12/21/2010 at 04:00 PM EST
Almost nothing puts a bigger smile on a child's face than watching someone twist a simple balloon into a colorful animal right before his or her eyes. So, as Cynthia Delaney
watched a group of kids sit mesmerized while a clown worked his inflationary magic in a local market, inspiration hit her.
She had been struggling to create homemade bags for her sister-in-law when Delaney's five-year-old son started playing with the material. She decided to make a special blanket out of the soft jersey cloth just for him.
But rather than mimic the "real"-looking animal designs she saw everywhere, Delaney fashioned something more fanciful: balloon-animal silhouettes. Calling upon her graphic-design and illustration background and using her two dogs, Ellie and Hildie as muses, Delaney created a simple, yet eye-catching, design. Through her etsy textile shop, CheekySod,
she began selling handmade blankets
that feature balloon animals and capture their whimsy – but without "the horrible squeak-twisting balloon or the flinching, wondering if it will pop," she notes on the store's web site.
Whether it's a bold trio of animals parading across a 55-in. by 31-in. blanket
($80) or a cerulean and red pair on a 16-in. by 16-in. pillow
($40), each creation is made with the soft and heavy jersey material that is her staple. And Delaney will happily customize the colors for you.See something on Etsy that you'd like us to profile in this weekly column? Send an e-mail to email@example.com or leave a comment below. Read our last edition of Etsy Fave here.