T: Toby Crispy
T: Toby Crispy
T: I have been curious about this, why would you want to make dolls for me, someone who you barely knew?
K: I make dolls for two reasons; one is when a good friend really likes them and wants one. For you, because you also like stitching very much, I wanted to make one for you. When it is a gift for someone, I am proactive about it and I complete it really quickly; It just so happened that there were this (a coin) and that (a ring) in my box, so very quickly, working a few hours a day, the doll was done in three days.
T: And what is the inspiration for this English teacup about?
K: Because you said you were coming for an interview! “A guest is a guest, of course I have to make you a cup of tea! Not to mention I think English teacup suit you well.”
That was said so casually, but I was moved.
Our first conversation began with this Instagram photo of Kerooo’s handmade doll, which also sparked my curiosity towards this supporter from the virtual world.
She offered generously, “Let me make you one next time! If you don’t mind my poor craft!”
“What colours do you like? I always tailor to my friends’ likings! For personalisation!”
“I used to make dolls as gifts for others, I made so many, but I gave them all away! I think there’s so much love in making gifts for others!”
Within a few exchanges of words, I have decided to invite her as the guest for my “Time Wardrobe” exhibition.
So I came to the Undercover shop to find Kerooo, the shop manager, to brief her on the exhibition, and also to get to know this special friend.
Boxes after boxes of neatly organised tools and materials, like magic acts, came out of nowhere. Unfolding in her hands as she spoke, they revealed all kinds of needles, threads, fabrics, lace, stamps, stamp pads…
Kerooo mused over her first time, when a good friend mentioned that the day was his brother’s birthday. They rummaged through the shop for leftover fabrics, old checkered jackets and unused fabrics from her friend that he made a doll for the girlfriend, and in an afternoon’s time, made an O-shaped doll as a gift. They never thought that Oscar, a boy at heart, would love it, and thus began her hand-stitching journey.
After that, she made more and more dolls.
At first, she experimented on sock scraps to make doll figurines;
When it was the boss’s birthday, she sneaked a snap of his favorite car and made him a textile version of it;
When a friend really liked a design from a brand, she would make him/her a doll donning the piece;
As the pandemic dragged on, she wanted to learn to make fabric masks. She made one for a teddy bear to try on first, then realized it looked better on the bear than herself;
She made a special mask with a plastic bottle cap for a friend who likes to smoke;
A friend said Ivana Wong really wanted her music video to feature a big doll made by Kerooo. Kerooo described it as “the life and death hours” – stitched up in an afternoon with her “motor hands”, the work became her proudest one thus far.
The most unforgettable work would have to be a pair of wedding dolls she made for her good friends Donald and Jan, with reference to their wedding attires – a three-dimensional teddy bear wedding gown, complemented by Jeremy Scott bear shoes. It took a week to finish, but a blessing conveyed through stitches is so much more precious than ready-made products!
What I heard here was not a sharing about crafts, but flexibility, openness to change, and the bliss of crafting blessings.
K: Improvising a sketch on a piece of paper and sourcing materials on the spot, I made a cup one day, a plate on another. My colleagues asked me laughingly, why are the cup handles shaped differently every day? The paper mock-ups do not actually look like the finished piece… it’s no problem! There is no need for certainty, all is good! I never pick on myself, and rarely unstitch things. Once I unstitch, I lose interest, my stitches were never straightforward anyway, haha! And I never force myself. When the sun is down, it’s time to finish. If there is not enough light, I don’t want to do it too, it’s bad for the eyes.
In the ten years or so, she made around 30 dolls, making them only as she pleased. When she did not feel like it, she could lay down the stitches for years.
I admire her precisely for her lack of method, a simple spontaneity brings surprises. She took an Undercover men’s coat that she liked and narrowed the shoulder with those stitches that were impossible to reproduce.
When she wanted a pair of creamy white sneakers that was unavailable in the market, she opened her cove to source English floral cotton lace, dyed them to different shades of creamy white with pu’er, tieguanyin and matcha tea, then stitched them onto her sneakers.
K: 天氣好，我便會去深水埗基隆街的排檔，見到喜歡的布便會買來收藏；而工具多是去旅行時買的，我很喜歡到日本的Tokyu Hands、渋谷的手作材料店和下北沢、高円寺的古著小店尋寶。
It started off because Kerooo liked giving gifts, but did not want her friends to dispose of the packaging when they unwrapped them, so she chose fabrics to wrap the gifts.
K: When the weather is nice, I visit the stalls on Ki Lung Street, Sham Shui Po, and buy any fabrics that I like for collection. Most of my tools are sourced during my travels. I like to treasure hunt in Japan’s Tokyu Hands, handicraft material stores in Shibuya, and vintage stores in Shimokitazawa and Kōenji.
These are from my trips to visit the squirrels at the park close to my home. Considering that I didn’t want to attract other insects or birds, I brought a few unshelled walnuts for them to eat. With the kernels that were left behind, I made pincushions out of them, but I found them a bit too light and I am thinking of ways to add a bit more weight to them.
Kerooo坦言她很少留意針黹藝術家，反而會留意婘川實花媽媽為她手縫花口罩，或趁Porter Classic來香港時，請他們在衣物上刺繡。她期望Slow Stitch能成為一種文化，而不是一股潮流，也希望消費者更關注和支持有靈魂、恆久的服裝設計。
Kerooo admitted to paying little attention to stitch artists, but was aware of Mika Ninagawa’s mother sewing Ninagawa floral masks by hand, or Porter Classic’s visit to Hong Kong, during which she requested to embroider on her apparels. She hopes that Slow Stitch will become a culture rather than a fad, and that consumers would pay more attention to and support long-lasting apparel designs done with heart and soul.
K: 如果多點人喜歡造針黹，這也算是一種嗜好，人與人之間的溝通也會好一點 —— 當我想造公仔給你，我便會留意觀察你多一點，交流傾偈也會好一點⋯⋯而且，都係幾好玩㗎！
With each doll, Kerooo was able to mention the respective fashion brand that her friend liked, even down to which design; she would stamp each letter and sew each name by hand.
K: If more people enjoy making stitches, which is a kind of hobby too, people could communicate better – when I want to make you a doll, I observe you and pay closer attention to you, and our exchanges and interactions improve… not to mention, it’s quite fun too!