It’s time for another Super Cute Creators interview. Today we’re finding out a little bit more about Amigurumei, whose adorable amigurumis we’ve featured many times. They’re all made by Mei, who’s also just released a book of patterns featuring Hello Kitty and friends (read my review). Read on for another inspiring look into the life of a kawaii creative!
Who are you and what do you make?
My name is Mei and I’m always (albeit secretly) pleased whenever someone refers to me as an amigurumi “artist”. Those outside my crafting circle, however, will know me better as a features writer and craft columnist for a local newspaper where I live.
I’m a 80s baby and I love all things Strawberry Shortcake, Care Bears, Rainbow Brite, Blinkins, Popples and cute Tonka cupcake flip dolls. I love snuggling up to a good horror flick, but I also have these cravings for participating in Japanese conversations — that’s where my anime time come in.
I’m a self-taught crocheter and I have been making amigurumi for almost three years. I share my amigurumi adventures on my blog, www.amiguruMEI.com. I recently published my first book, Hello Kitty Crochet, in conjunction with Ms Kitty’s 40th anniversary celebrations.
Where do you live and what’s it’s like there?
I live in the sunny city of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It’s been a little rainy lately, but that’s just a great excuse for me to pop out my Le Petit Prince umbrella, which I hardly use! We have a growing crafting community here, with a lot of talented home-grown crafters who are very much in the zakka phase. Due to our multi-cultural influences, most of us speak at least three languages, which we learn from school and at home. I recently picked up a fourth language – Japanese – in hopes that one day, I’d be able to watch anime without the subtitles. The classes, which I’m still attending, have been great help actually — since I can crochet and watch anime at the same time without having to look up all the time to read off my MacBook screen :)
What was your first experience with kawaii culture and why does kawaii inspire your work?
While I and my siblings were huge toy hoarders (not collectors) growing up, I must say that it was not until I watched Studio Ghibli’s My Neighbour Totoro did I really start becoming obsessed with the whole kawaii culture. I must’ve probably been in college by then. I’ve since watched each and every Studio Ghibli production, and I still squeal each time I chance upon Studio Ghibli merchandise. Part of the reason why I decided to learn how to make amigurumi was because I wanted to make my own Totoro dolls. Now most of my work takes inspiration from anime characters and the hopelessly-cute world that they live in :)
What cute products can you never resist buying for yourself?
Anything with a bow! I also love the colour aquamarine, so I’ve never been able to forego stationery in that hue. I am a sucker for cute kitchen ware with a hint of anthropomorphism in them. I also love Sanrio and anything Studio Ghibli — each time I chance upon a store selling their merchandise, I’d have to at least buy three to four items per visit! I’m also a big Moomin and Le Petit Prince fan :)
What was the first product you made for sale and how does it compare to what you sell now?
It was a teru teru bozu amigurumi keychain for a friend. She also wanted a tiny Totoro. Though I’ve gotten a lot of enquiries, I don’t actually sell my dolls at the moment, just because each and every one is made unique, usually according to the current mood I’m in, and I tend to get attached to them after. I hope to put aside a bit more time to make more dolls in the future, so that everyone can have a little amiguruMEI in their lives :)
What are you working on at the moment?
I have two upcoming Hello Kitty Crochet author showcase and signing appearances, so I’ve been busy making new Sanrio-themed dolls to bring along with me for display. Right now, I’m working on an extra-large, but still supercute, Hello Kitty, as my permanent lug-around mascot :)
What’s the most exciting thing that’s happened since you started your business?
It would have to be being picked to do Hello Kitty Crochet! It was sometime early last year when I received an e-mail from the publishers at Quirk Books in the US. It was about 12am and while I was a little sceptical as to the authenticity of the mail (I mean, I would’ve never guessed they’d ask a newbie like me to do a book on Hello Kitty amigurumi!), I was totally psyched out and immediately answered “yes!”. Now, more than a year later, I finally get to hold the published book in my hands and I’ve gotten e-mails, Facebook messages and Instagram tags from people all around the world, talking to me about how much they love my work! I couldn’t have asked for more :)
What’s your dream ambition for your business?
My biggest dream is to really inspire others to pick up crafting. It doesn’t have to be just making amigurumi — it can be needle felting, moulding polymer clay or even making your own toys for the children at home. Try everything at least once and see how you like it.
When I first discovered amigurumi and started putting aside time for crafting, it really changed my whole life (for the better, of course) and I really want to share that with people. Over here in Kuala Lumpur (and perhaps in a majority of cities around the world), we have a lot of parents and adults who work long hours and have little time for the important stuff like spending time with the children, or simply doing some hands-on crafting at home. When I started crafting, I discovered these quiet moments where I really got to know myself a little more. I hope that in the future, the crafting that I do can inspire others to take a breather too, and spend some time “crafting” their lives into something that they’re happy with.
Who are your favourite kawaii designers and makers?
I love the illustrations by Yoshitomo Nara, Shinzi Katoh, Aranzi Aronzo and of course, anything from Hayao Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli. I’m also a big Jerrod Maruyama fan! And I’m absolutely in love with Inhae Lee’s My Milk Toof duo. Last but not least, I’m also a true Sanrio fan!
Where can we find you on the internet?
I’m always on Instagram and I’m also on Pinterest. I share fortnightly craft videos on Youtube. I tweet at @amigurumei, I’m in and out of Facebook every other hour and, last but not least, I blog at www.amigurumei.com :)
Thank you Mei! Look out for more Super Cute Creator interviews soon.
All photos by Amigurumei
Marceline is the co-founder and editor of Super Cute Kawaii and author of The Super Cute Book of Kawaii. She also designs cute character goods as Asking For Trouble. Having visited Japan five times, Marceline is enormously inspired by all things Japanese and especially loves bunnies, space and any kind of food object with a happy face.