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Interview With Katy Kristin

Katy Kristin will be at the November 2nd 2008 You Bazaar! in SF.

You made stuff for Mr. Bill! Whoa! Please tell me about working with claymation. Have you thought about making your own claymation webisodes? (Hedgehog and Gnome Go Adventuring, perhaps?)

My first job out of college was in the art department for “The Mr. Bill Christmas Special.” I had a lot of experience sculpting in clay, so I got to be the Mr. Bill character sculptor and have worked on all the Mr. Bill projects for the last 12 years (wow, I can’t believe it’s been that long). It’s definitely been a really awesome thing to get to be a part of, and this spring we just did a Mr. Bill Mastercard commercial. The funny thing is that everyone always thinks Mr. Bill is claymation, but he’s actually super low tech- no animation at all. The character of Mr. Hands just picks him up and moves him around, or things happen to him in real time, like getting smashed or thrown or decapitated…

I did do some claymation for Mad TV, “Furious George” and “Clops”. That was a really fun job, too, and lucky for me I didn’t have to do the actual tedious job of frame by frame animation. I made the puppets and some sets for “Furious George”, which was about George the monkey getting taken to an animal testing lab run by the man in the yellow lab coat. George escapes and he gets his revenge. “Clops” was like a clay version of “Cops” with pop culture toys and characters all getting busted for various crimes. I got to work on Redneck GI Joe and White Trash Barbie having a domestic dispute.

But yeah, I’ve often thought of doing my own stop-motion animation shorts. It takes an unbelievably long time just to complete 30 seconds, so so far time has been the major reason for not actually making any. It’s something I’ve thought about for years, and you’re right, I’ve totally wanted to make it with my gnome and hedgehog characters. I also want to do a monster one with Bigfoot living in a treehouse, the Yeti living in an Alpine chalet, and the Nessie in her lake. But alas… well maybe someday. I guess I’d have to really get some stories down first.

I love your new unicorn deer ( Do you make your own plush patterns?

Thanks! I do make my own plush patterns and, man, that deer, was really hard. The bottom part that encompasses his belly and the insides of his legs took forever to get right. I haven’t made a second one yet so I’m still not sure if I quite have the final pattern perfected. Usually I do a drawing, then make a bunch of measurements, and then go through a bit of a trial and error process.

Ever since I read about the real Unicorn Deer in Italy ( I became obsessed with him. I really wanted to make a plushie version of him, so I went to my parents’ house and dug my old Bambi stuffed animal out of the attic. I looked at him and pictures of some of the vintage 60s deer toys like this one on flickr ( for inspiration. If I make another one, I want to put a squeaker in his face.

I just found the link to Shelter Kit from your blog and now I will have to spend the rest of my night poking around it. These are awesome. A few times a year I become obsessed with container houses. What do you think is important about building/designing/having an active hand in your immediate environment?

I think that where you live and what you surround yourself with has an immeasurable effect on how you feel, how productive you are- basically on HOW you live. If you are surrounded by things you love, I think you are more likely to be in a good mood and deal with stresses well. If you are surrounded by horrible decor that reminds you of being car sick, you’ll probably not be too happy. Likewise, if you work in a cramped and suffocating space, it’s really hard to be creative and productive. I’m saying this because right now my workspace is really cramped and suffocating : )

I’m kinda looking for a new place to live. I totally wish my husband and I could buy some land and build a Shelter Kit ( house on it, but after researching getting loans for land and construction, I think we’re gonna have to try to buy a regular house and then gradually make it cool and customized.

But going back to the original question, I’m a huge fan of the Arts and Crafts movement, which was all about making every aspect of the home and workplace beautiful and functional. Everything was carefully designed, the outside of the house, all the furniture, the art on the walls, planters for houseplants, rugs, lighting, utensils and dishes, everything. Very cool and very well thought out. The Arts and Crafts movement was also kind of anti-mass production, so all in all, it was almost like an earlier version of the current indie/diy movement that’s going on today. I know there are big differences, too (like you wouldn’t have found dirty quotes embroidered on William Morris pillows or anything), but I think maybe the hearts of the two movements are similar.

Speaking about environments.. what’s yours like? Where do you do your creating and why?

Well, I guess I did admit to having a cramped and suffocating work space. Maybe it’s not THAT suffocating, but it is too small. I’ve crammed in as much cool stuff as possible, though. It’s a little haphazard, but I’ve worked in Wonder Woman, Princess Leia, Pippi, gnomes and mushrooms, and other random stuff. I just got this cool rotating display rack for free from a store that was going out of business, so that’s kinda taking up some precious workroom real estate right now, and it’s blocking my view of some of my action figures, but hey, it was too good to pass up.
Basically the workroom is a very small bedroom with desks and shelving units on all four walls, minus the door and the closet. Supplies packed in labeled boxes, sewing machines, a heat transfer press, button maker, computer, printer, books, product inventory, and our huge music collection are surrounding me at all times as I work. I hope there isn’t a really big earthquake. Wish us luck in finding a house with more workspace soon, : )

Okay and now I just scrolled down to see a Pippi Longstocking (lurve) AND a Barapapa (more lurve), do you also love Moomintroll? Just askin’.

I only recently discovered Moomintroll and just got some kleenex packets with Moomin on it. But I don’t know too much about the Moomintroll stories yet. I bought my friend one of the books, so I guess I’ll have to borrow it back from her. But Pippi and Barbapapa I’ve totally loved since I was a little kid. There’s this weird house off 280 near the Crystal Springs Reservoir, and when I was little I always used to think it looked like a Barbapapa house. My parents called it the Flintstone house, though. I wish I had a picture of it. Next time I go down there, I’ll have to bring my camera. Here’s a link to someone who wrote about it, but the picture is from when the house was still painted white (

What other kid stuff do you still love? Books, characters, etc.

Well, I know I’m being redundant but Wonder Woman and Princess Leia were and still are huge heroes. I’m just going to list everything I can think of but there’s so many I’m sure I’ll forget some:
Star Wars (I know, duh), Alice in Wonderland, Narnia, Wizard of Oz books, Huckleberry Finn, Swiss Family Robinson, the Matterhorn at Disneyland and the real one which I hope to someday see, Bigfoot, Yeti, Loch Ness Monster, Peter Pan, Treasure Island, these books by Wolo that belonged to my dad when he was a kid, Richard Scarry, Mary Blair, this 16mm film they used to show at my elementary school called Winter of the Witch, Lord of the Rings books, Lloyd Alexander books, Dark Crystal, pretty much all Jim Henson stuff, Heidi books, Anne of Green Gables, Maurice Sendak, Mary Poppins, Red Dwarf BBC series, Willy Wonka, The Red Balloon, Rankin Bass shows, Gumby, Cheburashka, Beatrix Potter, Caldecott, Legoes, Playmobil, Davy Crockett (mostly just his hat),…

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I liked too many things to pick one, so I just majored in Fine Art. That way I got to draw, paint, build stuff, and play with clay and porcelain.

What is your favorite medium? Do you prefer different things (painting or sewing, etc.) at different times? Why?
Well, I guess I still don’t have one favorite medium. I really totally enjoy lots of different things equally. I think I work more around getting an idea to make something and then figuring out what materials I need to make it. So sometimes it’s a stuffed animal or hat, sometimes it’s a painting or drawing or print, sometimes it’s a piece of furniture, sometimes jewelry, etc. A lot of things revolve around me being obsessed with a certain theme and trying to find a way to wear it. Like I love treehouses, so I made a muslin apron top and drew a treehouse on it. I also collected all these tiny Japanese toys and ended up putting them all on a necklace, so now it’s a really bulky, heavy colorful charm necklace that’s also one of my toy collections.

Do you have any new surprise plushies for the upcoming You Bazaar!?

Well, I’m hoping to have some new ones. I’m hoping to have some felt dolls with pressed faces, kind of antique style, like the old Steiff or Lenci dolls. But they take tons of time so… I’m also hoping to have some Alice In Wonderland themed toys.

Who are some of your favorite indie artist/crafters and why do you love them?
Wow, that’s a tough question because there are so many awesome indie artists out there. Okay, everyone I know personally (and you know who you are) I totally admire their work and what they’re doing. They pretty much inspire me and help me all the time. I don’t think I can answer this without leaving important people out so I’ll just name two people who I don’t know yet but whose stuff I love. Made With Love By Hannah ( is completely rad! If you go to her website, you’ll know why I love her stuff. I love and collect a lot of the same stuff she does. She screenprints her own fabric and sews it into amazing skirts and tops and other goodies. I have her skirt with gnomes, deer, mushrooms, and an Alpine house on it (yep, all on one skirt). I also really like Loobylu. I wish I owned one of her unbelievably cute softies. Everytime I read her blog, she mentions something I’ve been thinking about. Seriously, I just now checked her blog and she mentioned reading one of the Moomin books. Another time she talked about a Barbapapa house. And she does really, really cool illustrations.

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One Response

  1. Interesting interview, thanks

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