Hello my bleeding beauties:
Today in the asylum, we're talking about the podge craze that is sweeping the horror market. Sloane Kady's artwork is gorgeously creepy, not to mention expertly and uniquely crafted, as well as one-of-a-kind, so naturally, we had to scoop her up and take a peek inside her head to see what makes her, and her dashing little ladies and gents, tick.
So sit back, bite your bit, and tune in to a world of art, horror, madness, and dolls.
Because it's about to get all kinds of Child's Play up in here.
WYTOVICH: Hi Sloane! So I recently just treated myself to one of your beautiful handmade horror podges and I’m just over the moon in love with little Borris. What got you interested in art in the first place, and where does your background begin with it?
KADY: I’m so happy you love Borris! He’s a handsome guy.
I came out of the womb with a crayon in my hand. Art has been my passion since as far back as I can remember. As a child, I was always drawing and creating. While other kids fantasized about bicycles and Barbies, I wanted so much to learn to paint and sculpt and sew and crochet and just…everything. My mind was always reeling with new ideas, but it wasn’t until I was in my teens that I discovered my taste was a bit different.
I remember sitting in math class in my freshman year of high school, and my teacher (also the football coach) asked if there were any artistic types in the class. Thinking nothing of it, I raised my hand and waited for the coach to bark at me.
“You,” he said, pointing at me. “Mr. (I don’t remember his name—the art teacher) asked me to keep an eye out for some students he could use for a project. Make me something right now.”
I had no art supplies on me at the time, so thinking quickly, I pulled a Tampon (un-used, of course; I’m not THAT extreme) and two paperclips from my backpack. Under the skeptical eye of the coach, I straightened the two paperclips and inserted them through the middle of the Tampon, fastening them into legs. I drew a face on one end of the Tampon and left the tail loose on the other. I walked up to the coach’s desk and set the mouse down, waiting for him to kick my ass out of class. Much to my surprise, he LOVED it. I was immediately sent to the art class and was told what I’d earned myself. A week later I was painting a mural on the side of a gas station, having my photo taken by the local newspaper. I never did see the article, but I’m sure it made no mention of how I happened upon the opportunity.
It would be years before I’d find my footing as an artist, but this was when I first discovered there were other people who shared in my quirky taste, artistically speaking, and who wanted to see more of what I had to offer.
WYTOVICH: What gave you the idea to start creating these adorable little monsters and where can readers purchase them at?
KADY: I started making felt stuffed animals for my daughters a few years back. While they were cute, they lacked a certain something. Precious foxes and kittens; no blood and horror. Not really my jam. But my girls loved them, and people reacted really positively to the photos I posted online.
Over the years, I had seen various types of horror dolls and always loved them, but my plate was full. I just didn’t have the time to experiment. After the release of my second novel (the beginning of summer), I had some extra time on my hands, so I pulled out my sewing machine, bought some quality materials (no craft felt to be seen), and set out to make a stuffed horror doll. I had already dabbled with sculpting and had made several polymer art dolls, but this was totally different. I had no idea how the finished product would turn out, but I was immediately hooked. Much to my astonishment, my very first podge sold within hours of making it, and I haven’t looked back since. I’m stunned at the evolution these little creatures have gone through just in the short time I’ve been making them.
You can find my podges on my Etsy shop (Podges tend to go quickly—I’m always trying to play catch-up with my inventory): https://www.etsy.com/shop/SloaneyBoloney
WYTOVICH: Can you talk a little bit about your process and how you get your ideas, the materials you like to use, etc.? How often do you make new podges? Do you take requests/commissions?
KADY: Many of my ideas come from my daughters. They love to draw up ideas for podges and then see what I do with them. Several of my sold podges were designed by my tiny humans. My lovely girls aren’t quite as dark and twisty as their mama (though they’re on their way), so I add all the necessary snakes, snails, and puppy dog tails.
My process is somewhat similar to that of my paintings and drawings, though it’s definitely more technical. When I paint, I completely lose myself in my work. Fingers working, mind free, I get into the zone of whatever music I’m listening to at the moment and just enjoy the journey. With my podges, I have to be very precise with measuring, cutting, placement, sewing, and staining. But make no mistake; I’ve got my horror movie soundtracks playing, which afford me the ability to completely immerse myself in my work. Music is as necessary a part of my creative process as the tools I work with…unless we’re talking The Carpenters, A.K.A. the gateway to Hell.
As for my favorite materials…well…I’ve got a ton of favorite materials, but I’ll just talk podges for now. I love fabric—rich, intricate, high quality fabrics (I’d be nowhere without natural bull denim and high-end upholstery/curtain fabric), high quality thread (Gütermann), wooden buttons, Dye-Na-Flow for staining, Golden High Flow acrylics for painting, various crochet threads for hair, but above all, my sewing machine. It’s a beast and the perfect tool. Thank you, Husqvarna Viking. (No, I’m not getting paid to say that. I just dig their shit.)
Podges take A LOT of time. I’d love to make one every day, but I’m currently making approximately two a week. I actually just dipped my toe in the commission pond. We’ll see how it goes and whether or not I’ll continue with it, but I’m always interested in hearing requests. If something’s up my alley, I’ll give it a go, so long as I feel confident in my ability to knock it out of the park.
WYTOVICH: What do you think is unique about your work that makes it stand out?
KADY: Buyers want something that isn’t readily available in stores. For reasons I can’t begin to fathom, podges aren’t sold everywhere. I think people also like the combination of cute and horrifying. There’s something appealing about a revolting creature that’s also precious enough to cuddle with. Horror fans in particular get all kinds of excited when they see my interpretation of their beloved movie villains. All of that aside, I put a lot of work into each piece, and I’m dedicated to quality. Each podge is a piece of art, and I’d like to think that’s what is so appealing about them.
WYTOVICH: Why horror? What about this genre specifically draws you to create with a dark edge?
KADY: I love everything horror! Always have. From the time I was tiny, I adored horror films. I’ve always needed my art served with an edge, be it music, films, books, art, etc. While other women curl up on the couch and watch romantic comedies, I play horror films when I want to relax and feel at home. When I was eight years old, I wrote to Cassandra Peterson (Elvira Mistress of the Dark) to tell her I wanted to be her when I grew up. Unfortunately, I was never endowed enough to fill such big…shoes.
So, what draws me to this genre? It’s fun, bold, and gritty. There’s nothing mundane about horror, and it allows me the freedom to experiment in ways other genres wouldn’t tolerate. It’s also honest in a way other genres aren’t. That’s the logical answer, the part I can explain. Then there’s the innate. I’ve no idea why I’ve always been drawn to horror, but it comes as natural as breathing.
WYTOVICH: I know that you also like to work in other mediums as well. Can you give us a snapshot into your art life and talk a little bit about your other work with painting and drawing?
KADY: Like I said, I’ve been drawing since I was old enough to hold a crayon. I began painting in my early twenties and shortly thereafter began working with an art manager. The whole situation fell into my lap, and while it was a tremendous learning experience, I hadn’t yet found myself as an artist/painter. I wasn’t proud of what I was producing. I was terrified of color and had zero confidence in myself, so I played it incredibly safe and colored within the lines. My paintings were dreadfully boring. Average pieces to go with average beige waiting rooms. Barf!
Shortly after my last gallery showing, my husband got new orders and we were off to Cape Cod, where I became pregnant with our second bundle of joy and put painting on the back burner.
As years went by, I kept up my art but never really found my place within it. My family was complete and that’s where my heart was (and still is, but the kiddos are older and don’t always want their mom following them around all day—I don’t know why; I’m totally rad). Along the way, my heart took another detour, and to make a long story short, my writing career began.
I spent years writing, writing, and writing some more, perfecting my craft and finding my role within it. Then began the submitting process, and before I knew it several of my short stories had been published and I had two novels under my belt. Writing is where my focus remained for many years.
Art always called to me, begging for attention, but HELLO, I was busy pursuing my other childhood dream, becoming the next Stephen King-ette. I worked incredibly hard to become successful and only dipped my fingers in paint, picked up a pen, or turned on my sewing machine when time allowed, which wasn’t often enough. But my soul was beginning to wither without art, so I decided it was time for a change. After the release of my second novel, I settled on giving art my undivided attention, which meant putting writing on hold. As any writer knows, this is much easier said than done.
From sewing, to paintings, to drawing, to sculpting, to crocheting, to the miscellaneous, I work with all mediums, so long as they afford me the ability to unleash my creativity in a bold way. While every day is dedicated to family and home, once everyone’s off to school and the house has been tended to, it’s time for mama to have some fun. Some days are dedicated to podges, some to acrylics, some to watercolors. It depends on my mood at the time, but podges are in high demand and usually take a front seat.
I’ve definitely grown into a bold woman and artist. One of the greatest gifts age has given me is confidence.
Where I used to use beige, I now use neon pink; where I used to write with a passive voice, I now cut out my heart and let the reader watch it bleed, and what used to be forgettable art pieces are now vibrant expressions of the wonderful chaos in my head.
Each and every piece in my shop will be daring…and probably a bit dark and twisted (with the exception of my Expression Series, an exploration into the mysticism of womanhood—which just got picked up by a wholesale distributor). My art is a celebration of the woman I’ve become and the even wiser woman I hope to grow to be. It’s a celebration of an artist who found her way and who colors way outside the lines, scoffing at the conventional restraints society has placed upon women. I adore what I do, and I hope people enjoy my work, but if not, fuck it. I’ll still go on, happily creating my macabre little things and living in my dark, happy world. I’ve never compromised for anyone or anything nor do I intend to.
WYTOVICH: In addition to being an artist, you’re also a writer and published novelist. Can you tell us a little bit about your work in the written world and describe your style for those who haven’t read your work yet?
KADY: My style is dark and brutally, unabashedly honest. I think that sums up my writing, both in style and subject matter. My short stories are all tales of psychological horror. Irreparable Deeds, my first novel, is a thriller, and Sleight, my latest novel and baby, is an edgy literary fiction drama with deep veins of madness.
My writing is where I expose myself, where people get to know what makes me tick. I’m an introvert. You won’t catch me chatting over Starbucks coffees and matching yoga pants with all the PTA moms. I keep to my own little table, and while I love fiercely and with unbridled loyalty, I don’t extend a seat to many people. My writing is where I’m forced to unearth pieces of myself that would otherwise go unseen—and that is what we call catharsis.
My goal has always been to write with honesty. We go throughout our lives bullshitting one another; passing vacant smiles, nodding along to small talk, exchanging pleasantries that hold no weight. We live in a plastic world, dressed up to look pretty, but we’re void of substance. I won’t write unless I can write with reckless abandon and without fear of the reaction. My words aren’t easy to swallow and the subject matter is abrasive, but that’s why my readers love my books. They’re real. They’re honest. If ever the day comes when I consider everyone else’s feelings before writing, I’ll personally nail the coffin in my writing career. Until then, I’ll never be able to give it up. Just like my art, it’s an extension of me, an essential element of what makes me the woman I am. My husband and our daughters are my pillars, my bones, my heart, my soul. My writing and art flesh me out.
WYTOVICH: Speaking of writing, I love how your artwork is marketing with backstory to the doll’s life, death, creation, etc. To me, it made me feel like I was buying something that had some spirit, and for a creepy doll lover like myself, that really made the art standout as something special. What gave you the idea to start adding biographies to your dolls?
KADY: They deserve it. It’s as simple as that. My art dolls take so much time to make and they’re so expressive. They deserve to have their own stories, as opposed to just a stock number and title. While I’m making them, I truly think about their history and how their afflictions have molded them, no pun intended.
WYTOVICH: Do you have an artist statement or philosophy that you tend to work by? What kind of message are you aiming to send/make with your work in the arts?
KADY: The world has enough beige walls and forgettable bookshelves. We’re a zero-calorie world. Buy art that moves you, disturbs you, inspires you—something hearty and chock full of ooey-gooey fat. Read what stirs you and breathes life into an otherwise ordinary moment. Do these things, and I promise to keep creating books and art of distorted beauty. After all, honesty, even at its most raw, looks kind of beautiful if viewed in the right light.
WYTOVICH: Okay, I have to ask! Who is your favorite podge so far? And what about him/her/it makes him/her/it standout?
KADY: Impossible! I don’t have one favorite. But I do have a handful of favorites. Thus far, my favorite podges are Borris (not just blowing steam up your ass), Phoebe Nuttlebonkins, Ferdie, Michael Myers, Horned Harriet, and The Babadook. As for why these are my favorite, well, color plays a role in that, as does attire. I adore Michael Myers, but that’s because my all-time favorite horror movie is Halloween. I love Borris because he’s a sweetheart. He might be creepy, but he’s totally happy about it, and I’m down with that. I love Horned Harriet because she’s one sassy broad. I mean…come on! You’ve got to have some piss & vinegar in your veins to pull off beaded tassels. And I love Babadook because I really deviated from my typical routine with him. Instead of letting the fabric and stitching do all the talking, I had to use paints. Babadook was a blank canvas. Black and white fabric with no depth or personality. I used light washes of acrylic paints to create a sketch-style finish, something that would resemble the children’s book version of The Babadook. In the end, it turned out really well.
Social media links:
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/ArtistSloaneKady/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorSloaneKady/