This friday’s Handmade and Hot is a shout out to Pink Cheeks Studio‘s wonderful and imaginative handmade mobile creations. I’m always on the search for a good mobile and found these recently on Etsy. Nichol even does custom orders with characters based on you and your family. Genius…
Who are you and where is your workshop?
Hello! My name is Nichol and I studied painting at Memphis College of Art. My true passion has been crafts though, and when I took my first fiber arts class I was swept away with possibility.
I am right in the middle of moving from a small town in Indiana to Louisiana, near New Orleans (where my husband will be teaching painting at a University), so my studio is all in boxes. I am a very small operation, though. My studio table doubles as my family’s dining room table, and I create side by side with my 2 year old son’s crayons and toy trains. It’s chaos, but it’s a joyful sort of chaos.
How and why did you start your business?
My business started out as a bit of therapy. I gave myself a project to sew a “pillow monster” every day for a month after my mom passed. I just needed a project and something meaningful to do with my hands during a time when I felt lost. I kept a blog to hold myself accountable, and to my surprise, I gained a small following. Someone mentioned that I should sell my monsters on Etsy, so I tried it and I really enjoyed sharing my work that way. Pink Cheeks always was more of a part-time indulgence for me, but with my family’s move and financial changes abound I was confronted with having to go back into the workforce full-time, so I decided to make my Pink Cheeks Studio more focused. Over the Spring I developed a line of baby mobiles. I made one for my son when he was born and I’ve always wanted to make more. I make them vibrant, colorful and full of whimsy. So far I am really enjoying myself, and gratefully, they are taking off, and it looks like I can won’t have to enter the workforce after all. Good news!
Why do you hand make your products? What do you get out of it?
I need to make things with my hands. I get lost and out of sorts when I go a few days without drawing or stitching. I know my objects that I make are full of nonsense, but I also think they are meaningful. It is very satisfying to make something thoughtfully and slowly. Maybe I could say that my work is a quiet little protest in a world that is very fast-paced.
How long does it take to make your pieces?
I have a digital sewing machine that is smarter than me. It has an entire alphabet on it. I really only use it for very basic things, but one day I am going to figure out how to do fancier things with it. I have a chalkboard that I use to write orders down on, and notes. I have fabric. Lots of fabric. I work all over my house, and I am happy to report no one in my family has stepped on any needles yet.
What new products do you have in mind for 2012?
I have included two pictures of sketches for new mobile designs. Currently my mobiles include 3-4 similar characters, but I want to start making mobiles that have more variety in them and perhaps could even tell a story. I want to make a circus one, for sure, and also a jail-bird one with an old Keystone cop. I would like the Keystone cop to be “swinging” at the escaped convicts with a baton. Maybe that is a bit violent for a baby mobile?
How would you like your collection to grow? And where would you like to see it sold?
I am not totally sure how I want my collection to grow. I want it to remain fluid. I want to always be making new things, and maybe retiring old designs to make room for new ones. I am also very excited about these prints I have been working on. I take bits of fabric and cut out bits and sew bits and then I scan them into my computer and play with them in photoshop. The result is a digital image of something that still retains the touch of the human hand, and I love it. So, I would like to explore that more and maybe also write stories as well.
I have just begun working with a new toy shop that is opening in Brooklyn, New York called Norman and Jules. I have never felt comfortable accepting wholesale orders before, but on a whim I decided to work with them after they sent me a nice email. The experience has been great so far, and I am excited at the possibility of my mobiles hanging up in a sweet little toy shop. Other than that I like for people to just find me through my Etsy shop.
What is the best thing about what you do?
Right now it is being able to work from home with my son and let him see how important creative practice is.
Please visit Nichol’s Sweet Cheeks Studio on:
Thanks Nichol, we truly love your work!
Gwyn & Tamra