Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Sabina and I live in a 100-year-old textile factory in downtown Montreal with my partner Ryan. We are both artists and we’ve been working together for eight years as directors and producers of various film and TV-related projects, most of which involve some kind of puppet character, crazy prop or prosthetic.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
Here in Montreal it is freezing cold about 65% of the year, so when we aren’t trapped under ice or locked in the studio on a deadline, we love to get outside. When the weather is good Ry and I do our best to squeeze in as many bike rides, BBQs and badminton games as possible. We also parent a wild dog from Taiwan called Mayble who keeps us sane and entertained.
Where does your inspiration come from?
My friends and peers in real life and here on Etsy, along with books, music, and videos. Not to mention the many “classic” films I watched as a kid that really shaped my tastes as an artist today. I like to create things that are sweet, but that have a bit of an edge as well, so movies like Gremlins, Ghostbusters, Legend, The Dark Crystal, and The Neverending Story stand out and I still love them as an adult. Those films were intended for a young audience but their themes were quite dark and adult at the same time. Some scenes were frightening, but I became very attached to the characters they brought to life. Films of that time (the 1980s) were heavy on the art department — most sets and props were real, and the studios used puppets, prosthetics and innovation over CG characters and FX. It was awesome! I hope to make movies and characters like that.
What does handmade mean to you?
Handmade is the connection that an object has to the person who created it. The skill and the pride that goes into any handmade product is really special; just knowing that the maker put all their good energy into creating this one thing to the best of their ability is inspiring. The little variations that stand out are like brushstrokes on a canvas, or fingerprints in the clay. I like things that are imperfect. Perfection is boring.
Who has been most influential in your craft?
Apart from books and films that influence me, fundamentally I would have to say my Gram. She was never one to spend much time in front of the television; instead she was always making something and encouraging the kids in the family to spend our time doing projects by giving us tasks and teaching us things.
When did you know you were an artist/maker?
Since I was little. I always kept creative hobbies growing up, but I only started taking myself seriously as an artist around the time Ryan and I got together. Before that I hadn’t considered myself good enough at painting or drawing to make a career of it. It was when we met that I really found my medium in soft sculpture. We were both creatively inclined and one day Ryan brought home this “sock baby” he started at a friend’s place out of single socks as a sort of joke. I instantly loved it and from there we began making things together.
How would you describe your creative process?
Over the course of eight years our work evolved from simple socks to more complex sculptures with armatures and latex. We eventually wanted to go further by animating them and that led us into film making and puppet work.
With my Etsy shop I am able to take a step back and create things just for me. When I am not busy with film work, I can dive right in to a pile of felt and decide on the spot what I would like to make and see it rendered in a few hours or days instead of spending weeks or years to realize something for a film. I don’t sketch anything out first, I just get busy, draft my pattern and run with it. I become very obsessed with finishing so I can meet whoever comes out at the other end. Most of the time I will choose something new over something I have already made so there is always this anticipation of “Oh no, this is going to suck” and I won’t find out if my idea was successful until it is nearly finished. I’m never quite sure who my character is until I add the eyes — at that instant I know who I’ve created and I love to take my time with adding the details and personal touches that make each piece unique. But my absolute favorite part of the process is taking photos. I put up tiny sets and props and I try to concoct a world for each creation. I want people to see them as I do, with personality and life. That is the director in me.
If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be?
No one individual stands out to me in particular, but I would love to time travel. It would be amazing to observe the studios people kept in Montmartre, Paris where so many prolific artists got together and made their mark: Van Gogh, Degas, Monet, Renoir, Matisse, Picasso, Utrillo, and Toulouse-Lautrec all worked and partied in Montmartre.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
A quilt my Gram made for me from my old baby clothing. It has all these amazing applique animals and faces. I love it so much.
How do you get out of your creative ruts?
My biggest dilemma is prioritizing which ideas to focus on. I have so many thoughts stuffed in my head that it can be overwhelming. Drawing in my sketch book helps relax my brain, and so does a good walk with Mayble or a visit with friends.
Where would you like to be in ten years?
With Ryan on the set of our next feature.