Friday, August 17, 2007
I do a lot of interviews these days. Between the ones I do for this blog and the ones I do for Crown Dozen, I feel like I am interviewing or thinking of questions to ask all the time. One of the great joys of doing them is that I find all of the answers inspiring and very humbling. I've laughed, I've gotten teary and mostly I just want to run home and break out the sewing machine or the crochet hook, etc. and get working. I think most people can relate to feeling daunted by making stuff when you see so many great things out there. Ever since I have been trying to maintain this site on a regular basis and looking at flickr and blogs, I feel like as much as I am motivated and inspired I am also scared. I can't make something as cute as that! This is a great interview with Sarah Day, the woman behind Small Fox that reminds me we have all felt that way or still do and you just got to keep making stuff! Thanks Sarah for the awesome interview and the friendly reminder.
S-What is your background in sewing?
PF-I made a few pillows in seventh grade home economics, but other than that, I really have no background! I had found Jess Hutch's blog through Cuteoverload.com and, using her blog roll, found a bunch of other blogs. I had them bookmarked for awhile and then, one day out of the blue, I just decided that I needed a blog of my own. And that I could make cute stuff like I was seeing, too!
I was an art major in college, so I figured that I could somehow translate skills in painting and photography into softie design. Because my mind makes incomprehensible leaps like that. So, I had my mother-in-law help me through my first softie, I bought a machine, and the rest, as they say, is history... or the present, as it wasn't really that long ago. Can a little over a year ago be considered history?
S-What was the first plushie you ever made?
The first softie I ever made was a mini moopy. I understand that a lot of people use this pattern for their first softie, but really, its a hard pattern to start with. My mother-in-law was actually kind of shocked that that was where I wanted to begin. Apparently, all the small pieces are pretty tricky. And there are a lot of those small pieces! So all you guys out there who started on the mini moopy and are still not sure if you have what it takes, you have more talent than you know! That was really motivating for me.
S-It seems like you have a owl, elephant and bunny theme going on a lot (along with many other delightful things of course). Are these your favorite little creatures or you just fell into making them and couldn't stop?
PF-I really like owls, so that's where they came from. Bunnies are a common theme in baby stores -- where I used to work -- so I think that probably came from there. The elephant seemed... masculine, I guess. I needed a toy for a boy. Boys are hard.
I have other animals in my head, but once you make something, people request that one thing, so you end up making more. I just made a monkey girl I really like. And a raccoon boy. I did a frog boy for my sister. My dad wants me to make a moose. I have a lot of different ideas, but I try to be accommodating. And if that means making lots of bunnies, I'll make lots of bunnies.
Sometimes I have to draw the line, simply for my sanity. I made 40 owl ornaments last Christmas and now, I can hardly stand to look at the pattern! But I'll still make you one, if you want. It just might take a bit longer!
S-There are a lot of folks out there that want to make plush but don't really know where to begin. Would you mind sharing your process with us?
PF- This question always makes me laugh. I understand the impetus for it, because I look at other designers and wonder the same thing. But when I think about myself, I still don't feel like I'm talented enough or experienced enough to have a process worth explaining. It makes me curious as to how many of the people I look up to worry about the same thing!
The first thing I did, was to buy a few patterns or find some on various blogs that are free. I got the Put Together book from Wee Wonderfuls and the mini moopy pattern and a few others. Just to see the different ways softies can be put together. I had less than no experience when I started, so these patterns really helped me wrap my mind around how I could go about designing my own patterns.
The next thing I did was read a lot of blogs. I think I have like 196 in my bloglines now. If I saw something I liked, I asked how it was done. A lot of times, I wouldn't get a response, but often I would. I just tried button-joining the other day and had I not seen it on a blog, I probably still wouldn't have tried it.
After that, just make what you love and love what you make. Don't be afraid to try things. The worst that can happen is that it doesn't work. You can always try again later.
S-Is this your full time work or do you have a regular 9 to 5?
PF-Well, it's pretty much my full time work. I do work part-time maintaining the website for the store I used to work for and I fill-in there on occasion, but this is what I love and this is what I would love to do to pay the bills. I'm not quite there yet, but such things are slow and I understand that.
S-I noticed that a lot of your work seemed to be for gifts, etc. Do you have a site where you also sell your work?
PF-I sell on etsy and I will soon be selling a few dolls in the store I used to work for. I've had a few online shops approach me, but nothing definitive yet. Heck, if you need something, email me! I'll do my best to accommodate!
S-What is the most pleasurable thing you find in making little plushies?
PF- I really like the thought that something that I poured a lot of time and effort and love into can go to bring someone else a bit of joy. The first time I saw a child sleeping peacefully with a bunny I made, I got a bit weepy. Because in a way, I brought him that peace. Every softie I send out is sort of like sending out a hug. I like that.
S-What are your goals for your plush business?
PF- I'm still a bit shocked that people actually like what I do, so I'm scared to make any long term goals. I really hope that this can be my career, but I try not to think about it. I just want to enjoy what I'm doing while I have the opportunity to do it. And I am. I do.
S-Any other shows for the future planned that you might like to share with us?
PF-I'm still reeling from being accepted to Plush You! No other shows on the horizon, but I can always dream!
S- Any advice you might have for aspiring plush makers would be greatly appreciated.
PF- My biggest piece of advice is just to go for it. I still don't know what I'm doing half the time, but I try not to let that stop me. If it's hard and you still manage to do it, think about how much more you learned than if you had just taken the easy route.
My second biggest piece of advice is to baste. Because it helps. And it makes life easier. Much easier. I'm all for bending the rules and doing things your own way, but there are some rules, like basting, that should be adhered to. Trust me.
My third bit of advice, be humble. If you have a blog and someone comments on your work, take the time to reply, even if it's just to say thank you. Because in the end, it's the people who come back again and again that keep you in business. If someone asks you a question, try your best to answer it. Oh, and be excellent to each other.
Posted by Schmancy at 3:43 PM