Saturday, October 6, 2007

Featured Plush Artist

Yi Li - CornFlakeGirl
Interview by Ronda Kivett (

Etsy Plush Street Team artist Yi Li, Cornflakegirl, was born and grew up in China. She came to the U.S. six years ago, and now lives and creates in northern New York. Her Balinese dancing dolls won 2nd place in this year's National Dance Week Doll Challenge hosted by . More of her work is expected to be featured in Art Doll Quarterly in the Autumn 2007 and Winter 2008 issues.

Yi sells her imaginative creations, which include whimsical little birdies and colorful fawns as well as one of a kind art dolls, in her Etsy shop and Dawanda Store.

How long have you been making plush toys?
I started making plush toys two years ago learning through lots of trial and error, although my initial interest was needle sculpted cloth dolls at the time. It wasn’t until recent months that I’ve began to concentrate on plush toys. Since I was insanely lost in subjects of my dolls and almost sick and shattered from paying attention to details, doll making became too overwhelming that I need something more fun and less demanding to balance with the serious, emotional and easily stereotyped work.

How do you come up with your designs, inspirations?
My designs and inspirations usually come to me when I least expect them. I get inspired from reading cloud and marble patterns, pawing through my fabric stash, studying veins of fall leaves, watching birds and squirrels, vintage Victorian laces, flipping through fashion magazines, sad movies and music, piano tracks of Yukie Nishimura, songs and lyrics by Tori Amos, combining two separate concepts. I sometimes keep notes and simple sketches and come back to pick something that’s interesting and feasible to make.

What influences your work the most?
I am influenced by a long list of artists whose artwork I like. Lisa Lichtenfeld was the first doll artist I ever fell in love with and entirely immersed in the wonderful realism of the details she achieves. I admire work from doll artists like Antonette Cely, Jeong moon young, Marina Bychkova and Patti Culea. I am also captured by Asian ball-jointed dolls, Blythe, fetish and goth models, artwork by Junko Mizuno and miss Van, fantasy work by Neil Gaiman and Brian Froud.

How would you describe your most recent work?
I’ve been working on making custom plush copy of people’s pets from synthetic fur fabric lately. Drafting patterns is always the most difficult part in the process. Unlike needle felted animals which is pretty straight forward to work with, for stuffed animals, you’ve got to think three dimensionally when determining the curve on a pattern, since the finished products will be viewed from different angles, and you have to transfer what you see in the picture to a three dimensional item. After pattern drafting is done and fabric is cut, almost 60% of work is finished. The main work left after sewing parts together is trimming and directing the fur pile to the way you like. I almost always learn something new and valuable from each stuffed animal I made.

How has your work evolved since you first began making plushies?
My work is always evolving depend on my mood at the time. I’d like my work to reveal a variety of different subjects and styles. I used to focus on bigger pictures and just getting the plush done when I first started, then I began to imbue a theme or a mood in my subjects and drop hints to meaning in small details, hoping the viewers will pick up and interpret it as the way I see it. I am obsessive when it comes to details! Sometime I can finish a plush in a couple of hours, and sometimes I work at the speed of turtle on sedatives, I got carried away too easily by a specific detail or effect I want to achieve and have an inclination to spend too much time on small thing.

What's next for you?
I would like to learn to draw and paint, or take art classes or attend art school if I am not so broke and have the opportunity to do so. It really bugs me that too many ideas from my mind just go to waste because I can’t draw. Aside from that, I am planning to build a plush animal planet without insects, reptiles and amphibians if I have the time.

Yi Li’s dolls and plushies can be found at You can also see more of Yi’s creations by visiting her Flickr Gallery.


Claire said...

Awesome creatures! You are so talented- are you sure you can't draw? (It looks like you can!) :)

Faerie Rebecca said...

I love your crafting space. My sewing machine has taken up permanent residence on the dining room table after my husband took my craft table for his new office downstairs. Must get a new craft table!

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