“The first thing I ever made was a panda head, which came out squished and awkward, out of old sheets,” Chelsea Bloxsom says, explaining her seamstressing origins.
She sits behind a table at a coffee shop in Allston heaped with horned octopuses, fuzzy sprites, and fluffy goons with mustaches.
“Those are adorable,” says a rando walking by.
“Thanks,” Bloxsom replies humbly before turning back to our conversation. “One of the artists I really like, Britni Milne—she normally does these amazing paintings—she did a bunch of monsters of recycled fabric and I said, ‘Oh, that’s something I could try,’ and was working at a craft store at the time, so I just tried it out. It really became an addiction.”
Luckily for the crafting community, Bloxsom’s addiction is plush, not pills.
The 23-year-old textile magician taught herself how to sew five years ago using doll-making and embroidery books from the library, and has since conjured up a menagerie of stitched creatures. “The most popular are my yetis, my owls, and my monster octopuses,” she says, describing the faux fur-covered bundles of imagination that fill her Etsy shop. “I’ve been asked to make so many monster octopuses that I can do them without thinking, I can’t even count. Literally hundreds.”
Bloxsom has created everything from enormous monstroctopuses to purses with three eyes to a Yeti costume so realistic, one might wonder if she knows something cryptozoologists don’t. Recently, her creations have gotten sweeter. “I’m on a dessert kick lately. I’ve been making monster cupcakes. I have a Creamsicle yeti,” she says, holding up a white furball with drippy orange embroidery that looks like melting ice cream, “and I love food.”
Yet her artist name, loveandasandwich, doesn’t originate simply in an affection for confections. “I used to draw these two characters all the time, a boy and a girl, and they’d be doing weird cute stuff together, and the girl would always be thinking of love, and the boy would be thinking of a sandwich. That, and my last name is kind of hard to spell, anyway. Hopefully everyone can spell, ‘sandwich.’”
Her hand-and machine-sewn creations are inspired by classic monsters as well as new fables, such as Princess Mononoke, and general nerdery. Her embroidery hoops feature R2D2 and Optimus Prime, as well as references to Arrested Development and Adventure Time. These days, though, she takes mostly custom orders. I ask her what the weirdest request she’s ever made was. Bloxsom laughs. “A rhinark.”
“It’s a combo between a rhino and a shark. [The customer] had all these crazy drawings of the rhinark running along the beach and then swimming in the ocean. Of course I wanted to do it, because it was ridiculous.”
I ask her what the weirdest request she’s ever gotten was that she didn’t fulfill. She pauses for a second, before responding in a slightly quieter voice: “Do you know what ‘furries’ are?” Yes. “They’ll send me photos of their personas that I just don’t want to see. They’re like, human dogs with people parts. It’s really scary. Someone asked me if I could put boobs and a vagina on one [of my monsters].
I just don’t feel comfortable making a plushy vagina.”
Well, you know you’re doing something right if you can say that about your self-owned-and-operated business. But turning away all that sexually repressed cash? Bloxsom’s motivation for fabricating what she does isn’t money. “I just like making people happy, that’s the reason I do things.”
Rock on, sister.