Ever fancied a cuddle with Richie McCaw?

An Auckland craft enthusiast has come up with the next best thing - an oddly realistic cuddly toy of the former All Blacks captain.

The Richie doll was handcrafted by Deborah van Praagh, who has also created dolls of Kiwi pop star Lorde and acclaimed film director Sir Peter Jackson.

Ms van Praagh trained in graphic arts and worked as an art teacher for 28 years. Her craft projects include sewing and screen printing.


She has two children and one grandchild, with another on the way.

Ms van Praagh created the trio of celebrity dolls to mark the 20th birthday of fabric, craft and homeware store Spotlight.

Nielsen research shows New Zealanders are super-keen on handiwork, with 23 per cent enjoying arts and crafts and 14 per cent taking part in sewing or dressmaking.

Spotlight spokeswoman Eva Daly said the store was honoured to have helped Kiwis be creative for the last 20 years.

"The craft community in New Zealand is thriving. There are so many incredible craft bloggers out there now, and a wealth of inspirational ideas available across Instagram and Pinterest in particular," she said.

Staff member Charmaine Heke, who has worked at eight Spotlight stores since the first opened 20 years ago, said she remained inspired by the creative potential of staff and customers.

Deboragh van Praagh with her dolls of Richie McCaw, Sir Peter jackson and Lorde. Photo / Supplied
Deboragh van Praagh with her dolls of Richie McCaw, Sir Peter jackson and Lorde. Photo / Supplied

"I really enjoy the work that others produce and watching the magic of something being created."

Over the past 20 years, Spotlight has sold 540,000 cushions, 300,000 costumes, three million buttons and 30 million metres of fabric.

Spotlight is celebrating its birthday tomorrow with in-store events and customer discounts.

Aucklanders wanting to check out local arts and crafts can attend the Auckland Fair this Sunday at Shed 10. Entry is $5.