Two of my favourite bunny making ladies in the world have finally done what I’ve been dying to see them to do – they’ve joined forces and created a bunny doll tour-de-force of exceptional floppy eared charm. Amanda Louise Spayd has been one of my favourite artists in the last couple years, and after discovering Carisa Swenson last year, and adding one of her gorgeously detailed dolls to my shelf, I’m starting to see the appeal in lagomorphs.
I got to ask Carisa and Amanda about their collections, and their collaboration, and other bunny related things, and they offered up a delightful romp through their shared influences and process!
CP: Tell us more about your fascination with bunnies! As a side note, I would be delighted if somehow one of you had a collection of creepy stuffed bunnies from your childhood.
Amanda: Not FROM childhood, but I do have a small collection of ratty old Easter bunnies, if you want a picture :P
Dust Bunny, by Amanda Spayd
My obsession with rabbits started with Beatrix Potter’s enchanting stories and illustrations, then reinforced at my grandmother’s, as she lived in an area where rabbits would magically emerge at dusk. I could spend hours watching them. Not only do I find hares and rabbits visually appealing, their feistiness and fleetness of foot (paws?) resonates with me. “The Velveteen rabbit” was a favorite story of mine, but reading “Watership Down” and watching the animated film pretty much sealed it. I did have quite a collection of rabbit related trinkets and stuffed animals when young, but most are gone now. They seemed a natural subject to turn to when I began creating dolls.
It’s funny that I’m so smitten with bunnies, since I have never owned one. But now that I think of it, I can definitely pinpoint some lapine influences early in my life – the first one being Watership Down. My mom was a teacher, and taught that book every year, so because it was around, I also read it pretty much every year. Also I was pretty obsessed with Jim Henson’s “Tale of the Bunny Picnic” when I was a kid. The rabbit thing sort of got revived in high school when I first saw Jan Svankmajer’s “Alice”….so, I guess i do have a fairly rabbit-heavy history. But in terms of rabbits in an artistic format, I think they’re really good as characters because so much of them can be used as expression. The bucky teeth, the ears – rabbits usually look frightened (I would too, if being someone’s dinner was always an imminent threat), and that nervousness is definitely something I use in my own work. Also, let’s not skip over the fact that they are adorable.
paper model by Carisa Swenson