Each month we catch up with the DIME Store to hear them brag about one of their many local makers whose products they sell in their store on South Locust. This month's subject was Amy K. Nalley, maker of stuffed bacon. Yes, bacon plushies. She makes other stuff, too, though. Read her interview below to get the full scoop on her awesome handcrafted goods.
WDDI: One of our favorite things about your work is that it covers such a broad range of products and mediums, yet it's all still very cohesive. What made you want to work with so many different materials?
NALLEY: It’s actually hard for me to whittle it down to what I have going on now. I like trying my hand at new creative outlets so I often have to stop and reign myself in. Working in a few different areas helps me in some ways though. If I get tired of/frustrated with whatever I’m working on I can switch to something completely different for a while or an idea for an illustration might lead to a plushie, piece of jewelry, etc.
What is your favorite medium to work in? Least favorite?
That varies from day to day. Most days it’s acrylic ink. I switched from primarily gouache paints to acrylic inks about a year ago and hit a creative high note. When you’re constantly switching between projects in a very small space, quick drying time and easy clean-up are two very wonderful things. I also really love embroidery though.
Least favorite is the fabric I’m currently using for the chicken leg plushies. It’s very difficult to embroider and I might be switching it up soon.
Is your creative process the same, regardless of medium?
All ideas start out on paper with little concept sketches. They definitely vary in time. Plushies can take several prototypes to get just right. Paintings usually come together fairly quickly. Sometimes I do custom anthropomorphic pet portraits or pet portrait necklaces which is really fun. For those I go off of pictures supplied by customers.
How did your passion for illustration lead you to plushie-making?
When I was in high school I got really into pop-surrealism and lowbrow art. That inevitably led me to collectible art toys which I still hoard to this day. My never-ending love of all kinds of toys is something I have no shame in. Soft toys were an easy way to get into the toy making business. I’ve also always been a great lover of traditional animation and the discovery of anime and kawaii culture in my late teens helped form my current plushie style. I’d been making plushies for friends and family on and off for years. I didn’t realize people would like my designs as much as they do. It was quite a nice surprise!
We love the playful and whimsical quality of your work, especially your plushies. At the DIME Store, we sell These Things plushies to young kids and adults alike. Do you have a specific age group in mind when designing a new plushie, or do you hope it appeals to everyone?
Every once in a while I’ll make a plushie that’s more of a collector’s toy for adults, like the Blushin’ Beer, but most of my designs aren’t age specific.
How did you get involved with the DIME Store?
I had applied to DIME in the past but had horrible product photos on my Etsy and only 1 or 2 plushie designs at the time. Shortly after applying for the Community Market I was laid off from my office job so I threw everything I had into my booth at the market. One lovely Saturday I had a booth close to DIME’s booth and Rachel took notice of my stuff. She came over for a chat and soon after I turned into a plushie factory.
When the Community Market is in season, we've found you out there a few days a month. How has the market helped your creative business?
The market has helped exponentially in my creative business. Having that face to face interaction with your customers is a quick way to see what works and what doesn’t. When I started out I only had 2 or 3 plushie designs and now, less than a year later, I have somewhere around 15 and counting.
Where can we find your work aside from DIME?
My Etsy shop, the Denton Community Market (starting back up on April 4th), We Are 1976 in Dallas, and soon in The Burlap Bag in Austin, and Space Montrose in Houston.
Any advice for other creative folks?
Don’t let fear of rejection or failure hold you back. I’ve been making and selling all sorts of things to friends and acquaintances since I was a teenager but was always so scared of really trying to get my stuff out there. Learn to be confident in your product and yourself.
The DIME Store is a shop and artist collective in downtown Denton that features art, craft, and vintage from 40+ local makers. Rachel Aughtry and Shelley Christner act as the "curators and purveyors" of the shop. When they're not at DIME, you'll find them behind their sewing machines or enjoying a margarita at The Greenhouse.