Shana's Artist: Sugarpop Crochet
This week I'd like to introduce you to our magical resident crochet CEO Rachelle, of Sugarpop Crochet! I'm constantly impressed by her ability to create the cutest creatures from scratch AND make my animal ideas come true! When you see the answers to my questions, you'll instantly understand how really only she can create in the fantastical way that she does!
Meet Rachelle, the artist behind Sugarpop Crochet
Hi there! Tell me about yourself as an artist:
The toys call themselves the Sugar Pop Plushies! (My name’s Rachelle but that’s less important, they like things to be all about them and I wouldn’t have it any other way!) My crochet room is tinier than many people’s closets but I love it with all my heart! Thanks to my childhood dedication to Tetris, I use the space to its fullest advantage! Outside my window is a random patch of woods. This is a remarkable anomaly in a city like New Haven, mostly known for Yale and college culture! I’ve been creating toys in this room since a previous century!
When did you start crocheting? What made you drawn to that medium?
Back in the day, all my toys were made from felt. I picked up knitting in the early 2000’s. I would knit squares and “fold” them into animals almost like origami? But soft? And with tiny seams where the “creases” would be if I were using paper...
Then one day I saw Anna Paula Rimoli’s book of amigurumi and I just knew! I took the only crochet I had (I used to use it for pulling the hair out of the drain. Extreme hair length has all sorts of perils!) and I stitched through every design in her book! I felt love struck and yet, I was left wanting so many more effects, more possibilities, more control!
... so I started designing my own amigurumi toys and even inventing my own techniques to get the details I wanted...🥰
You love crocheting animals! Tell me a bit about that.
The toys live in a charmed world where maybe a giraffe can stand on the shoulders of a mouse! and maybe the hamsters all sit together and have tea and blow bubbles! 🧸The toys live completely peaceful and liberated lives. Their joy knows no limitations. Now, mind you, the toys I make are completely real. The animals I imagine (and stitch into toys!) can populate our everyday reality and coexist with us right here in real life. When I’m designing, I like to take the most lovable aspects of (living, breathing) animals, and embellish them! Add to that a bit of my own philosophy of kindness and kookiness, and then it’s out into the wide world they go! When I see fans smiling with their toys from me, I know the “animals” I make are real!
Speaking of animals, do you have any pets? Photos Please!
My assistant Charlemagne can’t touch the toys or the yarn much in case some folks have sensitivity or allergy to cats! She’s incredibly respectful of my work and happily amuses herself while I spend endless hours crocheting. She’s
Charlie for short, but really she thinks her name is “Bumble Bee” because more often than not, that’s what I always call her! She can’t actually see the toys, since her one beautiful eye isn’t sighted. As a blind animal, she’s got all sorts of heightened sensory powers! I keep a prism in the window and when the sun shines on it, rainbows dance on the walls and Charlie chases their movement. Yep, she’s amazing!
You've worked with Shana for over a decade! What's that like?
Ohmigosh! It’s been a waking dream from the very start! Shana is as sweet as you know her to be and sweeter still! I love the way it feels to always know
that my best work is appreciated!... Shana wakes up my designer mind like no one else can! Because I know she will present the toys exactly as they want to be seen! ...and she has this magic way of gathering all the fans and all the artists together, and it’s just like a family! Shana creates this sort of circle of all the best feelings, and the circles gets bigger and bigger and there’s a place for everyone and imagination is our shared super power. Together we really do make our reality much, much sweeter. (editors note: awwww!! My heart!!!)
What's something that most people don't know about you?
Let’s see: I dance ballet; I dislike moderation and I tend toward extremes in anything I take on; I love getting carried away and giddy; the toys and I observe a very strict NO GUM rule; and I sleep with all the lights on so I always open my eyes to cuteness and never darkness! I think that’s enough blathering for now, and despite my verbosity in writing, I’m fairly quiet in real life.