I've been the hugest fan of Heidi Kenney (a.k.a. My Paper Crane) ever since I set eyes upon her anthropomorphized milk cartons and donuts. You can imagine how thrilled I was when we swapped emails for this interview! She's craft royalty!
Schmancy Gallery: You've been involved in the indie craft movement for five years now! How have things changed since you first began?
Heidi Kenney: Well some of the major changes are the big sense of community, so many indie craft shows, and lots of folks making plush!
SG: Do you feel that the internet was important to your success as an independent business woman?
HK: I do! I live in a small rural town and without the internet and being able to connect with people all over the world I doubt I would be making a career out of my plush today.
SG: What are some of the drawbacks/advantages of having such a big web presence?
HK: The biggest draw back for me is because I can be a bit shy, and now I even have some people in my town that read my blog and know what I do. It is an odd feeling to wonder if the lady shopping next to me at the thrift shop reads my blog. Advantages of course are having people recognize my plush as something I have made, the wonderful feedback and support that comes with it.
SG: I absolutely adore your plush! Have you always used food and sundry goods as a source for inspiration? What sort of things did you draw when you were younger?
HK: Thanks Kristen :) I actually started out online making some strange purses, like a dead cat purse, a hedgehog bag, nursing cat purse with removable kitten pouches etc. These were always made like a stuffed animal that just happened to be a purse and have handles, if that makes sense. The funny part is I dreaded making the purse parts, and the fun for me was in creating the plush. Before I ever had a website or blog I would mostly draw and paint making occasional plush gifts like a doll from Southpark, some felt food that I made my oldest son (he was 5 at the time and is 12 now and it was all handsewn).
When I was younger I would draw a lot of people, trees, lots of girls with big ruffly dresses, and paper dolls!
SG: What was it like to work with Kid Robot?
HK: It has been a really surreal experience. This has been first time I have licensed my work in this way (I have also licensed paintings and drawings to My Favorite Mirror and they have always been grand) but this is a different sort of thing. Everyone I have worked with at Kidrobot has been just really nice and have made the whole process really easy for me. It was pretty amazing to get the first samples of donut keychains and let it sink in that they were going to be made. The whole process takes awhile from original designs to approving clay sculptures to the actual keychains.
SG: Do you have any tips for someone looking to break into the world of plush?
HK: I guess I would have to say what I always say which is always make something because you love to do it, not just because you think it is the next big trend. So if you enjoy making plush then keep at it, but if you hate sewing don't feel like you have to express yourself in that medium. If your a plush maker it is always a good idea to keep a blog or atleast a news section where you can keep people up to date on what your making. People love to see in progress shots, and don't be afraid to apply for group shows or indie craft shows. Also do not feel discouraged if people say things like "OH are these for dogs?" or "Oh those are just baby toys" haha, I have heard it all :) Unless of course you are making plush for babies or dogs which in that case of course would be awesome!
SG: What's in store for My Paper Crane in the near future?
HK: Well I have some exciting group shows coming up, and I have even been asked to customize a vinyl toy for one of the shows (this is a first for me). I have some new clothing coming out with Kidrobot, and plan to work with them for as long as I can. I also have the possibility of a special vinyl toy in the works, but again long process so we shall see :)
SG: Also, seen any good movies this summer?
HK: I actually liked the movie Penelope a lot. Lots of beautiful things to look at and see in that movie. Hellboy 2 was pretty fun too. We also saw Peresopolis when it came out on dvd and loved it.
Heidi's opening at Schmancy is on Friday, August 8th from 6p-9p! She will debuting some incredible plush at the show, so make sure to mark your calenders! Until then, check out Heidi's presale or her shop!