones because they were large, very malleable and colorful – the mix of different fabrics gave them a fantastic coloring.
These memories were important enough to make me want to produce fabric dolls on my own and have the courage to show them to others.
I am drawn to textures, raw materials, by its characteristic odor...
Textiles are a world itself, with so much potential. Makes me very sad to realize how Portugal over the years divested in that area. However, I truly believe that this can and will be reversed.

4. You design dolls and animals in fabric, they’re filled with delicious details, such as clothes, accessories and different patterns… you even have an enviable Summer collection! How are these characters born? How do you choose the materials you use? Would you share your research and creative process with us?
I always find difficult to explain my creative process: how one thing leads to another is not linear for me. Perhaps this is the result of me being a bit chaotic. I enjoy many things and very different from each other.
One thing I usually do and helps me organize ideas is keep clippings from newspapers and magazines, things that call my attention. I like to stick them on the wall to observe and change time to time, depending on making sense or not.

I usually solve most of my work in my head - I have an idea and it matures in my head until I feel it’s ready to be experimented. If by chance I stop thinking about it, usually is because it was not interesting enough. After that, I might draw on paper or not, but I almost always take notes of important details, things that mustn’t forget.
My dolls are born as result of what excites me most at the moment, for that reason I like them to be one-of-a-kind.
The materials depend on the project, but usually have to do with fabrics.

5. Would you consider your characters live among children’s imaginary or are destined to every child within us, adults?
I hope to touch them both.

6. I must confess I especially love your lovely swallows! Do you have a favorite? And how about your best-seller: would you share it with us?
My best seller are still the dolls with which I began (although quite different from the beginning), lately also the donkeys and sheep.
My favorite: it keeps changing, but right now I'm very fond of producing the “character dolls”.

7. You have your creations for sale in several cities and through your online shop they travel all around the world. What means do you use to promote your work?
Internet and stores that resell my work. Also, I monthly participate in the event "Crafts & Design", a craft market in the beautiful Jardim da Estrela - Lisboa

8. What is creating for you: a profession, a passion, a necessity, a life style or a hobby?
All that!

9. Would you give us a glimpse of your working space? Describe it and tell us what you love most about it.
I've had two working spaces since I started.
While living in Alentejo, though I had a room in the house to myself, it wasn´t enough. I tend to make a mess while working, so I ended up using the living room as well. With this spin all day long from one side to another I left a trail of wools, lines, fabric scraps, all that was clinging to me... very impractical.
From that workspace I remember with nostalgia my red wall...

Now, in Tomar, I have a new space, a well-lit and spacious attic and I´m trying my very best to restrict my work to this area of the house, where I concentrate everything I need.

10. Would you share with us a regular day at work?
As I work for my own brand I'm the owner of my time, which is very good but not that easy to manage, especially when working from home, it’s quite easy to disperse.
It's great to have the freedom to do my own schedule, for me it's one of the best things that exist.
I’m much more productive during day - natural light is essential for me. For that reason I try to make the most important work during my mornings and afternoons, even though it often has to be extended through evening.

A regular day at work: since I make a lot of custom work I have deadlines to meet. I usually plan the next day on the night before and try to follow the plan as best as possible.

11. You live in Alentejo – a beautiful calm place in the south of Portugal… what do you love most about it? Do you think that the place where you live have great influence in your work?
I no longer live in Alentejo, I moved three months ago to Tomar - a historic and very beautiful city with a river crossing it.
But it’s true, was in Alentejo that this project began. Maybe it was precisely for having that calm and quietness that I threw myself into this adventure.

I love the diversity of Alentejo landscapes: interior, coastline, High Alentejo, Low Alentejo.
It´s common when it comes to Alentejo, to think of the vast plains, endless fields, etc., etc. But Alentejo, although have that type of landscape is not only that. I lived near the coast (oh, how I miss the beach...) and mountains (small ones, though), at about 1 hour from Lisbon ... a luxury!

12. If you could live in any other place or any historical era of your choice, what would it be? Why?
I’d choose to be a man and poet in England at the beginning of XIX century.

13. What do you enjoy most doing when you’re not creating these lovely little creatures?
One of the things that gives me more pleasure to do is countryside walks.

14. What advices would you give to someone who would like to learn a bit more about sewing and turn it into a lifestyle?
Learning is easy: try alone, attend workshops, have fun!
To make this a way of life, I’d say it's essential to be persistent, work hard, be demanding with details, not be too hasty in getting results, experience is acquired over time.

15. What are your plans for the future? And your most unrealistic dreams?
Continue doing what I do.
I have some projects that I want to achieve in the short term, but I don’t have big plans for the future.
I’d rather dream of attainable things.

Now some quick question and answer game so we can find a bit more about you and your tastes! Tell us one:

book: Everyman (by Philip Roth)
music: Watch Her Disappear ( by Tom Waits)
movie: Vertigo (by Alfred Hitchcock)
personality/artist: My cat, undoubtedly!
color: Green
object: Boxes, baskets
animal: Cat
drink: A good red wine
food: Italian or several types of cheese wiht bread
season of the year: Autumn
travel destination: A long trip through USA
piece of clothing: Sweaters, coats and covers
secret: I don’t like milk. I guess I´d never drank a glass of milk without something else mixed in it (although, I like almost all its derivatives)

Thank you for sharing your lovely creative universe with us, Rita!


  1. great dolls ! I love the animals the most. And such beautiful photographs too !

  2. Wow - what a fabulous interview - I love the work and my favourites are the cats. Thanks for introducing me to Rita's work :)

  3. Thanks for sharing Rita's story. Rita and her work are inspiring!

  4. I love all the cats, lambs and the sweet pig! WONDERFUL!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. I want to live in Rita's world! So evocative and wonderful. Thank you for presenting another fabulous artists to us Ana!

  6. the dolls are so sweet! the details are incredible!


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