Plush: Sissiboo for Kat Brunnegraff

Sissiboo was made especially for my super talented artist friend Kat Brunnegraff, who wanted a foresty-themed doll. She has an obsession with owls, so I thought it was fitting to name her doll Sissiboo (the word has owl roots… see below) and is also a local name here in Nova Scotia, Canada! 🙂

Sissiboo’s Story:
Sissiboo ran through the winter forest towards the rushing sound of the river. She got to the river’s edge and looked at her surroundings. It was chilly and there was snow on the ground. Parts of the river were frozen, but the stream still found a way through the ice and snow. A Great Horned Owl suddenly swooped down and landed on a stump next to her; sending up a cloud of snowflakes as its wings flapped and folded in.

“Sissiboo, we have a matter to discuss.”, the Owl said as it nodded its head. “I’ve been chatting with my five owl brothers, and we have all agreed that we need to ask you for a favour.”

Sissiboo tilted her head slightly to the left with a curious look on her face.

Owl continued: “The Great Lady Kat of The Dominion of Ohio is one of our oldest friends. She is in great need of a forest companion, and we think you would be best suited for this task. She lives in the Silver Ohio Woods where the princesses and unicorns live and has a great menagerie of animal and monster friends.”

This sounded fantastic, but Sissiboo was a little unsure about leaving her familiar forest behind.

“Lady Kat knows the legendary Argyle Owl”, the Owl added, knowing that would sweeten the deal.

Sissiboo’s eyes widened… “The Argyle Owl!!!!”, she exclaimed, and thought about the magnificent purple and blue bird who sings melodies of rainbows and grants magical wishes. “Oh… when can I leave?! What should I pack? How far away is The Dominion of Ohio, and how do I get there?”, she asked while bouncing on the spot.

Owl chuckled and clicked his beak. “Not to worry dear little one, my five brothers and I will fly you there.”.

Sissiboo closed her eyes and said goodbye to her forest. The Great Owl hooted and flapped his wings. Five identical owls joined Great Owl as they swooped down and picked up Sissiboo gently in their talons. Sissiboo and the Six Owls sailed off into the cloudless sky towards the setting sun, and towards The Great Lady Kat in The Dominion of Ohio. 🙂

Origin of the name:
Sissiboo is the name of a river near the small town of Bear River, Nova Scotia. The legend behind the naming of the Sissiboo River is based upon a Loyalist settler who encountered members of the Mi’kmaq Nation. The Mi’kmaq wanted to show the Loyalist six owls that were in a tree nearby and pointed in the general direction of the tree, saying in French: “six hibou”. The loyalist thought that he was pointing at the river, which was in the same direction, and was saying: “Sissiboo”.

Plush: Commissions (Deer + Pierrot)

I finished off a couple of plush commissions this week.

First off I made a plush skull deer with mohawk for my awesome friend Troy Stith. (Dude sculpts his own toys! Check out his Flickr, he’s rad.)

The second plush I made was a Pierrot for an awesome customer who wanted her doll to be female (instead of the male Pierrot I made in the past). I’ve named this one “Pierrette”. 🙂

I have more commissions in the works, so expect another post soon! 🙂

Plush Art Show: Go Ask Alice Doll + Plush Show

Here are the 3 plush pieces I created for the Go Ask Alice show.  I am very excited to be a part of this show because of the Alice In Wonderland theme.  The show will be held at the Paul Cumes Fine Art Gallery in Santa Barbara, CA, from Dec.5th – Jan7th.  The opening is this Saturday from 6-9pm.  Stop by if you’re in the area! 🙂

Alice In Wonderland
“Well! I’ve often seen a cat without a grin; but a grin without a cat! It’s the most curious thing I ever say in my life!”

I was very excited to create my own version of Alice. I wanted to give her a slight twist from the typical look by putting her hair up in buns, giving her a super frilly collar, and deviating from the traditional blue dress by using a fabric featuring all four card suits. She wouldn’t be complete without a little white rabbit buddy and a golden key! 🙂

White Rabbit
“Oh my ears and whiskers, how late it’s getting!”

I made the white rabbit so he matches Alice with his card suits and frilly collar.  I added button eyes to give him a handmade feel. 🙂

Twee + Dee
I know what you’re thinking about,’ said Tweedledum: `but it isn’t so, nohow.’
`Contrariwise,’ continued Tweedledee, `if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn’t, it ain’t. That’s logic.'”

Twee + Dee were inspired by the characters Tweedledee +Tweedledum, the card suit soldiers, and gothic lolita fashion.  I wanted to stay in the pink/red/black/white colour theme and I wanted them to be conjoined twin girls.  I really like how they turned out!

My Mom wrote a nice blog piece about it, and even took a little video of my photoshoot! 😀

In Progress: Two plush dolls > pics + creative process

I’m currently making two plush dolls for a special project, so I thought I’d share some in progress pics and talk about making them. 🙂

1) First I start out with a rough sketch of what I want to make.  I already have an idea of what their personalities are like, and I try to bring that out in their expression, outfit, and overall look.  My creative process is always evolving, and new decisions are made at every step that I could never have forseen with the initial sketch (later on you can see that I scrapped the dresses, and swapped the mouths).

2) Next I choose the colours and fabric I want to use. I lay everything out in an abstract kind of way to help visualize what colours go together, and what don’t before I start cutting the fabric.

3) Then I cut everything out. It’s hard to tell that they’ll look any good at this point, lol.

4) Then I sew everything together that I can with the sewing machine (it makes my life easier!) and I start stuffing body parts.

5) Everything is sewn together! In this pic you can see that I’ve done a bit of handsewing already (sewn the legs on the body, sewn the hair on the heads, etc), and I’ve also pinned the eyes on their faces.  I do this so I can start adding the smokey-eye look (with pastels and q-tips) exactly where I want before sewing the eyes overtop of the added makeup.

6-7) I hand sew the tiny collars for the dresses, and choose which buttons will suit the white-haired girl best. Then I sew their eyes on after adding eyeshadow and blush.

8 ) I think once they have smokey eyes, the dolls really start to come together and their personality starts to show. At this point I’m figuring out what type of lace I’m going to use for the ruffle collar and other lacey accents. Their heads and arms aren’t attached yet… I do those last.  The white-haired girl’s hair buns won’t be sewn on until last because her buns sit low on her head, and I need to have room to sew the ruffle collar to her neck first.  The ruffle collars are then pre-sewn (so they are nice and ruffly), and ready to be attached to the bodies.  In this pic I decided on pink mouths.

9-10) The dolls are both happy (and unhappy) with their new smiles, and can’t wait for me to finish them!  I’ll be revealing their names & backstories when they’re completed. 🙂

…To be continued…

Etsy: Madawaska is now in my shop!

Back in December I created two plushies for the plush group show Stuff This 2 at Rivet Gallery in Columbus, Ohio.  Madawaska and Petawawa scampered off to the show.  Stuff This 2 was a big success, Laura @ Rivet did an excellent job of the set-up.  🙂  Petawawa found a lovely owner, but Madawaska has returned alone.  Today I listed her in my Etsy shop, so hopefully someone out there can give her a good home. 🙂

Madawaska is a wandering nesting spirit. She spends her days walking through the forest waiting for birds to nest in her hair. When a bird family has chosen her head as their nesting ground, she finds a safe place to stand under the shelter of a taller tree. She listens to their conversations as they prepare their nest on her head and quickly becomes up to date on all the latest bird gossip. The Swallows always chirp about the grand pine tree that the Blue Jays live in, the Swallows squawk about the grain stash the Chickadees hoarded without sharing, and the Cardinals simply chatter about how pretty they are compared to any other bird (the Finches do not agree with this one bit). Currently she is the proud hostess of three brand new robin eggs. The Robin parents are already discussing what Universities they want their young ones to go to, as well as whether or not to put them on a strict worm and moss diet.

Her creation
This is the first time I’ve used non-traditional elements on a plush toy (the straw nest and feathered collar) but I felt very strongly about using them. Even though those elements are not handmade by me, I think they give an extra detail to her overall design. I love the spotted pattern on the feathers. Her teal eyes are from a new colour of felt I went bonkers over when I found it at a fabric store (some colours of felt are super hard to find). They echo the striking blue of the robin eggs in the nest, making her appear friendly to potential nesting birds. ^_^

Inspiration. Madawaska was inspired by several things…

1) Animals. Obviously I’m super into deer, but I’ve also been really getting into other animals, especially birds. I also love rabbits, hedgehogs, raccoons, chipmunks (they will be a part of the “Animals” series)… and pretty much any kind of northern wildlife that lives (specifically) in my home country of Canada. I drew the original ideas for these two when I was on the train. You can see my original sketch here.

2) Cocorosie. American sisters who live in France and make the awesomest music ever. I have been listening to them obsessively lately, especially their song “Animals” (you can listen to it here). I love these lyrics in particular:

    I always knew that I would spend a lot of time alone
    No one would understand me
    Maybe I should go and live amongst the animals
    I’d spend all my time amongst the animals
    And on the tracks I would go they lead to the sea
    To be amongst the animals

So tragic! I don’t know why, I just really love it.

3) Nature. Both Madawaska & Petawawa’s names are from locations in Ontario, Canada near the area I would go camping with my family during the summers of my childhood. I have very fond memories of roughing it amongst the Canadian wilderness. I was also inspired by the scenery and nature I saw when I visited my parents in Nova Scotia a few months ago. I’m usually into bold colours, but when I was coming up with ideas for these two plushies, I decided to try a softer palette. I’m sure it’s from being in Nova Scotia. See for yourself… here’s what I captured when I was out there (in September ’08):

(Click HERE if you want to see the rest of the pics from my trip.)

Completed: Pierrot Plush Doll

In my last post I mentioned that I had a custom doll in progress. Well, he’s finally completed, and here he is! Introducing my first male plush doll: Pierrot. Pierrot is based on the sad French clown mime. In the play Commedia dell’Arte, Pierrot loses his love Columbine to Harlequin. Pierrot is trusting and naïve, and as a result is always being tricked, used and laughed at. Quite the tragic character! The black & white costume and pathetic character both appeal to me, and I think are a strong part of Pierrot’s overall look.

I generally like to blush cheeks, but this time I decided to make them more obvious. I used large pink circles and obvious stitching so the cheeks would really stand out, in keeping with the style of traditional mime makeup.

As with every unique doll plush I make, I first start with a sketch. I ended up using the bottom left design, but I might end up making the other sketches someday (I especially want to make the dude with the hat!).