Are you ready to #ShopSmall in a big way at GeekCraft Expo Seattle's Holiday Market November 25 and 26? Not only will you be able to browse handmade geeky crafts by more than 70 local artisans, but you'll find incredible, unique gifts like the replica skulls and bones made by Arctic Phoenix Studios!
We chatted with Jade Cheung of Arctic Phoenix Studios and asked her how she got started, and what she's bringing to Hangar 30 this year!
GeekCraft Expo: Can you introduce our readers to the types of crafts you make?
Jade Cheung: Primarily, I produce replicas of small animal skulls, but I'm starting to branch into human and animal bones, costume and replica horns, and occasionally I'll get the itch to sculpt something to cast like my Xenomorph Queen skull and my replica Game of Thrones dragon egg!
GCE: What inspired you to start creating resin casts of skulls and bones?
JC: The first skull I ever cast, my crow, I did as a challenge to myself just to see if I could do it. I've always loved trying out new materials and techniques, and resin was one that I had been hesitant on for a while. So of course, being me, I didn't go easy on myself when I finally dove in! The crow I still replicate was my second resin cast ever (the first was a small ouroboros for an art class assignment). Over the years, as I've become more involved with the vulture culture community, my inspiration to continue is to allow collectors to have options, particularly when legalities and ethics comes into question of how the originals were sourced; an increasingly bigger deal as vulture culture is becoming more popular, and poaching (especially international), questionable culling of predator populations, and trophy hunting is becoming more visible.
GCE: You’re also an incredible cosplayer: how does that inform your crafts?
JC: Thanks! I am such a sucker for details. If I can successfully create the illusion that something is real at first glance, I've done my job! Whether it manifests as people asking me what kind of metal I used to make my horns for Lady Loki (they're not, trust me!), or people asking me where I found so many dead birds because they think my skulls are real (they're tangible objects, so I guess they're real!), that is a mark of pride for me. Details can also manifest in the richness of a piece such as finishing the edges of my costumes with layered trims, hand-beading details, or adding the appropriate accessories to create layers that become visible or invisible at different distances (yes, I drool over the costumes in Game of Thrones for exactly that reason!).
GCE: Why do you think cosplay has exploded in the last decade?
JC: I think one of the biggest reasons is that the concept of cosplay and the materials to make them have become much more accessible than in the past. When I was making props and costumes for myself as a teen in the ’90s, there was no internet to turn to until the later years, so learning was mostly through trial and error on my own with whatever materials I could buy locally. The number of tutorials and materials available online now are staggering in comparison, not to mention the online cosplay and overall costuming communities out there for people to bounce ideas off, and find support and connections for their interests. Another boon for today's makers has been the influx of DIY books on hundreds of topics, especially with the increasing number of self-published books out there adding to the fray of commercially printed books.
GCE: What are your can’t-miss geeky TV shows and movies?
JC: Good Lord Bird, I have to choose? For TV, Game of Thrones and Penny Dreadful are up there on the list. For movies, I love fantasy and supernatural themes: Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy (I love Guillermo del Toro, because he loves details), Lord of the Rings, Hobbit, the Underworld series, Labyrinth, and The Last Unicorn.
GCE: What surprised you about GeekCraft Expo Seattle last year?
JC: New shows or even new venues can be nerve wracking for both organizers and vendors, but I was pleasantly surprised that there was an over-the-top effort to make it an awesome event that brought in an attendance that I normally saw only at established events. So thank you, bravo, and I'm looking forward to year two!
GCE: What kinds of things will you be bringing to our Holiday Market this year?
JC: Of course there will be more replica bits of dead things and horns, but I am planning to debut prints of the maps that I created for some of S. M. Stirling's Emberverse novels, The Golden Princess, The Desert and the Blade, Prince of Outcasts, and just out this September, The Sea Peoples!
I will also have on hand some of the last packs of Pal Tiya in Washington (you can buy it online, but with the added cost of shipping). Pal Tiya is an awesome sculptable, frost-proof, cement-based clay that I've been working with recently. It was invented by a friend's husband out in New Zealand as a less toxic option (wear gloves since cement will dry your skin and don't eat it) to the myriad of toxic materials she works with in the film industry. More info on it is available at paltiya.com.
Thanks Jade for givings us a preview of your exhibitor space! Readers, remember to RSVP now for GeekCraft Expo Seattle's Holiday Market!