What better way to start back up my Talks section, with an actual talk, an interview with the owner of Shapely Toys, an independently run sex toy shop on Etsy.
While the lack of regulations on Etsy can lead to sex toys being sold that are unsafe for internal use (Do NOT use 3d-printed dildos! I see tons of these on Etsy, and while the materials themselves may be bodily safe, the printing process leaves gaps and faults where bacteria can live,) many other companies such as SlicksDicks, New Folklore , and of course Shapely Toys use the site to easily sell their unique creations.
I consider finding Shapely Toys a stroke of luck on my part. Talking with my best friend while browsing for sex toys on Etsy (mostly to make fun of the bad ones) is a pastime I like immensely, but rarely do I ever find anything I consider buying- due to equal parts my wallet and that I personally find toys explicitly modeled after living creatures slightly off-putting, as many creators on Etsy make.
The design that first caught my eye was Shapely’s Vacillator. While my friend was off-put by the drastic ridges, it brought my old Papaya Candy Stick to mind, and the fact that I haven’t used anything more heavily textured in ages. And seeing the price only cemented my decision that i NEEDED to try their toys. Most other companies sell their creations for double, even triple the price.
I contacted the owner of Shapely Toys the next day, and they promptly replied. They agreed to do an interview on their inspirations and creation process with me for my Talk this month, and I’m so glad they did!
M: Cool! So, what made you first get interested in making sex toys?
Shapely Toys: I had started learning about silicone casting, which interested me because the variety of things you can make really sparked my imagination. Once I started learning more about that, I saw that one common thing being made with silicone was sex toys. I was drawn to that because there is a lot of room for creativity in sex toy design and I felt like that was an area where I could do something that was a little different than what was already out there.
M: So you got into silicone casting before you knew you wanted to make sex toys with the skill, I find that cool! I like the lines you put in your designs- like on the Incisor. Is there anywhere specific you get your shape ideas from?
Shapely Toys: Most of my shape ideas I come up with just by sketching different things on paper. Sometimes I’ll see a real life object that is the basis for it, other times I just draw shapes and see what’s working. I’ve always liked doing abstract doodles and things like that, so I think that goes into my sketches. Then once I start working on the model, I may have to tweak the shape depending on how things change from 2D to 3D. The lines and other details come in after I’ve drawn the basic shape. I let that be the guide as to how to best add those details, so that it complements the shape.
M: Is making the actual molds/casts for toys harder with straight lines like that, compared to, say, the curves on the Wave?
Shapely Toys: Right now I make my models by hand out of clay, so the models with narrow lines take more time since getting the clay line straight and smooth takes a bit of fussing. I think the end result is worth it though, since it adds a lot of detail, and there are tons of different ways to use the lines on different shapes. The lines don’t make a difference in the process once I make the mold and cast though.
M: So you start with a clay model, can you talk about how the rest of your pouring and casting process goes?
Shapely Toys: Once the clay model is finished, I wrap a mylar sheet around the model and pour silicone inside to make a cylindrical mold. After the mold is dry and ready to go, I mix the silicone I need for each cast, separating the amount for each color. I create the colors I want my mixing different pigments in the silicone, then I put it all in a vacuum chamber to remove the air bubbles. Then it’s ready to cast, which is where some skill comes in. Different patterns will result depending on how you pour the silicone into the mold, such as varying the angle and the amount you pour in at a given time. It can be tricky because you can’t tell exactly how a toy is going to come out until after it’s dry, so there’s some trial and error involved. But it’s also a lot of fun because you can come up with different patterns on the fly.
M: I saw you recently were using transparent/translucent silicone on one of your recent pours, does that differ from regularly pigmented silicone?
Shapely Toys: All silicone is clear/mostly translucent when you first mix it, the opacity of it depends on how much pigment you add. If I want something that is more translucent, I just use one of the base pigment colors and don’t mix my own color, since mixing will add more pigment and make it more opaque. Also, the pigment acts like paint in many ways, so if you use a light color and a dark color at similar opacity in the same toy, the dark color will tend to show under the light color.
M: You make different firmnesses of silicone, is working with a specific firmness easier or harder than any others?
Shapely Toys: Yes, the Firm and Extra Firm firmnesses are harder to work with because they require a different type of silicone than the Extra Soft and Soft firmnesses. This type is more viscous, so it tends to accumulate more air bubbles and needs more time in the vacuum chamber, and is harder to pour because its thickness makes it difficult to control. However, because it is viscous there are certain patterns that are easier to do with this type of silicone, such as the thinly striped lines that I use for some of my toys. Doing this with softer silicone would not have the same result, because it is thinner and the colors would tend to just blend together rather than laying in lines.
M: Huh, interesting, I didn’t know about the different types of silicone! Is there a reason behind why you chose to call your brand ‘Shapely Toys?’
Shapely Toys: I wanted something that used the word “shape” in some way, because I think my toy shapes are what make my shop stand out. So I just thought on that for a while and eventually I hit on the word “shapely”, which I liked because it both describes the toys and also has a hint of sexual connotation, so I thought it was a good, concise way to say what my shop is about.
M: Awesome! I think that’s it for the questions I have, thank you so much for giving me your time and answering!
The owner of Shapely Toys has been nothing but welcoming and patient answering my many questions and working with me to get the interview done. They can be found at Shapely Toys on Etsy, and I highly recommend them to anyone looking for an affordable in into the world of custom fantasy and differently shaped toys!
Many reviews of Shapely Toys’ creations will be up in the following months, and I can’t wait to show everyone how great these toys are! These designs inspire me, honestly they’re the reason I came back from hiatus, and I want to do them justice on my blog.