Amsterdam based nutritionist turned artist, Sabrina Somers’ amigurumi pieces are intricate and accurate works of art that speak volumes about the artist’s commitment to her craft.
For Sabrina Somers, the art of amigurumi was something she happened upon by accident and not design. Speaking exclusively to Home Review, the dietician-nutritionist turned artist takes us through her journey of self-discovery through amigurumi and her love for the craft.For Sabrina Somers, the art of amigurumi was something she happened upon by accident and not design. Speaking exclusively to Home Review, the dietician-nutritionist turned artist takes us through her journey of self-discovery through amigurumi and her love for the craft.
With its earliest origins in China and Japan, today amigurumi is known to be a predominantly Japanese art of creating creatures out of yarn creatures by knitting and/or crocheting. The term is a portmanteau of the Japanese words – ami which means knitted or crocheted, as well as nuigurumi that is a stuffed doll. In 2014, Sabrina was gifted a book on the art on her birthday by her partner. It was from this moment, that her life turned 180. She quit her regular job in just a few months and decided to become a full-time designer.
“I love making amigurumi because it makes it possible to bring my fantasies to life,” Sabrina shares, as she speaks about how she finds inspiration from different sources. “Sometimes I see something cute on TV, while watching a game, in real life, or even in my dreams and decide almost immediately that I need to recreate the piece.” As a force of habit, she quickly makes a note of whatever idea she has, so as to not forget.
A lot of amigurumi, especially dolls that are based on the artist’s imagination, is intuitive. “I just start with a part, like the head or body, and decide later which other parts it needs,” Sabrina adds. For creations that are based on existing characters, Sabrina tries to make them as accurate and realistic as possible. For characters that are her own creation, she generally has a ‘rough idea’ in terms of how she would like to execute the piece.
Although traditionally crocheted, amigurumi can be knitted as well. Made of yarn or thread, using the simplest of crochet techniques, like invisible decrease, single crochet stitch, double crochet, etc, the piece as such can be created as a single piece, in sections which are crocheted or sewed together. The crochet-style amigurumi employs spiral rounds.
Knitting needles and small gauge crochet hooks are what work easily and are immediately identifiable with amigurumi. These are used so as to not allow the stuffing to be visible through the fabric. Typically, the stuffing is wool, cotton or polyester. Pipe cleaners, wires, etc may be used to make the doll pose in a particular fashion. The more intricate the piece the more detailed the stuffing can get. Pebbles made of glass, plastic pellets, and even the occasional stones may be placed below the stuffing in order to distribute weight evenly at the bottom of the doll.
“Most patterns take about 5-7 days to make,” Sabrina goes on. While on the one hand, she prefers working on single projects at a time, sometimes the monotony or the unpredictability of the art gets to her. “I do get frustrated when something doesn’t work out the way I want,” she confesses. At such times, she prefers to start with a new project from scratch.
“For the longest time, whenever I would see plushies on the internet, I didn’t believe I would be able to make them myself,” Sabrina adds. “From the book, I learned the different crochet stitches,” Sabrina confesses. “I made different patterns from the book and eventually started making my own designs.” Today, Sabrina has made 122 patterns by herself and even released her first book titled Pocket Amigurumi. “This was my biggest challenge – to create 20 unique characters for my book.” For someone who didn’t believe she had what it took to make basic plushies, to have published a book on the subject is in itself a testament to how far she has come.
Presently working on a pattern for a platypus, Sabrina spends the majority of her time now with her 4 month old baby boy. She never stops trying though, to find some time in between, for her love for amigurumi.
Text By Priyanka Menon
Photographs Courtesy Sabrina Somers