Lumpy Buttons is the brainchild of Esther, a working artist based in Buffalo, NY. She loves her city, animals, and life in general, and has created a workshop of cute, goofy and geeky handmade gifts for just about anybody (including yourself!)
What is amazing is that ALL of her items are completely handmade, from cutting the original designs to being sewn completely by hand. None of them are made with a sewing machine!
Here's a quick interview with the artist:
I'm sure you get asked this all the time, where did the name "Lumpy Buttons" come from?
The name Lumpy Buttons was the combination of our two sweet-natured cat's nicknames. Ushi "Buttons" (the black cat in the logo) and Static "The Lump" (the fat gray one). Unfortunately half a year after chooseing the name we lost Static to liver cancer. I am glad we named the business after them because it is a really nice way to remember him every time I work on things.
How did your felt craft business start? How long have you been working in felt?
I live in Buffalo, and as you know, it gets damn cold. Most of the winter you spend wearing a the standard uniform of a black peacoat and you can get pretty bored with it. I actually started making pins just to accessorize and cheer myself up throughout the winter. People started responding to them and asking me to make them pins for their coats and bags. Everything else just kind of grew from there and I have been doing it almost four years now.
How did you learn to hand sew?
My mother taught me to sew. We grew up not only poor, but also Italian, so when holidays came around most gifts were handmade for the large extended family. My mother used me to as unpaid labor for completing holiday and occasion gifts pretty frequently, so it was a bonding time as well as a learning one. I can do a lot of weird crafts, but hand sewing is my best.
Is everything you make completely handmade?
Everything I make is 100% hand cut, sewn, and embroidered from my original designs by myself. I have weird envelopes and bags everywhere of these little paper patterns I somehow haven't lost yet. It is ridiculous!
What is your most popular design, and what is YOUR favorite design?
My most popular design is the pirate cats hands down. They are just sweet little cat faces with an eye patch over one eye, but people really love them. Especially if they have a one-eyed cat. My personal favorites are changing constantly as I make new designs but currently I love the goofy little dogs that are swearing and the egg-shaped atomics I designed for you guys!
How long does it take to make one felt pin on average?
A pin with embroidery can take up to three hours, one without usually averages around a little over an hour. This includes cutting the pattern, cutting the firm but flexible center layer of plastic, and the sewing.
What are you inspired by?
I LOVE love animals which is why a lot of my work is centered around them. I love to learn new anatomy which is why I am constantly making new patterns in the stuffed keepsake plush.
You are an artist that is very meticulous, are there other media that you work with?
My fine art is an insanely labor intensive process of using film negatives/positives to recreate realistic insects to tell natural and human stories (another excuse to indulge in my love of anatomy). It is a funny juxtaposition against my cutesy soft crafts that often startles people, but both are very enjoyable and rewarding in their unique ways.
Who is your favorite artist?
My favorite artist is my friend Tom Holt (https://instagram.com/buffalotomholt/). He has always been a person I look up to hugely because he is dedicated to working every day as part of his life, and his work is phenomenal and varied. He never feels tied down to any particular medium and takes a lot of chances to say what he wants to say. It is really inspiring.
What can we look for from you in the future? Vending anywhere? How can people get in touch with you? Etsy?
You can buy my pins at three locations in Buffalo including the exclusive line at Cats like Us on Main St. in Tonawanda. Otherwise, you can find me at holiday gift shows. I will try to keep up to date in the profile on my etsy shop, or you can buy pins from the etsy shop itself: www.etsy.com/shop/lumpybuttonsgifts.
You can also follow me on instagram to see a lot of the fun stuff that sells out before it makes it to the etsy: http://www.instagram.com/lumpy.buttons.
What people don't often realize is I do a LOT of custom work. So If they need to get in touch with me to realize weird pin dreams in felt they can get at me here: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, what's it like to work with Cats Like Us?
Cats Like Us is great! I had a lot of fun creating the atomic pin line and communication with Julie Ann is always a delight. It gave me a good excuse to do a lot of embroidering, which I like to get practice in on. The only problem I have is every time I go in I want to buy myself like eight dresses because they are all so ridiculously cute!
A big THANK YOU to Esther of Lumpy Buttons for taking the time to answer our burning questions. You can find her EXCLUSIVE Cats Like Us line here: