Dec 02, 2009
Interview with Noferin – Jibibuts, Pecan Pals Plush and More
[Noferin, Nick and Candy, have taken their own path to making art toys. The duo turned heads and grew their fanbase with the excellent Pecan Pals wood toys. With a wave of new product coming including the Jibibiuts wood mini-figures and the Pecan Plush, we thought it would be a great time to talk to Noferin about their approach to creating art toys and get the skinny on the new toys.]
Hi guys. Can you tell us a little about yourselves and maybe how you got started with your art careers?
Hi Jack, so nice to speak with you. We are Nick and Candy, a husband and wife collaboration who design and manufacture toys, sculpt, paint, illustrate and write stories. Under the name, Noferin, we bring to life the stories of the Pecanpals.
Noferin has broken from the norm with your art toys. Instead of making vinyl Pecanpals, you chose to create them in wood with excellent results. Why did you decide to go with wood ?
The more we looked into the process of making toys, the more we found ourselves leaning towards using wood as a medium for production. Wood just seemed like a – excuse the pun – natural choice for us. We are very hands on with our production, preferring to open a sketch book and work on ideas first than going straight to computer, and the concept of using plastic or vinyl felt cold and foreign to us because we couldn’t shape plastic or vinyl ourselves, but with wood we could.
We chose to use wood because we wanted to expose a traditional material in this new scene of designer toys. Wood has a weight to it, a true sense of solidity. Wood is living. It has grain, pits and pores and is a beautiful medium to work with. We wanted to create a set of figures that would stand the test of time – something that is cherished and passed through the generations.
I'm assuming that making high quality art toys in wood is considerably harder than doing it in vinyl in part since its much less established. Is this the case? Briefly what are some of the challenges?
Yes, perhaps if we had known the challenges involved we would have been more inclined to use a different medium. Wood may be a traditional material, but unfortunately, as most things go, craftspeople who specialise in wood are becoming harder to find. Working with wood is a skilled trade that machines can assist in, but not take over. The production of vinyl toys is very different to that of wooden toys. Because each of our figures is entirely hand crafted, there were initial problems in production. A three month turn-around quickly – or should I say painfully slowly – turned into twelve months, but eventually our dream had become a reality.
Wood is great for chunky style blocks and cylinders, but doing intricate shapes with an emphasis on quality, in the quantities that we desired, is very difficult. It may be more ecologically sustainable to use wood, but as a manufacturer, it is not the most economically sustainable option.
Now that you've released two editions of Pecanpals wood figures, you're focusing on blind-box minis with the upcoming Jibibuts series. These new figures seem to have an awesome yet decidedly different aesthetic from the Pecanpals -- perhaps a little simpler. Were you looking to change things up with the new minis ? Will we ever see mini Pecanpals in wood ?
We chose a different aesthetic for the Jibibuts because we want to continue our use of wood as a medium yet produce something that is simple, elegant and affordable at the same time. We like the idea of blindboxes due to the surprise of not knowing what is inside, but we don’t like the idea of opening the same figure again and again. That is why we have made sure that each display case guarantees a complete set of 12. There is also the added excitement of perhaps finding a super special rare gold or silver edition [ed: Gold and Silver make their bashful debuts below]
Even though the Jibibuts have their own characterisation, we also created this series with customisers in mind. Their 6 simple yet defined shapes open up a world of customising opportunity, and the fact that they are made from wood means that they are extremely easy to work with compared to vinyl pieces. An added bonus is that the Jibibuts are stackable, meaning that whole sculptural forms can be created.
We are undecided about a mini Pecanpals series. It could happen, but it is not in our immediate plan.
You're super busy -- in addition to the new Jibibuts you're about to release a new line of Pecanpals Plush. They look awesome and they're huge (14"). Did you consciously design these for children rather than adults ?
Yes, these are definitely designed with children in mind. That is why we have ensured that all our new products (Pecanpals plush and wooden Jibibuts) are ASTM and CE certified. We get an enormous sense of joy and satisfaction knowing that adult collectors are actively collecting our work for display, but nothing compares to the feeling one gains from knowing that something you have created has become an integral part of a child’s life – something that is taken everywhere, something that brings comfort and security, something that makes a child laugh, something that is cuddled, cherished and held as a child drifts off to sleep. That, truly, is an incredible feeling and a privileged position to be in.
Of course, the plush figures can be enjoyed by all ages. They make excellent display figures because they can sit and their legs can dangle off the sides of shelves. They are best cuddled though!
So you've done wood and are about to do plush. Noticeably, no vinyl. Camile Rose Garcia has publicly stated that she will no longer produce vinyl toys because of their toxicity. Are you avoiding vinyl for the same reasons ?
We made a conscious decision to use sustainably harvested rubber wood for the production of our wooden toys because we are concerned about the footprint we leave behind. Rubber trees are grown for their rubber, but after around 20 years their rubber yields start to diminish and the trees are cut down and often burnt right there on the farm. We save this beautiful wood and use it for all our wooden figures. There are major limitations in using wood, however, so at some point we will need to use other materials to create the products we have in mind. We don’t think we will use vinyl though. There are many more ecologically sound alternatives such as plant based plastics that are available if you take the time to research them.
What else do you have up your sleeves? Any upcoming shows for '10 ?
You should be asking Junee this question. Haha (Joke explained – Junee is a magician… get it? Nothing up my sleeves…) While we don’t have any solo shows planned for this year, we are super excited about a fantastic group show we are curating in March 2010 with all our favourite artists! Stay tuned for more details in the coming months.
[Thanks to Nick and Candy for taking the time to give us insight into the wonderful world of Noferin. Keep your eyes out for the new Jibibuts Wood Minis and the Pecan Pals Plush]
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