Made with Love 4 you

Ikee Prod has created her own zoo in the Algarve, but this collection of animals is made of rubber.

German-born Ikee developed her unique project in 1995, after meeting her French husband in Sagres. Lucas had originally worked in the film industry, but at that time was experimenting with modelling in Latex. As an artist, Ikee liked the idea.

Ikee fell in love with the Algarve, which gave her the space to be creative and explore her imagination. However, the couple had to leave Portugal for Lucas’ work project and travelled to Koh Jum in Thailand where they were building an eco-lodge. While Lucas worked, Ikee was at a loose end, and so she took her moulds with her and spent her days experimenting with modelling techniques.

“I knew about rubber from other art projects, and I was fascinated by its resilience, its environmental friendliness, and its simplicity.”

During the days Ikee would sit on the terrace of their hotel, kept company by the pregnant daughter of the project’s architect, who helped her. It was on 26th December 2004, the day their eco-lodge was due to open, that Ikee and her pregnant friend were sat in their normal position working, fortunately, they could see the terrifying spectacle of the waters rising as the tsunami hit their island. They ran to higher ground, “I always felt it was fate that the one thing my friend grabbed was my most important tool for modelling. It was a sign that I should continue with this project.”

Returning to the place they felt most at home in Portugal, Ikee and her husband decided to pursue the modelling in order to make a living. They wanted to create a product that reflected their love of the Algarve, the environment and the artistic license it gave them.

“After we had set up our “base camp” in the Algarve, we wanted to produce something that could be transported easily and safely on trips and as a souvenir on an aeroplane. We thought of natural products that are beautiful and useful but would also be fun. We created a product that is tear-resistant, biodegradable and does not contain plastic.”

I ask why Ikee decided to start creating animals. “People have an affinity with animals, so it seemed like a good place to start. My biggest challenge was working out how to decorate them as acrylic paint would crack.”

Ikee eventually solved this conundrum by developing a rubber paint, “It is essentially painting rubber onto rubber, and it glues together and becomes one. It is therefore firmly adherent, does not rub off and does not change colour.”

She started selling her creations, named Kautschuk Tiere, in surf shops in Sagres and at a stall in Lagos. As the product developed, they started exhibiting at a fair in Germany called “Fair Trade.” Her workshop in Sargaçal resembles an alchemists laboratory with Ikee and a helper pouring brightly coloured mixtures into moulds which are then left to dry for 24 hours. They are then washed and cut and finally painted. She started developing more subjects as she earned more customers such as the Memo Hotel and Pedralva resort and began printing company logos onto her creations.

“We design our own moulds for production. Our rubber is an air-dried natural material. The resulting animals, cars, flowers, etc. are individually and elaborately hand-painted by us. Each piece is unique. In order to keep everything natural and environmentally friendly, there are, of course, many small artistry tricks that we have acquired over time.”

Her production line is small but efficient, she can make around 80 a day in between dropping her 10 and eight-year-old at school and picking them up again.

Each model costs between 6 – 9 euros, and with your purchase, you acquire a natural product and contribute to a small but fine, naturally grown craft business.

Their company’s mantra is Made with LOVE 4 you, and there is no doubt that these Algarve-born, beautiful creatures are something to be treasured.



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