Eric Coppinger is the Ed behind Knits by Ed. Based in Bloomington, IN, Eric combines his passion for animals with his drive to create. Using eco friendly materials and detailed accuracy, his plush animals reflect nature’s beauty. To learn about him, his process, and his animals is to understand the inherent value in buying handmade.
1| How do you describe your work to people who don’t know anything about crafting/art?
I usually don’t… I live in a small town and most people look at me a little strange when I start spouting off that I make recycled soft… “You make what?” So I just tell people I make stuffed animals. I still get odd looks but at least they know what I’m basically talking about. If I am talking to my peers I say I make recycled knitted creature art. I add that my soft sculptures are either knitted from recycled sweaters and blankets or sustainable yarns. A lot of times I sew knitted fabric with other fabrics like felt made out of recycled bottles. Sometimes I’ll mention I make faux taxidermy wall art. I’m still trying to figure out how to describe my work. My art is constantly evolving and it’s hard to describe it in a short and simple way.
2| Why do you make things?
I create things because it makes me happy. I love animals and I enjoy creating things that bring awareness about conservation. It helps to make me feel like I have purpose. Every time someone picks up a Knits by Ed item I hope they fall in love with that animal and want to save it. I hope that our children and our children’s children will be able to see animals in the wild in their natural habitats. It is my dream that each of us doing our part will add up to make a big difference for our planet and the creatures in it. That’s why I donate a percentage of sales to organizations that help save endangered wildlife and protect at-risk habitats across the globe.
3| Who taught you to knit?
A friend got me started but I’m mostly self taught. I’ve watched a lot of YouTube tutorials.
4| What do you love about your job?
I love waking up every morning excited about creating something new. I love researching new creatures to make. I love sourcing the materials I work with, coming up with color schemes and combining materials to come up with something totally new. Sometimes I unravel an old scarf and pair the yarn with a strand of a different color and knit with that. The whole process of creating from beginning to end makes me really happy.
5| Was being a working artist always your plan or was there an “aha” moment?
No, not really. I have always created. I grew up with crayons and a sketch pad and always wanted to be an artist, oh, and a zoo keeper. But neither of those things happened. I left university with a degree in web design. After leaving my last design job I decided I was over the commute and cubical. I had been knitting and selling my things on the side and thought it was a good time to switch it over to a full time gig.
6| How do you work, and where?
I work from home. I try to keep a normal workday schedule but typically work way over 40 hours a week. I wake up, get my coffee and head to the studio.
7| What makes a handmade object valuable?
What makes a handmade object valuable is all of the time an individual puts into it. A maker puts their heart and soul into their creations. The objects are an extension of the maker. Every time you buy a handmade object you are buying a piece of that artist.
8| Using that definition, what’s the most valuable object you own?
It’s hard to pick just one thing. I have several handmade objects I’ve collected over the years and I love them all. But If I had to choose, the object with the most sentimental value would be an old tapestry needle that my mom gave me. I remember seeing her use use when I was a kid and I use it almost every day. I’ve tried using different needles but they never seem to feel the same.
9| Tell us one true thing about yourself that people don’t believe when you tell them.
Probably my age or that I have tattoos. It’s great to look a lot younger than you are until you try to order a cocktail and get the third degree. My tattoos are hidden and when I tell people I have a huge octopus tattoo on my leg they just cant believe it. Maybe they think I can’t take the pain.
10| Give us three more non-crafting-related details about you or your life.
- Born and raised in Tennessee
- We have two crazy pugs, Maggie and Bella. We took Maggie to Mutt Strut when she was only 3 months old and she walked around the entire Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
- I collect vintage cameras
11| What is your favorite animal?
My favorite animal is the octopus. It was the first creature I knitted and I have a tattoo of one on my left leg.
Want to see more? Come check out his work right here on the shelves at Homespun, or check him out online: