I talked to Donna, designer maker and creator behind Poopycakes, about how she started and her exciting plans for the future!
When and why did you start needle felting?
I began needle felting about a year and a half ago. I had just taken up amigurumi (cute crochet) and found needle felting purely by chance.
I bought a very simple needle felting kit but never actually made it. I took the felting needles and foam, but the colour of the wool in the kit was so boring and uninspiring, I used some of my own wool yarn which was beautifully soft and awesomely bright!
I cut it into lengths and pulled it apart and started having a little poke at it with the felting needles on the foam. In fact the first little thing I made was a grumpy leaf to go along with my amigurumi hedgehog. The second was a rather elaborate set for them. I have a background in modelmaking and animation so building a set just seemed the natural thing to do.
What inspires you and your lovely characters (and, you know, why poop)?
I love working to a creative brief, especially for work in galleries. Working to a theme can pop all sorts of cute images into my head and thinking of ideas quickly is always best. If an idea is too laboured over it looks overworked and this probably means that anyone looking at it won’t understand it.
Japanese culture, and anything with a cute little face and bright colours inspires me.
Working from home can turn you into a hermit so you have to get out once in a while. If I have a creative block I’ll get out for a walk. There’s always something to inspire out there; a cute bird, some dew on a cobweb, an odd shaped leaf, some cherry blossoms, just the simplest of things really. I love gazing at the sheep in the field near where I live, seeing where the wool comes from (even if it’s not that exact sheep!). It makes me feel like I’m heading in the right direction.
…And, yes, the poop. Well, I’m not sure how it all started but one day I decided to make a woolly poop, just for fun, it wasn’t really considered or well thought out. The little poop’s name is Popo but he also answers to cutie poo, Mr Poopington, or just simply poo.
You’ve exhibited in the UK and US. How did you start getting word out, and selling your work?
I’ve been really lucky. The opportunity to show my work in Los Angeles came about through the owner of the I Am 8 Bit gallery contacting me through my etsy shop. I did wonder if it was an April Fools then realised it was December (phew!).
Etsy is a great place to be, I have had quite a few commissions come in that way.
Twitter has had the biggest impact on how I show my work. I’ve gained a lot of contacts through it and actually made some good friends. It’s a great way to get the word out about your work and to meet other artists, plus you never know who else might be looking. It was through Twitter that my participation in the Ginger Fig Gallery’s “Wish You Were Here” exhibition came about.
This year I’ve been inspired by an article I heard on Umano (a news articles app) about getting out of your comfort zone. I’ve made a big effort to push myself forward; meeting people, talking about my work, doing things I wouldn’t normally do and I think the more you do it the more enjoyable it gets. It’s really amazing to see how people react to my work, and yes the name “Poopycakes”.
You’ve made sculptures, journals and accessories. Is there anything different or challenging you’d like to try next?
Yes, big plans! On a personal level I’d love to create some really large, woolly sculptures. All my work is made using 100% wool so large sculptures would be really heavy, I can’t wait!
In February I was approached by a publishing company about my work, and I showed them my plans for a “how to make” book on a series of needle felted characters I’ve created. I’m in the process of turning them into some super cute craft kits, but why stop there? I’m seeing them as something a lot bigger – plush toys, story books, stickers, animation, clothing – it’s really exciting.
Coming up next I have some work showing on the Toy Chronicle booth at ToyCon, London on April 25th, which I’m super excited about. I’ve always loved designer vinyl toys but never dreamed I could be showing along side them, so that’s what I’ll be making for straight after this…
What advice would you give someone growing a new skill into a business?
Very short and simple, if you constantly wake up in the morning excited about your idea, then it’s a passion that could be a business. If you don’t, it might just be a hobby.
Website – Creative Brew
I love reading their forums and what’s cool is that they have live online interviews with artists and crafters, so you can ask what you’ve always wanted to know about their work or creative process.
Supplier – Adelaide Walker
I source my woolly supplies from a Yorkshire based company called Adelaide Walker. They have an amazing selection of coloured and natural fibres to explore.
Lastly, a Hobbycraft shop opened just over the road from me last year. I love going there for a quick bit of inspiration. Discovering a new craft, looking at the craft magazines and taking it all in. I’m always finding something new and fun.
Thank you Donna! I’m such a huge fan of the Poopycakes creations, I can’t wait to see all those exciting plans put into action!
You can find out more about Mr Poopington and his friends, and even buy one for yourself in the following places…
Twitter – @DaPoopycakes
Pinterest – Poopycakes
Facebook – Pins and Noodles
Etsy – Poopycakes
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