Somewhat illusive online, artist and maker Molly Mckee and her work have a true presence in person. Not to be missed at the upcoming Maker Market her plush creations are truly inspired. By mixing patterns, hand stitching, and painting, each piece has a personality all it’s own. From a young age this creative has been taking skills passed down from older generations and letting her creativity go wild. Her plush started with one sock monkey and has evolved into sugar skulls, cowboys, and creatures. Mckee took some time to talk about her upbringing and share her work with Maker Market.
Maker Market: Where did you grow up? Were you a creative kid?
Molly McKee: I grew up in rural Wisconsin. As kids, my brother and I were free to run wild in the surrounding woods. I think spending so much time in nature supported my creativity. My brother and I were always drawing, painting, and creating little plays to put on too. Our creativity fed off one another. I think I was about six when my grandma and aunt taught me how to crochet. With this new skill, I started making crochet animals. As an adult I didn’t start making plush animals again until Faythe Levine invited me to make a sock monkey for a sock monkey show she was putting on. After that, to my surprise, I was hooked.
MM: When and how did you start Brash Monkey?
MoM: I think I started Brash Monkey on Etsy about six years ago. I don't do a lot of craft fairs but wanted a place to post new work and be able to sell them too. I have to admit, my work is a little less brash than it use to be.
MM: Outside of plush, what mediums do you work in?
MoM: I draw and paint with usually some mixed media. I like to layer surfaces. I have recently been painting and carving into wood. I enjoy the tactile qualities of wood. I like that you can hold it and feel it. This is also what I like about working with fabric. I like the evidence of the life the wood had revealed in its grain and having to work with this in a piece.
MM: What inspires your creatures? What does your process look like?
MoM: Often I have an idea in mind and start from there. Depending on what it is, I do a sketch or two and then design a pattern. Then as I work, it becomes an reaction to the materials that I am using. It might be the color, texture or the pattern that informs the next decision. At this point the piece starts to have a life of its own. There is never two pieces that are alike. I always find that interesting.
MM: Do you name your pieces? They have so much character!
MoM: I don’t typically name my pieces. I leave that to the one who buys them. I like when people come back to me to tell me what they named them. I do like to think of a background story for my pieces and sometimes include it in the description of the piece on my Etsy site.
MM: What can shoppers expect to see from you at the upcoming Maker Market?
MoM: I will have a variety of creatures, human, animal, cowboys. Some are better for adults and some are just right for children. I just started making sugar skull dolls. They have plush bodies and hand painted faces. I like being able to paint and sew in the same piece. I will also have some small paintings on wood and drawings.
MM: What is currently inspiring you? IG accounts? Music? Movies? Artists?
MoM: I am inspired by the work Akio Takamori. I love his ability to move from 2-D to 3-D in a single piece. His work is so beautiful. I also love the work of Kiki Smith. Her use of line is amazing. Her work always feels so raw and very moving. I’m also inspired by my three year old daughter. I love the way she sees the world. I love that dandelions and pebbles are precious to her. I think when you have a child you want to see the beauty and wonder of the world. This is something I want to hold onto and hopefully have it filter into the work I do.
Not to be missed, Molly McKee and her work will be at this Sunday’s Maker Market at Colectivo in Bay View. Come grab one of her pieces and give it a new home and a new story.