Shop Etsy

A Visit to Pogo Forest

Apr 8, 2010

by pogoshop handmade and vintage goods

Laura_w_pogo.jpgLaura Ray lives a cabin in the woods of rural South Carolina. A retired first grade teacher, she works part time training teacher interns at a local university. Away from work, she gardens, writes, and creates small wooly friends called pogos. She shares these tiny friends at pogoshop.

“If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder without any such gift from the fairies, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in.” — Rachel Carson

As a child, I was free to roam the South Carolina woods and fields every day until sundown. My sisters and I caught water bugs in the creek, built forts in the woods, and made “toady frog” houses for needy frogs. Nightfall or a rain storm were pretty much the only things that ever ended a good day.


In 1978, my husband John and I built a log home in these same woods, using trees that he cut and salvaged, bricks, doors, and flooring. We were 24- and 25-year-old teachers and had never built anything in our lives. A chapter on cabins in The Foxfire Book was our guide. As the walls grew, we would sit on the top log in the evenings, looking down into the rooms that would be our home, trying to imagine our lives there. We were proud and excited, but had no way to know how much we would come to love this place.




For 28 years I taught first grade. I found that six-year-olds are the most wonderful, innately curious people, but are often starved for knowledge of nature. I decided to bring nature into the classroom. Our room had standing trees overhead with hanging gray moss, birds’ nests and snakes’ skins in them. We had a large terrarium for visiting lizards and frogs. There were ever-growing collections of rocks and shells, a large forest mural covered one wall, and we had a garden plot just outside our window. There was a nature trail in the woods near the schoolyard where we often went exploring. Before their first outing, many of these city and suburban children had never walked in any woods, anywhere. They thought bears would eat us.

In A Sense of Wonder, Rachel Carson said about children: “If facts are the seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the emotions, and the impressions of the senses, are the fertile soil in which the seeds must grow.” Drawing from that, I wanted to lead children to experience and love the natural world. They might not live in the forest, but I wanted them to feel at home there. My hope was that someday, having loved the forest as children, they might not bulldoze it as adults.


When John died in 2004, I left teaching. With time on my hands I started an organic garden, renovated our barns and explored the woods. That’s when I discovered pogos, in the same favorite hideaways of my childhood. I opened pogoshop in 2008. Some of my visitors told me that their children followed my shop and enjoyed reading about the pogos, so I decided to write for children when I post. It seemed like another chance to show the forest to children who may never go there.


It pleases me that pogos are soft and well-suited to the companionship of small hands. I’m in love with the feel of real wool and proud that pogos come from repurposed castaways. I use thrift store wool sweaters, which I launder in hot water, then cut and stitch by hand into pogos and their pullovers.

It’s a fine thing when all the puzzle pieces you love seem to converge and you have a chance to offer up what is uniquely your own. That’s how I feel about pogoshop. Etsy is a connection that I share with my daughters (a.k.a. corduroy and groundwork) and my pogos are a connection with the child that I was and the children I have known. Most of them will never live in the woods. I always hope, though, that those seeds of caring for the earth will survive and that some nourishing spot of nature will remain a constant in their lives.



This Handmade Life Articles | Browse Upcycled Items


Sensory awareness RATTLE  Maple Wood Rattle Grip Stick Baby Teether Toy
Sensory awareness RATTLE Maple Wood Rattle Grip Stick Baby Teether Toy
Pogo - Gillian, eco-friendly handmade stuffed animal
Pogo - Gillian, eco-friendly handmade stuffed animal
Small Tuck Pot with Drainage
Small Tuck Pot with Drainage
Wool Explorer Bag
Wool Explorer Bag
Step Stool by Peg and Awl
Step Stool by Peg and Awl
$95.00 USD
5 Plain Reusable Snack Sandwich Eco-Conscious Bags
5 Plain Reusable Snack Sandwich Eco-Conscious Bags
Terrarium kit-DIY Large Moss & lichen kit-FEATURED in 2015 Blog cabin in the 50 states of Etsy-Build your own-FREE Moss Care Book
Terrarium kit-DIY Large Moss & lichen kit-FEATURED in 2015 Blog cabin in the 50 states of Etsy-Build your own-FREE Moss Care Book
$29.95 USD
Folk Pillow no2
Folk Pillow no2


  • SwingStationStudio

    SwingStationStudio said 6 years ago

    Beautiful story! It's encouraging to know that some adults haven't lost touch with the passions of their childhood, and are still sharing it with others. And who wouldn't want to cuddle with a pogo? Thanks for your inspirational story and for teaching our youngsters to appreciate nature.

  • BeautifulPhotoProps

    BeautifulPhotoProps said 6 years ago

    This is so inspiring!!

  • missindie

    missindie said 6 years ago

    Awesome!! Such a cute story, thank you for sharing!!

  • laurelinsailor

    laurelinsailor said 6 years ago

    Touching story! Thanks for sharing!

  • papercutworks

    papercutworks said 6 years ago

    Laura's story of building a home in the woods reminds me a little bit of my current home caring experience! My husband & I try to do everything we can ourselves – change doors (by repurposing old ones!), plant a vegetable garden, paint… not quite building it ourselves from scratch but since it’s 105 years old it does need a lot of love! I document our DIY house upkeep adventures here: Retiring away from the city in the woods sounds like a dream come true to me. Congrats!

  • gloilocksandbody

    gloilocksandbody said 6 years ago


  • Krystyna81

    Krystyna81 said 6 years ago

    I'm tearing up...what a lovely story. I am so sorry for the loss of your dear partner. What an amazing love story! I applaud you for bringing nature into the classromm! My son does the same handwriting excercise every day...I think he's bored to tears! At home we are growing our own seeds and measuring their progress and planting them in the garden, discover snakes and snails and bugs along the way. Truly, 5 yr old boys need a lot of dirt! Wonderful story and it sounds like your students were very, very lucky to have you :)

  • FluteTeacher

    FluteTeacher said 6 years ago

    I loved reading this! Thank you. :)

  • candacejean

    candacejean said 6 years ago

    What an AMAZING, beautiful story, Laura! I grew up in a similar situation.. as in.. always outside making little houses and gathering up nature. I have a six year old and he is definitely a "wonderful, innately curious person". :) I love your house and I love your pogos! Thank you for sharing!

  • recycledwares

    recycledwares said 6 years ago

    what a great story and the little creatures are so adorable.

  • Beesnetta

    Beesnetta said 6 years ago

    Gorgeous home! And wonderful story!

  • maggiemaevintage

    maggiemaevintage said 6 years ago


  • ArtMind

    ArtMind said 6 years ago

    Wow, I'm touched! What a lovely and meaningful story Laura. Your Pogos are as beautiful as you are. :)

  • KristynCooper

    KristynCooper said 6 years ago

    Oh, your home is so beautiful! Thank you for sharing that wonderful, whimsical story with us!

  • Ayca

    Ayca said 6 years ago

    Great story !

  • seragun

    seragun said 6 years ago

    Beautiful story,thanks

  • Vanessa Admin

    Vanessa said 6 years ago

    This post reminds me of my parents - they moved us to a rural town, started a minifarm, and always taught us about nature in a way that was really integrated into our day-to-day.

  • ChickSprings

    ChickSprings said 6 years ago

    What a beautifully inspiring story! Thank you so much for sharing and for helping to keep our world real!

  • kissadesign

    kissadesign said 6 years ago

    These are so adorable! Thank you for sharing your story!

  • PrintablesShop

    PrintablesShop said 6 years ago

    I discovered PogoShop about a year ago and was enchanted with these creations along with the stories that came with each one. It's nice to meet the artist behind Pogos. What a dream she is living in her log cabin in the woods!

  • tomokotahara

    tomokotahara said 6 years ago

    Interesting story - thanks for sharing.

  • astarteearthart

    astarteearthart said 6 years ago

    tooooo cute!

  • milemarker

    milemarker said 6 years ago

    Beautiful, beautiful story - one of the best Etsy interviews I've read. I grew up like that, playing in the SC woods every day until dark, and they are some of my fondest memories. How beautiful of Laura Ray to share that with countless children through her career and her craft.

  • RR1Box80

    RR1Box80 said 6 years ago

    Thank you for sharing such an inspiring story! It's so nice to hear about bringing the outdoors to children who don't have access to it on a regular basis. I grew up on a hobby farm in southern MN and spent countless hours in our grove exploring pretend places and discovering creepy crawlies. I wish every child had the chance to experience that kind of creative play. Thank you for what you do!

  • layerxlayer

    layerxlayer said 6 years ago


  • Feille

    Feille said 6 years ago

    This has to be the best I've read yet. You must have been an awesome teacher, and your're still teaching.

  • sherrytruitt

    sherrytruitt said 6 years ago

    I am so touched by your beautiful story and I am sorry for your loss. Thanks for sharing with us.

  • twolefthands

    twolefthands said 6 years ago

    You would be the perfect teacher for my 6 year old grandson! What a great story and a beautiful cabin!

  • NaturalAmber

    NaturalAmber said 6 years ago

    What a beautiful and very touching story, I am very glad to have read it. Thank you for sharing it. (You also have such a good and lovely shop!)

  • allthingswhite

    allthingswhite said 6 years ago

    What a wonderful story! Pogo was one of my first favorites in my first etsy shop- elizabethwren. I love these little guys.

  • HandmadeHandsome

    HandmadeHandsome said 6 years ago

    What a wonderful story. Thank you.

  • Floreal

    Floreal said 6 years ago

    Pogo is adorable.. lovely story...:)

  • miznovember

    miznovember said 6 years ago

    What a story. I loved reading this. Sounds like you would have been an awesome teacher to have had.

  • JBirdHome

    JBirdHome said 6 years ago

    I just love that first Rachel Carson quote. Lovely and inspiring. Thanks!

  • polkadotmagpie

    polkadotmagpie said 6 years ago

    What a fabulous peek into a shopkeeper's world. Photos are gorgeous. Rachel also wrote: "Silent Spring." Pogo is a great shop.

  • camamiel

    camamiel said 6 years ago

    Lovely story and very cute items.

  • brandyfisher

    brandyfisher said 6 years ago

    Amazing...the story and the woman behind the shop!

  • moonandstarsstudio

    moonandstarsstudio said 6 years ago

    i absolutely loved your story....Thank you for sharing yourself and your love of nature with us. I am trying to do the same for my grandchildren...And i have always loved your pogos! :)

  • baconsquarefarm

    baconsquarefarm said 6 years ago

    I've always loved your shop and pogo's now I know why....the wonderful story they tell thanks for sharing with all of us. Sure the kids all loved you a teacher I know I would have.

  • MagicMarkingsArt

    MagicMarkingsArt said 6 years ago

    I am beyond amazed and think how fortunate for the students who were lucky enough to be blessed with your passion and thirst for knowledge. May you continue to live the life you love and to infuse your spirit into the lives of others.

  • blueflowervintage

    blueflowervintage said 6 years ago

    Absolutely lovely!

  • StrandRedesign

    StrandRedesign said 6 years ago

    I love the Pogos and loved to read this. Thank you!

  • QuietStorytellers

    QuietStorytellers said 6 years ago

    Laura, it is artists like you that keep me involved in Etsy--there is beauty and care within your actions. Thank you for sharing your stories.

  • FashionTouch

    FashionTouch said 6 years ago

    Lovely story and very nice place to find peace (out or regular rush) and inspiration. Thanks for sharing!

  • littleloveblue

    littleloveblue said 6 years ago

    love everything about this;)

  • DPKministat

    DPKministat said 6 years ago

    My 3 year old would love these "pogos". We too live in a very rural area. Mesmerizing story.

  • munieca

    munieca said 6 years ago

    cute pogos!!

  • thenewblackmarket

    thenewblackmarket said 6 years ago

    beautiful story. and the bears are too cute!!!

  • Mimiandlola

    Mimiandlola said 6 years ago

    beautiful thank you for sharing

  • HornCatCreations

    HornCatCreations said 6 years ago

    What a lovely story. Thanks so much for sharing it with all of us!

  • greencouchdesign

    greencouchdesign said 6 years ago

    So much fun! I love the attitude towards children and playing! It reminds me of the movie 'Finding Neverland' it's just about the imagination and the joy of discovery!

  • sweetpoppycat

    sweetpoppycat said 6 years ago

    Now I love Pogos even more!

  • VirtuoSew

    VirtuoSew said 6 years ago

    What a sweet story. You must have been / be a wonderful teacher.

  • Nachokitty

    Nachokitty said 6 years ago

    What a well written story. So inspiring. It saddened me to read of your partners passing, but then I smiled when I realized how you seized the day and moved forward, continuing to bless the lives of those around you. Kudos. I hope to have the grace to deal with life like you have. Yes, I live in the woods! We share many of the same lifestyle choices.

  • lovelygifts

    lovelygifts said 6 years ago

    Great article and cute items!

  • artangel

    artangel said 6 years ago

    This is a lovely article. I've admired Laura's work for a while :)

  • artofjane

    artofjane said 6 years ago

    This is the most wonderful story. I'm a teacher too and I really admire your teaching story. Your students were very lucky. Your life is inspiring.

  • breadandroses2

    breadandroses2 said 6 years ago

    I've long admired Pogoshop and your enchanting Pogos, Laura! Your story is deeply moving. Thank you so much for sharing it.

  • wensaccessories

    wensaccessories said 6 years ago


  • artofjane

    artofjane said 6 years ago

    This is a great story. I teach too, and I really appreciated your teaching philosophy. Sounds like your students were very lucky to have you! Love your pogos.

  • limestone

    limestone said 6 years ago

    This is by far my favorite Storque post ever! What a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing it with us, Pogo. I've loved your work since I first saw it, and now I like it even more.

  • ladaworks

    ladaworks said 6 years ago

    Fabulous story, thank you! I had the best first grade teacher. She was a gem. 40+ years later I still remember her.

  • karenmeyers

    karenmeyers said 6 years ago

    Thank you for being such a wonderful teacher.

  • GwenDelicious

    GwenDelicious said 6 years ago

    So inspiring...thanks so much for sharing!

  • SatinandBirch

    SatinandBirch said 6 years ago

    Why do we all dream of a "Cabin in the Woods" I know I do and will continue to. thank you for such an inspiring story. Thanks Laura

  • prettydreamer

    prettydreamer said 6 years ago

    What a wonderful post ...thank you so much for sharing so much beauty.

  • MeAndBoo

    MeAndBoo said 6 years ago

    I love Pogos!!

  • NaiyaArtBoutique

    NaiyaArtBoutique said 6 years ago

    Keep up the good work Laura.. You can motivate millions of people around :)

  • GoodGriefGlass

    GoodGriefGlass said 6 years ago

    Beautiful story and adorable pogos.

  • thefortunatehome

    thefortunatehome said 6 years ago

    The schools today sure could use lots more teachers like you. Cute animals too. Much success!

  • Handamade

    Handamade said 6 years ago

    This is lovely story and great imagination. Great job!^_^

  • PiacereMioPaperie

    PiacereMioPaperie said 6 years ago

    Such endearing words! Laura, I have always lived in suburban areas, but somehow finding those "experiences in nature" was what we did in our childhood... Be it in our neighbors very tall grass (i guess they did not have a lawn mower!), up in an apple tree in our yard, or by a creek behind the grocery store! Children naturally yearn for those experiences, unfortunately many will never get to do anything about it! Thanks for the heart warming memories of your life. I too love to share those moments with the school children I work with. :)

  • accentonvintage

    accentonvintage said 6 years ago

    Your pogos are adorable! What a great story!

  • ThimbleNest

    ThimbleNest said 6 years ago

    What a beautiful story! Nature is so important to children!

  • BellaChicbyalicia

    BellaChicbyalicia said 6 years ago

    great story! Thanks for sharing!

  • Nishale

    Nishale said 6 years ago

    LOVE her pogos very much!

  • SaraAnnDesigns

    SaraAnnDesigns said 6 years ago

    What a wonderful way to teach children about nature, bringing it into the classroom in such a special way. I've always thought the best kinds of learning tools are the ones that encourage interaction. Your students were very lucky to have you as a teacher.

  • OneEcoTree

    OneEcoTree said 6 years ago

    Wonderful story & beautiful history. So heartbreaking to read your husband passed. What you do for children and have done in your teaching with your wonderful classroom is just wonderful- we need many more teachers like you! Love the pogos and love reading their stories!

  • gretchenmist

    gretchenmist said 6 years ago

    thanks for sharing your story and pictures of your beautiful place. it's so great to see where such cute pogos come from :)

  • nanouke

    nanouke said 6 years ago

    What an amazing article! Laura is so inspiring!

  • DappleGrey

    DappleGrey said 6 years ago

    super gorgeous

  • riricreations

    riricreations said 6 years ago

    One of the most inspiring articles I've ever read on Etsy~keep up the great work!

  • Morado

    Morado said 6 years ago

    Such a touching story :)

  • shabbychicadee

    shabbychicadee said 6 years ago

    God I miss the woods of my childhood in New Hampshire... Its hard to bloom where your planted if you live in a concrete jungle. Thank the heavens I at least have to beach. your article moved me!

  • PatsyDesigns

    PatsyDesigns said 6 years ago

    Your Pogos are adorable - makes me want to be a kid again! Thank you for sharing.

  • littlemoandfriends

    littlemoandfriends said 6 years ago

    thanks for showing us your home and your little pogos! such a joy to read!

  • MouseTrapVintage

    MouseTrapVintage said 6 years ago

    YAYA for real log cabins! I hope to live in one someday ...

  • designlab443

    designlab443 said 6 years ago

    that cabin looks so cozy!!!

  • ClementinesJewelry

    ClementinesJewelry said 6 years ago

    wonderful story!

  • Venbead

    Venbead said 6 years ago

    when my 12 year old son spent 2 hours one night going through laura's 18 pages of sold listings to pick out the his favorite pogo I knew laura had something magical going on there in pogo forest! we have a growing family of pogos. they are so much fun and so addicting! laura's story touches my heart in so many ways. my mom was a 6th grade teacher who grew up in inner city boston. Her suburban classroom in RI was filled with wildlife, every kind of amphibian, reptile or furry rodent you can imagine and they would all come home to our house for the summer. instilling an appreciation of all things living in the youngest of minds is a calling. teaching, shaping young minds, is a calling. thank you laura for all that you do. we love pogoshop i am so happy to see it getting the recognition it deserves!

  • AvianInspirations

    AvianInspirations said 6 years ago

    One of the most beautiful Etsy stories I have read. I was lucky enough to have had a teacher much like Laura(even built her own house!) for third, fourth, and fifth grade. Trees, birds nests, an organic garden, a compost, snakes, fish, hamsters, rocks, shells, and so much more made our classroom a beautiful, exciting place to learn. While nearly all of us grew up running around in the fields and woods, there was so much still to learn and our teacher encouraged us to live in awe and respect for Mother Nature. I wish there were teachers like her and Laura for every child out there.

  • ArtisticIntentions

    ArtisticIntentions said 6 years ago

    What a beautiful story! Thanks for sharing!! Those bears are adorable!!

  • pogoshop

    pogoshop said 6 years ago

    Thanks guys, for all the dear kind words. I'm delighted, but a little embarrassed. I'm hoping one post will say, "Hey, I'm grabbing up my kids and heading to the park." or "I think we'll camp this summer..." Life is short. Find time. PatsyDesigns, you can be a kid again. I'm living proof.

  • nowonder

    nowonder said 6 years ago

    Love these Pogo ones!

  • Iovelycrochet

    Iovelycrochet said 6 years ago

    Great great story..!!

  • HibouCards

    HibouCards said 6 years ago

    Wonderful story and very inspiring. As a mother and a crafter I try to show my son the beautiful things nature carries on a daily basis. Even in the cities you can see Nature, maybe not as much of course but you just have to look up and around you. We are lucky enough to live in a neighborhood with lots of trees and a pond close by so that also makes things easier :) I also love that my son gets to see me create things with my hands. Now he asks me regularly, "Mommy. what are you making today?" I love it. I will definitely look at your shop Laura and I will remember your story. From what I have seen so far I am moved by the gentleness that comes across from your little Pogos... they had to be created by a gentle and loving person! Oh and preserving the child like spirit and curiosity has always been something I was careful to do and now I am making sure my son stays a kid his age as long as possible... we're all trying to keep a slow and reasonable pace :) Thanks for sharing! Anne-Claire

  • bhangtiez

    bhangtiez said 6 years ago

    what a guardian angle...thanks 4 all u do & have done...can we clone u? j/k

  • VintageStarrBeads

    VintageStarrBeads said 6 years ago

    Can I visit?-Rachelle

  • Cotons

    Cotons said 6 years ago

    This lovely story reminds me of my youth wandering the Pickens County (SC) woods. The pogos are adorable. Thank you, Laura!

  • figurinesbyingrid

    figurinesbyingrid said 6 years ago

    I love this post! This story really touched my heart, Laura I wish you all the best, your Pogos are so cute!

  • glasfaden

    glasfaden said 6 years ago

    So nice to meet you and to read your story, Laura. Thanks for sharing!

  • javagirls

    javagirls said 6 years ago

    I love this story! I so admire teachers! They're very special people.

  • VeryCarey

    VeryCarey said 6 years ago

    I've followed and loved your shop since I became a member of Etsy last year. Your original handmade bears and use of recycled sweaters was a novelty to me. Very special. Thanks for your heartwarming story and sharing pictures of your simply beautiful home.

  • uniquetouches

    uniquetouches said 6 years ago

    I enjoyed reading your article. I loved the pictures of your home. It was nice meeting you at the doctor's office. Jo

  • uniquetouches

    uniquetouches said 6 years ago

    I enjoyed your story and the pictures of your home. It was nice meeting you at the doctor's office a few weeks ago. Jo

  • JanesGemCreations

    JanesGemCreations said 6 years ago

    Beautiful story. The pogos are so cute, and the photos were great.

  • cutelittlething

    cutelittlething said 6 years ago

    I've always loved the POGO'S, now I really love them, knowing more about their maker. Lovely and inspiring tale of "the road less taken." Continued blessings on your journey.

  • FerntreeStudio

    FerntreeStudio said 6 years ago

    What an enchanting story!

  • mommysosweet

    mommysosweet said 6 years ago

    I love this!

  • HillTribeCulture

    HillTribeCulture said 6 years ago

    Lovely and funny Cool Doll(^-^)

  • happywhosits

    happywhosits said 6 years ago

    What a lovely story, and wonderful home. I hope that I may find a home like this for my retirement. And the pogos are wonderful too!

  • modernbird

    modernbird said 6 years ago

    i loved reading laura's story. when i first started selling on etsy i found pogoshop. i was (and still am) inspired by their stories and the photos of them.

  • MissMaryElliott

    MissMaryElliott said 6 years ago

    Such a lovely post, I adore these Pogos especially with their little clothes... so cute!

  • leangelis

    leangelis said 6 years ago

    Hi Laura! I really love your story and can't help blogging about it in my blog. hope you don't mind!

  • jewellerytreasures

    jewellerytreasures said 6 years ago

    I lvoe the little pogos and the stories that go with them add a special touch

  • Patralink

    Patralink said 4 years ago

    Hi Laura, I loved reading your story here. Thank you for posting that and also for Pogos! I love your sense of wonder and your love of nature and kids. Your cabin is beautiful and I can imagine how cozy it is there. Christmas Pogo will be my 2nd Pogo. My first resides in my sweater drawer where he is so very comforatable. I will give Christmas Pogo to a special friend. Best to you and have a wonderful holiday season.

  • Zafirah

    Zafirah from Zafirah said 4 years ago

    So good to read your story here ... I love your Pogos!

  • seikashop

    wooldolls from wooldolls said 4 years ago

    Thank you for sharing your story. It had a deep impression on me. Your pogos are especially cute!

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