Looking back over my list of posts, I realized that it had been a month (again) between posts. But I have good stuff to show for it! I present the Jackrabbit House prototype plush:
Rivem, the rabbit portion of the Jackrabbit House, is seen here from the side. She has movable front and back legs and her ears stand up on their own. She is constructed from a gray t-shirt, a cream wool sweater, a bit of pink felt to stiffen her ears, and some embroidery floss for eyes and nose. She is machine- and hand-stitched.
Here you can see the details of her face, including the slightly crooked nose and visible machine stitches along the jaw, both of which come from using new techniques and untested materials. Note: wool sweaters stretch in unexpected, not necessarily helpful ways.
This was the first time I tried to create a plush with volume–as opposed to flat pillow plushes–without using the cheats of socks or gloves to create the elusive spheres and tubes. I also created a pattern ahead of time, cut out of old brown paper grocery bags and carefully labeled for future use. This was the only way I could properly work out for myself what pieces would be needed to get a round head, a sense of upper and lower jaws, and a substantial belly. Owning way too many stuffed animals was a great boon, as I have internalized a sense of where seams and extra pieces ought to be.
And here is the house itself. It is pictured separately because it is too heavy for Rivem to wear on her back without falling over and my resources for propping her up for photos were limited.
The house ended up so heavy because it is constructed from old cargo pants of a heavy canvas type material, cardboard cutouts to support most of the walls and roof pieces, and fiberfill in large quantities. This is also one of the reasons why I had to revise my ideas on reproducing this plush for sale: my quest for architectural accuracy and clean lines resulted in a plush almost impossible to make. Attaching the overhanging side compartments to the central piece was a nightmare. I had to breakout a curved needle meant for repairing pillows to squeeze between the two pieces and stitch them tight.
The center area is the main living space and includes the kitchen area, with rudimentary plumbing, and workshop. The windows look out over Rivem’s head and the windows open to let her hear instructions on where to go.
This is the right side of the house; I stupidly forgot to photograph the left side, which shows the door. This room is Hanite’s–the creator of the Jackrabbit House–bedroom. The windows are kept small to cope with the vibrations created when Rivem runs, as larger panes of glass would break more easily.
The door opens to allow a short flight of stairs to be pulled down and pushed up with a hooked tool, though Rivem can likely drop low enough on her belly to make getting into the house unaided possible, if not easy. This area is used for storage of nonperishable foodstuffs and firewood.
The back of the house looks out behind Rivem, which lets Hanite see what’s chasing them while Rivem runs helter-skelter from it. The three areas are linked by stairs and together allow for a modest but functional living arrangement.
The illusion of boards was created by machine-stitching straight lines in a lighter thread, using backtacking to create imperfections like knots in the wood. The windows are hand-stitched felt patches, outlined and barred with embroidery floss.
A close-up of the vine on the back. Leaves are lazy-daisy stitches and flowers are French knots. The embroidery was another difficult process since the base fabric was so heavy. I spent a lot of time stabbing myself in the fingers while trying to jerk the needle through the fabric.
It had been my intention to include ribbon or twine to tie the house onto Rivem, until I stuffed it and stitched the three parts together, at which point I realized it was a) too heavy to make wearing it cute and b) too stiff and crunchy from the cardboard supporting it to make it cuddly. It was, however, pretty awesome to see the finished product, which really does look just like the Jackrabbit House of the story.
I’m in the process of revising the patterns for mass production. I’ve fed the rabbit pattern into the computer, where I retraced all the lines to make them smooth and, where needed, symmetrical. One modification was to make the head and body pieces connected, as my ability to attach separate heads attractively is sadly lacking. The new side and belly pieces, however, are…too big to print. Erk.
I haven’t done anything with the house yet, but the plan is to use long side flaps and a steeply pitched roof to fake the split-level appearance. Cutting down on the size of the house will, hopefully, make it stand on its own without cardboard supports. Finally, the rabbit pattern can, with slight alterations and different sets of legs, be used to produce other creatures, such as the Castle-Beast and the mycopigs that will show up in the story.