Have you heard of sensory books? I don’t think it’s well known in the wider community, perhaps more familiar to families with children who are keen to aid sensory development. I first heard about sensory books when I came across Bag Books. Sensory books involve using sensory stimuli in conjunction with storytelling by including props that accompany the book which can be touched, smelled, heard, etc, so that it becomes a multi-sensory experience rather than simply a narrative. It’s more engaging for the audience and appears to be particularly beneficial for people with sensory processing difficulties, profound disabilities, or dementia.
This is my first sensory plush. Ta-da! I designed and handmade it for Joanna Grace of The Sensory Project. It’s a ladybug, with details to stimulate the senses. I stuck with red, white and black. The wings have black circle patches, all out of different types of fabric, including boiled wool, cotton velvet, linen cotton mix, etc. The wings are held down with a bit of velcro and when opened up, reveal layers of various netting materials and maribou feather. I stitched on circles of different fabric on some layers of the netting with glow in the dark or fluorescent thread. Under that is the body made out of dimpled plush fabric.
The bottom is made out of fleece, with pockets for the legs. I embroidered the golden ratio motif on the pockets for the front legs and added tiny patches of PVC with beads underneath to the pockets for the back legs. Pompom trim and ribbon tabs surround the leg pockets.
The front legs have crinkle material inside, the middle legs have hard granules that feel pebbly, and the back legs have soft granules that feel a bit fatty. The antenna are 100% wool balls sewn onto fleece tubes. To add weight, the body has several sewn fleece pouches of pellet filling along with polyester toy filling. For sound, the head has a squeaker inside and the body has a tweet column. You can experience some of the visual and auditory aspects of the ladybug in the video below.
The ladybug will be travelling with Joanna to visit a man in his fifties who has gained sight after 50 years of blindness, and then to meet design students to inspire other sensory makes, as well as to three special schools trying out Jo’s sensory book. Here are some more pictures.
Jo sent me photos of the ladybug in action for the Sensory-being Project. You can read more about it here.