Over the next few weeks I will be interviewing the members of the Stuffed Team, giving you insight behind the magic of the making.
We're kicking these interviews off with Arlo, the reject behind Rejectedtoys...
(ST) So Arlo how did you start making plush toys?
(RT) I first started making plush toys when I was 17. I had seen some really cool stuffed animals in a novelty store, and I absolutely loved them. I thought to myself "I could definitely make toys as good as that. Maybe even better." So when I got home, I found some old t-shirts, and cut them up. I made a few practice toys out of them, and I liked the way they turned out. So I went to the store the next day, and bought some better materials to work with. It's funny, because I didn't even know how to sew at the time that I started making toys. I just knew I could if I tried. And it turns out I was right.
(ST) What or who would you say inspires you?
(RT) There are a lot of things that inspire me. First off, cartoons inspire me a lot, with all my art. I love to draw them, and I figured I could just as easily make stuffed ones. Secondly, my guinea pig inspires me more than you could possibly know. In fact, I plan to soon start constructing my first few stuffed versions of him. He looks kind of like a monster, because he has a really weird, yet adorable face, and extremely long hair. And lastly, my dear friends inspire me to make toys. Not only because they love my artwork, but also because they say and do some of the weirdest things. And because of that, it makes it easy to come up with descriptions and back stories for my toys.
(ST) How do you make your toys?
(RT) Generally, I just start with a piece of material, and I start cutting it into a shape. I decide on a face for it later, depending on what the body and head look like. I never really know what I'm making when I start. So the result is a surprise, even to me. After I've finished sewing the body, I design a face for it. And when I'm done with that part I decide whether or not it needs anything extra. Such as horns, antlers, a moustache, or anything like that.
(ST) What are your favourite materials to work with?
(RT) I usually stick with using fleece or felt. I prefer fleece because it's softer than felt, and more fun to snuggle with. But the felt is much easier to work with. I usually will use felt for the facial features, because the fleece tends to get stretched when I sew it, and the eyes will be lopsided if I'm not careful. I also am a big fan of puff paint, mostly for the pupils. It gives them more of a life-like look to them if the pupils are shiny.
(ST) Tell us about your work space?
(RT) My work space is anywhere I can find a clear spot on the floor. I don't have a sewing machine, so it takes extra time for me to sew the outside of the bodies of my toys. I have to go over the stitches several times to insure that they won't come apart. Since I don't have a sewing machine, I usually just find a spot on the floor to sit down, and I spread all my materials out so I can see them all.
(ST) How has making toys changed you as an artist?
(RT) Making toys has definitely opened my mind up to a lot more things. I was never able to draw anything 'cute' and so it's nice that my toys are appealing to the eye. Generally my drawings tend to be of hideous people, or monsters. But since I've started making toys, I've noticed it's easier for me to come up with 'cute' things to draw.
(ST) What medium of art did you use the most before making toys?
(RT) I have never been one to stick with one medium of art. I have always experimented with any form of art I could think of. I draw with pencils and pens. I paint with acrylic, and watercolor. I use oil pastels, and sculpt with clay. There has never been a favorite medium for me. I enjoy all forms of art, and hope to keep expanding myself this way.
(ST) And finally, where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
(RT) In five years, I could be anywhere. It's hard for me to say at this stage in my life. I am hoping to be a kindergarten teacher. If I do finally achieve my goal of teaching young kids, I hope to expand their minds with my art. Most kids that I meet love my toys, and my drawings. I also play music, and I think that I could teach kids a lot through song. My art helps me to express myself to the world. I'd love to teach my experiences and styles to children so they can learn to do the same.
Thanks Arlo, keep up the good work
You can buy a reject of your own from the Rejectedtoys shop HERE