Abbey Christine Interview
We love the finger puppets by Abbey Christine! We decided to do a little interview with the maker. Enjoy!
S- First, how about you tell us a bit about yourself.
AC- Well, I’m the Abbey behind . I'm 29 and live in the lovely city of Chicago. I’ve been running abbeychristine since 2005, out of living rooms and bedrooms of various tiny apartments, and now (at long last!) out of a dedicated studio space in our current apartment. I've always been a maker, from as long as I can remember-- I wrote and illustrated my first book when I was four years old. I started creating things to sell a few years ago after it became clear that all my making needed a new outlet. I had always dreamed of being able to sell my work in some way, and was lucky enough to stumble on Etsy and start my little business. When I’m not crafting (which isn’t that often), I can probably be found thrifting or taking a nap with our dog, Weebay.
S- What was your first finger puppet you created?
AC- I made a set of "unloved animals" puppet for my nephew's birthday one year-- bats, flies, octopi, the kind of animals that don’t normally get made as finger puppets. From there I started making lots of animals and monsters (quite a few of which I still make for craft fairs today!). Then late one night I was sewing while watching the Royal Tenenbaums, and thought to myself "Wouldn't it be awesome to try to make them as finger puppets?!" That first set of Margo, Richie and Chas took me hooooours to finish, and I remember thinking that I'd have to sell them for so much money if I was ever going to make a profit. Luckily I've honed my skills somewhat! And, five years later, I still make those Tenenbaums in basically the same form!
S- How often do you create new finger puppets? Do you base your new creations on what your latest favorite tv show or movie is?
AC- Up until last year, I was still really developing my "line," so I put out new puppets just whenever I came up with them. Then in early 2010 I decided to try debuting a whole collection of new designs all at once-- I chose the early spring because by then I've had a chance to decompress after the holidays and some down time to work on new ideas. It worked well, so I did the same thing this year, debuting new puppets just a few months ago. I definitely base my creations of pop culture that I'm into at that moment. In the past, I've tried working on designs for things that are really popular but I'm not such a big fan of, but if I'm going to have to look at a little felty face over and over for months, I really need it to be something I love. Maybe it's selfish, but that's how I work. And luckily other people seem to be into the stuff I like, too! The only trouble with that method is that sometimes it takes me a little while to be convinced that I’ll like things that are really popular sometimes, so occasionally I’m a little late to the party :)
S- Do you do custom orders?
AC- Absolutely! Sometimes people request pop culture characters they’re into-- one of my favorites I did a few months back were characters from black and white movies that I made using just black, white and grey felt. But I also do a lot of custom puppets of real people. Especially holiday season, I usually end up doing a couple of big custom orders of entire families, which are so much fun!
S- Have you ever gotten a nice note or anything from anyone you have turned into a finger puppet?
AC- From “regular people” I’ve made custom orders for, I sometimes get photos back of them with their little felt selves, which are always so awesome. I once had a couple who commissioned puppets of themselves that they used in their engagement photos, and a White House staffer who bought an Obama puppet and then sent me photos of it posed around the White House (in the Press Briefing Room on the podium was my favorite). As for famous folks themselves, I've never heard from anyone I've made a puppet of, though that would be pretty crazy! I know that the actor who played Omar on the Wire, Michael K. Williams, has been tweeted my Omar baby bibs by a couple of people, and he often retweets those messages, which is really awesome of him. And there are a few famous folks who I'm relatively certain have been given my puppets of them, but I haven’t gotten any actual confirmation.
S- What's your most popular finger puppet character to date?
AC- For a long time it was definitely my Ira Glass design, but last year Steve Zissou did really well, too, so they're probably tied at this point. This fall will be my shop's 6th anniversary and I'm thinking of counting up how many of some of my popular designs I’ve made over the years, but I'm actually a little scared to see what the number really is!
S- Can you give our readers one piece of helpful information on how to be a successful seller on Etsy?
AC- When I opened my shop, I feel like it was a lot easier to get seen on Etsy, just because the community was much smaller and there weren’t so many shops. Obviously its wonderful how much the site has grown, for sellers hoping to find an audience and buyers looking for a variety of products. But, with there being so much more choice, I think that having a product that’s unique is really an important way to stand out from the crowd. So I would say make something wonderful and personal and interesting. And then take really good photos of it!
S- What are you most looking forward to in 2011?
AC- Well, for one, being accepted into Plush You is super exciting for me, since it'll be my first "show". This year I really want to focus not only on my regular designs, but work that's more complex, one-of-a-kind and limited edition work that takes things a few steps further than the designs I can "mass produce."
Thanks Abbey for the awesome chat! You can find her work on Schmancy's site here!
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