Memory Lane

I found this picture while digging through some old photos recently. These Royal Tenenbaums were the very first non-animal finger puppets I ever made (back before I realized the importance of ears in making a puppet not look weird). They took me approximately 6 hours to complete, and at the time I remember thinking “Wow, these are cool but how could I ever sell them?! I’d have to charge like 75 bucks!” Luckily, I’ve gotten a little quicker with five years of practice : ) I look at these now and think about all the little nuances I’ve figured out to make the design that I use today better (though the design is really essentially the same), and it makes me think about how they’ll change in the future so that I look back in a few more years at this recent photo and think “Oh geez, they’re sooo much better now.”

Recent Customs

I was able to knock out two custom projects this weekend. I wasn’t too sure I could get them both done so quickly (they were both Valentine’s Day gifts so I had to get crackin’) but sometimes I surprise myself at how productive and focused I can be!

Exhibit A:

(Please ignore the chapstick tube being used to stand him up. I was too lazy to photoshop it out.)

Jason Schwartzman from his TV show “Bored to Death.” I’ll admit I’ve had some practice with that signature moptop hair, since I’ve been making Mr. Schwatzman in the Darjeeling set. I think this puppet captures some of his squinty deadpan, though, better than other felt versions of him may have. Have you seen this show? I’ve heard good thins about it.

Exhibit B:

This is a puppet for a friend of mine– I’d made a puppet of her a couple years ago after she and a couple other friends helped me move into my first Chicago apartment. She wrote me because apparently her new boyfriend was a little jealous and wanted a felt doppelganger of his own. I hope he likes it!

Welcome 2010!

After a bit of a winter break to recharge, the shop has now reopened and ready to take on the new year! The time off was very welcome, but I’m ready to get started on some exciting prospects for the new year–

I’m currently working on collecting ideas and starting to sketch and work on prototypes for some new puppet designs that I’ll be debuting in last winter/early spring. So, if you’ve got any brilliant ideas for somebody who needs to be puppet-ed, feel free to send ’em my way! Below is a picture of some sketches I did on the last couple pages of my 2009 planner. Lots of new faces in the works!

Note: Please ignore the crappy photoshopping I did to remove the brainstormed names I had written down… wouldn’t want to ruin any surprises to come : )


I’d also like to take this opportunity to say thank you to everybody who has been so amazingly supportive of my little business over this past year– customers, fans, friends and family. The past year sort of blows my mind when I look back on it– getting published in both the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Reader, three successful craft fairs, lots of growth in custom and consignment projects and countless other exciting opportunities too numerous to mention– its been a bit fo a whirlwind. 2009 was fantastic year for abbeychristine and I’m looking forward to seeing that adventures and surprises 2010 will bring!

Custom Puppet Show + Tell

Tis the season for gifting, and I’ve been a busy bee sewing lots and lots of holiday custom orders. I thought I’d share a few with you, my lovely blog-readers–

Above are some photos of a family of puppets commissioned by Katie (the Pixie’s fan in the middle) that includes her parents (Dad the Texas A+M guy and Mom with her Diet Coke), emo-haired brother, cat-lover sister (that cat looks simple but was so complicated to get just right!) and pirate-dressed sister and brother-in-law. This was quite a project, but so much fun to bring to life, especially with all the fun little details she wanted included.

These are the siblings of a friend of mine, Summer (in pink and red), who commissioned her family as puppets as a gift for her mom. I think her red-headed sister came out looking eerily similar to Joan from Mad Men, which gives me an idea for a new design… ; )

Agent Dale Cooper of Twin Peaks fame, complete with his coffee cup and tape recorder, was commissioned as a Christmas gift for a customer’s boyfriend.

Becker and Posner are apparently two very famous economists who write a blog ( and were the favorites of another customer’s boyfriend. These were from a few months back, but I couldn’t help sharing– I think Becker on the right looks a little like Tom Wolfe (minus a white suit), don’t you?

And finally, how have I not posted these to my blog already? I made these puppets of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr and the officer who arrested him, Sargent James Crowley of the Cambridge police department. I’m told that these were to be given to Professor Gates himself. As pictured they are drinking the beers that the president famously invited them over for.

Christmas in October

Below are photos of a custom Nativity I finished recently–


joseph jesus mary


It’s funny because while doing research for this, I thought back about nativities I’ve seen in the past, mainly the one my mom probably still have stashed in a box someplace, and my grandma’s world famous (okay, family famous) nativity, probably over 70 years old at this point. I actually found a picture online of one that looks strikingly like Grandma’s, which is still set up on the table in the living room every year, complete with little electric lights to illuminate inside the barn, all the various farm animals and, as per grandma’s tradition, a baby Jesus who only appears in his manger on Christmas day and absolutely no earlier. (He’s usually hidden behind the barn in the trees, but it took until you were old enough to actually see over the top to be able to discover that secret)


It’s similar, but not exactly the same. I feel like Grandma’s figures are somehow thinner and more angular– it must be foreign-made because no American would make the kind of long, thin characters that it has.

At any rate, it was a fun challenge to translate something so iconic (like, textbook definition of iconic) into my own little artistic language. I wanted to straddle that line between being traditional enough to please the client, and not being too hokey, while still maintaining my own voice in the work. Overall, I’m pretty pleased with how they turned out.

All in the Game, yo.

This time last year I was knee-deep in The Summer of “The Wire.” Previously, the only thing I knew about the show was that Teri Gross of “Fresh Air” couldn’t stop talking about it, interviewing whoever she could from the show every chance she got. I’m sometimes I little late on pop culture phenomena (especially when they involve a cable premium channel I’d have to pay for), so the Wire craze sort of passed me by while it was actually on TV. That is, until my then-new boyfriend sat me down one night and introduced me to his favorite thing in the world. Within one episode, I was hooked.

What followed were three months watching the entire run of the show, episode by episode, DVD by DVD, season by season. I had to take a break between Season 4 and 5, trying to delay the inevitable end, but by September, we’d done it all. Carcetti was mayor, Prez had redeemed himself, you never quite knew what it was that it was Daniels did back in the day, Freeman was a detective once again, partnered with Bunk, Poot was off the corner and working at Foot Locker, Bubbles had redeemed himself…

Recently, Ben’s been trying to convince me to start over from the beginning again. I don’t know if I can handle a second summer in West Baltimore– I like having it as a memory, and I’m a little worried that watching it again, it would lose some of the impact it had the first time around– but in the meantime, I made a little homage to my new favorite show– Bunk Moreland, the cigar-chomping veteran homicide detective, and his unlikely match, Omar Little, the stick-up artist with a strict moral code (who is also, on a total sidenote, Barack Obama’s favorite character on his favorite show).

Bunk and Omar

bunk and omar together

Vivian Girls

I’ve been immersed in Henry Darger the last few days. I visited the Henry Darger room installation at Intuit Gallery here in Chicago last year, as well as the exhibition of some of his collages, and have been enamored by his work ever since. I love the muted colors, the fantastical creatures and all that can be read into his androgynous children vs. grown-ups storyline. The installation, too, as amazing– the piles and piles of ephemera, all the paints and art supplies, the feel of his tiny little room.

This week I worked on a custom order for Ben’s mom– 3 of the 7 Vivian Girls as a gift for his aunt. The Vivian Girls, if you aren’t familiar with Darger’s work, are the heroines of his epic story/paintings. They’re seven little girls, based on paper dolls and other advertising images, who battle evil adults who would enslave all the children of the world. Yeah, weird, I know. But awesome.

Vivian Girls

There were so many depictions of them to chose from, but I based my girls mostly on these paintings–



Indieana Wrap-Up

Well, I’m back in the big city, starting to unpack after a quick and busy Indianapolis weekend. The Handicraft Exchange was a great time– beautiful weather, good crowd, friendly people, lovely crafts, plus lots of family and old friends stopping by.

Indieana June table

indieana june the spread

Indieana June Package puppets

The best part of any fair, to me, is meeting new people and discovering talented crafters I didn’t know about before (or at least hadn’t seen in person). My neighbors at the fair were super friendly, which is always great. Behind me was Matthew Reidsma who draws super cute comics. I didn’t really have a chance to read through them, which is a shame, but I love his style, and these little ink drawings he had for sale on his etsy–

Picture 1Also Wendy of Windy Weather Bindery had lovely handmade journals with the most beautiful fabrics, and this super fun little zine about making yogurt. Some day maybe that can be a project to undertake 🙂

how I make yogurt

windy weather

Next to my table was Matt Cipov, an illustrator with some awesome prints. My brother came and ended up taking home half a dozen zombies for the “Zombie Bathroom” to-be in their brand new house. Me, I was totally digging the forest animal prints and, of course, the owls.

matt cipov

It seems like at nearly every craft fair, I end up buying something from the booth across from me– All those long hours staring at all the goodies, its hard to resist. This time, I was (just barely) able to resist, but not for lack of pretty things to buy. Freshie and Zero has the loveliest work–one of the hammered metal necklaces may end up coming home with me at some point in the future…

freshie and zero

I also talked with very nice Eric of Eric Erf Wood Designs. His birdhouses from reclaimed materials are so interesting– not the design aesthetic I’m usually attracted to, but I really really liked all the interesting reclaimed pieces of wood and metal. He’s from Chicago, so I look forward to finding an excuse to gift one of these sometime soon. His work is featured all over the city– at Whole Foods and Renegade Handmade, so look for them!


Anyway, it was a super fun weekend. I like this fair because it’s an excuse to go home, and there’s never a shortage of friends who’re willing to sit and chat during the long day, which makes it fly by. Here’s to the start of another craft fair season!

Almost Ready

prep tray

In addition to the final paper that’s been dogging me all week (which I finally turned in today!) I’ve been sewing like crazy this week. I’ve completed close to 30 puppets in the past three days, plus some new canvases and stuffies, all in anticipation of the Indieana Handicraft Exchange this weekend. None of my craft fair display supplies had really been out of their boxes in the past six months, not since Renegade Holiday back in December, so it’s taken some time to find and collect everything… and I’m not looking forward to hauling it all from the 3rd floor to the car tonight. But, besides that, I’m looking forward to going home for a few days, seeing some old friends and family, and what’s sure to be a great show!

Animals and monsters
Animal and monster puppets
Character puppets, ready to be packaged
Character puppets, ready to be packaged
Indiana stuffies, especially for the Hoosiers this weekend.

Indiana stuffies, especially for the Hoosiers this weekend.

Felt Engagement

jacob and rebecca wedding with puppets

Rebecca contacted me through etsy a few months back about commissioning custom puppets of her and her fiance, Jacob, for use in their engagement photos. I sewed and sewed and revised and sewed to get the details and likenesses just right and above you can see the result that Rebecca sent along– ridiculously cute, right?! I love it!  (the photo is linked to their photographer’s website)