Monday, February 6, 2012

Artist Talk Part 8

 At first my pillow monsters were just heads.  I was still learning how to use a sewing machine and I really had no idea about fabrics and needles and anything, really.  But, I do best when just digging in and finding my way through trial and error rather than reading manuals.

I limited myself to just being able to use fabrics from the remnant bin at the store.  The remnant bin is where the final bits of fabric go when there is not enough on the bolt to make a yard.  It is literally a bin, and it was nice to have a narrow selection to choose from instead of all that was available in the giant box store.  The newness of making pillow monsters was thrilling, and I became obsessed.  I would sew into the late hours of the night, and then wake up extra early to sew some more.  After months of being depressed, I started to feel alive again.  When sewing pillows, or pillow monsters, or dolls, you sew them together inside out and then you leave a hole to pull them right-side out, and that moment in-between inside and right-side outs is pretty exhilarating (doll-maker's high?).

It wasn't long before my pillow monster heads started evolving and growing limbs.  Looking back at these photos, the monsters seem a bit rough and crass, but there is also an energy to them that I like, that comes from being a beginner. 


 My blog was somehow gaining a readership, and someone recommended I sell these monsters on Etsy, and so I opened a shop.  For those of you that don't know (are there still people that don't---I wonder), Etsy is an online host for artists and crafts people to sell their goods.  The whole blogging and online selling really sat well with me.  My husband can easily paint paintings and then store them in the basement and never tire of it, it's a trait I deeply envy.  With me, I require more of a give and take.  In art school, professors are interested in what you are doing, and your fellow students actively engage in your work during critiques, but outside of the school setting, you are on your own.  This is especially true if you move back home to the suburbs and away from the art community you established during school.   I found another community online, and it felt nice.  Selling work you make is also a very good feeling.

After some time I began writing little biographies for my guys, here is one of my favorites:

Jeremiah can hold his breath for a very long time.  He practices in the bath tub.  He doesn't have a stop-watch, so he counts.  He knows he counts accurately because he puts a "Mississippi" in between the numbers.  His rubber ducks cheer him on.  Because holding his breath is his special talent, he thinks he would make a fine pirate.  He made his eye patch all by himself.  It looks very authentic because he used a piece of pleather off of his mother's couch.  She forgave him because she loves him so much.  Jeremiah's brother, Ronnie plays a game called Dungeons and Dragons, and he is an expert on a lot of things.  He says that Jeremiah is not a real pirate unless he has a cutlass.  Jeremiah doesn't know what a cutlass is, but he is saving up for one.
Here is a pair of conjoined twins

A sailor-man with an embroidered tattoo of a snake on his arm, clearly inspired by Mimi Kirchner, who I am a huge, enormous fan of.

I never tire of these mustache men.  Their pattern is pretty much unchanged since the first one I made.  They always make me laugh.  They seem like chivalrous little gentlemen.  I think what I like about them is that I imagine them to think of themselves as quite serious, but really they are ridiculous. It's the same feeling I get when a child mispronounces a difficult word like "paleontologist"--- so endearing.

I began to get a feel for the different sorts of fabrics out there.  I had a brief infatuation with felt.  It is good to learn on because it's not fussy and it makes shapes nicely.  I like the challenge of using a variety of textures now.

This guy was my first tree people.  I make a lot of people wearing costumes:
Otis is very good at standing still.  He loves to people watch, but is painfully shy and fears someone may ask him a question or get bothered by his staring.  He has a tree suit that he wears to the park, and because he can stand so still and be so quiet, he goes unnoticed.  On a rare occasion a child will look up at him and be delighted that there is a tree with a smiling face looking back down at them.  When this happens, Otis reaches out his hand and gives him the dimes and nickels that he picks up on his walks to the park.  Then he whispers, "Money really does grow on trees!"  And the children skip off happily, dreaming of the super-bouncy ball they will get when they put their change into the machine at the grocery store.

1 comment:

unsightly said...

The pillow monsters look like the statues from Easter Island. They are so cool!