About Cuddly Rigor Mortis
2008 was the year that changed my mind about designer plush. It began with the innocent-enough acquisition of two items: A Curster Yeti by Erin Currie and Frank by Kristin Tercek (aka Cuddly Rigor Mortis). Following that, my mind, and the floodgates, were open to plush. I kept in touch with Kris and watched as new creatures were born into the Cuddly Rigor Mortis stable. You can see how her interests in Japanese culture, animation and horror movies are reflected in the detailed dolls. And detailed they are: each of the sizable hand-sewn plushes comes with extra touches like embroidery and a birth certificate. If that conjures up an image of an Xavier Robert’s signature, hello to everyone else who was born in the late 70s! But with designs based on Universal Monsters and New Jersey lore, these ain’t no Cabbage Patch Kids. You can find the CRM crew on Facebook, or you can enter here to win a 13 x 15-inch custom Anubis plush in…
Want to win this custom Anubis plush? Here’s how: Since Anubis was the Egyptian god of death and mummification, what sort of funeral would you like to have? Leave your idea in the comments section below. Kris will pick the best funeral concept and send the morbid toy fan the Anubis.
Please post your comment by June 21st at midnight PST. We will declare the winner on June 22nd, shortly before the next custoMONDAY. The contest is open to anyone, anywhere in the world. If you have already won a custoMONDAY in 2009, please feel free to share your creativity, but you are, regrettably, not eligible for the prize.
When and how did Cuddly Rigor Mortis come about?
In 2004, I was faced with a relatively boring, humid NJ summer. I thought that my love of designer toys and plush could provide a distraction. So with no prior sewing skills, I started trying to make a plush toy. After a month of trying different designs, Mummy was born and my husband, Ed Mironiuk, encouraged me to keep going. I let the originals sit in our spare room for a year before Ed kicked me in the butt to get them ‘out there’. The response has been pretty surprising since I really haven’t promoted it and took it purely as a hobby.
Who in the CRM stable have been your favorite characters? Who was the toughest to make?
Every time I finish a Woofman I love him a bit more, but I curse making him. NJ Devil is a similar one: 22 pieces to trace, cut and stitch together is a tough thing to do. For me at least! But for hands-down all time toughest to make it’s absolutely a tie between Woofbot and Odin. Mold-making and stud-setting are tough when you’re not used to it.
How did the opportunity to license CRM happen, and where can ToyCyte readers find them?
We were already dealing with a company who were licensing Ed’s artwork for stickers. We then brought up CRM to them, figuring they might license the illustrations of the characters, but they wanted to make the dolls. www.yujean.com is the place to buy them.
Have you noticed an explosion in plush toys over the last couple years? Got any favorites?
There absolutely was an explosion, but it seemed to be about 4 or 5 years ago right around when I started CRM. Lots of little plush companies sprouted up along with loads of people pushing their wares on Etsy. But it was always a tough sell. I don’t think plush ever got the same response as vinyl did. It’s always been a matter of explaining to people that these are pieces of art to us and not a Beanie Baby. Plush artists don’t have scads of cheap labor to harness, and it usually comes down to one person designing, buying supplies, tracing, cutting patterns, sewing and shipping each and every plush. Yet, it’s difficult to ask the same price that you would get for an original painting that took the same amount of time. I think because of this and the current economic woes we all seem to be having, lots of my favorites have closed up shop and moved on. With that said, my first loves were: Friends With You, Anna Chambers and Ugly Dolls. I also have soft (or vinyl) spots for Murakami, Nagi Noda, Nathan Jurevicius, Tim Biskup, Kaws, Junko Mizuno, Tokidoki, Kathie Olivas and Tado.
Who makes up the CRM collector demographic?
We have always been amazed at the sheer diversity of our collectors. We have never been able to pinpoint just one demographic because it really is across the board. I’ve gotten emails from 6 year old boys and girls, all the way up to men and women in the military. And not just any military personnel but combat medics and special forces snipers. Hardcore men and women who get a smile from my plush work. I’m thankful everyday that the people who risk their lives to keep me safe get a kick out of my work. That and the kids. Ed and I don’t have any kids (just two chihuahuas) and never wanted them, but I get the biggest kick out of fan mail from kids. They make up stories, draw me pictures and come up with new characters. So cool. I wouldn’t have continued sewing for this long if I didn’t have so many amazing fans.
Say something that makes me miss New Jersey.
Guido-watching down the shore, you don’t have to pump your own gas and fried egg and pork roll sandwiches at the diner. Wow. I can’t believe I came up with three…
Please offer a sentence or two of advice to our governing bodies.
Please don’t forget about us. The people out there on our own, making our own work, starting or trying to keep their small businesses afloat. Our lives are tough enough as it is without having to fork over a mortgage-sized payment to get health insurance. Or having to deal with government regulations that completely disregard the fact that some businesses are just one person. The new CPSIA toy laws are making life miserable for small indie kid’s toy makers. Indie, arty, designer small businesses are the ones who never had a problem with lead paint–it was the huge Chinese manufacturers. Ugh…stop looking solely at fixing the huge corporations and start looking at HELPING the small businesses of America. We love this country too! (Anyone interested in seeing what the CPSIA is all about and how they can help small businesses please visit http://www.handmadetoyalliance.org)
What’s next for you and Cuddly Rigor Mortis?
I have always loved to paint. But instead of art school I went to NYU filmschool, animated, started an ink and paint business with Ed [Editor’s note: they are responsible for the Saturday TV Funhouse shorts on SNL!] and then sewed plush toys. I love CRM. It’s a perfect reflection of me: Cute but deep down there’s something dark. So I’ve decided to start painting again and take a breather from the 25+ plush designs I usually have up in my shop at all times. I will keep the plush simple so I can start to explore other avenues for CRM like prints, T-shirts and a childrens’ book. Hopefully my fans will come along for the journey because that’s exactly what it is for me. I’m honestly not sure where it will end up but it’s so fun right now I can’t help but be excited.
Awesome! If anyone has a good T-shirt printing company suggestion for Kris, leave her a message in the comments. And the rest of you: start planning your funerals below. Best of luck with that!
[This article was written for ToyCyte and first published on 6/8/09. I am reposting it on my own site because 1) I wrote it, 2) It’s a nice record for the artist and 3) ToyCyte is no longer online. Eventually, I will re-post the entire custoMONDAY archive, including PDFs with the original comments, for posterity. View the full custoMONDAY 20 here.]