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Interview With Amy From Cozy Rampage

In and out of industrial grade design and fabrication for over 25 years, I am currently developing a studio in West Oakland where I can explore ideas for toy design and production. I live with my super geek husband, our laptops and a flowering Padron Pepper plant. I love grilling fish on my balcony.

I can tell Amy from Cozy Rampage is one of those people where I just sort of want to curl up cat like in her workspace to hang out.
ME:“What?! oh am I IN YOUR WAY sitting on all your papers?! Sorry! Let me move my tail out of your coffee at least…”
I’m also attracted to the name Cozy Rampage, like one is rampaging about but still cozily ensconced with your own kind, or something…

Amy will be at You Bazaar! on November2nd!

How did you get your start in toy design?

While on tour with Survival Research Laboratories
http://www.srl.org/
in 1992, I met a defunkt French circus called
Archaos. Some of the stragglers were hired as our assistants, and
those people inspired me to create action figures based on real
people. I studied up on circus archetypes, and messed around in my
studio for a few years with designing a collection of
“non-combat-oriented action figures”. The idea was for a time
traveling circus with a human ringleader and runaway domestic robots
as performers.


photo credit to Babalou

Can you also talk about the crafty endeavors that lead up to it?

This is a long convoluted tale of waxing and waning ambitions, all
kinds of luck, and stories within stories… I’ll try to be brief:

I’ve been hella crafty all my life, from the time I was a tiny kid
and broke into my mom’s paint set to make a picture of Winnie the
Pooh. I earned all the arty badges in Girl Scouts. I did a lot of
cross stitch on the front porch as a kid, and learned to knit and
sew and cook as I got older. I went to college twice- 1st for an Art
degree in the late 70’s in NJ, and later for Architecture in the
early 80’s in NYC.

I moved to SF in 1990, and fell in with Survival Research
Laboratories that summer, which was pretty much at the same time
that I fell out with my architectural career. For many years, I had
a swirl of art, design and craft skills that were either too
specific or too general for most paid work, but very welcome in the
volunteer sector. Working in and around the toy industry (paid) and
the machine art scene (volunteer) helped build skills that
eventually opened doors to work in the movie industry as a model maker.

When did you decide to make it your business?

In 1996, I created a business called Big Fun! Amusement Devices, and
built up a prototyping shop that specialized in toy related projects
such as packaging, trade show displays and toy prototypes. There was
a steady stream of word-of-mouth contract work from about 1996 up
until about 2003. I started Cozy Rampage in 2006 to focus on my own
designs.

Your plush robots are great!

Thanks! Each new batch brings new features into the design mix. The
most recent figures are asymmetrical and fit together like a puzzle.

What is that shiny material you are using?
A friend from the 80’s: Spandex

What inspired you to start making robots?

I’ve been involved with SRL since 1990, so it’s safe to say that
I’ve been thinking various thoughts about robots for at least that
long. Last summer, I was yammering on about cryptids and hiding and
masks with my husband, Brian, and an idea for robot themed luchas
sprang to mind. The look on his face told me that it was a very good
idea, so I got started right away.

What other crafty plush (or other wise) things are you making lately?

Plush hats, knit baby socks, embroidered tea towels. I taught myself
bookkeeping and bra making, and also spend a crapload of time
uploading pictures to various websites.

What is it about cryptozoology that you like?

I love the intermingling of fact and fantasy, and I love that I have
ownership of the imagery that I can create.

What got you interested in ‘hidden animals’?

A few years ago, my pal, Jill Miller, was working on a large project
called Waiting for Bigfoot, http://www.waitingforbigfoot.com/ which
involved setting up cameras in a CA Bigfoot Hot Spot and waiting.
Her thesis involved an interesting part of the Bigfoot story – the
way that people interact with the story is a whole culture unto
itself. She inspired me to look at folk art in a new way, and I saw
a wonderful opportunity for me to simplify my techniques and connect
with my interests in archetypes and prototypes.

Do you make up your own creatures?

Yep. My current fascination with cryptids, luchadors, and robots
gives me a wide stream of character permutations to explore.

How do you feel about the pushmi-pullyu? Fact or fiction?

Haha a trick question! It’s both!

Are you a blog junky… admit it! I web stalked you and you have
more blogs than god. I totally understand as I’m one too (I have one
called catmustache.blogspot.com/ ).

I’m too lazy or too crazy to build a proper website, and there are
all these free ones that are handy to use and probably get more
traffic than my own site would. I am a confirmed news blog junkie- I
read a lot of political blogs and then need to cleanse my eyeballs
with fashion and tabloid junk.

Do you feel pressured to upkeep all your blogs?

No, it’s totally a fun thing to do. The only pressure is from
buildup- if I don’t process stuff on a regular basis, it piles up
fast. I made a ton of stuff in the years before digital cameras came
about- getting film processed was really expensive, so a lot of
stuff did not get documented and is lost. I really enjoy the ease of
modern picture taking, and having lots of images, and the tools to
manipulate them.

Which is your main one?

I use the Cozy Rampage site on Blogger as a list of things I’ve
made, so that’s probably the main one. It’s not complete by any
means, but it’s linked to all of other sites I use, like Flickr and
yelp! and Linkedin and Tuna Quest and all the others. I know, it’s a
little goofy to click around so much.

Who are some of your favorite bloggers?

Yikes- I have a list of bookmarks a mile long, but here are a few:

http://www.plasticandplush.com/
http://www.formandreform.com/wordpress/
http://www.matsicko.com/

http://www.papaya.net/wordpress/
http://www.dugnorth.com/blog/

http://www.suicidebots.com/

and of course boingboing and craftzine – these two provide an
endless stream of cool things to investigate. BTW, I’m enjoying
reading your blogs, originally from posts on the craftzine site, but
now clicking all around. I want to make that little kid’s jacket you
wrote about. Hey, we should link!

I’m always interested in other peoples work habits and work spaces.
Do you set specific work hours for yourself or work when you’re
feeling creative?

My default work condition is Every Day. Depending on what else is
going on, I try to put in at least 3-6 hours a day. If I don’t get
to my studio for one reason or another, well, that’s ok cuz I’ll

probably be there tomorrow. My workspace is about 2 miles from my home.

Are you super organized or messy?

A whole lot of both. I enjoy making a mess, and then cleaning it up
and making the next one. I waitressed for many years and that
probably has something to do with this cycle.

What does your workspace look like (include pictures if you like!)?

It is messy on a truly deep level right now since I moved into it on
Aug 1 and then jumped onto 3 projects in a row. The space is a
lofted area in a warehouse shop with two friends. I climb up a funny
ladder to a space with a sloped roof where I have 2 desks and some
shelves. Here’s a picture of my desk from today.

Who are some of your favorite indie artist/crafters and why do you
love them?

Most of my friends make some kind of art and/or craft, and it’s been
super fun to watch people become jazzed about this or that and start
making stuff more seriously, or trying materials they wouldn’t
normally use. Another posse I belong to, Dismal NV, does a lot of
work in cardboard and paint, so I expect to bring that mojo into my
robot toys soon. Here are some pix from this summer’s big project
where I helped construct the 13 paper mache rocket powered donkeys:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/lektricman/sets/72157606228456214/

As far as people I haven’t met, I really like Spooky Daddy, Moxie,
Heidi Kenny, Vickangaroo, Hillyhill and Doma.

Thanks so much for your time!
Thanks for asking! See you at the You Bazaar, if not sooner! My
studio is in West Oakland and you are invited over for coffee and a
look-see.

http://amybean.etsy.com is where you can
buy my stuff online.
http://wellspacegallery.org in
Oakland CA is where you can buy stuff in person.

******
The interviewer, Minnie, also blogs about crafts and other things at Thank You For Not Being Perky.

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8 Responses

  1. Avatar amy jenkins says:

    There is a photo credit missing! The shot of me wearing the respirator was taken by Babalou. Thanks for the memories, Baba!

  2. Avatar Minnie says:

    darn it! as i was pasting the picture in I had the photo credit all in mind and then… forgot it. I’ll add it in under the photo now!

  3. Avatar amy jenkins says:

    Thanks, darlin! And definitely come by and flick your tail at my coffee~ you’ll see the Cozy in real time.

  4. Avatar bfrances says:

    Sorry, but am I the only one who is confused on what the pic of the slaughtered cows is doing with this article? I don’t see the relevance and frankly, I’m appalled to see such pride in, and for the picture. huh?????

  5. Avatar Minnie says:

    hi bfrances. your concern for the cows does you credit i suppose. However, it is misplaces as I believe those cow heads are paper mache. I could be wrong in which case a bunch of cow heads still doesn’t surprise me if SRL is involved.

  6. Avatar amy jenkins says:

    The cow heads are very real. They were covered in maggots, which is why I am wearing the head to toe protective gear. SRL is an unusual performance art group of which I have been a proud member for 18 years. The performers are machines and props. Humans are present only as operators and audiences.

    There is a lot of information on the SRL website, in press releases, and interviews from the past 30 years. In my own words, though, SRL does not exist to pleasure you, but to create, to question, and to comment on relationships between humans and machines. Disgust is a perfectly valid response for a human to many of the images portrayed.

  7. Avatar bfrances says:

    Hi Amy,

    I understand that artists create to express and cause reaction in others, and I think most people know where their meat comes from. But, I think what surprises me most is the look of pride in you just being there. As if they were some type of trophys, and no explanation in your article on what the photo means. And, if anything, you are most concerned on giving the photographer the credit. It is just perplexing and I felt it was important to express my opinion.

  8. Avatar amy jenkins says:

    The photo was taken on the set of the show where I met the circus performers that I was talking about. People that are familiar with SRL know that meat is a typical prop medium, and the link to the SRL website gives unfamiliar readers a chance to immediately investigate this group. I see now that the actual show predates most digital photography and web use, so it’s true, one would have to read a lot to get clear on what’s exactly going on in that photo.

    It was particularly tricky to answer the email questions in a succinct fashion and tell a true story. I work in many materials that extend outside of the normal realms of a crafter, and I wanted to share some of those experiences. Sorry for any confusion.

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