Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Artist Interviews: Plastic Fairy
Samantha Dew is the creative artist behind Plastic Fairy — a maker of interesting curiosities and is based in Wellington. The Auckland Fair will be her Auckland début and we are very excited to have her join us. We love her super cool brooches!
How long have you been doing your craft?
I have been taking photos and mucking about with animal collage for years. I started making badges about nine years ago, then doll jewellery, t.shirts and purses. Over the last year I have been making "book" brooches, cards, magnets and necklaces, as well as hand stitching an assortment of stuffed fabric brooches. I tend to go through phases with my craft and have just rediscovered my love for purse making over the last month. I also tweaked my old doll bracelet design and like it a lot more now.
How did you get started?
In 2000 I was living in Melbourne. I worked at a catering company full time and had developed an obsession with dolls, the creepier the better. After work I would either op shop for more plastic people or shoot a roll of film of the ones I had recently dragged home. I started to know how the lighting in my backyard worked, what time to shoot and which dolls showed the most personality. I turned a bunch of my photos into greeting cards with the idea of sending them to friends and family back home. One day I took them into work to show my fabulous boss, Tim and he loved them. Without me knowing, he took the cards across the road into a great little shop called Shop Sui. When he returned he said "Hey Tiger, Sylvia from Shop Sui loves them, you've got your first order". After that I decided to contact other shops and after a while I had a number of places stocking them. Whenever I had a new product I would take it to Sylvia first. She usually liked and stocked my creations and always encouraged me to get them into other shops.
Describe what you create?
I print my photographs of dolls, animals, plants and retro cuties onto fabric then use the fabric to make oodles of different things such as badges, purses, t.shirts, stuffed brooches and sew on patches. I have just started to use my collages in the same way and am very excited about releasing the new treats! I hunt down great images from old books too and after printing them onto fabric I hand stitch them into a brooch. I never know what I'm going to find in an old medical journal or forgotten childrens book about insects, which is half the fun. I created a range of "book" brooches, necklaces, cards and magnets over the past year and have been having a lot of fun with them. I photograph fabulous book covers (the older the better although cheesy Mills and Boon covers are veeeery popular too) then shrink the photos down and turn them into the above mentioned products. The photo is waterproof and is mounted onto thick cardboard with felt on the back (the cardboard is actually a page taken from a babies picture book). I like to recycle and reuse as often as possible and use the pages of old novels to make wee envelopes for the mini greeting cards. People tend to squeal with delight when they see them which is always nice to see :)
What inspires you?
Animals, mother earth, old books, broken dolls, music, retro fabric, strange plastic toys, the words from old fashioned childrens books, deep sea creatures, National Geographic magazines, bike rides around the country side... the list goes on.
What are your favourite materials to use?
Why are they your favourite? I love snipping up books because theres always an element of surprise when flicking through an unwanted science book from 1982 or a lost picture dictionary from the 70's. Photographs are my favorite thing to work with because the image was created entirely by me which is always rewarding. Its great to find a grubby old doll, clean her up, take some snaps then look at whats happened...sometimes theres this incredible wee character coming through in the photos that you just don't see in real life, almost as though her personality was hiding and only the camera could find it....Collage is another great medium and I never know whats going to happen until I've glued a dogs head here and some bird wings there......
What would you say is your biggest achievement to date?
It may sound naff but any sale or compliment is an achievement however if I really think about it then I would have to say it was my first exhibition of doll photographs in Melbourne. I had spent so much time squirrelled up in my room, looking at photos, reshooting this and resizing that... after a while the impact of the photos was sort of lost on me. Anyway, I hung 100 cd sized photos up in this fabulous wee cafe called Tomorrow, put $35 price tags on each one, knocked back a champagne and waited for the guests to arrive. About one hour into the exhibition my boyfriend came up to me and said "you've just sold $1500 worth of photos" I nearly fell over.
Do you have any future plans for your work?
I would like to sink my teeth into more festivals and fairs, New Zealand to start with then Australia. If things went well I would like to have a sniff about London and New York because I have some friends living there that could help me out and steer me in the right direction. Woot!
Where are your favourite places on-line?
Ooohhh, theres so many.I love www.blip.fm (check out dj MollyMoo cause, well ummm...cause thats me)
http://www.stumbleupon.com (so many things to discover!)
http://www.textsfromlastnight.com (silly and sometimes feral fun on there)
What kind of music do you enjoy listening to while you work, if any?
I usually just plug myself into my ipod and set it to shuffle...... the results vary... ADCD, Beruit, Ween, Bjork ....but lately if I put on a cd its usually The Smiths, The Chills, Hikoikoi, Massive Attack or The Stranglers.
If you could go back in time and give on piece of advice to yourself when you started, what would it be?
Keep up the momentum! I've lost a few leads and potential shops simply because I wasn't onto it enough....or I let my day job rule me....
What do you enjoy doing when you aren't busy making your wares?
Feeding the neighbours cow grass from my mouth, bike riding around the country side with my camera, baking vegan sweets and yummy pita pockets, wizzing up a batch of hummus, attempting to invent a chocolate chelsea bun, writing to my friends and making them mixed cds, watching films in bed with headphones on, dressing up in bad taste frocks, drinking tequilla with orange wedges and cinnamon instead of lemon and salt, tending to the garden, garage saleing with my mum, walking the dogs from down the road, putting random words into the blipfm search bar, saving my flatmate from the weta or spider or mouse in her room, brushing my cat, rescuing baby hedgehogs, writing letters to the government about how silly they are to mine etc etc
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