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Robin Romain, aka Rawbone Studios, is an artist who got her start crafting clothes for naked troll dolls and today crafts critters inspired by her giant felt stash and local Hispanic culture. She’s also a big fan of skulls, so it was kind of a no-brainer to grab her as a guest artist. She makes handmade folk art skulls and primitive-inspired decor of the stuffed kind, and everything is adorable in that awesome creepy-cute way we love around here.

Robin crafted Urban Threads' very first guest artist plushie! Grab your design in machine embroidery and hand embroidery formats, and then take a peek at the tutorial to learn how to stitch up your little bug.

Tell us a bit about your background -- what led you into crafting and when did you begin?

It all started when I was a kid making clothes for my naked troll dolls. I would create wicked outfits with their fluorescent hair and all the neon-colored fabrics available at that time. All my babysitting money went towards Monkees albums and polyester. That love of visual expression led to a career in graphic design and advertising art direction. My head was happy but I still needed an outlet for my hands. Nothing held my focus until I found a $5 box of colorful wool felt at a garage sale. I’ve been embroidering ever since.

Tell us a bit about your design...

Wronky is his name. He is a futuristic mutant that can survive in most environments because he has learned to have a good attitude. He thinks that is the key to happiness and I pretty much agree. He loves to soundlessly hover near people as they watch movies in bed. His favorite director is Tim Burton. He loves soft kisses on the back of his wings.

What inspired these amazing hand embroidered creations? What made you decide to take your embroidery into a stuffed 3D realm?

I live in Santa Ana, CA, and we have a very celebratory Spanish culture here. It has greatly influenced my love of vivid color, handmade decor, and Day of the Dead inspired imagery. As an artist, I love primitive forms, unusual color combinations, and seeing the humor in life.

I started embroidering big sugar skull pillows that didn’t come to life until they got stuffed. After stuffing, they became so huggable I had to give them names. It is easy to fall in love with squishy softness and because of that, everything I now make usually has a face, a personality and “comes to life.” Can you tell I was breast-fed as a baby!

What’s your favorite hand stitch?

French knots are my favorite stitch. They are so very cute when done right and they challenge me. Getting them in the exact right place is tricky and keeping them equally tight takes me into my “embroidery zone.” I love to disappear into a line of different colored French knots.

What’s your studio/workspace like?

The best part about embroidery is you can take it anywhere! I don’t really have a studio; I have a lot of favorite chairs. I have a big travelling basket filled with wooden cigar boxes. One box has my current work in progress, one has all my thread. Another has my sequin collection and another some vintage buttons and findings.

My felt stash lives in our guest room and has taken over. I keep that door closed. My favorite place to embroider is in our backyard with my cat Pepper sitting on my lap. Because I have such a great need to keep my hands busy, I need to keep it all portable. I think this is part of why my work continues to shrink in size. And of course smaller is cuter, right?

Finally, if you were a thread color, what color would you be?

Black, no question. Black embroidery thread disappears. Don’t get me wrong, I love to see each stitch in all its individual glory. But black just sinks into the felt or fabric and becomes a living line drawing that can magically appear before your eyes. Black is my new black!

If you like the work of Robin’s own Rawbone Studio, you can check out more of her stuff over at her Etsy store, on her flickr feed, or see what’s up on her new blog.

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