Recently, while I was innocently browsing online, this adorable crocheted teddy bear winked at me.
Never one to ignore a mischievous ursine smart enough to get my attention, I knew I had to investigate.
I discovered he was created by plush artist Dawn Treacher of York, England, who designs and makes other Amigurumi animals like the bear, in addition to a wide range of sock animals, fleece plushies, and soft sculptures. Some of Dawn’s creatures are inspired by real animals (foxes, bunnies, giraffes, elephants, badgers, birds), while others represent wild flights of the imagination — brightly colored alien one-eyed monsters in odd shapes with elongated ears and limbs.
Clearly this is an artist with a kid’s heart who loves to play. 🙂
All of Dawn’s Treacher Creatures are lovingly hand-sewn and one-of-a-kind. Each has a distinct personality. Whether sweet, comical, serene, endearing, cunning or coy, they’re bound to make you smile and wonder what they’ve been up to. Not surprisingly, Dawn is also an aspiring children’s book author and illustrator (in addition to being a fine landscape painter) — so maybe someday soon some of her creatures will have their own books!
I’m happy she agreed to join us today to tell us more. You’ll never look at your socks the same way again. Enjoy!
* * *
🐭 MEET DAWN TREACHER 🐵
Name of shop or business: Treacher Creatures
Year established: 2010
Items you make: plush creatures
Studio Location: North Yorkshire, England
Online: Etsy shop
Three words that best describe your art: whimsical cute creatures
Self taught or formal training? Self taught
Tools of the Trade: needle and thread, crochet hook, stuffing stick
Inspirations and influences: I am inspired by everything whimsical. I don’t preplan what I am going to make they just evolve from the materials I am using. The majority of my creatures are one of a kind designs. I make what I love and I am a big kid at heart.
Three significant milestones in your career: I am not sure that I have any. I guess the first milestone was taking the plunge to open my Etsy shop when I had a house full of sock creatures and had run out of room to store them all. My next milestone will be when I reach 1000 sales which is not far off now.
Bestseller: white mice, either sock mice or Amigurumi mice, they have always been my best seller.
What is your earliest memory of being creative? What is the first thing you ever made as an “artist”?
I have always been creative. I have sewn creatures since a very early age from old hats and old clothing to begin with. The first creature I remember making was a fluffy blob like creature made from an old fur hat, I was only about 8 at the time.
What first sparked your interest in making plush animals? Who taught you how to sew, knit, crochet, and needle felt? Do you come from an artistic family?
I dabbled with plush creatures on and off during my childhood and then seriously sewed one of a kind mohair jointed bears about 15 years ago now. Then I discovered a number of books by a Japanese artist that used socks to make creatures. I started buying socks and playing with ideas and have never stopped making plush creatures since. This was about 7 years ago now. I am self taught in sewing, knitting, crocheting and needle felting. I taught myself to crochet and knit even though I can’t read patterns and l always make up my own designs as I go along on the fly. I don’t come from an artistic family, it’s just me really. I am also an artist, illustrator and aspiring writer of children’s books.
I love the childlike whimsy and endearing personalities of your creatures. Were you an avid reader as a child, and are there any particular books or authors who’ve influenced your work?
I have always been an avid reader of books from a very early age. I picture them in my mind. I like to give all my creatures a personality. One day soon I would love to create books around them too. I particularly loved Wind in the Willows, Winnie the Pooh and the strange creatures in Alice in Wonderland.
Do you have any pets? Were any of your pieces inspired by them?
I have a black and white cat, Raleigh, and I have made him many times now in Amigurumi, sock and needle felted him too.
I imagine that each of these soft sculpture types – sock animals, crocheted Amigurumi, and needle felting, presents its own particular challenges. Is one form more difficult than the other? Why do you especially love making sock animals?
Amigurumi is the most difficult to learn and then use to create unique creatures. Each design takes many hours to create. I especially love sock creatures because a sock is so very versatile and the perfect medium to sculpt all kinds of shapes. Most of the hard work is done for you in shaping as the tubular flexibale form opens up so many possibilities. I think I have over the years made most kinds of animals from socks. They are also available in so many colours and patterns. I add socks to lots of my Amigurumi creatures too as they are perfect for making little sweaters or adding noses and ears to the tiniest of creatures.
Do you have a favourite of all the creatures you’ve made thus far? Could you briefly tell us about your process in making it?
My favourite would probably be Edward, a large plush monster made from a variety of recycled clothing. His body was made from a wool sweater and he wore a shirt and tie. He started as a little doodle really that developed once I started sewing him. I love the feel of woollen sweaters, they make gorgeous soft creatures.
[Process pics for making a Sock Bunny]:
Please describe your studio. How have you fashioned your work environment to enhance creativity and maximize productivity?
I do not have my own studio. I work from home in the corner of the sitting room in what I call my chair of power. It is a soft armchair with a daylight standing light either side of it to give good light. Beside it is a storage unit on legs where I keep all my sewing equipment and yarns, threads etc. I sew in front of the television in the evening or listening to music. Warm, comfy and relaxed.
What is the most unusual request you’ve had for a commissioned piece?
I was asked to created a two headed sock pig as a surprise retirement present for a head teacher who had told his pupils about a two headed pig on his farm as a boy. It was great fun to make.
* * *
PLACES TO FIND DAWN ONLINE:
* * *
Copyright © 2015 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.