It’s Sew Easy
New store continues where Panda Robot left off
By John Bear
The Octopus and the Fox is the brainchild of four women who wanted a place for Albuquerque shoppers to be able to buy handmade goods.
Clocks made out of old Grateful Dead records adorn the walls along with paintings, mosaics and other visual art. Blown glass pieces sit in a display case alongside belt buckles. Velociraptors in love grace a pillow. Sweaters have been repurposed into mittens. A storm trooper peers menacingly from a vinyl handbag. Screen-printed T-shirts bearing the likenesses of monsters hang from racks next to baby clothes and vintage threads. Cheap art prints sit in boxes, and homemade buttons lay in wait at the cash register. Skin care products share shelf space with crocheted crafts. There’s a little something for everyone. And it's all local and handmade.
Loryn Udell, Belita Orner, Kimberly Patel and Jessi Murphy-Blevins Campbell, each an artist in her own right, opened up shop at the old Panda Robot location.
Velociraptors in love grace a pillow. Sweaters have been repurposed into mittens. A storm trooper peers menacingly from a vinyl handbag.
Orner says she had been selling stuff for Panda and craft shows and wanted to open her own store.
"I thought that if I had a store I could keep going," she says. "The opportunity arose. Having a team helps. I think it would be hard to do on your own."
After only half a year in business, Panda Robot closed in late 2010. Some of the artists from that store still have their work showing, but the owners stress that the stores are different. They admit the new name doesn't really mean anything. It just sounds cool.
“It has a kind of storybook vibe like ‘ The Owl and the Pussycat,' ” Udell says. “It's a cool name. We like it. We wanted it to be something that stuck in people's minds.”
They have been in business for slightly over a month and already have nearly 50 local artists and craft makers selling their wares.
“We're trying to promote people making their own things,” Udell says, whether that be in the products they sell or the classes they want to teach.
Murphy-Blevins Campbell started off running a crafting studio called Chop Shop at Factory on 5th. Octopus does not have an art gallery in the back of the shop like Panda did, but the owners are using that space to teach sewing classes. Murphy-Blevins Campbell is also interested in using the Octopus for more charitable ends, such as One Million Bones (as a twist, she wants to teach people to sew bones instead of the usual papier-mâché) and Project Linus, which supplies blankets for children.They plan on expanding into screen-printing and other community-oriented events, such as art auctions to raise money for school kids’ art supplies.
Udell says business has been good in the short time the Octopus has existed. Patel wants the shop to be an outlet for artists to get their name out and make a little money in the process.
“I’m really happy with it,” Murphy-Blevins Campbell says. “In this economy and only having been open for a month, it sounds like it’s doing good.”
The Octopus and the Fox
514 Central SE
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Information on classes: firstname.lastname@example.org
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