Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Devout Dolls Interview and Giveaway!

I believe that Sara Lanzillotta is one of the old school plush ladies out there. She makes amazing plush dolls from her Hollywood plush portraits to her two headed dolls. She's super talented, super sweet and I am glad she is finally up here with an interview. Leave a comment here with your contact info for your chance to win one of her owls.

S- How did you start sewing? When did you start developing toys?

DD- My mom tried to teach me to sew when I was pretty young since she was a sewer as a profession and my grandmother was a sewer. I, however, was way too impatient and stubborn and didn't want to learn so I managed to avoid it until I was about 20 when I started teaching myself. I used to draw a lot and eventually started coming up with ideas for dolls and stuffed things that I wanted. Since they didn't exist in the world, I realized I would have to make them myself. I didn't have a machine back then so I was doing hand sewing. Eventually it lead to me getting my own machine. Once I had all the knowledge and accessories I went to town and made as many different things as possible. There was no looking back!

S- I see you at craft fairs all around town. Have you ever done shows outside of the PNW? Where can people find ya'?

DD- I occasionally do shows in Los Angeles. I'm from there so I get to cheat and use it as an excuse to visit family while I'm back. I do a lot of group shows as well that are across the country. It is easier to keep my shows close to home though so I tend to stay here a lot. If you're in Canada, you can find my things at The Lounge Collection in BC (www.theloungecollection.com). In Oregon I'm at Jaminga (www.Jaminga.com), and in Los Angeles I'm at Monkeyhouse Toys (www.monkeyhousetoys.com) Also, you can check out my "Stores and Events" page on my website. I list all my upcoming gallery and craft shows there. www.devoutdolls.com/stores.htm

S- Your squeakems, two headed dollies and mini pins seemed to really put you up on the list of plush makers. But your other dolls; such as the silver screen dolls, etc., are also really amazing. Which came first? How much time do you spend on both?

DD- I started with something more like my "floppy doll", very simple with clothing sewn straight onto the doll. My sister and I thought it would be funny to have a pretty doll in cute clothing but it would have something wrong with it like an extra head or extra arms and legs. I had so much fun making that first batch I just had to make more. The dolls led into me making plush monsters and then eventually into more structured art pieces. I split my time between the art dolls and making simple plush. I kind of have two businesses in a way. Half of it the easily reproduceable (but still one of a kind) plush and dolls that I sell to stores and on my website and the other half is more detailed soft sculptures for art shows and custom pieces.

S- You are also apart of the Blythe Doll club here in Seattle. I see that you are making and selling clothes for Blythe. How did you get into the Blythe Doll? Any suggestions on good sites to learn more about her?

DD- I saw the book by Gina Garan called "This is Blythe" many years ago and instantly fell in love. I started looking at Ebay at Blythe dolls and decided that $40 was just too expensive for an original Blythe. Ha! If I had only known what it, and I, was going to turn into! An original Kenner Blythe now goes for thousands! Takara (a Japanese toy company) is re-making Blythe now so it's much more accessable and you have many doll styles to choose from. I currently own 10 Blythe and am completely addicted. For fun in my off time I make doll clothes (yes, while I take a break from sewing for work, I sew for fun, what a nut!). I started selling my clothes at different doll shows and now have them on my Etsy site as well. I'm also part of a Seattle Blythe club. We meet about once a month and bring our dolls and take photos. It's really fun!

S- At the last IHR, you had a new owl design that is adorable. How often do you try to come up with new designs?

DD- I'm constantly thinking of new designs and new ideas. You have to in order to keep up with everyone else but also, to keep me from getting bored. I have so many ideas all the time, most of them don't get a chance to be made but I'll occaisionally go back to an old sketch and try it out. It's such a tedious process to come up with a new piece, I don't have the time to do a lot of them. I do try for at least one new line a year though. I think you need new items to keep people excited and to keep your business growing.

S- When you are not selling your work in fairs, how do you advertise your work?

DD- I am very spoiled and really do no advertising at all. I usually have more work then I know what to do with so I've stayed away from advertising fearing it would suddenly give me too much to handle. I've also slowed down the ordering off my website by not having a shopping cart. I still like to do things the old fashioned way I guess and have people write me for orders. That way they have the choice to really customize things and I make sure they get what they really want.

S- What is your favorite thing about designing toys and your line of work?

DD- My favorite thing about all of this is that I actually get to do it for a living! It's a dream come true, I still just can't believe it. I absolutely love being able to go into my imagination and create a character and then build that character out of fabric. I feel like I'm doing a magic trick every time. I've been able to create my own little world with all of the crazy characters involved and, better yet, people like them. So, my make-believe world is living on through other people's minds when they adopt the creatures, and in that way, adding to the story.

S- What are some things you would like to see for Devout Dolls in the future?

DD- I've thought about having a line of toys made by a larger company where I can just do the designing but, I go back and forth on that one. I have mixed feelings about it. I think, ideally, if I can just keep this up for as long as possible and still be able to live off of it, that's enough to keep me happy. I have very simple goals, that way I always accomplish them. I also believe in fate taking the reigns sometimes. If something big is going to happen, I welcome it but I don't really go looking for it.

S- What is on the horizon for you and your company?

DD- Definatley more gallery shows in the future, they're a lot of work but they keep my juices flowing. I'd like to do more animal/doll hybrids I think. I love animals and I love making doll clothes so I'm thinking of doing a cross between those two. Also, more accessory type items. I make scarves and pins now but I'd like to add some bags to that as well. And, of course, more Blythe clothes! I'm addicted, what can I say!


rachel said...

I want to win an owl! Her stuff is awesome and so cool! I must have it all!

quitecontrary1977 said...

i'd love an owl plushie for my child! these dolls are wild! two headed creatures? love it!

Michele P. said...

oh goodness, Blythe is worth thousands... and to think my mother has her somewhere up in the attic! Interesting interview, and I'd love to win the owl plushie! Thanks for having the giveaway-she makes very nice things!

Hil'Lesha said...

Oh, so cute!

Lizzie said...

Love her dolls!!


Erin M. Evans said...

super cute! i think the world has gone owl crazy---he is so cute!

Erin M. Evans said...

forgot my contact info!


Kimberly said...

These are super cute. Just love that owl, and the sailor and octopus. Very creative.

Bunny B said...

Great interview! Lovely stuff! I love owls - they're so cute!!
bunnybox9 at gmail . com


ahh i need one.
i cant believe ive never heard of her stuff, its all fantastic!


frenzykat said...

her work rock my socks..the 2 headed bambi is genius.
i have a good home picked the owl...

christy said...

I want! I want! Did I say I want?! Love it! foutchie@yhti.net

Aaron said...

I love the octopus and the sailor, so cute!


Jake Ookamika said...

those owls are so cute! ! !