Vanessa Stutz is the artist behind the magical doll and toy line Polka-Dot Peanut Parade. Made by hand in Los Angeles, Stutz’s whimsical works are each totally unique, intricately detailed and endlessly charming. We spoke to her about California and creativity.
What is your background and how have your past experiences fed into your art?
Since before I was born, my parents have owned and operated a furniture upholstery shop in Fullerton. I grew up around heavy duty industrial sewing machines, staple guns and loud compressors every day in work rooms filled with with rich textiles, scraps of fabric, foam and stuffing everywhere, and I loved it.
As a kid, my natural inclination was to create dolls out the scraps of fabric I would find laying around. When I was 9, my mom bought me a second-hand portable sewing machine and taught me the basics; the rest I just kind of figured out somehow. I became pretty good at making dolls for my friends and, as I grew up, moved on to clothing – continuing this into adulthood.
I spent most of my 20s as a touring musician and would design outfits for myself and my entertainer friends. That led me into the fashion industry. But after having my daughter, I decided to leave the corporate culture to spend time with her at home. After making a rag doll for her once, I realized this could be a new creative outlet that combined my interests. In a sense, it’s totally fundamental: Polkadot Peanut Parade was born from me rediscovering my childhood passions, in the context of my own motherhood.
Do you feel that your environment feeds into work and if so, what makes your work distinctively Californian?
One of the things that’s most personally exciting about my dolls is creating their outfits. Being raised here, as well as actively participating in the local culture, I do feel like my fashion sense is distinctly Southern Californian. But more than that, the materials that I use to create the dolls’ outfits are mostly vintage fabrics I’ve collected over the past decade, so there’s local heritage literally stitched into every doll.
What are your top 3 studio essentials?
My mini bird scissors, dangerously sharp classic #2 pencils and Law&Order on in the background.