Diary of a Rubber Duckie Designer 7

Duckie Transparent

This page is dedicated to the realization of my dream to design, have manufactured, and distribute a rubber duckie: To become a rubber duckie designer. Follow along on the journey through my Diary of a Rubber Duckie Designer.

Diary of a Rubber Duckie Designer: The Dream

Having collected ubber duckies for several years, I gained an appreciation for old ducks, made in the 40’s, 50’s, and  60’s. The rubber duckie mecca was Akron, Ohio, otherwise known as “Rubbertown”, where rubber toy-making flourished as an offshot of the burgeoning rubber tire industry.

As I researched the makers of these collectibles for a book I wrote (my best seller out of 34 to date!) I became more and more fascinated with them. For example, the Rempel ducks were made by a Russian immigrant who arrived here in the States with nothing. This husband/wife team recreated his idyllic childhood with a book brought to life by the rubber characters he sculpted.Mr. Squacker from Rempel Manufacturing

Mr. Squacker from Rempel Manufacturing


These were pretty ducks made by entrepreneurs who loved what they did. Why couldn’t I do the same today?

Diary of a Rubber Duckie Designer: Those Who Came Before Me


My Sculpts

As a quilt designer my medium is fabric, so as I set about sculpting from clay my first attempts were scary. Over time I made a few decent duckies. Also, I worked out characters in quilts, honing my idea of what a rubber duckie is. Of course, on the surface this got me nowhere in my pursuit of bringing my own duckie to market. Or so it seemed…

Diary of a Rubber Duckie Designer: A Modern-Day Rubber Duckie Mogul

During the book research period I befriended Craig Wolfe, founder of Celebriducks; The man who took a chance that character ducks immortalizing celebrities would be a hit. Yup, you guessed it, they are! Story has it that Craig and a friend got the idea while in a hot tub. Appropriate…

Craig started his Celebriducks line with such caricatures as Popeye, Betty Boop, Santa Claus and the Marilyn Monroe. The line has since gone on to popular sports figures, music icons and even Jesus himself!

Craig kindly agreed to help me realize my dream, holding my hand through the process of designing my own custom Duckie.

Diary of a Rubber Duckie Designer: First Steps in Design

The process of realizing my dream of becoming a rubber duckie designer started with imparting my vision to the sculptor. Having proven to myself that my sculpting skills–or lack thereof–weren’t up to the task, I sketched the duck in my mind as best I could to give Craig’s sculpter insight into my vision.

Diary of a Rubber Duckie DesignerIn my collecting and research Diary of a Rubber Duckie Designerfor the book I had fallen for the pretty ducks of the 40’s, 50’sand 60’s with their subtle detail and coloring. They were nothing short of beautiful.

That’s the feel I wanted in my duckie. So, I posed several of these ducks and included them with my sketches. I hit “send” and the e-mail sped off into cyber space. What would come back to me I wondered?

The e-mail arrived with the first images of the sculpter’s drawings. I opened it and was pleasantly surprised. While it wasn’t “it” it was on the road to being my vision.

Diary of a Rubber Duckie DesignerThe sweetness was there for sure, and the expression very good. It was interesting to discover that “quilted” brings to mind for most people a mattress pad.

I knew we were on the right road and could get this to where I wanted it.

To help David understand what quilting means to quilters, I scanned some pages from a book showing actual quilting stitches on fabric. His next effort was so right-on! Hey David, you’re a good stippler! The wings became feathers rather than quilted. Much better. Love that top knot!

I’m on my way to being a rubber duckie designer!

Diary of a Rubber Duckie Designer: The Sculpt!

Next step: The sculpt. Bring on the quilting rubber duckie in 3D!

Once again I held my breathe as I opened the e-mail and the first pictures came up. It’s amazing how much detail David got with the clay-like material he uses. More than any other duckie I’ve seen. And interesting that he used pieces of–is that wood?- to make things like the bolt of fabric and scissors and rotary cutter.

But the quilting wasn’t right. It looks like couched ribbon rather than thread.

Diary of a Rubber Duckie Designer Diary of a Rubber Duckie Designer

Sure enough the second time was a charm. She’s wonderful!

Having given my a-okay, the sculpt was off to the factory in China to be molded.

Diary of a Rubber Duckie DesignerDiary of a Rubber Duckie Designer

Meanwhile, in preparation for the following step in producktion Craig asked me for the colors I wanted the duck painted. I sent him a tracing of David’s drawing with the colors painted on and the Pantone numbers accompanying in. I wasn’t very happy with the way my colors looked. Afterall my medium is fabric, not paint! The things we learn to be a rubber duckie designer!

Diary of a Rubber Duckie Designer: She’s a Reality!

I was stuck in Atlanta traffic on my way home when Craig called to tell me he had e-mailed me photos of the molded and painted duckie. Wow–that was fast!

My eyes must have been saucers as I waited in anticipation of the photos coming up. Yow! She’s gorgeous! So, so close. Just a little bright. Too primary for my intended audience. So I sent my suggestions to Craig and…

Oh my Gosh! I am going to be a rubber duckie designer!

… Just a few days later these photos arrived. That’s it! That’s my Quilting Rubber Duckie!

And she’s more beautiful than I had ever dreamed.

The magic word must have been “pastel” for her coloring is right on. I realized as I stared at her photos that I had been totally successful–because I was beaming ear-to-ear.

Now, how many to order and how to market them?

 Diary of a Rubber Duckie Designer: Packaging

Jodie's Quitling Rubber Duckie


For the last task in the creation of the duckie I wrote up some silly sayings and a message for the back of the box. And then waited for word that the duckies had shipped. To save on freight charges, which can be significant, the Quilting Rubber Duckie was to ship with several new Celebriducks, including Captain Hook. As it goes with most things, a little problem cropped up in that Captain Hook’s arm didn’t quite fit in the box, so the entire shipment was held up a little.

In the meantime the large quilt trade and consumer shows held annually in Houston were upon us. Two boxes of ducks were air shipped to my hotel. Upon arrival I retrieved them and hustled up to my room to open the box. She is everything I envisioned and more. She’s beautiful! Now down to the show floor to parade her around. Me, the Rubber Duckie Designer!

Now that you’ve met her and know her story, Get Your Own Quilting Rubber Duckie!


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