nigi nigi :: toys for poko-chan

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i don’t know what you call these toys for babies in english. they’re called “nigi nigi” in japanese (“nigiru” means “squeeze”). these are toys for babies to squeeze. i found a japanese website that shows how to make handmade toys for babies and children. of course, i couldn’t follow the exact instructions, so their eyes are different and their holes should be smaller. but they turned out pretty good, i think.

as a child, my parents and grandparents bought me many toys. but the toys i remember most are the things my family created. my favorite was a car my brother made out of a cardboard box. we would both get in the car and pretend to drive around inside the house… my brother also made some kind of transformer costumes and we fought in them. he made many things and it was really amusing to watch him destroy things like an alarm clock to examine how it’s made. when he was 12, he actually built a house out of wood. it was a two-story house, with a meeting room, a manga reading room and a kitchen (or just a place to eat snacks). unfortunately he and his friends built the house on someone else’s property, so the house had to be torn down. too bad — it was impressive. i don’t think we have any photos of it either.

my mom and grandma made things for me as well. they made me some cloths for my rika-chan doll (my rika chan was second generation). my friends and i would get together with our own rika-chan dolls and do fashion shows in a portable rika-chan house.

anyway, i hope poko-chan likes these handmade toys too and has fun playing with them. or eating them, at least.

plastique monkey SHOP is now open!


maybe you’ve noticed something new on my website today…

finally, my online shop is ready! it took a long time but we wanted to make sure that everything works well. i really like the design. it’s clean and well-functioning. i hope it’s easy for you to look around.

you can read more about why i decided to open a shop on my “about this shop” page. the catalogue includes some of my original drawings, prints, postcards, posters, and handmade books and useless toys. i make all the handmade goods at home, drawing at the kitchen table and sewing my toys on the living room floor. everything for the shop is done from our second bedroom. the website was designed by my husband, paul. prints and postcards are made by local print shops so i can supervise them directly to make sure of the quality. all orders are packed by hand. i get to be my own boss and deal with people directly, without a mediator.

one of the final things i arranged for the shop was printing a lot of postcards. i’ve been selling my postcards at the fringe festival in saskatoon, and other art fairs, and they’ve been really popular. but those postcards were just color copies of my drawing images on nice white cardstock paper.

my new postcards are much nicer. the paper is thicker and the images have a glossy finish. for the first time, the back of the postcard is designed with the plastique monkey silhouette icon. it’s pretty cool — looks just like a real postcard. in my shop, there are sets of 6 postcards, featuring some of my drawings, my loud silence photographs (with the doctor and nurse dolls) and images from my spencer (amigurumi) storybook. as an opening special, all postcard sets are being shipped for free anywhere in the world.

i wanted to have my spencer book (the boring life of spencer, the ennui dog)ready to sell in my shop for the opening, but i’m still working on improving the design and the price. at art festivals and street fairs, i’ve been charging $85 CDN for one book, because i was paying so much for printing. at that price, some people bought it, but many more just read the whole thing (and brought their friends over to read it again), because they couldn’t afford to pay that much (i wouldn’t either!). the spencer book is always so popular that there’s line-ups to read it. i really enjoy watching people laughing so hard as they read it.

anyway, i’m hoping to have the book ready in the next couple of weeks. i’ll be putting the whole story up on this blog, so you won’t have to buy it to read it. in the meantime, i made a set of spencer book postcards, featuring pages from the book. you can look through them in my shop (there’s a slideshow).

my shop is just getting started. if you have any comments, questions or concerns, please let me know. i’d like to hear from you.

i hope your experience at my shop is pleasant and i hope you can find something you like.

IRASSHAIMASE! (welcome!)
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spencer book 14


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it was serendipity. the pink jeep cherokee and maximum team power duck, they’d got to be united.

i found it at value village in saskatoon. i went there the night before the spencer book photoshoot to look for roller skates for goro chan. i was on my way to the sports section. something incredibly pink caught my eye. it was the pink jeep. it was so beautiful just sitting quietly on the empty shelf. i rushed to the jeep and grabbed it. i had to have it. i knew it was just perfect for the maximum team power duck.

i really enjoyed taking these scenes with the duck and the jeep. they just look perfect together. it was already late at night after taking photos all day long for the book. i was exhausted. but hey, to be able to capture the secret life of the useless toys, it was definitely worth it. i had so much fun carrying this jeep around in the city and the parking lot. even though i’m actually too big to get in, i felt like i just got my ride pimped up!

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that’s correct. maximum team power duck has “power” glued on its chest. i cut letters out freehand and used a gluegun to attach them.

it wasn’t such a great idea to use a hot gluegun, though. those letters were thin and floppy. i burnt my fingers badly.

but it was worth it. because it shows clearly how powerful maximum team power duck is!

spencer book 9

when you’re alone and life is making you lonely, you can always go midtown.
midtown, things’ll be great when you’re
midtown, don’t wait a mitute more,
midtown, everything’s waiting for you.
midtown (midtown), midtown (midtown)
midtown (midtown), midtown (midtown)
(repeat and fade out)

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this is goro-chan. he is an amigurumi dog, but he acts like a lone wolf on wheels. when spencer gets in trouble, he is lucky enough to be helped by goro. goro takes him for a ride in his rollerblade.

i took these photos just outside my apartment building here in saskatoon. students were walking by on their way to university. most of them ignored me.

it was hard to get the action shot of spencer and goro in the rollerblade. there’s a can of coconut milk behind the rollerblade, holding it up. you can see the shadow in the “whee-ee-ee-ee” photo.

thanks, coconut milk.

for the goro superstar closeup, i just held him up against the blue sky with one hand. it’s hard to balance a rollerblade with an amigurumi dog in it, using just one hand and holding it from the wheels.

but i think it’s worth it in the end.