A zombie sloth in the rain forest

Have you seen the latest ‘Folksy Friday Fun’ animation creation about a Zombie Sloth decorating his pad in the rain forest? The short animation was inspired by the beautiful work created by two talented sisters, Fiona Thomson of FionaT on Folksy and Sal Thomson of Little Black Heart. Fiona creates the most cool freehand embroidered zombie makes, and Sal creates the most intricate zombie art pieces, often miniatures and on pebbles. Their work inspired the latest animation film which if you haven’t seen already, you can watch here…

ZOMBIE SLOTH FILM

I personally had a very difficult week last week, losing my beautiful Cav, Oscar, which I do plan to write about in another blog post. What was amazing was how much working with the lovely makers involved with this film has helped to lift me up and keep me going during a difficult time. It was a total pleasure and privilege to get to know these talented makers and work with their gorgeous products, please do go and have a look at their shops and support their handmade businesses if you can.

Zombie sloth hanging out int he rain forest - by Fiona T
Zombie sloth hanging out int he rain forest – by Fiona T

While working on the animation the one man band music team a.k.a, my husband – Steve Warren, came across some fab music online,  ‘The Sloth song’ by AndyBlarg’s Music on YouTube. This led me to contact Andy directly and see if he would be willing to work in collaboration and contribute his original lyrics and arrange them to Steve’s ukulele. He kindly obliged, and as you will hear the results are totally awesome!!! I’m so grateful for Andy’s involvement as the song sounds fabulous and I can’t believe how easily and quickly we managed to pull everything together. It’s amazing and it still blows my mind when I hear it! I plan to put it on my music playlist so I can hum along while I work. Please head on over and give Andy’s YouTube channel some support.

A little bit more about Andy, the man behind the genius that is ‘the Sloth song’.

I am Andy Black (but my online username is andyblarg), I’m a single a 28 year old nearly graduated college student at BYU Idaho currently at home for the summer volunteering at the Sacramento Zoo for intern credit. I want to be a zookeeper for Disney World. I love writing parody songs for YouTube as a hobby that I hope goes somewhere, but also like playing Nintendo games, being around animals, and dancing.

I created the Sloth Song because I was volunteering at an aquarium/zoo that was going to announce Sloths being added to the park and thought “I should make a song about sloths since people love them”. I wrote the song using a free tune from the YouTube Audio Library and adding lyrics talking about facts about sloths in a funny and witty way. I also make other songs based on random inspiration that hits me when listening to a song or thinking of a good subject to write about.

Zombie Sloth by FionaT
Tooled up Zombie Sloth by FionaT

Now let me introduce you to the fabulous and charismatic Fiona T, maker of non other than Zombie Sloth:

Hello! I’m Fiona, an obsessive maker of things – from miniature embroideries, to fireside knittings, to too-big renovation projects. I live in a teeny mill workers cottage in Belper, Derbyshire, with Husband and our crazy collie Cassie. My sister (Little Black Heart) & I have always been creative and have enjoyed drawing & making since childhood, but she’s clearly the best at drawing.
She can immediately put on paper what gets stuck somewhere between my brain and fingers. I’d been tinkering with free motion embroidery at university, but afterwards, i didn’t want to sew my own drawings anymore – I wanted to sew hers! I started making fabric doodles with her sketches, and these eventually evolved into her beautiful illustrations and my textural “colouring-in” raw edge applique.

Things escalated.

Nine years ago, when we opened our shops on Folksy, I don’t think either of us imagined there’d be a market for our quirky zombie wares!

How long do your makes take to create?

Free machine embroidery can be a pretty labour intensive process, the trick to getting a nice line & machine tension is to go slowly… which is slow.It depends on the finished item – at least a couple of hours for something straight forward… but I can’t help adding more intricate & ever tinier details.

On larger pieces, the cutting and layering of fabrics can take hours, but the embroidering will be disappointingly short in comparison (I really love the embroidery bit. Like, REALLY), and there’s still process of making the finished item, whether that’s bookmarks, covers, pencil cases (I hate zips the same amount that I love embroidering).

Your inspiration / how do you come up with your designs?

Well it’s mostly zombies. Obviously. But I basically pinch Sal’s drawings when I’m visiting, and then tweak or simplify her drawings into designs for sewing.

I love colour & texture so that’s where our work diverges a bit – she’s less is more, I’m more & more & brighter & bolder is more.

What is your personal favourite design or item to make?

The sloths are always a favourite – I love their expressions, and how they can change depending on a slight snipping or stitching variation.

I also love sewing Sal’s birds – if i’m in “the zone” and my hands aren’t wobbling all over the place, getting their elegant swooshing curved just right freehand is extreeeemely satisfying!

fanciest zombie
Fanciest Zombie by Fiona T

What is your most popular item?

Probably the zombie girls – there’s so much scope for playing dress-up with their gorgeous hair and outfits, and luckily there’s always a potential customer going “this is SO me!”

Best feedback from a customer?

The best feedback for me is that people come back again & again. I have some customers who’ve been buying from me for years so I know their addresses off by heart. Seeing a familiar postcode in a sales notification is my best feedback 🙂

What does it mean to you when someone buys one of your handmade items?

I love buying handmade, so I know how it feels to receive something really special and completely unique, to have chatted to the maker or have seen the process happening. When someone buys from me, I hope they’re getting some of the same good feels that I get buying from other makers.

A *SQUEEEEEEE* can really make your week when you’re having a rubbish day or doing admin.

Relating back to question about feedback, people have taken the time to send me actual handwritten thank you cards in the mail – I can’t even articulate how much that means to me – that relationship between maker, item & buyer, you don’t get that at supermarkets 🙂

*tenuous* Fun fact 😉

This is one of my favourites – a secret commission that I couldn’t possibly say no to -the best friend of a customer contacted me about making a surprise birthday pressie… we agreed the birthday girl would love a sentimental “home sweet home” style embroidery.

Purple Sloth Zombie by Fiona T
Purple Sloth Zombie by Fiona T

 

It has been a total pleasure working with Fiona who adapted her Zombie Sloth design with wiring especially for the film and and all hail the awesomeness of her gorgeous toucan that she designed for us, which is now available in her shop. Thanks Fiona for your support and kind words this week. Don’t forget to pop in and take a look at Fiona T’s shop to buy her gorgeous handmade work.

IMG_1111.JPG

And now we meet the other half of the talented duo, Fiona’s talented sister, Sal from Little Black Heart:

I’m Sal, a.k.a. Little Black Heart. I live in Lincolnshire, and spend most of my days happily scribbling, drawing and painting. I absolutely love what i do, and (mostly) find it very therapeutic. I love to be busy and am always making something! I started my business about 10 years ago – making greetings cards at first, but it soon evolved into making the original artworks that I now love to create.

How long do your makes take to create?

I work tiny, and some of my illustrations are only 2 inches ‘big’, so  they can be relatively quick to make, just a few hours. When I work on larger pieces, they can take a couple of days. Sometimes I go crazy and work on whopping great A4 sized pieces – I once spent nearly a year working (on and off) on a swirly floral skull!

7091662-biscuit-tit-original-aceo-0
Blue Tit & Flowers by Little Black Heart

Your inspiration / how do you come up with your designs?

It’s a bit of a cliche, but I’m constantly inspired by nature and the changing of the seasons – my desk overlooks my back garden, which is full of birds, and I love to sit and watch them. (I’m a total bird nerd.) So I’m forever staring out of the window, enjoying whatever is going on out there. Oh, also zombies. I love anything zombie based. I haven’t spotted any in my garden yet, but you never know when the apocalypse is coming 🙂

What is your personal favourite design or item to make?

I really enjoy working on my flowery zombie ladies. I can get lost for hours in the tangled linework of their straggly hair, and I really enjoy adding all of the little details, floaty dresses, and delicate grottiness.

Sloth by Little Black Heart
Sloth by Little Black Heart

What is your most popular item?

Anything sloth-based seems to go down well. Probably because we can all identify 😉

Best feedback from a customer?

I can’t pick any one piece of feedback, I am so lucky to have such amazing customers. They’re all thoroughly lovely and it’s always great to hear from them – I love to hear where my artworks end up, or how happy they made someone.

Sometimes the comments are so kind, it really helps me to keep going (when i’m wading through a bit of self doubt and lack of confidence!)

What does it mean to you when someone buys one of your handmade items?

It really does mean the world to me, knowing that something I’ve made
has made people smile, cheered them up, meant something special, or just
gave them a laugh.

I still can’t believe people enjoy my little scribbles enough to hang them on their walls (or have them tattooed) but I’m super chuffed my work is enjoyed – it makes me happy to know it makes others happy.

Fun fact?

I split my time between drawing pictures, and renovating our house and
garden. It’s been an ongoing work in progress for more years than I like
to admit, and I dream of the day it is finally all finished – so that I
can concentrate on drawing all the time, without any distractions!

What’s next?

I’m a bit of a hermit so I don’t go out and do scary things like meeting people at craft fairs! I mostly just hang out on line, where I sell all of my work through my Folksy shop.

You can find it here:
https://folksy.com/shops/littleblackheart

….and I’m also on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/littleblackheart.co.uk/

and Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/little.black.heart/

'Little Red' by Daisylions and 'Monstera Leaf print' by Lydia Meiying
‘Little Red’ by Daisylions and ‘Monstera Leaf print’ by Lydia Meiying

Thanks so much for Sal’s fabulous contribution to the film, those tiny winy pieces of art with their intricate beautiful details just blow my mind. My hand eye coordination might be closer to a zombie sloth, so I only have total admiration and adoration of those skills.

You might have noticed the film also features a cute little textile and wire handmade chicken called ‘Little Red’ made by Sharon Greaves at Daisylions, and a gorgeous Monstera leaf backdrop  by Lydia Meiying Designs. Thank you so much to everyone who contributed to the film, please share like and comment to help get these beautiful products seen and support British handmade designers and makers!

All of the items in the video are available to buy at Folksy.com.

My next animation will be released on the 17th May by Folksy and features unicorns and rainbows… and a penguin. Random but true!

3 thoughts on “A zombie sloth in the rain forest

  1. Just loved the video! And your interview with two of my favorite people. I’m a little biased as I grew up with Sal and Fiona and have seen their creative genius first hand over the years right from the very beginning. My two very talented ‘sisters’. Thank you for bringing their creations to the fore! Your video was genius and so fun. Loved it.

    Like

    1. Hi Louise, thanks so much for the feedback – it was a total pleasure bringing their gorgeous makes to life and how lovely being part of their creative journeys! Watch this space… I plan to bring them back to life again 😉

      Like

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