Amy Brown is known by her short hair and big glasses, her quirky personality, and her Jumbo Jibbles.
“I’m doing unintentional art that no one else is doing.”
If Jumbo Jibbles sounds like something a person might mumble in their sleep, that’s because it actually is. Jumbo Jibbles is a brand of pillows that are designed to look like fruits or vegetables, handcrafted by artist and San Jose transplant Amy Brown.
The name Jumbo Jibbles came from when she first discovered her talent of making large, fabric sculptures. She woke her husband up out of excitement one night and while in mid-sleep, he thought Brown said “Jumbo Jibbles” and repeated the name back to her.
She has made almost every kind of fruit or vegetable, including carrots, asparagus, kiwis, and strawberries. Brown says she sells between 15 to 40 Jumbo Jibbles pillows per month, and more during holidays.
Brown is currently looking for brick and mortar stores who are willing to carry her products, but in the meantime sells her food-like pillows on Etsy. Besides selling her wares online, Brown is also a regular vendor at SJMADE events. “Because of this group, I was able to sell my works inside of Valley Fair Mall,” Brown says.
She finds her work fulfilling “because it makes people happy.” Her pillows usually lead to funny pictures of people holding her oversized stuffed fruit, Brown says.
Brown describes her craft as “unintentional art that no one else is doing.” Her food-shaped pillows are not a necessity, so every time someone buys one it is usually a gift with a good story behind it.
One customer bought a stuffed strawberry pillow for his girlfriend. The couple’s first date was through a strawberry field, but the girlfriend was allergic to strawberries, so he wanted to gift the girlfriend a strawberry that she wasn’t allergic to. Asparagus is Brown’s personal favorite vegetable, and the inspiration for one of her favorite creations: a four foot-tall asparagus stalk. She reveals that she uses a swimming pool noodle to form the shape. Another of her signature pieces is a four-foot-tall carrot body pillow.
The Jumbo Jibbles shop also contains unicorn flair, such as headbands, ski masks and hats, as well as jewelry made of candy. The unicorn products were first started from her Halloween costume, but customers wanted to purchase headbands and more “because they are fun to wear,” Brown says.
The first encounter Brown had making fruit and veggie looking pillows was for a vegetarian friend’s wedding. Her friend needed props for the event, which lead Brown to take the first steps towards creating her new brand.
Along with making larger-than-life plush fruits and vegetables, Brown also creates astronomy jewelry for her other line, Sky and Light. She hand-paints a star map of constellations onto pendants for bracelets or necklaces.
Brown lived most of her life in Fayetteville, Arkansas. She’s only lived in California for two and a half years. She just started doing these art projects after her move.
When she isn’t making things for her Etsy shops, she also teaches classes and summer camps for art and design. She hopes to advance as a teacher. Brown is taking ceramics and art classes at West Valley College to improve her craft.
This past February, Brown went to Las Vegas to attend a fashion trade show during Magic Market Week. “Experiencing this helped me get over the fear of putting myself out there,” Brown says. She hopes to collaborate with inflatable balloon artists for O Yeah Toys to be used in clubs and parades.
As Brown likes to put it, Jumbo Jibbles is “taking small things and making them big,” whereas Sky and Light is “making huge things small.”
Written by Justin San Diego
Photography by Daniel Garcia
Entire Article originally appeared in Issue 6.1 Sight and Sound
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