Thursday, September 6, 2007

featured plush artist

Claire Chambers-ABSOLUTELY SMALL
Interview by moogancreations

How long have you been making plush toys? Do you have a day job? If so how do you balance your art and your life?
I’ve only been making plush creatures for a little less than a year. It’s still quite new to me! I do have a day job- I’m a temp. (Although I’ve been at my current assignment for over a year now, which is weird, to say the least!) Balancing my art with the rest of my life is actually really hard. It’s something I struggle with every day. If I was left to my own devices, I would basically just sleep and create stuff. However, life is much more full than that (thankfully!). Staying organized and trying to keep to some sort of loose schedule helps…but I’ll be the first to admit I fall off the schedule wagon all the time.
How do you feel they represent you as an artist?
As an artist, I detest straight lines. They bug me. They seem artificial. My creatures are imperfect, they’re lumpy, they’re uneven. But I feel that these ‘imperfections’ give each piece individuality and personality. They make me smile, in any case. They are the exact opposite of mass produced, perfect things.
Can you describe your process?
Generally, I’ll get an idea for a softie and jot it down in my sketchbook, usually making a rough pattern at some point. Later, I’ll draw the pattern out on a legal pad, then transfer it to the fabric. (And by ‘pattern’, I mean ‘contour drawing’. I’m really not sure what goes into an actual pattern. Like I said, this is all new to me!) I’m always working on several different projects at once.
Besides your dolls, you dabble in painting and jewelry. Are these endeavors you'd like to explore more of? How have you incorporated your dolls into that work?
It’s funny, actually- I’ve been seriously drawing and painting since middle school, but until recently I’ve lacked the courage to share my work. And a few years back, I started a business selling handmade jewelry…I just lacked the courage to try to *sell* anything. (These were the days before Etsy!) I always want to explore painting more. Most of the books on my nightstand are art and design books. Most of the other books are sewing books! (The stack is about two feet tall)I’ve recently started painting some of my softies, which has been really fun. You can see some examples of that here:
Chicken Bandit Painting/ Plush set:-

The Chickenpants!

Print:Blue Owl Softies portrait:

What books are you reading?
I've been obsessed with reading the Fruits Basket manga by Natsuki Takaya lately. That's a little embarrassing, but it's actually a beautiful story! I'm up to volume ten. The Creative License, by Danny Gregory- one of the best books ever written on drawing and just living. Maybe the best book. I can't possibly reccomend this book enough. Even if you don't draw and don't want to draw- this book is incredible. I've had it for well over a year...and I still have it either on my nightstand or desk at all times! I dip back into it constantly.
What are your favorite materials. Do you have a favorite tool?
There’s something special about plain old felt. My first softies were made with it, so I guess it has a special place in my heart. I had a favorite seam ripper that was just wonderful- but I seem to have lost it.
What's your studio like?
Chaotic…in a good way.
The walls are bright yellow, and the studio is jam packed with most of my favorite things. I have a set of photos on Flickr of my studio:
They’re actually a little outdated- it’s much more crowded in there now! I need to take some more shots.

What else inspires you?
I find Flickr to be a great source of inspiration. Especially the photos of animals. And actually, things my husband says get turned into creations quite often, too. (He’s always twisting around song lyrics and phrases, usually with funny results) I think it’s the combination of the two- you stock your mental library with images, and then someone says something that makes you see things in a new way.
What has joining Etsy meant to you?
Joining Etsy has been a great help for me in starting my little business. It’s forced me to think about business-y things, and to get organized! Etsy makes it so easy to get your stuff out there.

What has the plushteam meant to you?
Being a part of the Plush Team has been great, too. It’s wonderful to connect with other people who enjoy creating things in plush. Additionally, helping out with the contests and swaps means that I have been able to see first hand some of the amazing things that everyone comes up with!

What's next for you?
Right now I’m working on a few personal projects as well as my winter line. Expect to see a lot of snowy colors in the near future! (So far, the only shots I have available are these sneak peeks: )

You can learn more about Claire and her work by visiting the following places online:

6 comments:

moogan said...

congrats on the interview claie, it was great getting to know more about you!

nervousonion said...

great interview!

seriously...you call that a messy studio?!?! :)

Claire said...

Thanks guys! Megan made it easy.
(Nervous: My studio was the cleanest it had EVER been in that shot. It's never that clean again.)

Kari said...

claire! congratulations!

i love your stuff, i'm always so excited to see your new creations...

jenni said...

I love the paintings of your creations--so awesome!

Lisa M. Dalton said...

Claire congrats on the Crammed Organisms show! I saw your name on the artists page today and recognized it from when I was on the team with you guys. Rock on!

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