Sunday, January 10, 2010

Interview with Paulina of Lemmikkiapina

I am so pleased to be able to share a conversation I had recently with Paulina who runs the online shop Lemmikkiapina. For me, her work is the most fascinating thing I've found on Etsy. I identify so closely with her creations and her manner of working. The hand-stitching alone has such depth and feeling and the characters she creates are quite real to me. I own two of these myself and I keep a close eye on her shop. Usually her animals are sold within a day or two of listing. If you are lucky enough to buy one I promise you won't be disappointed. Below is her end of our conversation. I really hope you enjoy it.



I was born in 1975 in Helsinki, the capital of Finland, and I spent there my childhood and my 20's. As a child I thought I'd be a vet when I grew up, but instead of that I ended up making animal dolls.





I was very happy and lucky too when I was accepted to the University of Art and Design Helsinki. I learned some weaving, knitting and fabric printing and most of all embroidering. Embroidery has always been my favourite.The school years were quite hard for me, I wasn't a good student at all, but I managed to get a BA degree in Textile art.





About three years ago I got a chance to move to the countryside, and now I live in a little village with my husband and our cat. Before soft sculptures I made animal dolls for many years. They were more like human beings with animal faces. Actually I was quite frustrated before I found Etsy. I couldn't find a place to sell my work, I still don't sell anything locally.




At the moment I don't work another job. I try to sew my animals full-time and really try to be more productive, but I am slow. That was a problem for me in the school too. I often missed the deadline and I just couldn't make my work ready in the given time. Also I was, and still am very shy and speaking about my work in the front of the group and teachers was a nightmare.





I find many of my ideas from animals and stories and news about animals. Our neighbour has horses and ponies and I can see them from my window when I work. Last summer a moose mother and her two children came to our garden nearly every evening and ate apples from our apple trees.




The process of making my animals often starts from a fabric that feels interesting. I have collected materials, old lace and buttons. Usually when I start, I don't have a clear image what the new animal is going to be like. Doing a lot hand stitching gives me time to figure that out.




When I look back to the animals I have made, one recurring thing is that they often carry something on their backs. They carry stones, snow, clouds and shadows. That burden, something heavy or light, they carry with themselves is part of their identity and not something they could put down if they wanted. For me, it’s symbolizing anxiety or lasting melancholy, not only in a negative way. I put my animals in capes to protect them and to offer them shelter from cold. The war horse and your rabbit need their white capes to stay invisible in snow and to hide from their enemies, They would be very vulnerable without their capes.I do feel some affinity with my animals, their quietness and their inward character. At the moment I only make these animals and some embroidery, but I hope I’ll find some time soon to take up weaving again.



The picture on my room's wall is a print from the painting by Hugo Simberg and the postcard with a girl and a bear is a print from Helena Junttila's aquarelle.

16 comments:

Carlene said...

The first little face made me a little teary-eyed, they are so touching. Thanks for featuring Paulina.

susan said...

simply beautiful. thanks for sharing her!

LINDSAY said...

Sweet interview. I've marvelled at her work before, so it's nice to know more about her.

Jenny Lee Fowler said...

especially love the bit about burden. thanks for sharing!

ericawalker said...

i've admired paulina's work for a long time now. i've never had the pleasure of seeing any of them in person, but her details and the "soul" of them makes me week in the knees.
i love what she says about their "quietness and inward character".
thanks for this- e

spotted dog farm said...

i love her work so much - thanks for featuring her!

and i'm enjoying your blog enormously!

Lambert said...

Very talented artist, she has a knack for textures.

Persimmon and Pine said...

Such stunning, meaningful work! So grateful you shared Paulina's treasures. Cheers, Mandy

jdlf said...

*sigh* I love this lady and her work so very much. Thank you, thank you for this fantastic insight into her world and her creations. I hope to have one, one day. I agree, having seen one up close, that they are even more magnificent in person. Thanks ladies, wonderful!
xo
Melis

susan said...

Her work is lovely. Really great interview to read. Thank You!

mayaluna said...

I love how alive and complex each of her animals are. Thank you for sharing Paulina with us, Liane! Paulina- I so appreciated hearing in your own words how you find inspiration and your methods for creating. I love the the slowness of your stitching allows the animal's identity to unfold.

Leililaloo said...

I was so excited seeing you had a conversation with Paulina on your blog. Her work is truly nothing short of devine! I loved to read about her way of working. Thank you for sharing this Liane.

everyeskimo said...

i'm lucky enough to own one of her pieces (and have ordered myself a birthday present from her too!). she's a delight, and her work is too... it's one of my very favorite things! i do love reading about her, so thank you so much for sharing this little interview.

Emily said...

What a wonderful interveiw. Thanks for doing it. I love her work so much and hope to live with one. I think Paulina's quiet, slowness and soul shows in her work. Reading what she said really explains why I love them so much and why they are so special.

C.J. Barker said...

I truly do treasure the work of Paulina. Thanks for bringing some of her artistic insights to the larger audience. I've been able to catch Paulina at just the right moment when she had time to make a present for my sister. And my sister and I arer descendants of a Finnish mom who came to the U.S. at age 21 through Ellis Island. We've filed a declaration with the Finnish Immigration Service to say we are descendants, and we would like dual citizenship (with the U.S., where we grew up) -- the paperwork is going well so far, and we can't wait to meet Paulina in person! (p.s.: all of us Finnish descendants, even my U.S.-grown, teen-aged son, are shy. It's part of the traits of being Finnish, I understand.)

Found Days said...

Thank you for this interview, I've been fascinated with Paulina's work ever since finding her on the kittygenius blog.