I had the pleasure of interviewing Tamera Steele and Brett Mich of Gobbledygook Creature Decor. They offer handmade seasonal and holiday decorations out of their basement studio in Kenosha, Wisconsin. They share a love of decorating for holidays and seasons and noticed that products offered in stores were of poor quality and uninspired. So, they decided to design and make our own decorations! Read on for more about their fascinating business…
Tell me about your work. What kind of things do you make?
Gobbledygook Creature Decor specializes in making unique holiday and seasonal dÃ©cor. Our designs range from playful to spooky to elegant. Products are made utilizing several different techniques â€“ sewing, molding, needle felting, painting, and sculpting.
We started off only designing for Halloween, our favorite holiday, but had so many other ideas that didnâ€™t fit the Halloween theme that we decided to expand our product line to encompass more seasons and holidays.
You said you have day jobs. How has that influenced your handmade crafts?
Tamera: I work at a K â€“ 8 school and it actually influences my design ideas quite a bit. The kids are incredibly creative and will tell me stories or draw me a picture that sparks an idea for a potential product. When I can, I bring a prototype of new products to work and let the kids play with it and tell me what they think. Then I can share that information with Brett and we can address any issues or explore other avenues based on their opinions. When we had the idea for our Candy Keepers (sewn trick or treat bags with puppet tongues), some of the kids helped me figure out strap lengths and how long the tongues should be. They were as excited as we were to see the product develop into the present state.
Brett: My day job involves designing and producing the products.
What inspires you when you are designing and making your creations?
Folklore and fairy tales have influenced our work. We enjoy reading about existing creatures and thinking about what else might co-exist with them. Nature always offers up plenty of new ideas, the way things grow and change along with unusual colors and textures. Both of us are big fans of Jim Henson and Tim Burton and really admire their uniqueness.
Is there a common theme or message in all your work?
Tamera: We do have the â€œcreatureâ€ theme for all the holidays and seasons, but I would say our main message is to encourage people to be creative when decorating. Just because the mainstream stores seem to all pick a â€œhotâ€ trend for the season doesnâ€™t mean that is our only choice when decorating. Brett and I want people to go out and try something new; donâ€™t feel boxed in with the same old seasonal/holiday dÃ©cor.
You make hand painted figures when you craft. What about this medium do you enjoy over others?
Tamera: I donâ€™t know if we enjoy this medium over all others, but it fits the productâ€™s purpose best. Plastic can hold up to indoor and outdoor use and even though we use the same mold for all of our plastic figures, once the painting process begins, every creature gets its own personality. The paint really brings the creatures to life and makes them more realistic.
Brett: I like the idea of making something that could be a living, breathing creature. Iâ€™ve always loved monsters and aliens in movies and itâ€™s so much fun coming up with my own for other people to enjoy.
Can you tell us about the process of creating one of your handmade veggie folk?
Tamera: One of the hardest parts of doing our Veggie Folk line is choosing a vegetable. For our first set we decided to do root vegetables. These little guys were originally intended to be used to mark where vegetables were planted in peopleâ€™s gardens.
The next step is making sketches of faces we might want our veggie to have. We think about personality traits it might possess or consider how we can use the shape of the vegetable in the facial construction. Then Brett draws up some faces based on our conversation. After we choose a face, we go out and hunt down the perfect vegetable. Yes, we use real vegetables for our molds! Using clay, Brett sculpts the face onto the vegetable and the tweaking process begins. We might move the nose, adjust eyes, or totally scrap the current face for another design.
The last steps involve making the mold and then hand-pouring the plastic. Each paint job is unique, though we follow a set procedure. All the Veggie Folks are painted to appear as though they were just pulled from the ground.
What are your current favorite books?
Tamera: Most of the books I read are either textbooks or children/young adult literature. I love to read and my favorites change constantly. Right now Iâ€™m into Scott Westerfeld. He has a great trilogy for young adults â€“ Uglies, Pretties, and Specials. It focuses on the future where everyone has an operation at the age of 16 to become â€œprettyâ€. The government oversees the operations and insists that this will prevent war, eating disorders, and all other sorts of social problems since everyone looks the same. Some people decide the government doesnâ€™t know everything and create a new society of their own.
Brett: Itâ€™s not much of a reading bookâ€¦it is Spectrum. There are multiple series. They are compilations of fantasy art. Iâ€™m more of a visual person and seeing all these designs help my creative juices flowing. It really helps me get over any kind of â€œwriterâ€™s blockâ€ when coming up with a new design.
What is your favorite thing to do when you guys are not crafting?
Tamera: There is life outside of crafting?!? Getting outside to garden, camp, or walk are a few of my favorite non-craft activities. I also do a lot of volunteer work with Girl Scouts and other organizations.
Brett: I also like camping and taking walks. Going to museums, zoos, movies and little adventures like a drive in the country on a sunny day are fun, too.
Who are some of your favorite Crafters?
Tamera: There are so many fantastic crafters out there, it is hard to pick just a few! Current favs from Etsy.com include SpookyDaddyâ€™s awesome stuffed animals, Staceyrebeccaâ€™s quirky puppets, and Spiderbiteâ€™s Nightmare Journals.
Brett: We are! If we canâ€™t make it, I donâ€™t want it â˜º Seriously, I have to admit that I am not into crafts nearly as much as Tamera is. She is constantly showing me her crafty finds.
What advice do you have for other crafters who want to start a business like yours?
Tamera: Ask questions! Find someone you admire in the crafting business world and send them an email or letter. Explain you are thinking of starting a business, ask for guidance, and see if they write back. I have found that people involved in the craft world are wonderfully supportive and helpful. The folks over at supermaggie.com and madewithlovebyhannah.com were so kind when I emailed them for advice once we started to really push our online shop and got serious about the business. They checked out our site, offered suggestions, and Hannah even purchased some of our items!
Brett: Donâ€™t give up.
Where can we find your products for sale?
Our products can be found online at www.gobbledygookdecor.com and on www.gobbledygookdecor.etsy.com. If you happen to be in the Midwest, swing by the Blessed Bee Boutique in downtown Kenosha, Wisconsin. Hopefully this list will be a bit longer soon as we are working on getting our goods in a few more shops.
PPS As an extra bit of “Indie Craft Gossip” people usually think they are brother/sister or involved. They are actually best friends and business partners!