You might remember this weeks Etsy Crush of the Week from a previous post ‘The Most Adorable Crocheted Video Game Characters‘. Once I started this new category I new I had to feature a few of my favorite amigurumi makers and nerdJERK is definitely one of them! The hot pink Bob-Omb (see slideshow below) is destined to be in my life! It was practically made for me, plus my pink cthulhu has been lonely wrecking havoc on the world, she could use a buddy. The talented crafter behind this insanely adorable crocheted is Steph Cortes! Read her funny the interview below and check out the slide show and marvel at the handmade kawaii plushies.
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Interview with Steph Cortes:
Girl Gone Geek: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Steph Cortes: As I sit here on my grandma’s vintage sofa from the 50s, listening to Queen, I’m tempted to say that I live a life of luxury! After all, not everyone gets to listen to Queen on old school couches on Sunday mornings whilst being virtually interviewed. But I guess the difference lies in the details: I’m also surrounded by hundreds of little bombs/mushrooms/whatever-Goombas-are, made of yarn. That and every colour of felt you can imagine, stacked in looming piles near the RockBand drums. And when all I wanna do it play some dang RockBand (yes – I’m stuck in 2009), I’ve gotta finish prepping for a giant show in 5 days.
My name is Steph Cortes and I’m one crafty broad with a huge deadline.
GGG: How long have you been crocheting and crafting and how did you get into it?
SC: When I was a little chubby Stephy, my grandma used to take time to show me some of the basic smooth embroidery moves that made her a stitchin’ success. I thought it was just a different way to draw, but the little details you could get from a needle and thread on, well, ANYTHING was kind of amaze-balls.
Fast forward to awkward & teenage-y chubby Stephanie in a high school rad enough to have a crafty arts class. Our teacher taught us the basics of a few other art forms, including crochet (and embroidery-revisited).
Little did I know that grown-up chubby Steph would be making a living from these techniques in ten years time.
GGG: What is nerd JERK’s origin story?
SC: The long version of the story is that there was a demand for these little guys from some gamer peeps and I seemed to be the lady to fill it.
The short version is that nerd JERK started cos there was a boy…
Here’s the longest version: the night before going on a date, I stayed up all night to make a really rad present. I didn’t know how I was gonna make it happen, but I wanted to make a crocheted penguin. So I designed it, crocheted it and created Penguin Seymour Hoffman. It was a big splash with the fella. Lesson learned: Boys like geeky stuff.
Later on in our relationship, he showed me a Bob-Omb online that he wanted to buy. I told him that I’d just make one for him. Again, I didn’t have a pattern, just a tutorial on beginner’s amigurumi & a pixelated picture of a Bob-Omb from N64 to go off of. A day later, I gave him a Bob-Omb. He showed his friends and they wanted to buy one! Lesson learned: Geeks will tell other geeks about awesome stuff.
A few years later, I was dating this foxy fella and wanted to impress him, so what did I do? Other than invite him over to play video games with me? Made him a Turnip from Super Mario World 2. Then that reminded me of the second lesson I’d learned.
I decided to run a business that specialized in handmade geeky art. Perhaps in hopes that others would connect in some special way: that bouquet of Fire Flowers or that Shy Boo could inspire smiles for years.
GGG: How long on average does it take you to make a doll?
SC: I’ve been designing these guys from 2005, so there’s been a lot of re-designs and upgrades in my patterns and techniques. For a mini item, it can take me anywhere from 1.5 hours for a Mini Goomba or 3 hours for a detail Black Bomb Angry Bird. For a large item, it can take me 4 hours for a Luma to 8 hours for a Bob-Omb. For epic items, anywhere from 2 weeks to a couple of months, depending on level of awesomeness. [See left: Meta Knight]
GGG: Do you have any funny crocheting stories?
SC: You mean other than using my crochet powers of good to lure cute geek boys with glasses into make out sessions?
How about the fact that the current geek boy I’m with didn’t think people would pay for yarn toys and now these soft sculpture plushies pay our bills? That’s what I call a “BOOYAH!”
GGG: How do you keep your fingers from falling off?
SC: Easy – colourful duct tape! No, but really, it’s very hard on my hands to be a one-woman operation. I get help with cutting felt pieces sometimes or stuffing fluff, but all the crocheted and little details are all me. So when it gets busy, sometimes my body decides it’s had enough. Usually, this manifests itself in 2 ways: severe pain or ridiculous numbness. So, while being an entrepreneur is exciting, it doesn’t have the greatest health benefits. That means lots of stretching, wrist guards & Tiger Balm.
But isn’t it worth it to know that your items are made from someone who loves making geekery enough to make sure it’s done really well? That’s the best thing about my business, to me, anyway – hand-crafted & designed by one person for the nerdy masses. It just makes me so happy to know people all around the world connect with something that came from my two taped-up hands. :)
GGG: I see a lot of your items are Nintendo characters, what are some of your favorite Nintendo games?
SC: A local bookseller turned out to be my bestest geeky chum right out of high school. As I never had a NES growing up (I know – the HORROR!) Aaron had to show me the wonders of all that is Nintendo. I fell quick and hard for the graphics, cuteness and overall raddness of the worlds & characters. But am sad to say that most of the characters are merely custom requests, not nostalgic recreations of my childhood.
However, I do love me some Nintendo, dudes. I would say I have a huge fondness for the N64 Harvest Moon and GameCube Alien Hominid. I wanna make that Alien SO BAD!
GGG: Do you have any other geeky obsessions? If so what?
SC: Other than the adorable Alien from Alien Hominid? Maybe some real-life characterizations. I’ve been wanting to make Roy & Moss from “The IT Crowd” for a while now. And I’d love to try my hand a making a bunch of Wes Anderson characters, mainly from “The Royal Tenenbaums” and “The Life Aquatic.” I’ve got a crazy-love for Wes Anderson flicks and geek comedies featured on the BBC.
GGG: If you were on a deserted island what would video game, comic/book, movie, TV show would you bring?
SC: DUDE! I get one of each? Okay *takes deep breath*
– Video Game – RockBand (I can bring a franchise, right? It’s all one big package, k?) The way I play it, it’s like exercise. So it serves a few purposes: tunes, rockin’ and cardio!
– Comic/Book – Jeffrey Brown’s “AEIOU” / Chuck Klosterman’s “Killing Yourself to Live”
– Movie – Wes Anderson’s “The Royal Tenenbaums” The soundtrack and imagery are delightful. I watch it over and over whilst pulling all nighters for craft shows. That movie coupled with “Harold & Maude” and chased with “Dr.Horrible’s Sing-along Blog” is pretty much the reason I can cut out 200 mini white ovals for hours on end.
– TV show – Ooooh! That’s a hard one. Probably a tie between “30 Rock” and “Home Movies.” I’d let my deserting party flip a coin for it. I’d be happy either way. :)
GGG:Where can we find you in the web?
SC: I’m all over the internets!
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