Tagged: plush

an alpaca plush for marie

In August I had the wonderful opportunity to get to know Marie, a fellow blogger who loves to sew and knit. While I’m hoping to find some creative friends who don’t live an ocean away, it was awesome to hang out with Marie and we had lots of fun exploring fabric stores/markets and sharing thoughts and ideas.

While I was in Germany, she made me an amazing green and orange quilted pouch, with an orange zipper (!) and little ribbons with the Berlin and Hamburg skylines as a memory of my trip. Then, for an early Christmas gift, she sent me a package filled with German Christmas cookies, whale-printed fabric, and a gorgeous hand-knitted hat with cables – something I could never make in a million years.

Clearly, the best part about having crafty friends is that you can make things for each other, and I wanted to make something special for Marie.

Marie loves to knit, and, on a similar note, she loves sheep. I thought about making a plush sheep, but that didn’t sound terribly exciting. What other animals produce cuddly fibers, are adorable, and are loved by Marie? Alpacas!

wool plush alpaca

Once I got the idea in my head, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. What could possibly be cuter than a plush alpaca? They’re such silly looking animals. And I think this is the first time I’ve ever sewn a plush with an eyebrow*!

wool plush alpaca - alpaca butt

I cut into my new collection of wool scraps from the rummage sale, opting for a chalky blue body and lavender features. The wool was fun to work with… in contrast to the fleece I normally use, it doesn’t stretch much at all. This led to a very substantial, “heavy” feeling stuffed animal. It’s a good thing.

I filled the bottom of his legs with plastic pellets, like beanie baby beans, and this added weight means he can stand up on his own! This was not intended and it was the best surprise. I rarely make plush that have legs but this was a good success.

wool plush alpaca - socks

I used the selvedge edge of the lavender wool for his feet – the ribbed edge makes it look like he’s wearing little socks. I figured Marie would appreciate an alpaca with wool socks. :)

wool plush alpaca

He was hard to send away, but it’s great to know that he’ll have fun in Germany with Marie. A big success for me on the plush front – I’ve been in a bit of a sewing rut lately – and I can’t get over his little eyebrows. Or his alpaca forehead.

And to make your day, here’s a happy alpaca I found while I was doing my research:

alpaca leap

*regarding eyebrow plush – in 2006 I made a plush Goomba for Ben. Its eyebrows are giant! So I guess that counts.

prehistoric plush: dunkleosteus

Theodore Roosevelt summed it up best with this quote:
“whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell ’em, ‘certainly i can!’ then get busy and find out how to do it.”

a dunkleosteus rendering (source: wikipedia)

Dunkleosteus: a big, old fish.

I think, barring anything incredibly complex, it’s a great philosophy. So when one of my photography friends said, “hey sam, can you make a plush dunkleosteus?” I said, “sure!”

(well, first i said “what is that?!” and he told me it was a giant dinosaur fish thing.)

At first, I was worried. Those teeth, all the layers of bone, all the details and hard edges… what if I couldn’t do it? But it was one of those moments where, as soon as I stopped thinking about it, I could see it perfectly in my head. It’s a plush, right? I can do plush. At that point I gave myself a pep talk, rushed to Joann’s, snagged a ton of gray fleece, and got to work.

This was one of the most complex plush I’ve ever made: he’s got side flippers, a top fin, little tail fins. With all the “bone”/exoskeleton layers, the back of his body is three layers of fleece. And then there are those teeth! Man, those were tricky. Symmetry is always a challenge.

He took longer than expected, because there was a lot of pattern drafting to be done. But I think he was worth the wait. Wanna see?

dunkleosteus (prehistoric fish) handmade plush

dunkleosteus (prehistoric fish) handmade plush, goofy smile and all

dunkleosteus (prehistoric fish) handmade plush

I just love his goofy smile, and the fleece, as always, is just so soft. I also finally broke into the ultimate safety eye stash that I’ve been hoarding for a few years now – it sure is handy to have some of every safety eye lying around!

I just love doing custom plush. It’s always a scary challenge, but they usually come out alright, and that just feels so good! Do you like it?

get stuffed! SPACES art gallery exhibition

I’m sure some of you are wondering how the adventurous whales have been doing at their art gallery home! So I’ll let you know… they’re awesome.

adventurous whales at spaces gallery, cleveland, ohio

adventurous whales - friendly seas; spaces gallery, cleveland, ohioThis is the first time I’ve ever had my work featured in a real gallery. Heck, this is the first time someone has referred to my plush as art! But I like being thought of as an artist, and I definitely like being able to put my creations in an open space for all to see.

SPACES gallery is a small contemporary art gallery located in Cleveland’s West Side. It’s definitely an interesting place. They tend to focus on unusual, highly modern, and highly interpretive forms of art, and even with this untraditional viewpoint they’re one of the most highly respected galleries in Cleveland.

There I was, little Sam, walking into a small art gallery with creaky wood floors and white walls bedecked with paintings. I turned the corner into the next room, and there they were– my whales and jellyfish suspended from the ceiling, floating against the bright white wall. It’s impossible to describe the wonder of the feeling. These are my creations, my pride and joy, put on display for everyone to see and marvel at and respect. Quite simply, I was overjoyed.

narwhal & arthur rouge at spaces gallery, cleveland, ohio

spaces gallery opening - photo by brenton pahl

photo by Brenton Pahl for SPACES gallery

get stuffed! plush exhibit at spaces gallery, cleveland, ohio - photo by jerry mann

photo by Jerry Mann for SPACES gallery

get stuffed! plush exhibit at spaces gallery, cleveland, ohio - photo by jerry mann

photo by Jerry Mann for SPACES gallery

I’ve never truly considered myself an artist. I’m a maker, a doer, a creator; but not an artist. It’s the engineering side of me, the practicality, that tells me to make things that people will use or hug or give, not things that people just look at. But to be told that I make things that are nice enough to be just looked at? That’s incredible! And the fact that I got to show my work next to the work of some ridiculously talented plush artists? What a privilege.

adventurous whales - friendly skies; spaces gallery, cleveland, ohio

So I understand, now, where artists come from. They want to see and be seen; they want to impact the world from inside the minds of the people. They want to make a difference just like anyone else. And I completely realize that there isn’t anything earth-shattering or symbolic about my adventurous whales… but all the same, I hope my art brought a few extra smiles to the world.

(this exhibit ran from November 9, 2010 to January 21, 2011. but i’m sure they wanted to keep the little guys there forever!)