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Australian maker, Cat, is crafting magical handmade creatures with perfectly tailored wardrobes and handy little accessories.
Hi! So, please tell us a little about yourself and your artistic background. Where are you from? Where are you going?
My name is Cat and I am a textile artist living in Melbourne, Australia. I have been making things for as long as I can remember, and getting paid for it since about 2005. I am originally from Port Sorell in Tasmania, and I am dreaming about going back to Japan in May.
Have you always been crafty and drawn to making things?
Always! My sister and I used to make lavender bags and pet rocks to sell to our family members when we were just little kids. We were very enterprising! I also used to make handmade gifts for my friends for any occasion, and still do when I get the chance! I also love baking and knitting and crosswords and Sudoku and basically anything that would also qualify me as an old lady.
What inspired you to build a business around your plush toys and accessories?
I was lucky enough to have a very supportive community when I started out in Hobart (Tasmania). My friends encouraged me to take my artwork seriously and eventually I opened an Etsy store, as well as stocking my work in local shops that featured the handmade. I was very fortunate to be hitting the plush market at the right time – I think I owe much of my success to the handmade movement that was taking off at the time.
What’s your process like when you start a new project? Do you like to sketch and plan or just wing it?
A little bit of both. Sometimes I really enjoy taking the time to plan something carefully and sketch it fully before I start. Other times I get really excited and just bust it out as quickly as possible – just to see if it turns out how I imagined! One thing that doesn’t vary is the fact that I don’t use a pattern. I work with a sculptural approach, so I cut out suitable shapes and add things as I go.
What’s your work-space like?
I have a home studio for crafting and a studio in the city that I share with Isobel for our larger projects and meetings. My home studio is fluffy! Stuffing fluff and cat fluff and felt fluff – all kinds! I love having a space at home that I can work from, it is so comfortable having easy access to cups of tea and cat pats. My studio is full of colorful materials and messy organization; that’s how I like it. In our city studio, Isobel and I are surrounded by our past work – a Sausage Dog factory, Cloud Town, a Treehouse Village, it’s great.
We met in 2010 through a mutual friend. Isobel popped into our studio and she immediately had ideas for collaborating. We decided to work together and very quickly and excitedly made an animation called Owl Know How – over the course of a week! It was very rough – we made a factory out of cardboard and scrap felt, and used some characters that I already had waiting in the wings. Seeing the characters blink was definitely one of the highest points of my life! We screened the animation at my first ever solo exhibition in 2011. As luck would have it, a very keen and nice publisher saw it and offered us a book deal. The rest is history! We now call ourselves Soft Stories and have made another book since called Too Much for Turtle, and also a sausage dog factory and many fun projects for kids and adults.
Are you stirring up any other ideas for the future of your sweet, unique characters?
Always! I am making a limited series of Porco plush, based on my cat, I also have lots of ideas for more products and plush characters to release, and Isobel and I have many animation projects up our sleeves!
What makes you happiest in life?
The nice apartment I share with my lovely boyfriend and our cat Porco, Studio Ghibli films, making a new plush character, listening to Stephen Fry read Harry Potter to me over and over again + many more things.