If you’ve been following the blog for a long time, you know that I’m a big fan of hand-made, DIY, handicrafts etc. When a friend from Strasbourg sent me this album full of photos of mini-figurines made by Pooussin, I fell in love with it. I followed their Facebook page for more than a year and each one of their creations is even better than the previous one
It is exclusively that I propose you an interview with Pooussin
I hope it will please fans of hand-made, as well as those who are considering opening an online store selling handmade creations
Hello Pooussin! Can you tell us more about you and Pooussin?
Hello, thank you very much for following us from the beginning!
Pooussin is a small workshop specializing in figurines made from Japanese clay / modelling clay. These original gifts are also used as decorations for parties, weddings or birthdays… All our creations are CUSTOMIZED, they are unique and it is, according to us, the essence of handmade products
Currently, 2 people make up the Pooussin team
I, Vu Phuong Thao, take care of the briefing, design and creation of the figurines
We both graduated in Architecture at the Ecole Supérieure de Génie Civil in Vietnam and have just completed our Master’s degree in France
We are both passionate about handmade
What led you, two architecture students, to make figurines after class?
My passion for handmade music goes back to college. At that time, I used to spend hours making 3D paper pop-up cards. Then, at the university of architecture, I began to become familiar with other materials, including self-hardening clay (air drying). I was struck by the versatility and possibilities of this material. To make figurines, you don’t need a lot of tools, but passion, creativity and a little dexterity
Pooussin ‘s story began in December 2016. I was then a student in Strasbourg and went for the first time to the famous Christmas market in Strasbourg. I was already passionate about Handmade creations in Alsace and dreamed of selling mine there. However, it was only at Christmas in 2017 that I started designing and selling my own decoration products (mini bottles, mini animals and cartoon characters)
Thus, Pooussin was able to present his creations for the first time at the Christmas market in Strasbourg, for a few days. During this short period, we realized the potential of our creations in Europe. The personalized figurines (that we made for our friends) were noticed and that’s where we received our first personalized orders
There was a strong demand for original gifts, so we started to advertise our personalized figurines
Our first customers were our schoolmates in France, our friends in Vietnam, their friends and colleagues. That’s how our creations became known, we even got orders from other countries and continents. Today, personalized figurines represent Pooussin’s main activity
What material do you use for your figurines? How big are they and how long does it take you?
The material I mainly use for all the figurines is Japanese modeling clay (Hearty, Angel Clay). Once dried, the figurines are slightly porous, like mashmallow, but the shape remains intact. They are as durable as cold porcelain, but difficult to break in case of accident. I also integrate other materials such as wood, resin, plastic..
This type of clay is intended for the manufacture of flowers in clay but I chose it to make figurines. Thus, they are very light: a figurine between 10-15cm weighs only between 50 and 100 grams. This feather-weight not only reduces transport costs, but also offers a more varied use: for example to decorate a cake. As light as their sugar dough equivalent, our wedding or birthday cake toppers do not distort the surface of the cake
The amount of time spent on each figurine varies according to the details to be incorporated (if there are many or if they are difficult to achieve). Moreover, we wish to improve in quality, in the details but also in the resemblance with real people. The manufacturing process takes more time than before. Before, each figurine used to take us 2-3 hours, but now it can take us 1, 2 or even 3 days. But the important thing is the satisfaction of our customers, and our satisfaction to have delivered a quality product
What are the stages of manufacturing a figurine?
The process consists of 3 steps
1st step: it is also the most important. The customer communicates his project to me, he can also provide a drawing. Pooussin always encourages his clients to propose original ideas, thus emphasizing the personalization of the person for whom the gift is intended. Exchanges can last 1 to 2 weeks, until everyone is happy with the brief. The requests are very varied, it can be a figurine from a photo, a mix between a real person and a fictitious character etc. We can say that there is almost no limit. The only limit is our imagination and that of our clients
2nd step: design of the figurine. I start with a base, before adding the details one by one (see photo). This step can take me a few hours, like 5 to 7 days depending on the project
3rd step: I then send the picture of the figurine to the customer and ask for their return. Only when the customer is satisfied with the work is the figurine packed and shipped
What is the biggest difficulty you are facing?
I think that the greatest difficulty in this job is the ability to design creations that live up to one’s ideas and imagination
Before customer satisfaction, the artist himself must be satisfied with his work. I often spend more time than expected on my figurines because I am constantly learning: testing new materials, new techniques, making them more beautiful..
What is the order that most impressed you?
There are as many stories as there are customized figurines. Each figurine carries with it a story of friendship, love, family… and I put all my dedication into it. It is difficult to choose just one
I remember when I first had a large quantity order: 150 smurfs to be delivered in 2 weeks. It was the beginning of Pooussin, I didn’t know how to organize myself. I had to juggle between classes at the university, my thesis… and I could only make 20 smurfs in one week. Luckily thanks to my friends, who came to help me day and night, one person looking after the arms, another looking after the legs, and me focusing on the smurfs’ heads, the order was delivered on time. At the time, I was very scared but I felt very happy to be so well surrounded. When the children received their gifts, each one a different Smurf, their happiness was so communicative that I was as happy as they were
What is your advice for those who wish to start selling handmade creations?
Pooussin is only 9 months old and we are still learning every day about the management, marketing and manufacturing of the figurines
In my experience, I think it is very easy to start a project based on your passion. But when it comes to developing the brand, it takes time
All artists specializing in handmade creations, myself included, we must continue to self-train, benchmark and develop our technical skills. We also need to study the potential of new markets, not only in Europe, Vietnam, but also in the United States etc. The way of taking pictures of the finished products, communication, online advertising are important aspects to make people want to, and be more known
What are the upcoming projects for Pooussin?
In the coming months, we will expand the team, training and recruiting new artists to meet the growing demands and ensure the quality of each creation. We will also create our website as well as a YouTube channel to share our passion and techniques (not only for modeling clay but for handmade creations in general)
Thank you Pooussin!
I wish you a lot of success!
And you, if you are looking for an original gift, a personalized figurine (cake topper) for your wedding, birthday, Christmas … simply to decorate your home, contact Pooussin on Facebook (www.facebook.com/pooussin.atelier/) và Etsy (www.pooussin.etsy.com)
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