It's that time of the week again. My Shop Local Feature this week brings to you Pengies!! These cute little Fimo creatures are made by the crafty Caitlin Cockcroft and would be the perfect gift for any child or for an adult with a sense of humour. At just £4.21 each you could collect a whole set of Pengies and you can even have one custom made if you like. She has ones suitable for hobbies, or celebrations and even a few that would make great fun Wedding Cake toppers. So on with the interview!
Whats your name and where do you come from?My name is Caitlin Cockcroft and I was born in Chester, but moved across the border to a small village in Mid-Wales when I was 10 years old.
How long have you been making your designs?
Officially Pengies records began when I was 15 years old, which considering I am now 22 is a good 7 years of Pengie production. However, the earliest records we have of Pengies (I say 'records' lightly, the first ever scrap of paper detailing the sales a church fete...) illustrate that sales began when I was in fact 11 years old. So, it appears that in the process of becoming a Craftsperson, I needed a 4 year 'sabbatical' to find myself, develop my skills and realise the true potential of Pengies!
Is there a story behind your shops name?
I would love to say that there is... but it would be a lie. Pengies was just a 'pet' name for the little critters that was adopted as the official title.
Whats your favourite materials to work with?
I work with Fimo, a polymer clay, that comes in many colours and varieties. I work predominantly with 12 colours and I like to add glitter here there and everywhere. I also like mixing it up and for some of the Limited Edition Pengies I like to do a marble effect.
Of your items which is your favourite?
That's a tough one because customers are constantly inspiring me to make new designs! However, one of the most popular originals is probably the Frog Pengie (a penguin dressed up as a frog, of course) and also the Angel Pengie (purely because it's pink and glittery and what girls doesn't love that?).
Where do you get your inspiration for your designs and also their names?
As previously mentioned my inspiration is from my customers... with a little extra research (googling). The first ever Customised Pengie I created was from a friend of mine asking for a Siamese twin Pengie, but that the siamese twin needed to be a tiny version as if it hadn't grown. Although this was a particularly odd request, Customised and Tiny Pengies were both born!
The names are usually just produced during a creative flow... or when I'm bored in front of the tele! I use a lot of Welsh names and sometimes even write the messages on the tags in Welsh too (from my limited memory of Welsh I learned in school). When at craft fairs or events I write names for customers that they request, so they can be as unique as possible (along with the messages). I also do this for online customers.
Do you have any formal training or did this start as a hobby?
I began Pengies off the back of my mother's Jewellery business. I grew up in a very creative home and was constantly surrounded by crafting materials and art supplies (as my sister also had a small business for some years and took Art for A-level). I used to play around with the scraps of Fimo left over by my mother and then began making little animals. Pengies were the only thing that looked like the animal I intended, so I stuck with it!
I also took Textiles at A-level so had a good understanding of art and a variety of materials.
Do you have any favourite etsy shops which you buy from?
I do have a particular favourite at the minute (but it changes weekly, or any time I have money and go shopping!) Goozeberry Hill. She is based in Swansea and sells hand stamped vintage cutlery. I recently bought some of her products and they were wonderful, and loved by everyone. She can do original messages too which I think is a lovely idea! And I love the Welsh camaraderie!
What's your dream for the coming year?
Initially, to graduate from Cardiff University with a BSc Psychology degree. I have worked so so hard to get here and to stay here, that it is my first and foremost priority. After that my dream would be to spend some more time on Pengies (as it has been somewhat neglected while I've been in Final Year due to the demands of the course). I would love to develop Pengies further and work on the advertising and promotion that has been so wonderfully initiated by my mother!
What's your favourite flower?
If I'm honest I'm quite unoriginal when it comes to flowers. I like bouquets of beautiful colours, but specific types I'm not so fussed about. Although I am partial to a red rose, or an orchid. However, if I think about flowers that are meaningful to me it would have to be Daffodils and Forget-me-nots!
You can follow Caitlin on Twitter, Facebook or check out her website for even more designs.
So what do you think ladies, do you like these cute little critters? Aren't they sweet?