Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Hine Mizushima Interview and Giveaway

The second I saw one of Hine's pieces I immediately gasped and smiled. When I asked her to be in my button book and she said yes, I immediately gasped and clapped my hands. The second I read that she had also applied to Plush You! I gasped and jumped up and down. Her work is simply amazing. She is one of those people I think a lot of people are watching and on the edge of their seat wondering what she is going to come up with next. I really enjoyed interviewing her and hope you enjoy reading it. Leave a comment here with contact info for your chance to win one of her amazing camera camera cases!

S- For those Plush You readers who might not know who you are, can you give us a
little background information on you

HM- Hello! My name is Hine (pronounced [hee-neh]) Mizushima. I was born and raised in Japan. I majored in Japanese traditional paintings at an art university, and worked as a designer/Illustrator for paper products in Tokyo. Then after I met my husband, we decided to move to Rome, then Paris, then NY. And two years ago we moved to Vancouver, Canada with our lovely son, and at the same time my creative life was completely changed! I was always just an Illustrator, but now I'm a PSMAVA (Puppet-Stop-Motion-Animation-Video-Artist) and a (slow) crafter as well, and I just LOVE to make things..

S- You have had various bouts of fame, with your video for They Might Be Giants, to your plush creations making the rounds on various craft sites. Why did you decide to get into plush work?

HM- I've never thought of getting into plush work before. I didn't even know what "plush" meant! But when I started to work on the second stop-motion music video for a They Might Be Giants kids DVD a year and a half ago, the wife of one of the band members, Robin, who is a talented musician and also a super crafter, made some great needle-felted number-shaped puppets for the video. So I wanted/needed to make other characters and the props with the same materials to go with them. That was the beginning. It was actually a lot of fun and easy to create 3D stuff with felting wool! Since then, I have been getting into plush work little by little. My plush always has wire inside, so you can pose them however you want!

S- How did you start working with They Might Be Giants?

HM- First of all, I have to say that I REALLY love their music! One day, I stumbled upon 'How to make stop-motion video with your digital camera and iMovie' on the Internet. So I made a video with tiny puppets for their music, just for fun. Then I tried to post it on their My Space page, but I didn't understand how it works. Then I found 'send message' button instead, so I simply sent them the link of my video. Then a few days later, they contacted me, asking me to work on a video project with them! I REALLY freaked out, of course.... I'm working on a different project with them now.

S- Do you favor any medium over another?

HM- Felt, felting wool, wool yarn and printed fabric. I also like matt color paper and printed paper.

S- How often do you try to make new products?

HM- I don't have any scheduled plan, but I always have new ideas in my head and on my sketch book. So if I have time, I try to give my ideas shape. But usually it doesn't work well at first time. So I let it sit, wait until it's ripe, and then try again.

S- Your camera camera cases and Phone iPhone cases are amazing! How fast did those sell out? How do you market your new products?

HM- Thanks! Usually those sell out in a few hours. But it probably wouldn't happen if I could just list more items on my Etsy store on a regular basis! And I'm ashamed to say I don't market now. But I often upload pictures of my new products and artwork on my Flickr page, and actually many customers come to my Etsy store from there and end up buying. And fortunately many people write about my cases on their websites and blogs. It helps me a lot, and I really appreciate that :)

S- Your attention to detail is impeccable. Has this come with a lot of practice or have you always been a perfectionist?

HM- Umm...., if you could see my desk (aka chaos), you would not think I'm a perfectionist! Recently I just happened to find a hand-sewn felt camera case which I made once for my camera 4 or 5 years ago. I was so surprised because it was so ridiculously bad! So it seems I'm getting better now. I always like to make small things. I think it is in my blood from my mother.

S- If you could spend more time on one thing, what do you think you would spend it on?

HM- Creating the same more plush dolls in the series that I made for the Plush You show, and making a short stop-motion video with them, or .... cleaning my desk?

S- What do you want to see for your business in the next few years?

HM- I would love to have a solo show and publish a book of my artwork, and while I have had a few series of zakka produced in Japan, I would love to be able to do the same thing in outside of Japan. But first, I have to make more pieces!

S- Any place folks can find you other than your etsy shop?

HM- My artwork website
My Flickr
My blog (in Japanese!)
You can also watch one of my videos, "The Secret Life Of Six" with many plush (puppets) for TMBG kids music here (my actual video starts at the 1:00 mark) here

Don't forget, Leave a comment here with contact info for your chance to win one of her amazing camera camera cases!. Leave your favorite colors too! Winner will be chosen on Sept. 30th.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Full of Fluff Interview

This will be the second year Carey Huffman of Full of Fluff has participated in Plush You! I LOVE her work! It's amazing, sells really quickly and each piece has tons of personality. This year's pieces are AMAZING!! I am so glad we finally were able to learn more about the woman behind this work. Enjoy!

S- First tell us a little bit about yourself and how you started Full of Fluff.

FoF- I started Full of Fluff a year or so back while I was working in my first job as a graphic designer right out of school. I needed more creative stimulation than what I was getting at work and I thought that blogging would force me to do more crafting and write about my work. I have always loved toys and I started making more and more just before starting the blog. Toys are fun and a great way to make art where the only standard is how warm the smile of the viewer is. I chose the name Full of Fluff because toys are literally filled with fluff and my intent is that the blog would always be light and fluffy no matter what I am making.

S- What is your favorite organizational tool?

FoF- Pegboard. I love that thing. I can quickly look at all my craft tools and find what I need. I like how there is no right and wrong place to put everything, most everything tends to go on the closest hook to my hand when I am working.

S- How much time do you get to dedicate to your crafts?

FoF- It never feels like enough but I am sure many would think of it as too much. I work a full-time job but most evenings and weekends I cram in some craft time. I also try to carry a small working project in my purse. It can be surprising when you have some unexpected down time where you can get some work done. I also come up with a lot of my ideas while in meetings.

S- How do you promote your work?

FoF- I keep a blog and use flickr and craftster. People also love free stuff so whenever I post a free pattern I get a ton of traffic to my site.

S- What has been one of your most popular characters?

FoF- My biggest hit is my crocheted pacman but that is not an original character of mine. People like my Kitsume and what I am now calling my imps.

S- How long does it usually take you to make a guy from conception to final product?

FoF- That depends on the project. My fast time was about 3 hours where I made a sleepy kitty one lazy morning but it took me almost a year to make the right whale.

S- What is your favorite craft supply?

FoF- I have a real soft spot for cotton anything. Maybe it is the Georgia girl in me. I like how cotton does not pill or fuzz and looks nice and crisp. One of my favorite tools is a nostepinne, also known as a ball-winder-stick-thingie.

S- What is one of your biggest guilty pleasures?

FoF- I think I visit cuteoverload a thousand times a day.

S- Where do you see Full of Fluff in the next 2 years?

FoF- I hope to be more productive. I want to start making more toys and selling them on a regular basis. I also want to start writing more patterns so people can make their own toys and other fun stuff.

S- Any news you would like to share with our readers?

FoF- I hope to have my first for sale pattern up on my site soon.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Fluffels Interview and Giveaway!

Fluffels are sometimes fluffy, often times adorable, occasionally sinister lookin' little creatures by Mariska Vos-Bolman. Mariska will be showing once again at Schmancy for this year's Plush You show! I love these little guys and hope you do too. Leave a comment here for your chance to win your own Cute Kitty Kit. Don't forget to leave contact info so we can tell you you won!

S- In case our readers don't know who you are, can you please briefly describe what Fluffels are and how you got started?

F- Fluffels are crazy but very cute soft toys. I try to give my creations a lot of character that will put a smile on your face. The name Fluffels is a combination of the dutch word for soft toys: Knuffels and the word Fluffy. Two years ago I bought my first sewing machine, after looking scared at it for two weeks (I was sure I was going to hurt myself) I tried my first project, a pillow. Then I made a Soft toy and there was just no stopping. :)

S- In 2007 you quit your Video game job to be a full-time plush artist. What made you take the plunge?

F- I wasn't enjoying myself at my old job anymore. I was doing the same thing for years and was pretty bored, I was making soldiers all the time. The Company itself was great, wonderful people. But I really needed a change. I already started making plush and selling them to several shops around the world. Doing this was so much more fun for me that I thought I'd give it a try. I won't say it isn't hard. But I'm enjoying myself and It is going better every month.

S- How have you marketed yourself to reach new audiences?

F- Enter lots of plush shows :) . You have to do a lot of marketing. Sent your creations to blogs, make a Flickr page. Don't expect to just start selling without doing any marketing. Hand out your business card to anyone you know, they might know someone that can help you do a bit of marketing.

S- Your gallery section is awesome! I love the Seattle pics! Do you have regular fans sending you their guys in their homes and whatnot?

F- Thank you! Some of them are sent to me by people and some I found on flickr and asked them if I can put them on my website. I think it is really cool when people send me a photo of their Fluffel! Some of the photo's are made by myself, I carry the Fluffels around to lots of places.

S- It seems like you have participated in a lot of plush shows. What have been some of your experiences with doing shows such as Plush You?

F- I love doing plush shows! It is so much fun to have Fluffels showcased in a show!
I see photo's appear on Flickr and that is so great! Most of the shows are in the USA, and since I'm in the Netherlands I just can't visit them. That is a shame, I hope to visit one one day.

S- You do really awesome DIY patterns as well. When did you start making them and how has it been giving out your patterns?

F- Thanks! I start making them a few months ago. I call them DIY Fluffies, because the style is a bit different then the normal Fluffels. The idea of people that are being crafty with my patterns is just great! I already had a lot of positive feedback and I'm planning on creating many more. For the tutorials I was inspired by the Japanese craft books, I loved the way they make illustrated tutorials to explain everything. You don't even have to understand Japanese and you can still make them. That's is exactly what I wanted to for my tutorials. Not much reading but cute clear illustrations.

S- How often do you create a new design?

F- I try to create a new design a least twice a month. But I'm pregnant now, so things are going a bit slower then usual. The baby comes first. :)

S- How often do you do custom work?

F- Almost never, only different color version of the Fluffels. I did do them in the beginning, but I prefer making my own designs. It takes up a lot of time and I have to many ideas of my own that I want to create.

S- What are your goals for the new year?

F- If I have enough time I would love to create a soft toy tutorial book. But that will take up a lot of time, first some more Fluffels, DIY Fluffies patterns and kits.

S- Where else can people see your work?

F- website
flickr site
patterns on etsy
etsy shop

Comment here with your name and contact info to win your own Fluffels Cute Kitty Kit