When I visited the Long Beach leg of the Patchwork Indie Arts and Crafts Festival about four months ago, I told myself to make only practical gift purchases. And then I happened upon Tanyalee Philpott's V Is for Violet booth and her neon-green, hand-sewn stuffed zombie limbs, complete with jutting bone.
And what did I do despite my pledge of practicality? I bought one.
Philpott, 30, says she's been obsessing over the $40 severed arm "forever."
"All of my silly critters begin as a doodle, and I go from there," she explains. "Once I made it, I fell in love—it is slowly turning into one of my best-sellers. Someone recently bought one to give as a baby-shower gift; I would pay to see the expression when the parents open it!"
The Whittier resident has been crafting for as long as she can remember, recalling her mother crafting Christmas ornaments with the family. In fact, family ties are a common theme in Philpott's work. V Is for Violet is named for her daughter, the initial recipient of Philpott's handmade goods.
"V is my product tester; she beats the prototypes up so I know exactly where to add more stitching," she says. "I'd also like to think my business will serve to inspire her as she gets older, so she will let her creativity run wild and know there are other nutty people out there that not only appreciate it, but love it, too!"
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An obvious flare for the whimsical is apparent in every piece Philpott produces. Sure, there's the plushie zombie arm, but did I mention the wood-log hair clips; her plush monster series (Medusa, Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, Mummy, etc.); stuffed plaid-clad lumberjack; or the plush storm cloud, complete with lightning bolt?
Philpott ended up staying up until 4 a.m. the night before her first craft show sewing dozens of storm clouds (and later, its variations: the rain cloud and the rainbow cloud). She sold out of the entire stock within the first two hours.
"I feel so blessed to be able to do what I do," says Philpott, who's now expecting her second child (so expect a boost in her online presence in the next few months!). "I'm grateful to be able to make things that come from my imagination and have people out there who love them as much as I do."
This column appeared in print as "Plushie Zombie Arms!"