Put a pin in it

SugarDoilies puts ice-cream sandwiches, weed, and vaginas on pins

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Maker and designer Jessica Saliski wants to reclaim the word "cunt" through, well, wearable art. The result is SugarDoilies, an Etsy shop that's equal measures cute and sassy. CL got with Saliski over email to chat about feminism, femininity, and the power of constant practice.

Your designs — like the nod to Pantone via those Poontones pins — wink at feminism. Tell me about how you developed your style.

I have worked in design for seven years here in Atlanta and have seen my fair share of sexism. Those experiences have definitely influenced some of my designs. I also like to keep it girly and fun with a little bit of sass. The cunt-centric pins and buttons came from a conversation my friend Francis Styons and I were having about sexist encounters in the work place and the ideas just came to us. I mean, PMS swatches, come on … it just works. So we collaborated and the Cunt Series and Poontones™ were born. The hope is for people to wear these pins/buttons and have a voice on their lapel — to say something powerful without actually saying it and to elicit reactions and thoughts from the people who see them.

The word "cunt," both explicitly and insinuated, comes up a lot. In America, it seems the word still carries a hefty weight to it. But in places like New Zealand, it's slang akin to "pal." How does the dichotomy of that word specifically inform the pieces you create?

The word cunt is honestly a favorite of mine. And yes I know that most people, especially women, have a problem with it. Like New Zealanders and Australians, I use it as a term of endearment. The idea behind the Cunt Series is to take the negative power from the word and make it something positive, less taboo. I think the Cute Cunt Crew, Best Cunt, and See You Next Tuesday pins do just that. The See You Next Tuesday design is inspired by a weekly girls night I had with friends every Tuesday.

How does the design process differ when crafting something for button pin or enamel pin formats?

With enamel pins you have to simplify your design and know what is going to translate well at 1-inch to 2-inch. You also have to think about soft enamel vs hard enamel and what kind of metal, backings, etc. And there are so many things you can do with enamel pins, I have seen some that are fuzzy, some that move or open and others that are bubblegum scented. When you work with buttons, you don’t have as many choices but can be more detailed and illustrative.

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You work at print shop Mindzai Creative, too. How does working in differing mediums keep you sharp?

It keeps me sharp to constantly create, no matter the medium. Practice makes perfect, right? I am far from perfect, but the more I design and create the better I think I get. Several months ago I took the plunge into full-time freelance with my own brand SugarDoilies. Around the same time Mindzai was hiring and I knew that it would allow me to learn things I didn’t already know about print. I own a letterpress and have knowledge of the more manual side of printing, but I was interested in learning the digital side too. Mindzai also allows me to work with tons of artists and small businesses; I love that I get to help them bring their passions to life.   

Why is it so exciting to be making art in Atlanta right now?   

It’s especially exciting for me because I am finally starting to put work out there in Atlanta. I have been here for a little over eight years and have watched so many amazing artists evolve and I had to be part of it. I see newer artists everyday in Atlanta and the collaborations that may develop between them and the already established artists is really inspiring and exciting.


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