Thanks for all the great questions everyone and keep them coming! I've answered a few of those sent yesterday, below and more answers are on the way. Maybe tomorrow?
Thanks again for all the questions~ Here's a flower for your efforts...
Do you draw your creations before making them? How do you get started with a new update, do you ever get daunted by an empty desk or a blank page? ~Rebecca
Usually when I begin planning for a website update or a large group of work, I pull out my patterns (there are over 60 these days), look at the fabric and mohair I have in the studio, and start brainstorming. Often I draw, but sometimes I just need to see these things in front of me and I start making piles: this pattern with this mohair, this wool felt, and this cotton print... I think about the scale of different pieces, mixing the fabrics I have and deciding what I might need to make the whole body of work feel fresh and exciting for me. As I go I make quick sketches of each piece so I can get an idea of how all the pieces will fit together as a whole.
I find sketching to be the easiest way to break any creative block. When I want to make something new, I often begin by doodling and usually something will come out. When all else fails I head to the library to look at children's books, collections of antique items, or something... I just wander around the shelves and within an hour or so I come home with more ideas than I know what to do with. After I ruminate on what I've seen I start sketching again. It helps to see my drawings instead of looking directly at something from the books once I'm back in the studio. The whole process of seeking inspiration, letting it all soak in, then drawing helps to narrow my focus and come up with something that truly feels like mine.
Which part of the process do you enjoy more, the sewing and construction of the pieces or the "decorating" with fabric for clothes and accessories? ~Dawn
I love to make patterns and work on brand new designs. I like some patterns so much I make them over and over and some I only make a handful of times... but more than anything I like the decision making phases of the process the best. The conception of the design, creating faces and expressions, and the final finishing when everything comes together seem to be the most "active" and interesting part of working for me. No matter how many times I make something there is always something new to learn and each piece really is an individual- it's just my job to discover that individual as I work.
I love the In-Progress shots....It would also be fun to see a design completely from start to finish: your inspiration, sketches, the mock-up test run, and finally the finished adorable mohair creation. ~ Michelle René
I love this idea. Here's one blog post which goes something like that, but I'll have to work on another! thanks for the request Michelle.
Are your tags for each piece handwritten or are your printing them? ~Dawn
Do they get their names at the start or do you name them after and where do you get the names? ~Denise and Rebecca
All my stationary, labels, and tags are off-set printed but I hand write each and every card by hand as soon as I finish the bear or animal. I look them over and figure out who they are, name them, and write up each tag. Sometimes I reference the Social Security Website for help, they list the most popular names by decade which gives me a never ending supply of great old ones. I'm the most drawn to those name which have been around for a while since that's the quality I'm most interested in creating with my work- I want all my pieces to feel like old souls.
What books in your crafting library were invaluable in creating your art? ~ Fantastic Toys
When I first started making stuffed animals with my mom I poured over the "Button in Ear : The Steiff Encyclopedia". I looked at that book over and over again- endlessly. It really formed my ideas about what a stuffed animal could be: infinite forms, colors, designs, personalities- all beautifully made with the best materials available. Now I look at a lot of sources- books, blogs, images all over- but I haven't found anything that held my imagination like that book did. It was magic and unlocked something in me.
What pieces are your personal favorites-bears, mice, dogs, cats, bunnies? ~Dawn
hmmmm, that's a tough one. I think it really depends on what mood I'm in. I can honestly say I don't have a favorite, but I only have a handful of my own pieces, some just hang around without me really choosing them: either the design wasn't quite right or I wasn't ready to sell them... but I've chosen two pieces and they're both bears- so that tells you something i guess! I'll have to post about them in the future.
What parts of your creations are machine sewn vs. hand-sewn? How do you decide when its best to glue vs. sew? ~ Lisa
I sew all of the arms, legs, bodies, heads, etc by machine. Occasionally when I'm making a really small bear (3" or less) I hand sew the head to make sure it's perfect but other than that everything is sewn on the machine. It's not exact and my seam allowances are far from perfect, but I think that makes each bear or animal unique. Once I turn the pieces right side out all the rest of the sewing is done by hand.
Which update season is your favorite? ~ Dawn
I like making everything at the beginning of each season- I'm SO excited to get to work, but by the end I'm really ready to move on. It's perfect I guess. I can't wait for winter and then by the end I don't what to think about white, mica, tinsel, and snow and just like that, it's Valentines day and everything is romance and couples. I love that.
I'd love to know if you have any plans to sell patterns for any of your stuffed creatures. ~ Malu and Lisa
I do! That's one of my plans for this summer. I've been saying it for quite a while, but I think I'm finally ready to start working on them now. I'll post more info as things unfold here!
As for my collections, I'm always gathering materials for my studio. I used to frequent estate sales, antique shows, and search ebay for one of a kind items but in the last few years I've been slowing down a little. I don't have nearly as much time since having my son Claude, and I really so have SO much stocked away. My mom and I joke that our studios are "The Shop": one can find anything they could ever need in there.