Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Serena Kuhl Interview and Giveaway!

I have had the pleasure of working with Serena Kuhl for several Plush You! shows along with her contribution to Plush You!: Lovable Misfit Toys to Sew and Stuff. She has always been supportive, inspiring and her work is funny to boot. I am so glad we finally have her for an interview. Leave a comment here for your chance to win your own cannibal bunny! Don't forget to leave contact info!

S- Can you first tell us more about yourself and how you got into sewing plush toys?

SK- My mum taught me to sew when i was really young, I used to sew a lot of pillows! I'd get sick of doing it half way through and then start making the stitches bigger and bigger! Then when i started school I was shown how to make these snake characters out of old tights, you were supposed to put them in front of doors to stop the draughts, so I ripped a lot of my stockings so i could make a legion of them! I didn't really make toys again until i was at art school. a bunch of female students were asked to respond to the theme "Male" in a sculpture, so i made a pile of pastel coloured phallic objects out of plush, and have been making them ever since

S- I feel like since our first encounter you have really expanded your work and your customer base. How have you reached galleries and shops so far away?

SK- Myspace is suprisingly helpful. It appears it's useful for something other then helping teenagers hook up! People have seen my work and requested it, or I send an email off to them. You get as many rejections and acceptances obviously, as there is a core crew who are operating at a professional level, and you find their work in every toy shop known. Ugly Dolls are a good example of this. A lot of shop owners are wary of investing space and money in something outside of the well exposed artists. and as I'm in a very isolated pat of Australia, everywhere is a long way away from me! So sending stuff to Sweden, the US or Melbourne doesn't really make a lot of difference.

S- You have also started curating your own plush shows. Can you tell us a bit how that came about and how others can get involved?

SK- Obviously i was influenced by you and the incredible success of the Plush You shows! I had had an idea for awhile about using the same format as the vinyl figure custom shows in plush, and then artists like Mju and Cupco got their versions out there, so I thought i better get on it! We have a Flickr group and a blog which has all the details, currently there is a lot of artist's profiles being posted, so it's another source of plushy info, along with the great Plush You blog. It's at http://plush-it.blogspot.com. Currently we have a full roster of artists, but if we decide to hold the show again next year, we'll send out a call to artists.

S- What are some of your most popular characters?

SK- Gimp bunnies, Poltergoost, and Bunbun. The first two I get, the last one is a weird looking pink bunny, and i don't understand it's appeal at all

S- I love the blood and whatnot you add to some of your characters...of which you did a fantastic tutorial for Plush You! book. Do you experiment a lot with various materials and how has that helped make your products unique?

SK- Actually no. Originally i was trying to make a clear drool with the silicon you use to seal windows, and that didn't work out too well. I then found dimensional paint. i used to use it just to embellish my plush, then i made the first Cannibal Bunny and it all fell into place very easily. You could say I'm just a natural at fake blood making!

S- I know you are a school teacher, have you made plush toys with your students and have any of them gotten into the plush movement?

SK- I don't really do plush at school. I assist any student whose interested, but kids get very leery when you try to push what you're into in a class. I also have classes with a lot of boys in it, and it's hard to sell plush as a manly thing to 15 year olds. Funnily enough, they're much more accepting of plush ideas when visiting artists suggest it. But we do do a lot of character design and stencilling, and my insane streak gets full range there

S- Because you have a full time job, how often do you even get to spend on creating new characters, participating in shows, etc.?

SK- A lot, but that's because I don't have a life! We have recently bought a house, so we can't afford to do anything except clean and renovate or hang around the house, so I spend my time making critters and coming up with new ideas. Luckily my partner is incredibly supportive, he assists with ideas and back stories all the time

S- What would you like to see for the plush movement at large?

SK- Maybe get a little more acceptance? Plush seems to be almost the poor cousin of vinyl. Looking at artists like Robyn Fabsits, her work is beyond what a lot of vinyl artists are creating. she rocks!

S-Where do you see yourself in the next 2 years?

SK- Getting a website together....yeah that might take 20 years

S- Any places we might find your work in the next few months?

SK- I have several pieces going to a Monster show in Sydney Australia, at Ruban Rat Gallery. Gallery 1988 in San Fran was kind enough to invite me to be a part of their monster show as well. Larry's Corner in Sweden just bought a shipment of my stuff, so Scandanvian buyers can get stuff from there, and Gallery 696 in Melbourne Australia has also just stocked my stuff as well

Don't forget, leave a comment here for your chance to win your own Cannibal Bunny!


Anonymous said...

...well, I'm still reading this interesting interview (I'm Italian, so I need sometimes a "little help" with my web English dictionary..;o))...) but, in the meantime, I'm so happy to join this amazing giveaway, it should be sooooo nice to have my personal Cannibal Bunny!
So, I'll keep my fingers crossed, and let's hope that Fortune should smile on me!
Thanks so much for this chance, and a big kiss from Italy!

Erin M. Evans said...

I love love love Serena Kuhl! Great interview!!!

luisa castellanos said...

so so so cute!!! I love him so much!

Bunny B said...

Hee hee... that's cute! Count me in!
bunnybx at gmail . com

blakewest said...

The blue fuzzy thing in the denim jacket reminds me of a sleep mask my wife made me for Christmas once. I think it's the sleeping monster when he's awake.

Thanks for the interview! And here's hoping I win me some Cannibal.


Danielle said...

oh this stuff is so cute!!! I'd love to win my own little Cannibal Bunny! Great stuff! danidani_11@hotmail.com


I want one! I've recently become a huge huge fan of serena kuhl, so this was extra exciting to read.
id love a cannibal bunny!

Sophia said...

Great interview! I love her stuff :)

sophia.eats.it at gmail . com

mr_thye said...

Really great stuff in this interview very inspiring to someone that just starting to get into making my own plushies.


star*munki said...

what a great thing it would be to win such a fabulous prize!!!


[ad7m] said...

These are incredible! I hope I win!

Jay said...

Yay! I love, love, love the Plush You book, so thank you for the interview. It's nice to find out more behind the crafts (and crafters) that I admire.

Please enter me in the drawing...plush + cannibal = pure awesome:

Lyn said...

I love Cannibal Bunny and other Serena Kuhl plush toys! They are so weirdly adorable! Hehe.


Nicole said...

Great interview. Love that Cannibal Bunny.

bloghappy @ gmail.com

Aaron said...

Great stuff! super cute!


Jake Ookamika said...

Bunnies eating bunnies. . .


Serena Kuhl said...

Hey Kristen, not sure how we determine who wins? I have ol Cannibal waiting to be shipped out to whoever is the lucky winner. Serena