Have you heard of the Monster Factory? It’s pretty much the coolest. Tucked away downtown on Richmond St. near Spadina, it’s a magical place where fleecy monsters are born. The stuffed little guys have names, personalities, and personal histories, all created by the tight team of designers, writers and seamstresses who are running the show. We were invited to spend a morning hanging out where the magic happens. Below, a look at how you make some monsters.
The Monster Factory was launched in 2003 by filmmakers Adam Dunn and Rhya Tamasauskas, and fashion designer Bliss Man. On the right are some of the first monsters ever created. On the left is a modern incarnation of Colin, one of the most-loved Monsters.
The design process of a Monster is always collaborative. It takes about a week to create one, and they are named at the end. Here, Rhya shows some of the possible variations from the original pattern that can bring a Monster to life: variations like hats, ears, teeth and more. Growing up, Rhya was in love with Jim Henson and dreamed of being a puppeteer. That is, if she didn't become a Marine Biologist.
A Monster starts out as a pattern, and then gets rendered in supersoft fleecy fabric. Rhya first worked with the material when she was creating a logo for the original incarnation of the Monster Factory, a film company founded by Adam and two friends.
Jennifer Jang is hard at work creating a monster for a special exhibit in California. Jennifer now sews most of the Monsters. She began working at The Monster Factory through Ryerson University's Fashion internship program.
The Monster Factory is an extra-special place. Guys like this lurk around every corner. This giant mask is a work in progress.
That little heart is one of the first Monsters Rhya ever made. With sewing supplies this cute...
You need a Very Important Pin cushion.
In the early days of Monster Factory, they spontaneously signed up for the One of a Kind Craft Show. They sold out the first weekend—it was one of the moments that pushed them to grow the company.
This is a Monster inspired by New York artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. It was created for that same California gallery show last year.
During my visit to the Monster Factory, two young boys come in to show the Monster Makers some stop motion videos they'd created on their Iphones, starring their favourite Monsters. Afterwards, Catherine Lackey and Bliss help them stuff their newest Monster friends. One of these giant bags stuffs about 20-25 Monsters.
There are about 100 characters in the Monster universe. That's a whole lotta name labels.
Home sweet home.
All the sewing machines at The Monster Factory have names. This is Butch.
Surrounded by Monster Friends.
The Monster Factory is located at 471 Richmond St. W. Follow them on Twitter here. Like them on Facebook here.
Also, they’ve got a great Valentine’s Day contest for you to enter! Mail your favourite Monster a Valentine, and they’ll mail you one back-and you’ll be entered to win a Monster so new, it’s never been seen before! Details here.