Sewist and thrifter Regina Groleau shares the secrets behind the cute characters that fill her shop, Oh, Albatross
Enter the winter wonderland of Oh, Albatross and you’ll discover arctic foxes, bears, and owls among the snowy trees. Regina Groleau is the maker behind the Etsy shop and blog. A Michigan resident, she recently relocated to remote South Lyon, where, she says, “Our closest neighbors are a small flock of wild turkeys.” When not creating, Regina is busy searching through flea markets and thrift stores for vintage treasures to sell alongside her characters.
Regina’s own critter creations began with Henri the mouse. “I had no pattern or planning process, just a strong desire to see what would happen…. He was nothing short of a disaster!” she explains. “I’ve often learned something new by pushing through those ‘mistakes’.”
Her work is still intuitive, creating and stuffing a basic shape. “I [prefer] to allow the fabric to do its own thing… it’s resulted in curious tilts of the animals’ heads and funny little waving paws.” She concentrates on the faces, marking positions with pins before stitching features. “It’s a very slow form of people-watching,” she says. “Each stitch will create a whole new expression.
“It's at this point that I usually start to get a feel for the kind of soul they have…. Are they a lace-and-pearls kind of animal? Trust me,” she warns, “you cannot force a fur coat on a fox.”
Regina is inspired by “stories and fables” as well as children’s books, illustrations, and animations, particularly those by Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki. “While my style often errs toward muted neutrals, my pieces almost always have their own bright little story to tell.”
She uses vintage scraps, searching for fabrics and trims on her thrifting travels, and hunting down linen in fabric store remnant bins. “Cutting into a beautiful vintage skirt can sometimes be heartbreaking,” she says. “But when it’s just the right color for a little duck or a wee piglet, I do find that I can get over my heartache quite easily after all.” www.etsy.com/shop/ohalbatross