Today I would like to introduce you to an outstanding artist in their field. Representing part of the Dolls, Plushies & Customized Toys gallery, ~elbooga takes some time to talk to us, so let's get started.
~elbooga creates plushies with a lot of character and her own unique style. There's a great variety of work to be found in her gallery, but let's let her speak for herself.
Hello! Could you please tell us a bit about yourself?
~elbooga : My name is Louise, I'm 25 and I live in Dublin (Ireland). I studied animation in college here and work as a director and animator most of the time. I started making plushies in 2006 as a hobby. The reason I started was that I realised I could make some of the characters I draw into 'real' things, especially the ones that don't make it to the point of being animated.
When I started making plushies I didn't really know what I was doing. I had basic sowing knowledge from school so my mum gave me a hand using a sowing machine. Over time I improved through reading up online and just experimenting, trying harder things. It didn't always work out, but I usually learnt from it.
I keep plushies as a hobby so that I can focus on making what I want with no pressure to sell. I take commissions from time to time, but only if they interest me. I sell my plushies under the name Happy Plush Plush at my etsy and dawanda shops.
Could you explain your creative process to us?
~elbooga : I start out with a rough idea of the character I want to create. I am always drawing my own characters, but I also do some fanart stuff, like Spock and Mario. I sketch out this a few times before I start to 'plushify' the idea. When I am happy with the sketch I draw up the design to the scale that I want and this becomes the pattern. I use a lightbox to trace the pieces of the pattern out on paper and cut out the fabric.
Then its just about putting in the sowing hours. I hand sow and machine sow, I often use both on a plushie. Hand sowing is good with felt and machine sowing is great with fleece. After the sowing I do the stuffing and final details. I use a colouring pencil to do blush on the cheeks.
Sometimes things go wrong and I need to rethink. You cant be afraid to change something or fix it. You don't want to be unhappy with finished work because you didn't bother fixing something small early on. I always keep the sketch I based it on nearby so that I know its going in the right direction.
Where do you work and what materials do you use?
~elbooga : I work at a desk in my bedroom. I really wish I had a work room for all my fabric and that I could have my sowing machine to hand at all times, but sadly that requires a good bit of space. I use a toolbox as my sowing kit and it is far more practical then a sowing box. I get most of my fabric locally, though the selection is limited. I also buy from the internet, sometimes from suppliers on Etsy. I got my sowing machine in Lidl and its brilliant. Most important tool is probably a sharp pair of scissors, don't use them to cut paper whatever you do!
Do you have any tips for beginners?
~elbooga : If you're not sure where to start have a look for beginners tutorials on deviant and the net. [link] The first thing I made was a sock monkey based on an online tutorial and it was great. I would avoid buying books right off the bat as its expensive and isn't necessary early on. Felt is a great material to work with as it doesn't fray and fleece if you have a sowing machine.
Two dimensional plushies [link] are good to start on, 3d ones are a big step up in complexity [link]. That's when you need to start learning about gussets and darts and other stuff. This is a great blog that goes into different plushie issues like turning, patterns and gussets.
What's your biggest aspiration regarding your artisan crafts work?
~elbooga : Looking ahead I want to keep making the plushies that interest me, and also to push my designs further. I would also love to combine them with my animation and make a stop-motion film. Soon I will be attending a short animation course so its tools down for a while but during that time I'll still be designing. I hope though that my plushies and animation will keep advancing one-another.
Which work in your gallery are you most proud of and why?
~elbooga : My favourite plushie that I have made (though its really tough to pick) is probably my Blue Lady plushie.
I feel she has emotion and is more on the serious side for my work. I was stepping up on the design too and I was really pleased how close I got to my original sketch. There was issues with fraying fabric that made it difficult to complete but persistence (and double seams) paid off and I got her finished.
I was going to sell her, but once I was done I couldn't bring myself to, so she's here, hanging on the wall beside my desk. Something I realised when working on it was that I am happiest when making plushies for myself with my own character designs.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us! I hope you go on creating amazing artwork for all of us to enjoy.