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Columnist
Glenwood, Western Sydney., NSW
Posts: 1,287
Joined: Sep 2012
[Image: DP8_NAl_O.png]

Greetings Bronies of Australia! It's art and craft week on Great Southern Swag, and I have a very special treat in store for you all in this issue. My guest today is Plushie artist and maker, SnuggleFactory! She was kind enough to give time out of her busy schedule for an interview.

Spoiler: Interview with Snuggle
[Nova]: Thank you so much Snuggle for taking the time to take part in this interview, and for allowing me to write about your work. You’ve been on DeviantArt since September 2nd in 2013, but you've always been a creative person. Could you please share with us how you specialized into plushie making in particular, as well as how you gained your skills and knowledge on your craft?

[Snug]: I've always like crafting, I've tried lots of things here and there, though not with any particular focus or talent on my behalf. I hadn't even considered making plushies until I went to my first convention in 2013, Ponycon Au. There was a very limited amount of plushies at that con, so the few plushies left by the end of the con were entered into the Auction and sold for an amazing amount, which I of course could not afford. It was at that convention where I thought to myself, well if I can't afford to buy one, maybe I could make myself one, it couldn't be that hard right?

Oh boy was I wrong! It was the hardest crafting challenge I'd ever set for myself, and I had no idea what I was doing, so I bought a pony pattern, and made my first ever 3d plush, Derpy, who I still have to this day. Derpy definitely isn't perfect, but I love her, and I keep her to remind me just how far I've come since my first plushie. I don't know why I liked this form of crafting over others but I wanted to keep making ponies, and I've been making plushies every since.

My skills and knowledge of plush making beyond that first pattern, are completely self taught. To understand shapes of plushies better, I purchased toy bears and stuffed animals purely just to pull apart and to see what the flat pieces of fabric were to create that 3d shape. Over time I've made many small tweaks to that original pattern I started with, but it's only recently that I've had the confidence to start making my own patterns.


[Nova]: How has "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic" influenced you as a fan, and also as a plushie artist and maker?

[Snug]: "My little Pony: Friendship is Magic" is what got me into plush artistry, as a fan of the show and a plush artist, I would watch episodes and really want to make that new character, or the main characters in those awesome costumes. There are still versions of the ponies that I'd like to create into plushies, like Rarity as Princess Platinum, or Twilight as Starswirl the Bearded, although I've just never really had the time to make plushies that I've wanted to make, since up until this point I was just making commissioned pieces.

[Nova]: Who in your opinion is "Best Pony"?

[Snug]: Best pony is a difficult question, since the Main 6 are specifically different personalities, which in a way represent all the little pieces of yourself. I've found that my favourite pony choice has shifted over the years. When I first started watching My Little Pony, Rainbow Dash was definitely my favourite, however these days as a Plush artist, I identify a lot with Rarity, although I think I would have to say that Twilight is my favourite overall. But I love all the ponies for different reasons!

[Nova]: I’m really impressed that you have a focus on sharing your knowledge and skills on plushie creation. What gives you the drive to help foster creative skills in the artisan community?

[Snug]: Plush artistry is kind of a niche skill, and those of us who can do it currently are most likely are self taught artists. I think that because a lot of people spent years developing their skills, it makes them apprehensive about sharing their knowledge with others. However rather than each artist struggling on their own, I think that a shared distribution of knowledge helps to encourage growth in the Plush community where existing artists learn a new technique or two, and budding artists learn where to start.

[Nova]: You mention that it is your wish to encourage a "new generation of makers". Is this possibly a counter-movement to challenge the tendencies of many people who choose a passive or spectator role? Or perhaps do you feel that traditional disciplines, such as sewing, are slowly being lost in contemporary culture?

[Snug]: It is I guess a bit of a counter-movement against store bought plushies, where you buy them for $20 or so at your local store, where that company is still making at least a %50 profit on the item, then there was the cost of materials, so how much did that maker get paid for the hours of work they put into that toy you bought. So in that regard, I'm all for fair trade, and as a artist myself, I know the amount of work that goes into a plush. So I'd like to encourage people to try plush making to understand that you're buying more than just a toy.

But it goes beyond that, with mass manufacturing coming around, there is a lack of skills for a lot of people these days, and not just in the younger generation, this is something quite common across most of our society. With pricing on items these days, it is cheaper to buy clothing and toys than to buy the materials and make your own. Regardless of this fact, I do feel that people are really enthusiastic about learning how to make plushies, but often people just don't know where to start or they've convinced themselves that they could never create anything as good as artists who have been practising for years, so they never try. When people say that to me, I really like to encourage people just to try, knowing their first piece will not be amazing like the artists they look up to because they're comparing that artists years of experience to their lack of experience. What I like to encourage people to do, is to go back through an artists gallery and find their old or first works and compare it to the newest thing they've created, and you'll be amazed how far that artist has come.

[Nova]: What exactly do you study at University? Do you find it hard to balance time between being a professional independent plushie maker as well as a student?

[Snug]: I'm currently studying a Double Major with Mechanical Engineering and Materials Engineering. I've always had a curiosity for how things work and what things are made of. Engineering is definitely one of those degrees that you need to focus a lot of time and effort into to succeed. I have more than a normal load this semester, so while I'm not struggling yet, towards the end of semester I might struggle to find time to balance Plush work and Uni work, though next semester I plan to have a smaller load which should give me half the week for Plush work and half the week for uni.

[Nova]: Do you have any starting advice or words of encouragement for our readers who may be considering making their own plushies?

[Snug]: Don't be afraid to fail, my first plushies were terrible, and so were every other plush artist, they just might not care to admit that. If you're not convinced, check out their first Plushies and see how much they've grown. With patience and perseverance you will get better!

[Nova]: Again, thank you Snuggle for your commitment to the artisan community, and for being a great guest.

[Snug]: Thank you for having me!

Here are some examples of her work:

[Image: aj_by_snugglefactory_d9nz8tq.png]
Applejack Custom Plush

Although this adorable plush is quite a convincing three dimensional translation of Applejack's two-dimensional counterpart, there are some proportional details which set the two styles apart. One of the most apparent of those details is the plump and stubby form of this plush's limbs. This strong and stocky legged structure gives the figure a more rounded and infantile quality, much like how differently standard ponies appear in comparison to the body types of Princess Cadence, Luna or Celestia.

These legs give a sense of added stability, both visually and structurally. Notice in the frontal view how the outside of her front legs are situated wider apart than her ears, yet there remains only a small amount of negative space between the two front legs. Not only is there an apparent cuteness, but also strength in these legs; which very much suits the applebucking prowess of Applejack.

Standing on the cutting mat situated underneath her, this plush stands at approximately 35 cm's in height. Even without it's exact dimensions disclosed to the viewer, one can still make out a general understanding of the scale; especially when taking into account the measured markings on the green cutting mat. This centimeter grid of the cutting mat being used as a measuring device, is reminiscent of Eadweard Muybridge's work on animal locomotion, especially with shots taken at different angles of the plush in a series of photographs. This subtle inclusion of a measuring device doesn't take away from the visual impact of the figure, yet grants the viewer a greater sense of spacing, scale and proportion. Really putting an emphasis on the little in My Little Pony.

[Image: il_570xn_869739620_nc1i_by_snugglefactory_d9w0g7.jpg]
Sugar Cube

This is a simple and playful plushie design, taking Applejack's frequent utterance of endearment to whole new level. For not only is this work very cubic, but it is also undeniably sweet as sugar. This compressed and compacted form can be interpreted as a more developed and further exaggerated expression of the previous plush's stocky stature. This geometric depiction of the pony form brings to mind the Analytical Cubist works of Picasso and the Post-Impressionist works of Cézanne before him. Although this plush is a three dimensional work, sporting all of the sides or faces of any other cube; only one face is dominant. The face of the cube which bares a face.

The eye style of this cute face seems consistent with the depiction of newborn foals on the official television show. In addition this same eye style also shares a similarity to the "cut-out" style featured on the episode titled: Canterlot Wedding - Part 1; where it featured during the sequence of the hit number Big Brother Best Friend Forever. The gaze of these eyes is quite engaging, despite lacking complexity, beckoning the attention of a B.B.B.F. It's of little wonder why this series of cubed pony plushies were dubbed Companion Cubes, aside from the reference to Portal the video game.

[Image: rarity_floppy_custom_plushie_by_snugglefactory_d.jpg]
Rarity Floppy Custom Plushie

The form of this gorgeous plushie this time serves as an antithesis to the previous designs, in terms of style. It is interesting how the distance between the base of the neck to the dock is a lot shorter than a standard pony structure from Friendship is Magic. Yet Rarity's limbs and other projections like the tail, are comparatively elongated in contrast to the compressed torso, which exudes elegance. This from of organic abstraction shares a lot in common with the Mannerist style seen in art during the late Medieval to Early Renaissance period, particularly with Parmigianino's depiction of the equine figure in his painting, The Conversion of St Paul.

This use of stretch and pull as a technique of distortion gives the effect of being affected under a weight, by substituting volume for length. Combined with Rarity's exasperated or tired expression, this plushie successfully alludes to a state of rest.

If you're interested in Snuggle's work be sure to watch her on DeviantArt, subscribe to her Youtube channel, like her Facebook page and follow her on Etsy. You can also be a patron for Snuggle on Patreon, which is a fantastic idea particularly for anybody out there who would like to learn more about the art of plushie making. In addition, Patreon supporters have access to certain perks depending on the amount pledged, and can also be eligible to receive some giveaway prizes! Find out more by checking out her Patreon.

That concludes this issue of Great Southern Swag. If you know of any underrated Australian Brony artists/ craftspeople or happen to be one yourself, send me a private message and we can arrange to write a future article on your chosen artist!


If you'd like to read reviews on new episodes of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, make your way to the thread titled: Riku Reviews in the Episode Discussion section.
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[Interpolated]
Floreat, WA
Posts: 2,345
Joined: Apr 2012
D'aw, thanks for the shout out. Smile
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Cirrusly
Other
Posts: 88
Joined: May 2015
Great start, definitely looking forward to the next one!

I'm always up for some in-depth analysis of various artistic endeavors.

So I can be jealous at various people with their fancy, shamcy, creative jazz.

Cloud's artistic skills are virtually non-existent...
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08/04/2016, 12:42 AM (Last edited: 08/04/2016 12:42 AM by Clouds in Clouds)
Ketchup
Old Noarlunga, SA
Posts: 3,090
Joined: Sep 2013
I like this form you've created, @Explonova! It's an excellent way to promote people's products and talents in a professional, academic way. Linking to other columnist's work also generates intrigue for the reader! I like it Smile
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Dress Dispenser
Marebourne, Vic
Posts: 1,756
Joined: Aug 2013
Ah, a familiar bunch of works! I see these sold at cons a lot, and they seem very popular!

I'd never thought much about plushies and their design before, but reading that, I feel like I could look at plush ponies more critically now.
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Administrator
Brisbane, QLD
Posts: 6,377
Joined: Dec 2011
This is great Smile

Thanks for offering to write these, I look forward to future onesHappy3
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Columnist
Glenwood, Western Sydney., NSW
Posts: 1,287
Joined: Sep 2012
(08/04/2016 12:35 AM)Riku006 wrote:  D'aw, thanks for the shout out. Smile
Not a problem. It was the least I could do.

(08/04/2016 12:42 AM)Clouds in Clouds wrote:  Great start, definitely looking forward to the next one!

I'm always up for some in-depth analysis of various artistic endeavors.

So I can be jealous at various people with their fancy, shamcy, creative jazz.

Cloud's artistic skills are virtually non-existent...
Thanks! I'm currently trying to get in contact with more artists to feature, but they all seem to be so busy.

I also get jealous at some amazing brony art, but then I try to switch attitudes and realise that we are pretty lucky to have so much talent in our brony sub-culture.

(08/04/2016 06:53 AM)Josh:P wrote:  I like this form you've created, @Explonova! It's an excellent way to promote people's products and talents in a professional, academic way. Linking to other columnist's work also generates intrigue for the reader! I like it Smile
Thanks Josh, but its really Tee Kay that started this whole endeavour. All I did was offer to help by keep a good thing going by adding my own flavour to the mix. I should have really offered to do something like this a while ago.

I suppose I have to try and keep a somewhat professional demeanor with being a columnist, especially since I represent the site when I reach out to all these artists. At the same time, I don't want to take this too seriously where it becomes just another "job", because then the passion and fun is lost. I think there's something appealing about a somewhat casual and easy going writing style, with an academic foundation backing it. I didn't really do any research or provide any citations, which would be vital for any academic paper; but yes I do try to maintain a system of critique in a faux academic critique.

I think networking and working together is important. I totally understand that some people work better independently, and writing articles mostly consists of the effort of the individual writer (with also some thanks to the proof-reader). However, I think that communication between site contributors is important for motivation and understanding especially. It seemed only natural to give a little shout out to Riku's review thread.

(08/04/2016 06:46 PM)Itchigotchi wrote:  Ah, a familiar bunch of works! I see these sold at cons a lot, and they seem very popular!

I'd never thought much about plushies and their design before, but reading that, I feel like I could look at plush ponies more critically now.
Oh really!? I've only ever been to one convention (because a friend of mine asked me), and that was Supanova. I managed to get an Applejack plushie and I had a good time, but I don't think conventions are my thing. Too many people, too little space.

Haha, i'm in no way an authority on plushies. I do have some limited knowledge on sculpture though, and I think welding and sewing are quite similar in some ways. I just applied a general critique on plushies because i've never honestly critiqued one before. Just like any other work of art I simply considered key talking points such as: scale, materials, subject, composition; and then compared my observations to other examples of art styles in history. That's it! I have to say that I don't have that much knowledge on plushies, but this critical analysis tool set can be applied to any made object.

(09/04/2016 01:06 AM)Cameron:D wrote:  This is great Smile

Thanks for offering to write these, I look forward to future onesHappy3
Thanks! Me too!

I just hope I can find enough artists to talk about, and that I keep within the deadline.
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