Plush Team

Plush Team Swap {Slothko}

I've only been on the Etsy Plush Team for about a year and a half now, but it didn't take long to realize my favorite team challenge is definitely the Swap. I believe it was originally planned for around Christmas time, but the holidays always prove to be an extremely busy time for plush artists (not to mention other artists as well!). So last year our exchange was in late January and this year it ended up being a Leap Day Swap - just to give us a bit more time to create our swap item.


It is a secret swap, so we all submit some fun facts about ourselves (favorite colors, favorite animals, favorite foods and smells, etc.) and then the Plush Team leaders pair us all up with our Plushee's info. This year I had the pleasure of making a Fuzzy for Denise of Yummy Pancake. She is so awesome! She makes some wonderful, hilarious crochet creatures which will put an automatic smile on your face. My personal faves are the Cheezburger Pouch and the Bread Cat Costume. So, so fun!


Anyways, when I got Denise's name, I was really happy. We actually have a lot in common! In particular, one of her favorite animals is the sloth. So of COURSE I'm going to make a sloth, since it is MY favorite animal, too! And I've never made one, but have always wanted to. What better excuse, right?


So, without further ado, meet Slothko:




Slothko struggles with the demands of two disciplines...art and science. Having only three
toes has made painting a struggle, even with her love of large blocks of color. And her love of science meant a career sometimes devoid of color...so now she wants a friend who also understands her dilemma and can help bridge the disciplines.



I had so much fun making Slothko. Though it was challenging stuffing those long legs inside the body before I sewed him up and flipped him right-side-out. I may have to figure out a different method in the future.


And since sloths spend a lot of time hanging out in trees, I decided to sew some velcro on each of his feet so he can hang out just like the best of 'em.


If you want to read more about Slothko from Denise's perspective, check out her post on the Plush Team blog - it looks like he even made friends with her cats McPuffypants and Guinness. I'm happy to see he is settling into his new home!


Have a great day,

Painted Lyrics {Brunettes}

Okay, so I'm realizing that painting with gouache is MUCH harder than I thought. 


When I was in college and painting with watercolor, I always disliked it because of the transparency and overlapping brushstrokes. Sometimes there were really pretty effects that were created, but I didn't know how to control them. And the lack of opacity meant so much PLANNING - if you wanted white, you better get that figured out before you paint over it and lose that white space forever. In retrospect, I probably didn't give it enough of a chance, since I gave it up as soon as the watercolor section was over and we moved onto another medium.


Anyways, now that I am attempting this gouache thing, I'm finding a lot of the same issues cropping up. It's slightly more opaque, but all of those overlapping issues are still happening. Ugh! This is why I usually color my illustrations digitally, so I can get a nice flat wash of color. Maybe I'm mixing in too much water?




I should probably stop whining - this is why I'm practicing, right? 


This painting is inspired by the song "If You Were Alien" by Brunettes.



If You Were Alien (Album) by Brunettes on Grooveshark

It's such a cute song! It was fun imagining Stephen and I as aliens. And now that I'm finished and looking at it, Stephen's alien outfit reminds me of the Whos in The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Little PJs...plus the antennae! Hehe. It makes me laugh.

Oh - and if you get a chance, you should check out this video compilation of the Etsy Plush Team in 2011 - are we a fabulous bunch or what?

Have a great weekend,

New Fuzzies {Blankets}

Howdy!


How is 2012 treating you? Well, I hope. Today is my first official work day, now that Stella is back at school. I was really excited to get back to business. The break was great, but I have lots of plans for Bluestar Ink, and I'm anxious to start executing.


First order of business - getting back to blogging! There are a lot of projects I've been working on the last few months which will be nice to share.


I'll start off with some new Fuzzies - blankets!




These little guys are called Ni-Nis, after Stella's favorite blanket whom she'd named Ni-Ni. I'm sure you've seen them - little blankets with a stuffed head attached. They are perfect companions for little hands and not only does the kiddo have a friend, there's a blanket built right in!


Well, seeing how attached Stella has been to her Ni-Ni, I thought making a Fuzzy version would be a great gift for newborns. Plenty of babies have received my Fuzzies when they were born, but the size of the Fuzzies totally dwarfs the itty-bitty babies. These Fuzzy blankets have a smaller head than the classic animals, so they're a much better size for snuggling.


As far as the blanket portion goes, I'm going to utilize the collection of graphic tees I've been accumulating. Plus, there is some satin binding for those kiddos who like lots of different textures.


Since these were my first two attempts, I've been experimenting with the placement of the head: Corner vs. middle. I think I'm leaning towards the middle placement - it's more snuggly - plus I don't have to deal with the satin binding when attaching the head.


What do you think? Are there little babies in your life that may want a new Fuzzy Ni-Ni friend?


Take care,

It's Thrifty Thursday!

Hello!

Did you know that today is Thrifty Thursday? Starting today, and for the next several Thursdays, members of the Etsy Plush Team will be adding new "thrifty" plush to the Etsy shop. This means the plush are made from thrifted, recycled, upcycled or scrap materials. How fun is that? And they're good for the environment, if you're in to that sort of thing.

To kick things off, I contributed a couple items to the shop:


Meet Gobb and Kipi. They're wee ones, just 7 in. and 6 in. tall, respectively. Made from thrifted materials and stuffed with fabric scraps, they're perfect for squeezing.

You can find them in the Plush Team Shop, along with a lot of other plushy goodness.

Yay!
 

Published: STUFFED Summer 2011

Hello!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful July. Mine has been pretty unproductive thus far, as Stella's sitter has been on vacation - so though I've gotten quality kiddo time, my work and projects have been on hold.

One thing I would love to share is the newest issue of STUFFED: The Crafting of Softies -

STUFFED Summer 2011
 
I am so excited, because once again, Bluestar Fuzzies have been included! Here are pics of my two spreads:


As you may remember from this post, I created some circus-themed plush for this submission. I had never made people before, so that was bit of a challenge, but I'm really happy with how they turned out. And there are props - a whip for the lion tamer and a trapeze for the trapeze artist to help complete their stories. Fun!

Once again, the talent in this issue is unbelievable! I am so humbled by all of the other artists' work in the issue. Some other featured Plush Teamers are:


There is also an amazing article about a Plush Team challenge in which they collaborated to make some cool Frankenplush creatures. You must check it out!

So thanks again, Stampington & Company, for featuring my Bluestar Fuzzies. It is such an honor.

Later!
 

Plush Goodness in the House!

Hello!

Today I am so excited to share the latest addition to my plush collection: Graham the Rarebit, made by the wonderful Leeanna of Plush Goodness:


Isn't he glorious? I have been a big fan of Leeanna's work ever since I have been a part of the Plush Team. And when I got the opportunity to see her plush in person at the Candyland Show, they were even more amazing (if that's even possible)! When Leeanna inquired if I'd be willing to do a plush swap, I didn't even need to give it a second thought.

I loved the retro styling she gives some of her creations, so that was my only request - I didn't want to hinder the greatness that is Leeanna. And boy, she didn't disappoint. When I received Graham last week, I was so excited I don't even want to tell you what I did...

The fabrics are so fun, and his face is so adorable, but what really blows me away are her attention to details. Take a look at all of the accessorizing happening here:


He's wearing a belt, complete with belt loops! And a corsage! And he has a lovely little patch with a hand-stitched "L" on his back. Pinned to Graham was a fun Plush Goodness pin and custom ribbon. And did I mention the hand-drawn hangtag and story?

It's Graham's greatest wish to become a celebrated folk singer like his idols from the 1960s. Despite being tone deaf and unable to play the guitar, Graham still sings along with the radio, and occasionally torments his friends with off-key renditions of "Judy BlueEyes". He also loves to dress in clothes reminiscent of the 60s - an ode to Flower Power.

Aw, I love him so much! Before I saw him, I thought I might let Stella play with him a bit. But now that he is in my hands, sorry kiddo - I'm not sharin'!

So if you get a chance, I highly encourage you to check out Leeanna's shop, Plush Goodness and her fun blog. And if you are looking for some unique portraits for your family or for a gift, look at what else she can do: Plushcatures! She is one talented lady.

Yay!
 

Earth Day Sunshine

Howdy!

I just wanted to share the newest special edition plush I created for the Etsy Plush Team:


Meet Lihosu the Sunshine. Lihosu is completely eco-friendly, made out of upcycled and recycled fabrics and stuffed with fabric scraps. If you're looking for a way to brighten your day, you can find Lihosu here, in the Plush Team shop.

Have a great week!

Off to STUFFED country

Hello!

Today I am happy to say I sent off my new submissions to STUFFED magazine. This time around, I told myself I was going to get a head start and NOT wait until the last minute. Well, I did start earlier than usual, but I created all new Fuzzies, so I wasn't able to make them as fast as I usually do. (Now, when I say fast, I don't really mean fast - there's nothing fast about hand-sewing...)


Part of being on the Plush Team means participating in challenges. Candyland, though not a challenge, per se, still pushed me to try something new and break out of my box. Up until that point, I had my set "crew" that I always stuck to, and once in a while, usually upon request of a customer, I'd try a new shape. But being on the Plush Team has taught me that I don't always have to stick to what I know. Why not try a different creature? As long as the plush still exhibits Fuzzy-type qualities, then it's still a Bluestar Fuzzy, right?


So for the STUFFED submission I decided to try something new: A new animal, and...people! Whoa. Who would've thunk it? 




Da da da DUM! It's the circus Fuzzies! Here we have Topatty the Trapeze artist, complete with stirrup leggings (!) and Stipelo the Lion being tamed by Blusabi the Lion Tamer.


And my brilliant husband came up with three individual stories that are all integrated. He's such a smarty pants like that.


These 3 circus performers are making their way to sunny California to try out for STUFFED. Let's keep our fingers crossed!



Have a Heart

Today's post is a bit more personal for me.

As you may or may not know, our little peanut, Stella, has some pretty serious medical issues. Three years ago today, as a tiny 6-week old, Stella went in for a routine follow-up cardiology appointment and got immediately admitted to the ICU. She had a small hole in her heart at birth, but we were told that was fairly normal, and set up an appointment to check on it in 6 weeks. Fast forward those 6 weeks and all of a sudden we were told this minor abnormality had turned into a full-blown enlarged heart with crazy rhythms, skipped beats, and a gamut of other problems. Whoa! 

Her unique combination of heart complications really perplexed the doctors. In fact, several other pediatric cardiologists from around the U.S. were called into the conversations to try to figure out the best solution. Finally, after 4 weeks, we found a combination of medications that seemed to stabilize her heart. But during our hospital stay, we found other medical problems: Stella developed severe reflux; the doctors discovered malrotation of her gut which required surgery to correct it. During that surgery they also placed a G-Tube to aid in feedings and medication administration. The surgery caused her right lung to collapse, so she had to have respiratory therapy to help her through that. 


It was also in that hospital stay that Stella was diagnosed with Noonan Syndrome, a developmental disorder. This explained some of her heart problems and new feeding issues. When we were sent home with our 10-week old, we were scared out of our minds. Without the reassurance of the constant computer monitor surveillance, how would we know what her heart was doing? What would we do without the help of doctors and nurses? We would be so alone...with this baby who could go into cardiac arrest at any moment...

I could go on and on about the challenges we've faced the last three years, but what's really important is that she is doing excellent, despite her diagnosis. She is an amazing little girl, and has beaten the odds and continues to surprise her doctors and therapists with her wonderful progress. Though it has been tough for our little family, we believe we were given this "challenge" because we could handle it - and we are! We wouldn't trade it in for the world.



Now onto the point of this post. For the month of February, the Plush Team challenge was to make a plush "with a heart". "Plush Team Has Heart" is a fundraiser to benefit the International Children's Heart Foundation, an organization that works to bring aid to children in developing countries with congenital heart conditions. 100% of the sales will be donated to the ICHF.

Typically, this challenge would be a great one, but this one specifically, hits home for us. To honor Stella, and all the children of the world with heart conditions, I made Cardesso the Monster:




To purchase Cardesso, with 100% of the sale going to the International Children's Heart Foundation, go here. If Cardesso isn't your style, there are plenty more awesome choices in the Plush Team Shop.


Thank you so much for reading this post and supporting such a wonderful cause.


Please note: Our family has not benefited specifically from the ICHF. We have, however, gotten help from other local organizations, for which we are forever grateful.

Have a great Tuesday! (and Happy 60th Birthday, Dad!)
 

Candyland Gallery Show

While the air temperature was hovering around the zero mark last Friday night, that didn't stop the hardy folks of Milwaukee, Wisconsin from stopping by the first-ever Plush Team gallery show opening at the awesome Hot*Pop Shop. The theme was Candyland, and everyone's sweet tooth was out in full force. From zombie gingerbread men to huggable gummy bears to flaming fireballs, the Plush Team was representing! And to top it all off, there was a candy buffet and a gypsy band. It was a glorious night.



These are three Fuzzies I made for the occasion: Cabu, the candy button monster, Spinsu, the cotton candy with super sexy legs and Pebuckly the peanut butter cup. I have to say, since I primarily make more traditional plush consisting of animals and simple monsters, these were a fun challenge! I wanted them to still look like Bluestar Fuzzies, with the characteristic eyes, cheeks and star, but still mold them into some candy goodness.

And some photos from the big night:


Clockwise from top left:

• There were several candy-themed banners made by the members of the Plush Team. My 
  candy cane exclamation point is at the end of "CANDY!".

• Stella and Stephen were entertained by the original life-size Tyler Poncho.
• My Fuzzies, hanging in all their glory.
Stella and I hanging out with Big Bunny and Tyler Poncho.
• The walls of the bathroom were covered with chalkboard paint, so I took it upon myself to
  leave a little Fuzzy mark.

• Some girls enjoying the story of Cabu.
Hot*Pop shop - thank you so much for hosting us! Hopefully we'll be back next year.
That's me, standing in front of my candy creations.

All-in-all, the show was fantastic! It looked great, thanks to Christina and Kaeti. Hot*Pop was a perfect venue for our plush, as the product really complemented each other. Despite the frigid weather, there was still a steady stream of gallery-goers and the music accompaniment was absolutely wonderful. I was so excited to meet some members of the Plush Team, artists whose work I respect so much! And it sounds like Hot*Pop wants us back next year. Woo hoo!

For those of you who couldn't make it Friday night, the show will be up through March 20 if you're in the Milwaukee area. Otherwise, check out all of my other photos here. I tried my best to capture the ambiance of the night and all the fabulous plush pieces.

Plush Team at Candyland Gallery Opening

 

Friday, January 21 • 5:00pm - 10:00 pm
Hot Pop Gallery Milwaukee, WI
213 N. Broadway

What happens when a guild of internationally recognized plush artists descend upon Milwaukee in Winter for January Gallery Night? Candyland! See works created especially for Hot Pop Gallery by members of the Plush Team.

Please join us for the opening of Candyland at HotPop. Enjoy musical treats and an amazing candy buffet with samples of Plush Team favorites sent to MKE from all over the globe.

Plush Team artists have been featured in galleries all over the world! Including: Schmancy- Seattle, Chromeo- Vancouver, Gallery Hanahou-NYC, StitchWars, Bear & Bird Gallery-Miami, and many more. Numerous Plush Team members are featured in STUFFED Magazine every issue.

RSVP at our Facebook event!

www.hotpopshop.com

Sweet Cheeks

I must have been a good girl in 2010 because Santa delivered this little guy to me this year. You can imagine my surprise and delight when I opened my Secret Santa gift from Squirrel Momma:


My heart just melted when I saw his adorable grin and pouf of curls atop his head. And he's turquoise! My favorite color. I couldn't have been more overjoyed...until I flipped him over...and there - the sweetest little cheeks smiling back at me. Oh, I am in love!

So thank you, thank you thank you, dear Amy of Squirrel Momma! You've made this mama a very happy girl. My new Sweet Cheeks has a new home right next to my computer - where I can see him every single day. Merry Russian Christmas to me!

Check out more of Amy's work at her shop or her wonderful Flickr stream.


And Happy Holidays to y'all from BluestarFuzzies!

STUFFED Winter 2011 Feature

Here's some exciting new for y'all: The Winter 2011 issue of STUFFED Magazine is now available and it is packed with some fantastic plush goodness. And...the Bluestar Fuzzies are featured on pages 10-13. Woo Hoo!


You can read all about Drob, Ewlee and Bomat, three hooligans from an elite snowboarding, crime-fighting, mystery-solving monster team that shreds crazy pow pow and saves the world from bad guys. Don't they sound like fun? 

Also featured in STUFFED are several members of the Plush Team:


Gallery section:


Stuff We Love section:


Once again, I am so honored to be a part of this wonderful magazine. It is comprised of so many inspiring plush artists from around the world, and I feel so lucky to be in their company.

You can find STUFFED Magazine at your local JoAnne Fabrics or Barnes & Noble.

Cheers!






Cycling Fuzzies

Hello! Remember me?

Wow, it feels like it has been a really long time since I've been here. Don't worry - I'm not slacking - it's just the opposite. Lately, computer time = work time. That means no blogging, no drawing, no blog-reading. Boo. 

Even though I've only been running on about 6 hours of sleep, the excitement of these projects keeps me motivated. Schwinn is in full gear, and I've been rolling on setting up the decal artwork. I finished screen printing, cutting and scoring our holiday cards, and now Stephen takes over with writing and addressing them. (Isn't he an amazing husband?!?) I'm currently in the middle of the biggest custom Fuzzy order ever (7!!!), and it is easily the most meaningful order I have done. I just sent off my first Plush Team project. And I have a new illustrated animation in the hopper.



I wanted to post some of my latest Fuzzies. October ended up being a big charity month for me, with 6 Fuzzies going out to various local events. I was very honored to contribute to these wonderful organizations. The above 4 Fuzzies were custom-made for the Saris Gala, and event to raise money for the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin. To make them even more appealing, I cut up several of my bike jerseys to outfit these four. It was my first experience with this mesh jersey material, and I have to say, the slinkiness of the fabric wasn't the easiest to work with - but in the end, I think they turned out pretty cool.


And these two were a special order traveling all the way to sunny San Diego.

Once all of these big projects are complete, hopefully by the end of the month, I'm going to start working on some fun holiday ideas I have jingling around in my head. Usually I am so busy during December that I don't really get a chance to truly enjoy the season. I'm hoping this year will be different.


Yeah, right.  :-)



Halloween Monster Sale

Happy Monday!


I would apologize for the lack of posts, but I have a feeling they're going to be scant until the end of the year. The amount of projects that are piling up is mind blowing! 


I did want to share some very exciting news, though: I am now an official member of the Etsy Plush Team! I am so thrilled to be involved with this group of mega-talented plush artists! So far they have been absolutely wonderful, welcoming me into the group with open arms (or appendages). Being part of this team will help me grow more as an artist - I will be making special plush for the Plush Team Shop, there are several challenges every year which will stimulate my creativity, there are gallery showings and tons of other opportunities to get my Fuzzies out there. Plus, the support of the Team will be priceless. I cannot wait to jump in and get my feet wet!


With that news, I opened a new shop on Etsy, specifically for my Fuzzies. Please check it out and give it some love! The shop is called BluestarFuzzies

And...I'm having a special Halloween Sale right now - 25% all of the scary Monsters!  Wooooooo!  Prepare to be spooked...

Of course, all of my illustration, screen prints and other handmade goods will remain in my original shop, BluestarInk


Thanks again for all of your support!