Thursday, 29 March 2012

Etsy Shop Feature: lily and gus

Rumble the Rhino

Today, in my Etsy Shop Feature Series, I have the pleasure to introduce Ashley from lily and gus. I absolutely adore her plush toys, made from repurposed fabrics - especially the whales! Here are her answers to the questions I asked:

Who is behind lily & gus?

I’m Ashley McCally, the crafty mama behind lily & gus. I’m a biologist by training but these days I spend more time coming up with ways to entertain Lily (my daughter) & Gus (our mini dachshund) than studying ecology. Although, we did recently have an impromptu lesson about pond ecosystems when Lily tipped headfirst into the turtle pond while trying to pet a turtle on one of our walks with Gus at the Houston Arboretum. In case you were wondering, turtles do not love having a toddler dive into their home.

Victor & Josie, Humpback Whale Mama and Baby

Tell us about your work process 

In our busy house I try to squeeze in time to create during naptime or after the pipsqueak has gone to sleep for the night. I design all of my plush animals from scratch starting with a line drawing that I make into a paper pattern. Next I make a “beta” animal out of an inexpensive broadcloth to see if the pattern needs any adjustments. Then it is full steam ahead and a new friend for Lily is created (although sometimes the broadcloth plushies get love from Lily too)! I use repurposed fabrics (from denim to wool) for all my plush creations to give them added character. I love giving new life to a much loved pair of jeans or a cozy sweater. Each plush toy is unique and often they have surprise embellishments taken from the original clothing items (beautiful stitching, a fun tag, a touch of suede).

For my clothing pieces I hand draw my original designs onto the clothes using a dye resist technique and then hand dye the piece using bright high quality fiber reactive dyes (this is my favorite part, Lily and I love watching the white shirt take on the color of the dye and stirring it with the big spoon!).

I love designing, drawing, sewing, scrapbooking, and crafting and I can't seem to stay away from the animal themes. Mostly I just love to make unique, high quality items that I think my family and friends will love, and I hope that others enjoy them too!

Hungry Hungry Hippo, hand dyed tee

Where do you get your ideas from? 

Most of my ideas come out of conversations with Lily. She is in love with animals of all kinds (not surprising as my husband is a veterinarian) and when she gets excited about a particular animal I end up with days on end of paging through picture books looking for elephants or “mommy draw rhino....peese”. Some of Lily’s first words were dog (pretty standard), whale, gorilla, rhino, polar bear, octopus, lion, tiger, and hippo (not so standard). When a particular obsession lasts long enough it usually leads to a new design for the shop. I always feel like I have captured the essence of an animal when Lily sees one of my new drawings and instantly identifies it. Who knew the approval of a one and a half year old could be so gratifying?

Peanut the Bunny

Apart from creating things, what do you do?
A little bit of everything! When the weather here in Houston isn’t too hot we love to get outside and garden or go for walks. Lily and I spend a ton of time at the zoo visiting with all our favorite animals. When the humidity chases us indoors we like to cook or curl up in the AC with some good books. Most of my days consist of trying to contain the whirlwind that is my daughter and dog while getting something productive done...some days are more successful than others!

Contoured Burp Cloths

lily and gus links:


Ashley McCally said...

Thank you Linda! I am honored to be featured on your wonderful blog. Hope you have a lovely weekend :)


Sari said...

I love Ashley's shop!
Especially Rumble the Rhino!!!
Great feature

Judy Warner said...

Absolutely beautiful! I will remember for the next time I need a stuffed animal for a gift!