Christine Malek is Vidaliah Crafts

I create art from things around me. I started fiddling around making sock monkeys in 2005. I gave them to friends and stopped making them when I ran out of socks. When I moved to Olympia, WA in 2007 I dove in deeper and started to make rabbits, dogs and pigs out of socks and gloves. This time when I ran out of socks I turned to sweaters. Sweaters have presented me with the types of challenges I have enjoyed in other mediums, like ceramics but without the wet and dirt. There is texture, and a weight not found in lighter cottons. Knits move and migrate, stretch and spread. Clothes come in all types of colors with wide variations of fabrics. This gives me an almost unlimited pallet to work with to create my creature art.

I have always been a stuffed animal person. As a kid dolls creeped me out. Barbie was too hard and unyielding, her hands were poky. Big, soft, floppy cats and creatures dominated the top of my bed. Stuffed creatures give comfort. You can hug and cry. Use them as pillows and as projectiles against brothers. My stuffed creatures are made for people. People of every age, type and size. I do not see them as just for children, though they are made with children in mind. The eyes are on tight and I often use “child safe acrylic eyes”. They are for everyone. Adults give them to each other for gifts, or commonly tell me they are for a gift and then come back next year to get another, cause the “gift” is still at home and is now part of the family. My creatures make me laugh and make me smile. It warms me to my core to know that others share in this.

Clothing is a very personal but ubiquitous material. We wear them on our skin. It is with us everywhere and almost always, in one form or another. I am attracted to soft, bright or unusual pieces of clothing. Form is important to me but I let the fabric do what it's going to do. Very often the cut piece and the finished piece are quite different. That adds to the charm and the excitement of creating them. Each piece I make is one of a kind. I make runs of different species like Sweaterbears, Squams, Squammettes, Squambats, Squambirds, Ambiguous Mamals, Sweater Mstrs and many, many more. I thrive on variety and challenges. I very rarely turn down custom orders, I am willing to try anything.

Most commonly I use a combination of hand and machine work. There are some Art Doll creatures that I do exclusively by hand. They are more intricate and involved than most of the larger more rough and tumble creatures. The Art Dolls are more for collecting and looking, than squeezing and jostling. I have enjoyed mixing the two styles more and more. Adding embellishments to more basic creatures or making larger, softer Art Dolls. It is important to me that my work is financially accessible to people. The Art Dolls tend to run a bit more in price, as well as the more embellished soft creatures. I like to make sure that a variety is available at any one time so all can enjoy.

There is a freedom in being an artist who makes art that can be squeezed. It is a real palpable connection. I see each one as a piece of art. They were made by my fingers lovingly, with no two the same. With each thing I make, whether it creature, craft or clothing, I extend it out for all to enjoy.