Unicorn Tears: Depression and Atlantic Fashion Week

Last year, around this time, I was in a very dark place. I was broke, financially, spiritually, mentally and emotionally, but auto pilot kicked in and somehow I was able to keep pressing forward, even adding a second job to my full-time load. I kept telling myself that I was doing what I needed to do to keep myself afloat but, truth be told, it was probably the instinct of my self-destructive nature wrapped up in the guise of strength. When I’ve fallen that far, I self harm. I told myself that I’d given that up, and just because I’d stopped cutting myself for many years, doesn’t mean that I wasn’t self-harming. I was isolating, sabotaging my relationships with others, not eating, barely sleeping and purposely depriving myself of self care because I didn’t think that I deserved it. It seemed more noble to seemingly put others before me but really, I didn’t know how to be selfish when I needed to be; it’s easier to just ignore myself. It was a strange form of suicide, killing myself everyday by depriving myself of the things I desperately needed only to force myself through the same hell the next day and the next.

On the outside, I was doing a great job of keeping myself together. I was going to therapy. I was paying my bills. I was caring for my dog. I never missed a day at work. I worked 6-7 days a week. On the inside, everything was locked away in a safe, just to keep it contained. It festered. It fermented. It went from being just pain, hopelessness, and grief to a toxic resentment. I lost my smile. I lost my laugh. I lost myself. Depression is an invisible illness, one that will always be such a strange and twisted part of me. The one thing I couldn’t lose.

Looking back at the pictures from my Atlantic Fashion Week Debut, I can’t remember smiling harder. It was radiating off of me. I’d just been through hell and I’d used my designs to slay those ugly demons. It was a dream come true. It was magical. It was my Cinderella moment. Yet despite a glowing smile, if you look closely enough at the pictures, my skirt is too short to conceal the still healing cuts lacing up my thighs. I might bleed glitter, but I still bleed. Unicorns may cry crystals, but they still cry.

I don’t like people to see me cry.

So I didn’t. I kept to myself, hiding away in my little loft apartment. But there was something fighting to get out of me. And that is how my second Atlantic Fashion Week collection “Pieces of Me” was born.

“I did my best, it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
And even though it all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah”

– Leonard Cohen

I had no money for all the pretty things of daydreams and pintrest so I started repurposing things I had around the house. The first thing to go was my pillowfort/reading nook. The mesh curtains came down and with the help of some silk flowers and a little bit of paint, became the finale piece “Letting Go”; a waterfall washing everything away, almost naked yet delicately concealed by blossoming hope.

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Bedsheets were the next thing that I attacked. I painted them, bleached them, ripped them, burned them and embroidered them into the winged, orange creation that I called “Burn”. I wasn’t just setting pieces of fabric or loose threads aflame, I was lighting the fire to the bits of my soul that needed to be cauterized.

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The dresses I made were nights of tears and days alone, a constant, invisible struggle behind a brave face. My therapist at the Avalon Centre wanted me to reflect on my hyperarousal responses: fight, flight, submit and attach. I’m not always the greatest with words, especially when it comes down to emotional explanations so she asked me to show her. She probably figured I would paint it out but what I had to show and tell needed to be embodied – the other pieces of me.

Fighter was fierce and graceful. Exposed yet raw strength. Refined and primal. She is my protector. She leads my herd as she is my first instinct. The fur bringing out that survival mode made from the scraps of the unicorn plushies that I used to sew and held up by a spiked, braided chain of gold, studded with crystals that used to be one of my favourite boutiquey necklaces. It may be barely held together by threads but it’s hanging on, ragged yet elegant.

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Flight. My Monarch Butterfly Queen. Layers upon layers of butterfly wings that just seems to float effortlessly about the form as the wind would as she flies away. Her shoes have no heels, lifting her that much closer to flight. I’m not the best person with dealing with emotions or even confrontation so I hide behind something beautiful and run away. A monarch butterfly’s wings and colours are warning sign to predators, just as I have always been upfront with how skittish I am. Flight has it’s own strength carefully concealed behind vibrancy  and delicacy. It’s not always not being able to fight, sometimes it’s the strength to know when to walk away.

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One of the most difficult things to portray was “Submit”. This was not something that I even wanted to look at within myself. It was not something I ever wanted to admit to or even get close to. Even thinking about it now, is bringing a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes. This is my survival mode. This is the “why didn’t you say anything?” “why didn’t you just leave?” “why didn’t you say no?” mode. This is my mindlessly agreeing to anything if it means that specific people wouldn’t get mad at me. This is me drinking and taking drugs to make me complicit and compliant so that life could just go on. This is me letting people do whatever they want to me because I don’t have any fight left in me and I didn’t place any value on myself.

So I give in. I submit.

This dress began as white. It was bleached, stained, dyed and painted to the chaotic sea that rages about the body. There are the ghost hands prints, holding her back, taking possession of her body. The body chains are just that, chains.The choker was designed to be similar to a bondage collar and it drips chains that surround the ribcage (repurposed from old necklaces). The butterfly wing is held captive in the centre, dangling a pearl teardrop because at this stage, flight isn’t an option. It’s just a pretty decoration that once symbolized hope. Although probably the simplest design of the collection, it was probably the most difficult for me to display.

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I adored my Attach piece created from a vintage wedding gown and sari, a floating cloud of fabrics to make the model look and feel like a princess. It’s a mixture of a little girl’s joy, her hopes and dreams of being a fairytale princess, wrapped up in the security blanket of something beautiful life has created for her. I was lost in a sea of uncertainty, so I attached myself to the things that I thought were safe; things that society told me I should be. I clung to toxic relationships and situations. I couldn’t let go when I should have to the things that did me more harm than good but at least they were familiar. And somehow, that was comforting, that was my security blanket and in my own mind, I could make that beautiful somehow. I clung to fairytales, fantasies and pipe dreams. I would just accept things at face value because it was easier and in my head I could spin that tale into something more because that’s what I wanted for myself.

I love how Katie is barefoot on the runway. There’s something so pure and innocent about it. Something so naive that is the Attach piece of me.

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So there you have it. The fragmented, upcycled, resewn pieces of me. Covered in glitter and fortified with crystal. A textile diary, my emotions brought to life.

Using Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” added an unexpected emotional power to my showcase that could not have been more fitting. It really brought everything to life.

“Take your broken heart and make it into art.” – Carrie Fisher

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It’s taken me months to write this post. What a lot of people don’t realize is that when my final model left the stage and the final walk began, I broke down in tears. Chest heaving, gasping, sobs. I couldn’t even move. If Sarah hadn’t grabbed my hand and pulled me out from behind the curtain, I wouldn’t have had the strength to do so on my own accord. I smiled through the sobs as brilliantly as I could. Don’t get me wrong, I was overwhelmed and extremely proud of what was taking place, but I was also being consumed by the demons in my head. I had never been more vulnerable in front of all those people and all those cameras who had just seen the deepest parts of me and what’s more, they now could see me cry. Something inside me broke, and finally, everything that had been building, shoved away and ignored, came pouring out. And there, in front of my friends, my colleagues and strangers, I had a complete mental breakdown.

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I kept a smile on for as long as I could. I fought back tears with all that I had. I laughed and celebrated with the excited people running around frantically backstage. I left as soon as humanly possibly. I cried all night. I got put off work and practically couldn’t get get out of bed for a month. I still cry when I have to go out in public and can’t always complete the errands that I have set out to do. I still lay in bed in the morning and give myself pep talks to get up.

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I have a very bubbly reputation, one of childlike joy and naive glee. I’m that unicorn girl whose answer to everything seems to be “sprinkles” or “more glitter”.  Atlantic Fashion Week gave  me an incredible platform to share with everyone else how I could create my own Cinderella story;  how I could take rags and abuse and turn them into something beautiful. It gave me a voice, when I thought I had none.

Depression isn’t always dark and ugly. It’s a way of life for me. It’s how I deal with it, that matters.

I’m extremely grateful to the models who formed my beautiful herd of unicorns. You ladies were exquisite and your enthusiasm meant the world to me. You ladies were my driving force forward and without even knowing it, you carried me through that night. From the bottom of my heart; thank you.

 

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Bringing It Back.

So here I am. I’ve been quite inactive over the past couple months but I really feel like now is a perfect time for an update. I’ve been seriously lacking in communication since arriving on the East Coast but that does not mean I haven’t been creating! Kaidain Ivy has been involved in Atlantic Fashion Week, FanExpo, Steam on Queen and Gothic Christmas. All my horns are also available at Toxic Blossom and on Etsy, so it’s been a very exciting time.

And with that, I would like to bring it back to the beginning for a moment. Looking back, it has been one of the most intense years of my life. There has been so many lessons to learn, so many challenges, so many feats, so many changes. I’m am both blessed and grateful for every single one of them.

(C) Nathan Zahorchak Photography

(C) Nathan Zahorchak Photography

Last year, I mentioned getting to shoot with the very talented Nathan. I’m super excited to present the results of that shoot. I’m thrilled with how it turned out and the positive changes that it influenced. I’m so proud of the direction Nathan has been heading with his amazing photographic skills and so thankful that I got to be a part of it. Ever onwards and upwards.

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“I don’t know when we’ll see each other again or what the world will be like when we do. We may both have seen many horrible things. But I will think of you every time I need to be reminded that there is beauty and goodness in the world.” ― Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha

It’s FINALLY Here!

Finally have my etsy store up and running! It’s really quite amazing to see magical unicorns running around Halifax and shipping them out across Canada. Keep making the magic! 

Seeing as I have been horrible at keeping my blog updated here’s a selection of Canada’s latest unicorns!

True Colours

So I’ve been posting a lot of my art lately, but I know so many incredibly talented artists! I completely surround myself with them. Sarah, my best friend, the other half of my brain happens to be one of the most talented people I’ve ever come across. (In case you were wondering, yes, it IS the Sarah from my Wooly Unicorn post.) Last Saturday, we were supposed to collaborate on a body painting for the opening of the new location of Kryart Studio Gallery. We were so excited! After how many years we were going to collaborate? But fate is a funny, fickle friend and all our models seemed to back out at the last minute. We were crushed but the show must go on! She already had an idea in mind that, as artists will understand, HAD to come out. What was there left to do? I stepped up to the plate.

And I’m so glad I did! We had such a blast and we couldn’t be happier with the results. They requested abstract art and Sarah absolutely delivered!

(C) Masha Nazina Photography

(C) Masha Nazina Photography

(C) Masha Nazina Photography

(C) Masha Nazina Photography

(C) Masha Nazina Photography

(C) Masha Nazina Photography

I’m so used to being the body painter that it was such an experience being on the other end of the brush! I totally now feel for all of my models. For everyone who has ever had to model for me, THANK YOU SO MUCH for putting up with the standing, the odd positions, and all my humming and hawing. (Oh and not having to go to the bathroom too!) I can’t get over what a buzz it was to be swept up in such an intense creative project. It was an honour and a privilege to be involved in especially with my best friend.

(C) Sarah Ebisuzaki 2014

(C) Sarah Ebisuzaki 2014

(C) Sarah Ebisuzaki 2014

(C) Sarah Ebisuzaki 2014

 

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(C) Sarah Ebisuzaki 2014

So being painted, I had no idea what I looked like. Not wearing my glasses certainly didn’t help in the least.That may have actually been a blessing in disguise seeing as it was more of a performance art piece than anything so I didn’t get stage fright but I was so floored when I saw the final result. I was a piece of art! I completely blended in with the rest of the gallery.  I felt like I should have been in Cirque Du Soliel (so naturally I climbed up the side of the wall and hung off a pipe but that’s beyond the point)

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(C) Sarah Ebisuzaki 2014

This entire experience was made so incredible just by the fact that Sarah and I get each other. We bounced off of each other’s vibes as we always do. She truly is one of the most talented people I know as well as my sister.

You with the sad eyes
Don’t be discouraged
Oh I realize
It’s hard to take courage
In a world full of people
You can lose sight of it all
And the darkness inside you
Can make you feel so small

But I see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that’s why I love you
So don’t be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful,
Like a rainbow

Sarah the Wooly Unicorn

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To this day, I’m still trying to figure out how I met Sarah. One second there was life without Sarah, the next, how the hell did I live without that girl? Somewhere along the lines, we met in college. I didn’t realize I was only half a person until I met this girl. She just got me. Makeup students, trying to prove we were more than just red lipstick, working sh!tty retail jobs at a generic mall. Go team awesome. Somewhere between the sculpting all nighters, the after class spreading papers all over the bed, the Thursdays at the bar and the “cut class day because we need to make an epic British Breakfast”, I found a girl who truly got me. She knew more about me just from a look than anything I could have ever put into words for her. She can look at any piece of my artwork and tell me what is missing in order for it to be finished.

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We’ve been through more than a little bit of heartbreak together. There’s been way more than one bout of heart-wrenching sobbing. There’s been many phone-calls, hurried trips through the city for chicken wings and beer, text messages and “girl, what the hell are you doing?”s. Unheeded warnings and “he’s not good enough for you”s. There’s been deaths and work dramas and “I really don’t know what I’m doing with my life”s. There’s been nights on the town and girls nights in and adventures in abandoned buildings. There’s been deaths, births, laughter, tears and heartbreaks. There’s been everything but the consistent has always been that we had each other. The girl who I don’t see nearly enough but when we’re together, it’s like no time has passed at all.

Every time I get a phone call that some guy isn’t treating her right (I’m not allowed to meet any of them because apparently I’ll scare them off,) my heart breaks. This is a woman who is too beautiful to ever be sad. She’s one of the most talented artists I’ve ever met. She’s independent, driven and strong. This is a girl who is going places and the only way she would ever fail would be because the world just isn’t ready to handle her. She’s a quiet beauty, those shining eyes ever watchful but if you can crack that hard shell there’s a woman who is willing to give the world to the people she truly cares about. It will take a very, very special, unique person to deserve diamond in the rough.

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I’m so proud of my Sarah Woolly Baby Unicorn. I used the reddish purple fake fur that doesn’t really resemble any natural animal in memory of all the monsters and creatures we created together or dreamed up in college. Flecks of gold for that pure talent and rare beauty she exudes. A tail that mimics feathers and faux leather paws that is Sarah’s signature bohemian style. Large dark eyes with top and bottom lashes (complete with flecks of glitter) like her own striking eyes and immaculate makeup. (She’s a makeup artist and she always looks flawless, honestly, I’ve always been jealous.) I also loosely based the eyes off of her latest painting. This unicorn takes on more of a creature feel to it than the others because really is magical, untamed, wild and free, fiery, and pure natural beauty. A mixture of a traditional British medieval unicorn and a Japanese dragon.

(C) Sarah Ebisuzaki 2014

(C) Sarah Ebisuzaki 2014

This is a soft sculpture portrait of one of my best friends, not just a cuddle toy to give you a hug when your own heart is broken or lend an ear to all your troubles. I can’t count the times this unicorn has had her heartbroken so be forward, you hurt this unicorn and you will have me to deal with! Don’t let the fact that she is tough and wild fool you, she really is as soft and cuddly as she looks! She love her as deeply and truly as I do…or else! She does have dragon in her after all!

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Name: Sarah

Birthday: November 9

Species: Baby Wooly Unicorn

Size: 13” x 8”

Materials: Fake Fur, Plastic, False Lashes

Eyes: Hand sculpted, molded and cast in plastic

Available for Adoption: COMING SOON

Dawn Poetry the Baby Yetticorn

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I first met Dawn completely by accident. I was in college and needed an internship. The first company I applied to rebuffed me and sent me along to Dawn. Obviously this was a wonderful twist of fate. She took me on at Love, Poetry Corsets and I never left. I completely invested myself into her amazing business because I believed in the unique craftsmanship and I believed in Dawn.

Dawn was everything I wanted to be. Beautiful. Talented. Kind. Gracious. Fun-loving. Just an all around wonderful person to be around. She taught me so much about sewing, fashion, modelling, business and also about life. She taught me patience. She taught me diplomacy, how to carefully consider my words so I didn’t say something I would later regret, how to compromise. She taught me how to stand up for myself without coming across as a total b!tch. She taught me about relationships, how life can be.

She introduced me to sides of life I would never have thought I would ever get to see. With her I got to travel, see different lifestyles, meet so many new people. She was the one who introduced me to the concept of the “unicorn” that I have been basing my art on as of late. Most of the unicorns I have been posting were born in her basement studio amidst a heaven of fabrics and findings and corsets.

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Dawn took me in when I had no where to go, was always the first person to be there for me when times got rough. A true friend through and through. She is always the first person I call and no matter what, she is there. She showed up my house, ice cream in hand and to just be there with me while I cried over a broken heart. Kicked me in the butt when I really needed it, always gave her honest opinion while trying to help push me back on my feet, gave me an iron support system because that’s the kind of person she is. She puts other people first no matter what the cost to herself, is always so cute and thoughtful.

My heart always breaks when I see people take advantage of her and don’t appreciate her the way she truly deserves to be. She is a one of a kind woman who truly showed me how to be a woman. Her heart is so large that she actually makes herself sick worrying about other people. I hate seeing her stressed out all the time trying to take on the world and fighting an uphill battle the entire way. She is a precious unicorn that you will only meet once in a lifetime and if you are lucky enough to be graced with her love and friendship, you will be blessed for the rest of your life.

Dawn Poetry in my series is a baby yetticorn, derpy and unique but full of adorableness. She is white and fluffy like a traditional medieval unicorn but in the words of Agnes from “Despicable Me” (one of our shared favourites,) “IT’S SO FLUFFY I’M GONNA DIE!!!!” She’s very traditional with her own very unique twist. A little glitter for all the glittery nights we’ve shared at various parties or events. Curly showgirl lashes after her famous doll-like lashes whenever she gets all done up. Large expressive blue eyes for all the kind looks with a hint of mischief. A little bit of blue tinge to her mane for all the crazy colours she’s had in her hair and for the blue hair makeover she did on me. (Seriously, there’s nothing this woman can’t do.)

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This is a soft sculpture portrait of one of my best friends, not just a cuddle toy to give you a hug when your own heart is broken. I never want to see this unicorn heartbroken. Beneath all that fluff and fuzzy is a heart of gold and an inner strength the likes of which you have never seen. She’ll take care of you, love you unconditionally and always be there for whatever you need if you treasure her and take care of her. And despite all her magic and mysticism, her heart is in the open fields of the country. Don’t let the glitz and glam fool you, she’s very down to earth.

Name: Dawn Poetry

Birthday: March 14

Species: Baby Yetticorn

Size: 13” x 8”

Materials: Fake Fur, Plastic, False Lashes

Eyes: Hand sculpted, molded and cast in plastic

Available for Adoption: COMING SOON

Ally The Little Misfit Unicorn

““This sucks.” Came the twitter reply on my screen from Ally. I smiled sadly to myself, knowing only too well what she was talking about. The nausea had subsided for me leaving only the dull ache in my heart and the pit of my stomach to remind me that I was not ok. I liked to pretend I was, but few people could see behind the masked pain in my eyes. Heartache aside, I couldn’t keep putting myself through all the ridiculousness that had become so familiar to me. I had cried my last tear over him and he was NOT going to get anymore out of me. I was done. DONE.

My heart was breaking for Ally all the same as the notifications chimed in.

“It’s killing me. I wish I didn’t feel anything.”

“He was my best friend.”

“I did everything I could.”

“Still wasn’t good enough.”

It was like the ghost of my sixteen year old self coming back to life through my laptop screen. I felt for her, I really did. I was going through my own heartbreak but this time was different. This time I was older and this time, I was colder. 

“He still cares about me.” Ally was half pleading, I think more for the benefit of herself than anyone else. “He just doesn’t want to be with me.”

Another knife jabbed into my heart. I knew those words, I knew that desperation, I just wasn’t that naive anymore. I was passed lying to myself. I was through with all those games. It was in that moment that I realized I really had grown up.

“Just let it go.” I couldn’t believe how cold I was sounding. So unlike the former me who would have cooed and sympathized. “Walk away and don’t look back. It’s time to just let it go.”

“I just can’t let go.” 

Oh honey, don’t I know that feeling all too well. I tried with everything in me to hold onto something that wasn’t even there. It was like trying to catch the sunlight and keep it in the palm of your hand. Love is not tangible; you can’t physically hold it, touch it, restrain it – it courses through you like a river but not every stream reaches an ocean. I had taken the wrong bend somewhere along the lines and ended up in a swamp and now I was just drowning in the mess. Typical.” – “My Life in Shambles” [Working Title] – Me, of course!

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I was fresh out of makeup school and had by secured a seasonal part time job at Sephora. I was through the roof excited! Sephora is a makeup heaven! I was so nervous at orientation. I was surrounded by all these gorgeous girls with their perfect hair and flawless complexions, how the hell was I going to fit in? Everyone has a bitch face when in full makeup so I really couldn’t get a good sense of the other new girls in my group, were they just being stand-offish because of nerves too? That’s when I met Ally. Cute, adorable, sweet little Ally.

We hit it off really well from the very start. Everyone thought we were sisters, the two giggling little Filipinas. She was my best friend at work. We closely followed each other lives, the ups and the downs. We both got hired on as permanent staff after the holidays so our friendship flourished. I looked forward to that sweet smile, and girlish giggle every day. All of us Sephora girls were envious of her natural beauty and charisma, her flawless fashion sense and that special something about her that was just so pure, so genuine. There’s no way in hell I could ever pull off her level of cuteness or just blink and be THAT adorable. I wanted to be like her so much.

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We leaned on each other when the times got rough. We both drove around in Angelica’s car that day she called in tears. She was the one who made a fuss about my birthday at work and made sure they bought me a cake and a card. She was the one who jumped for joy when I told her I was taking her to the Nick Carter concert because she’s the one who would appreciate that little childhood dream.

My heart has broken for Ally numerous times. When she got attacked going home from my birthday one year, my boy and my friends were ready to pile into the car to go get her to protect her. She’s the kind of person you always want to protect because you never, ever want her to lose that sweetness, that pureness. Ally has no idea just how jawdroppingly beautiful she actually is and that’s only one of the reasons that makes her so loveable and adorable.

(C) 2011 Sergio M, Love, Poetry Corsets, Art by Sarah Ebisuzaki

(C) 2011
Sergio M, Love, Poetry Corsets, Art by Sarah Ebisuzaki

When he broke her heart, I was shattered for her. She couldn’t stop crying. A year later, he was still stringing her along, still calling her and running off to the woman he was actually in love with. We got our hearts broken at the same time but I would have given anything for it to have been just me.

Ally was actually the first person I had in mind when I started created unicorns based off of people. I chose the Pokemon fabric to capture her little geeky ways, the childlike wonder, her love of nerdiness. Primary colours to showcase how basically genuine she is. The glitter to show off how she really does sparkle when she enters a room. The more anime styled eyes for her love of everything anime and the way she looks and dresses so perfectly you would think she was an anime character come to life. Obviously there’s the curly flash lashes she is never without. Soft flannel pyjama fabric for our girly sleepovers and for the fact that you just want to squeeze her every time you see her.

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This is a soft sculpture portrait of one of my best friends, not just a cuddle toy to give you a hug when your own heart is broken. She will pick you up with kind concern when you’re down and ALWAYS lends a sympathetic ear. There’s only a few times in your life when you will meet someone who truly has a heart of gold, kind people there are many, pure, they are as rare as unicorns. Ally will kill you with kindness and pierce your heart with wide eyed adorableness.

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Name: Ally

Birthday: March 24

Species: Misfit Unicorn

Size: 13” x 8”

Materials: Fake Fur, Plastic, False Lashes

Eyes: Hand sculpted, molded and cast in plastic

Available for Adoption: COMING SOON