Normally, when I pick a feature for Shop Small Saturday Showcase, I don't have too much of a problem finding my favorite items to feature. Not today... Zazu from Zazu Faure has the some of the most adorable and unique items. She has such a sense of imagination, and there were too many amazing items for me not to share with you! So today, I decided to share photographs of the items in collections. You'll see what I mean!
And if that isn't enough to interest you, Zazu is offering one of her little escargot, which doubles as a pincushion! See it above? Anyways, let's get to the interview!
Where did the name of your store come from?
Since my given name is Zazu, it seemed silly to waste what my parents gave me. I operate all my endeavors under the name: Zazu Faure/Los Angeles. So no real story there. I like to keep things simple.
What is your favorite item?
Of course, this is subject to change, but this month I’m all about my new feasting pelican. His gullet can hold quite a few fish and a frog too. I tend to get excited about any new pattern I develop.
What is your most popular item?
That shifts season-to-season and show-to-show, but my little escargot is always a crowd pleaser. I thought I was making a stuffed toy but its scale makes it great to use as a pincushion. Adults sometimes prefer to justify their purchases as tools. For that matter, all my stuffed animals work as pincushions, but a 20-inch tall dog is a little cumbersome for a sewing kit.
Where do you get the inspiration for your work?
I've been making my animals since 2007, first just as gifts for friends and family. It's now an addiction. I strive to use all the little scraps I hoard away. Nothing goes to waste. I strip down my plush designs to their essential forms-employing a limited amount of moves to render each animal's essential characteristics.
I often catch a glimpse of a face in the folds of fabric and then the rest follows. I am attracted to simple sculptural forms and clean lines, but I enjoy the oddities too. Inspiration comes from all around -nature, architecture, fashion design, fine art and an occasional misshapen vegetable.
What makes your products unique?
All my designs are from my own patterns. I do study classic stuffed animal patterns, but I incorporate ways to use the material in unique ways. Since everything is made of repurposed sweaters there are always odd details that I can incorporate. For the larger pieces, I like to provide the provenance of the material. In other words, you’ll see that your squirrel was formerly a Banana Republic turtleneck. I’ll use the existing seams to highlight muscle structure of the creature. The cuffs often are used for the snails—the ribbing adds a flourish to their shells. Sweater sleeves are reserved for my elephants and piglets—as rolling the material makes their trunks and snouts. The variety of the raw materials (felted repurposed wool and cashmere sweaters) presents constant challenges and changes in the outcome. This means that every animal is truly unique. I can cut out a dozen rhinoceros and they will all be slightly different due to how the material stretches once I add the unbleached cotton stuffing. I really never know exactly how they’ll turn out. I embrace the happy accidents working somewhere in the grey zone between toy maker and sculptor.
What is the toughest part about making your goods/your artistic process?
Knowing that I can never really duplicate an animal. As the materials (the sweaters) are always different that means I’m limited in my editions. Each sweater only yields a small number of animals. Once they’re gone, they’re gone. I hate giving them up, but it keeps me making more.
Do you take custom orders?
I have done custom work for clients. Sometimes it’s designing a new animal that I haven’t yet explored. I’ve added oxen, bees, raven, cows, terriers and more to my menagerie as a result of client requests. I also have made animals from client provided sweaters. The turnaround time and cost varies by the complexity of the request.
Where else can I see your work?
I keep it simple on the web--one shop and a few photo sites so you can check out some works in progress and a portfolio of animals.
Now that you have seen some of the wonderful creations, are you ready to win one? Personally, I adore the little escargot that you can win as the prize! Also, make sure to check out Zazu Faure's Flickr and Etsy pages for even more items!
Ready to enter? It is open to U.S. and Canadian residents, and make sure to come back daily for more entries!