Erin of SockZombie.com has lived in and around Tempe, Arizona since 1990. After years of moving around town for college and jobs, she somehow settled directly across the street from her old high school, doomed to listen to the Aztec Marching Band play every morning for all eternity. Erin and her husband of two weeks, Randy, have a five-year-old Australian Shepherd named Jake. When he was a puppy he jumped out of a four-story window and walked away with nothing but a badass attitude and a secret fear of windows. Erin describes herself as “Perpetually jumping from one patch of levity to the next.” Don’t miss the Zombie Interviews on her Etsy pages!
How long have you been making zombies?
I started making (or trying to make) monsters out of socks for birthday gifts. I’m not a natural craft talent, mind– I’ve been crocheting for literally twenty-five years and to this day I can’t make a blanket that isn’t shaped like a trapezoid– so the monsters took quite a bit of trial and error. My first efforts were decidedly less “monster” and more “bunny”. Early on I started using standard white men’s crew socks for the monsters’ bodies, and their little pale bodies paired with their gray heel “mouths” just screamed ZOMBIE to me. So I spent some time figuring out the best way to attach the arms to stick straight out from the body in a classic zombie stance and after a few dead ends it clicked and I got it.
Can you explain your process for us?
The zombie creating process involves a lot of Diet Coke and a lot of daytime television. I spend two or three mornings a week in front of my sewing machine, stitching together the zombie “skin” out of sock parts, and I spend almost every evening stuffing, closing and detailing those zombies. Both steps incorporate television.
Do you do it for fun or for fulltime work or both?
I’m making sock zombies full time now because my “day job” as a history writer seems to have dried up with the economy, so I’m being much more proactive these days in terms of promotion, seeking out wholesale/consignment opportunities and craft shows. The sock zombies differ from all of my other crafting forays in that I actually seem to be better at making them now than when I started. Surprisingly, I haven’t gotten bored with the process yet, either; I’ve made and sold upwards of 1,200 sock zombies both on and offline since September of 2007, and I still genuinely enjoy watching each zombie become his or her own little entity. I’ve added different variations on the theme, though, like Throwing Zombies (smaller zombies made out of child-sized socks), sock zombie puppets, etc, and I’m sure that helps combat craft monotony. I think my favorite zombie is the “toehawk” zombie– a zombie with a mohawk made out of toesocks.
Where do your ideas come from?
I get a lot of ideas for zombies themselves from custom orders on Etsy– the Pirate Zombie is a great example.
Someone asked if I could make a sock zombie that was also a pirate which led to lots of awesome brainstorming about what a zombie who also happens to be a pirate would look like. The Pirate Zombie wears a little felt vest and an eyepatch and he carries a messenger bag full of gold and treasure, a tiny sword, a glass bottle of Captain Morgan and a real rolled up treasure map. I think that’s hilarious.
I also get great ideas from people who read my blog; I complained that my metal gearshift knob was too hot to touch in the summer, and an awesome reader commented that I should make a sock zombie gearshift protector. So I did: the Sock Zombie Cozy. It’s fantastic, I feel like I’ve got my own all-star Research and Development team. I’m a writer by trade so I really enjoy the promotional end of my business, writing the individual descriptions and zombie interviews and whatnot.
This entire fluky foray has been and continues to be so incredibly fulfilling. Every time someone looks at a sock zombie and laughs I feel that much more validated. It’s also completely changed the way I look at handmade items; not only do I have a greater appreciation for an individual artist’s ability, but I also appreciate what it means for the artist to hear that.