Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Sewing Stars Interview

Teresa Levy of Sewing Stars is one of those masterminds behind the cute and cuddly. If you are a plush enthusiast, which I am assuming you are since you are here, then you most likely know who Teresa is. But on some crazy off chance you do not, well now you will. It's hard to look at anything she makes without a little part of you melting away in cute abyss.
I love her work and always enjoy seeing what she is going to come up with next. No matter what it is it is sure to be a delight. I am so glad that I finally was able to get even more information on her. Enjoy!

S- Just by any chance someone does not know who you are already, can you give us a little back ground on you and your art?

SS- well, i have been making stuffed animals/creatures since college. in the last few years i built up my website, and have been selling my crafty wares coast to coast at various indie craft shows as well as online in my own shop.

S- You are one busy lady! You sew, you make kits, you do drawings, etc. etc etc. How do you prioritize all the responsibilities of your business?

SS- i make a series of to do lists constantly. updating them, rewriting them, and even make little to do spread sheets for big projects or when prepping for a craft show.

S- A lot of your plush is pretty simple yet super appealing and sweet. Where do you find inspiration for all the various kinds of plush you make?

SS- hm, my brain is sort a weird place i think. every once in a while it sends me an idea, and then my hands try to make it. usually it works too! i do tend towards animals though, but lately i have been into putting faces on plush objects too. i also like to try & find ways to turn unusual items into a 'doll-like' form with arms & legs. which actually relates to doodles i often make when on hold on the phone, or decorating my left over container from a restruant.

S- You are an experienced craft show lady. With all the summer craft fairs coming following all the holiday ones, how do you prepare?

SS- like i said, i actually make a big excel spreadsheet of all the items i want to make for a show, and as i make them put them in italics and move along to the next item. its a handy way to keep track of everything i make too.

S- What is your favorite part of being a crafty lady and what advice would you have for folks that are wanting to foster more of their creativity?

SS- my favorite part is the ability to sew anything i envision. after years of sewing, it comes much easier to me now, and i love it. i think if people want to be creative they need to stay inspired by looking at lots of crafty books, magazines, etc, and also keep trying to improve with each project.

S- For the last few days I have been crafted out. Gearing up for a big event gets exhausting and I just couldn't take it anymore. After one night of way too many episodes of Weeds, I realized I couldn't do that for two nights in a row. You seem to craft even when you are sick, which impresses me to no end. How do you muster up the energy when you don't think you have it?

SS- i am not sure...i do take days off, and usually feel incredible guilt when i do. and when getting ready for a crafty event/show i often have an overwhelming guilt that keeps me working no matter what... i am not sure i recommend that as a way to be motivated though!

S- What drew you to making plush in the first place?

SS- well, if i had to pin point a pivotal moment, it would be when i was a freshman in college. i was being forced to make art all the time, but it was always what my teachers wanted me to do. typically i rebelled by hand sewing a series of weird creatures as a way to do something i wanted to do for a change. it then became something i did from to time, and eventually became what i did all the time!

S- What are some of your goals for the rest of this year?

SS- finish my book! i am in the thick of it right now...i also want to take part in as many craft shows as i can possibly handle come fall too. that is pretty much it... what can i say, i love my job!

S- Any places Plush You readers might be able to find you this summer or holiday season?

SS- well this weekend (June 28) i will be at Crafty Bastards (Summer) in MD. after that i am keeping the summer open for my book stuff & web shop updates. come fall/winter i would like to take part in Crafty Bastards (fall edition), felt club in LA, the bazaar bizarre boston and i will of course be helping out as well as selling at Craftland right here in Providence, RI!

S- What is one of your guilty pleasures in life?

SS- oh, i am huge addiction to collecting toys would be my guiltiest pleasure at the moment!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

We Dream of Meat Interview and Giveaway!

I personally don't dream of meat. I was a vegetarian for a long time but then I started feeling too sleepy and someone suggested it was my diet. One day, around the holidays, I had a week of running around. I was exhausted and had to continue playing the part of the energizer bunny. I ordered a burger. It was delicious. My friend was so happy that I was considering meat again that he took me to the famous Salumi's here in Seattle. Needless to say, I was sold. I am now a meat dabbler. Perhaps dreaming of meat is just the next step. If I don't start dreaming of the actual meat itself, I wouldn't be surprised if the creatures created by We Dream of Meat do. It would be pretty magical.

Leave a comment at the end of this interview for your chance to win your own Deadface. Please leave your contact info! Winner will be chosen on June 25th.

S- Who is We Dream of Meat?

WD- James and Stef. We live in Bristol, UK.
James does the drawing and cuts the patterns, Stef puts it together and makes it look nice.

S- You made some plush masks and bling for a Kid Acne video. Have you
continued to make these items?

WD- Those were a one-off we did for a friend of a friend who directed the video.
Kid Acne is perhaps more famous for his street murals in Sheffield and beyond.
If you Google him you can see some of his stuff - his style is pretty distinctive so most of the character design was done already.
The director is another graffiti guy who goes by the handle, Dscreet. He likes owls.

S- Do you guys really dream of meat?

WD- James does most of the time.

S- It looks like you guys have also worked on a few collaborations.
What came out of those collaborations with your plush?

WD- One plush we made using some spare bits of screen-printed cotton our friend Daddison ( had lying around at his house.
We made Morris D Cottonsocks, one in red and white and another in black and dark green. Another was "Lenny" who we did in conjunction with graffiti's Cyclops and Sweet Toof ( We made three or four in total and they were sold at a show in London. Cyclops was the one who hooked us up with Dscreet for the Kid Acne video. Bristol is somewhat of a hotspot for British street-art, it's a small place so these kinds of collaborations happen quite frequently.

S- Any future collaborations down the pipeline?

WD- Definitely more with Daddison, hopefully more with the BeforeChrome guys and a few more otherwise.

S- What do you guys listen to while making plush?

WD- BBC Radio 4 and 6. Sometimes 1 and 2. Occasionally 3. Never 5.

S- Do you guys have a favorite character you have made? If so, why?

WD- Coco always has a special place in our hearts because he was the first.
We made about 12 of him and a few others, bagged them up and taped them up all over Barcelona last summer with a little note and an email address. We even gave one to the sea - haven't heard from him yet. There are plans to do another drop-off project in NY in September - look out!

S- What do you see for the future of We Dream of Meat?

WD- To keep the momentum going. We want to to acquire more stockists - WDOM has sold really well in Berlin and it would be ace to branch out. An online shop element to our website is on the cards. Packaging packaging packaging. We are developing some really crispy boxes at the moment, also handmade. Some larger sized projects would be nice. Maybe just bigger than a small dog. Vinyl is definitely in the bigger picture.

S- If your plush could give advice to children what do you think it might be?

WD- Stay in skool.

S- What do you think is the best part of making plush toys?

WD- It's like having babies, without having babies.

Leave a comment here for your chance to win this guy!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Fantastic Toys Interview

Sometimes it's all said in the name. Fantastic Toys is an example. They really are fantastic toys! The first time I laid my eyes on them was over on our flickr pool so when I saw that Tim, creator and mastermind behind Fantastic Toys, applied for Plush You! I was overjoyed. I would finally be able to see the fantasticness in person. I am still excited and only wish October was sooner (although it feels like it's October here...why???). I am really happy to present you with this fantastic interview with Tim. Leave a comment with your contact info and your color of choice: Periwinkle, rose, mint, light blue, raspberry, purple. buttercup and pink for your chance to win your very own fawn!

S- I have seen your plush around flickr, etc and knew that you made amazing stuffed toys but looking through your actual website. Well I now have a million questions. First let's get a bit of background on you and your work?

FT- I started making toys about 10 years ago beginning with marionettes then eventually I moved on to miniature animal dolls and hand puppets. After doing a couple of miniature shows the dolls never took off the way I thought they would. About that time I discovered the world of plush and I knew I had to reinvent myself and start playing with felt. I started posting my creations on Craftster and flickr and the feedback was immediate and positive. So just under 2 years I have created a nice little niche for myself making soft toys.

S- Between the plush, the hand puppets and the miniature dolls, where do you spend most of your time?

FT- Currently I'm placing most of the emphasis on plush toys. But right now I'm having fun designing paper toys and DIY patterns. With the way the economy is right now people are holding onto their money. They're spending less and prefer to make it themselves trying to save a buck.

S- Do you do this full time or do you have other jobs?

FT- I would love to make toys full time but I have a part time job in the floral
industry to pay the bills.

S- What have been some of your favorite plush projects you have worked on?

FT- I usually do a new theme for any of the shows I do. I had fun with the North Pole theme I did last Christmas. Most recently the Story Book plush I made for an upcoming show have been some of my favorite characters.

S- You do beautiful toys. I think a lot of people have a hard time going from 2D to 3D. Any suggestions for how to make that transition?

FT- For the plush I actually do it the other way around. I make the plush and then I do illustrations of them. But I understand what your saying. I don't think its really that difficult. I usually encourage illustrators who want custom work done to try it themselves . Two sided plush are the easiest to make.. its the most common plush out there. Basically its just transferring your drawing to fabric and adding 1/4" - 1/2" seam allowance for sewing. Maybe not quite that simple but thats how I started. There's quite a few books on the subject now including yours. There are also many free patterns online that gave me direction when I first started constructing plush.

S- Your marionette's and hand puppets are amazing. Do you market those to a specific group? Speaking of do you market yourself as a plush designer, etc.?

FT- My most recent puppets were made for a gallery show. I wanted to revisit making marionettes after 10 years experience in other areas. There is a significant difference from some of my earlier ones I made. Craftsmanship being the most noteable. I haven't spent a lot of time marketing the puppets. As for the plush, I've been fortunate to be featured on a lot of blogs from people who have seen my work on etsy. Flickr and the many softie groups has also been a great marketing tool. Locally I have done craft shows which have led to other engagements.

S- You seem to have been around the block a few times with craft fairs. How do you prepare for these crafty events, keep up stock, figure out displaying, etc?

FT- Minneapolis has quite a few excellent indie craft shows and hosts some of the finest juried shows. I've limited myself to a couple of shows a year. My main concern has always been having enough inventory. I allow myself at least 4-6 months preparation before a show. I'm not the kind of person that likes to wait till the last minute. I spend a lot of time and thought on my theme and display ... buying props through out the year. I look forward to my participation in the Plush You shows later this year.

S- How do you deal with being a plush artist, etc. in a craft community that is mainly dominated by women?

FT- You know I've been crafty all my life so it really isn't something I think about. The crafting community has been warm and welcoming and very accepting of my creative efforts.

S- If you could do your dream job what would it be or are you already doing it?

FT- I'd like to continue what I'm doing but on a grander scale. I prefer to design toys. It would be nice to have them manufactured by someone else.

S- What are your goals for your business in the next year?

FT- I'm working on a book proposal to submit to publishers. I'd like to finish that up soon. I'm also looking into having a national toy chain carry a line of my toys.

Don't forget...leave a comment with your contact info and your favorite color for your chance to win your own custom fawn!

Thank you Tim for the awesome interview!