Monday, May 31, 2010

Meet the Maker Monday: LeftZ

Mary Casher of LeftZ (pronounced left-eez) designs and sews creatures made from all-recycled materials—even their insides. She lives outside Reading, Pennsylvania in a small town that just got two new stop signs! Visit her amazing shop at and read her profile below by fellow Plush Teamer, Wooldebeast.

Describe your plushmaking process.

I start with a piece of unwanted fabric. As I wander the aisles of a thrift store or rummage through a yard sale, I look for material that will bring texture or a pop of color to a design. Usually I don't have a certain design I’m shopping for, but I’ll see a fabric and think, "That would make a cool ...."

At home, I sort by color with my other fabric. By now I've decided what to make. I cut everything out by hand and without a pattern. I look for accents to bring the design together.

My favorite part of my plush is their insides—recycled plastic shopping bags. My goal is to create as little waste as possible and to reuse the unwanted.

Where did you learn your skills?

My dad showed me how to thread my first sewing machine. Everything else I taught myself, usually by trial and error. With each plush I create, I try to use different techniques as a learning experience for the next one.

Describe your workspace.

Since everything has a place in my studio, it's a snap to clean up. I have 3 cutting tables, a wrapping and shipping area, and a sewing/computer desk. Fabric is stored in cubes on one wall. The open shelving not only makes for a great visual piece, but lets me easily see and pick out material. All of my trims, buttons, odds and ends are safely tucked inside cabinets. If they weren’t, my cats would hide/eat everything! For organizing tools, I found a great vintage store where I picked up kitchen canisters. Not only are they a repurposed object, but they bring vintage flair to my space.

Discuss your inspirations—plushy, artistic, musical, personal ….

I'm inspired by things with a back story. I wonder about an object’s purpose in a former life. I grew up in the wrong era, hence surrounding myself with 50s music, accents in my home, and vintage clothes.

How do you promote your work?

My blog and via giveaways. (People will remember you more for being generous than for just trying to sell them something.) Also, I'm on Twitter constantly. I try not to shout from the roof tops, but to myself and build relationships first.


How do you fit plush-making into the rest of your life?

Since this is my job, it pretty much takes over. I try to create while my husband is at work so we have time together when he’s home. As much as I can, I don't work on weekends, unless I’m working on a new design. When inspiration hits, I drop everything.

Describe your dreams for new designs or projects.

Currently, I am working on themed plush. This project is super-secret, but it's going to extremely different then my normal designs. Usually I create what I would want in my own house and then regret selling it later ;)

Which other makers do you admire and why?

Sleepyking.etsy puts so much character into her designs . I own two of them. She not only does the work of 10 people, but she’s a mom, too.

What advice can you give makers who dabble in plushiness?

Try everything, and keep your first plush! Experiment with different types of fabric and accents. If you aren't happy with your creation, don't give up. My first plush is a reminder of how far I've come and how far I’ll go. Whether you sew for fun or in hopes of opening a shop someday, do it for the enjoyment of creating something new.

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