Softie Monsters and Motherhood

I think I just finished making my first homemade toy. I say, "think" because it's likely I'm forgetting a project that I might have created many moons ago. But this feels like the first toy so I'm going to say that it is the first toy. So it's the first! I've wanted to make a softie/ monster for a long time but I just decided to cut up that torn cashmere sweater and start monster-making. Yes.

I keep thinking about how motherhood has changed my art practice. In the obvious sense that I find myself making mobiles, soft sculpture, and creating softie monsters but also that I'm working smaller because I only have small amounts of time. And that I see whimsy and humor and playfulness entering my work in a new way. I see color and texture and scale shifting. And now I have to organize my studio time with greater efficiency than I ever imagined. I wonder how these changes would be reflected in tackling something much larger like another installation or public art collaboration. Hmm.

Somehow, this reminds me of Michael McConnell's sculptures that I recently saw in Marion & Rose's Workshop. He's altering stuffed animals onto taxidermy forms often turning the toys inside out and resewing them. They're beautiful. And playful. And endearing. And surprising. And magical, really. I think motherhood has changed me in the same ways--it's turned me inside out and sculpted me to a new form but somehow highlighted the playful, beautiful, and endearing around me. And it's exhausting, yes, but so much more magical than I imagined. And I want these things to be reflected in my new work.

And so... a yellow sweater, brown corduroys, a pink heart on the back pocket, a square turquoise face, and round fuchsia shoes to mark the changes. And mostly tenderness, my friends. And small things. And soft things. And bright colors too.



  1. This is my favorite project of yours yet. It is colorful and cutely creepy. (if there is such a thing)
    The heart is a wonderful touch. A little detail, but not too much, and it's all yours. No fabric brands, no books. All yours. I love it.

  2. It's wonderfully inspiring to see you 'making' and working your way through these changes so effectively. I think I put up more resistance to change when I became a mama and my time wasn't exclusively mine anymore ... Enjoy your journey Katrina!

  3. it makes my heart so happy to see you folding in the new mama bits into the you that always was. xoxo

  4. I love this, what a wonderful thing to hold onto, when your son no longer even needs it. Isn't it amazing how much your art practice changes after your child is born? It's when I switched to fiber .. the knitting won me over. And now I can't imagine what life was like before. It's so much richer now. Enjoy that!

  5. i love the heart on his tush....

  6. god i love you. xxxooo

  7. Perfect. My first made 'toys' were a trio of squishily soft blocks with each side selected for colour or texture. They were played with daily - gummed and stroked and squashed and turned. We still play with them (mostly to throw at each other!) I remember making them; he just remembers that they've always been there. Treasure your monster.

  8. beth: thank you, friend. i'll take cutely creepy any day!

    katy: oh, i have my resistance too. but i am trying to weave my experiences together instead of teasing them apart. trying.

    denise: aw! yes a monster to love.

    kj: you promised i would. yes you did.

    kathryn: richer, yes. and how it changes everything. my art practice too.

    lisa: me too! glad you like that detail.

    jen: ditto, friend.

    kate: i love how you said you remember making them, he remembers that they were always there. so perfect for motherhood.

    friends: i adore you. xoxo, k.


Thank you for your comments, friends. I like to think we are creating a dialogue in this space--building a virtual community.