Coral Armour of the Tiny Tragedies was one of the first members of Etsy’s Dark Side that I came across. I remember this distinctly because it was last fall and I desperately wanted something from her shop but Henry said NO because he’s MEAN and clearly was home sick the day all the boys learned about how gift-giving saves relationships and earns occasional weeknight blow jobs. Anyway, I fell in love with Coral’s macabre art pieces, which mash together fake blood, pretty dolls, and sometimes even a dash of glitter, and somehow these things meet in the middle for a happy medium tea party. She even includes hand-written stories for each piece, and come on – if that doesn’t inspire you to stuff some green in the cleavage of her shop, then we can’t be friends.
Recently, she opened a sister shop on Etsy for her more whimsical, fairy tale-esque line of jewelry and snow globes called The Tiny Tiara, which has been getting noticed all over Etsy. And trust me, when something gets touted on Etsy that doesn’t involve owls, crocheted fruit cozies and fake moustaches, it is a BIG DEAL. Her rings are huge and eye-catching, and that is exactly what I look for in digit accoutrements. I own one of the tombstone rings, but I am not satisfied with having just one. I need more! For all you people who try and cop out by saying, “I didn’t get you a Christmas present because I never know what to get you, but here, have a McDonald’s coffee card,” NOW YOU KNOW WHERE TO SHOP FOR ME.
Coral was gracious enough to sludge through some questions I tossed her way and I would like to thank her for putting up with it.
1. Here is the obligatory “How did your shop come to be: Evolution or Big Bang Theory?” question.
Evolution for sure! The early Tragedies were crude in their execution not only because I’m a self taught artist/crafter, but because they were created spur of the moment. They were very, very existential. At that time, I made them for myself, so there were no stories. It was all about symbolism, so they were very Jungian. For instance, one was a doll inside a box, surrounded by smaller boxes. One was a doll inside a box filled with mirrors, and the outer panel said ‘Don’t look inside’. They were kind of like art therapy for me. But I found that people prefer to not use their brains, and after looking at one of my creations for two seconds, their first response was either ‘Cool’ or ‘Cute’. Which drove me INSANE. Coming up with the name was Big Bang Theory because I had a show at a gallery and the owner asked what he should put on the flyer, and it was something I hadn’t considered at that point. So I thought about it for a few minutes and it just struck me! It was then I decided to write the stories out so that it would be obvious to people what was going on in the little scenes.
2. “The List” from your Tiny Tragedies shop tickles me in a way that makes me rethink my sanity. I want one so bad, with Henry’s name written about ten times, and maybe a little Miley Cyrus thrown in there somewhere. Give us your own personal shit list. Air that dirty laundry!
I can’t really give you a true life shit list because my dirty laundry is really pretty dirty. Let’s just say that in my dating past there are more tragedies than successes. In the general sense of who is on my shit list now, almost every single co-worker at my job as a part time waitress. And people who take their kids out in cold weather with no socks or jackets on. Oh and girls who are still obsessed with the color pink. And women who ‘Bedazzle’ their own clothes.
3. And you know those women keep a drawer full of puffy paint, too! Your Etsy profile states that you’re inspired by b-horror movies. What movie would you most want to reenact with your Tiny Tragedy characters?
I’m not sure I could just pick one, because when I say that I’m inspired by B-Horror films, I really mean that genre of movies were watched non-stop on the weekends by my dad when I was young. So somewhere in my subconscious is a vast landscape of badly acted death scenes and laughable monsters with even more laughable special effects make-up! I do have a special place in my heart for Vincent Price. Not only because of his films, but because his wife’s name was Coral. If I had to choose one though, I might choose The Blob because that film made quite an impression on me and my over active imagination. I lost lots of sleep after seeing that movie because I was sure the Blob was going to swallow me as soon as I fell asleep. I always really liked the gorey death scenes though. Those never scared me.
4. Finally succumbing to my heavy desires of stabbing my boyfriend Henry, I flee to Arkansas and you take me in for a weekend. What can I expect to learn about you and Arkansas after spending two days together?
First I would open a bottle of Chardonnay to toast your victory for angry women everywhere! Then I’d probably be paranoid that you would stab me next. After I got over my paranoia, you would see that I am pretty honest about myself. I don’t pretend to know everything, I have no interest in appearing ‘cool’, I don’t push my opinions on anyone, and I am relatively quick witted. I’m laid back, but also have a fair amount of nervous energy. I will be the first to point out my short comings and tell you straight off the bat that I have mild OCD, and will ask you not to be offended if I make some strange requests while you’re staying with me. I gather that I have a good sense of humor. I don’t like to think that I ‘make fun’ of people, it’s really more that I point out the more bizarre aspects of accepted social behavior. Then as punishment for your crime, I would subject you to an evening with my grandparents with whom I lived for the first 8 months after re-locating here from California. Speaking of California, you will also note that I am terribly homesick and often say out loud without warning ‘I can’t believe I live in fucking Arkansas’. I’m a good listener. Watching people fall down still really makes me laugh. I spend a lot of time researching bizarre things on the internet like what living through the black plague was like, how shoes were made 100 years ago, and listening to sea shanties. I watch a lot of the History Channel. And I spend a LOT of time looking for supplies on Etsy that inspire me and give me ideas. Gotta keep my brain busy!
5. You have a second shop on Etsy filled with fairy tale-inspired rings and snow globes, which are incredibly unique but the polar opposite of the dioramas you create for Tiny Tragedies. Do you find that you need to have a certain mindset for each, and do you feel that you favor one shop over the other?
Part of that polar opposite thing is my Gemini tendencies! I definitely need to have a certain mindset for each shop. The Tragedies take much, much longer to make from concept to finished item than anything in The Tiny Tiara. A Tiny Tragedy usually takes 8 to 12 hours to make so it requires determination and focus! I can’t just slowly make one, once I’m on a roll, I have to finish it. I hate to admit it, but at the moment I feel more inspired by The Tiny Tiara. I think it’s partly because the items for that shop take a fraction of the time it takes to make a Tragedy. And I’m very much about instant gratification! I do feel guilty about it though. I love my dolls, and I would hate to ever have to say ‘I used to make dolls called The Tiny Tragedies’.
6. Favorite bands, give it to me.
My taste in music is pretty much stuck in the 90’s still. David Bowie, The Smiths, Radiohead, Bjork, My Bloody Valentine, Fleetwood Mac, Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, Echo and The Bunnymen and Depeche Mode. I find that depressing music really does lift my spirits.
7. I have this thing where I need to know what everyone was like in high school, so you should tell me that now.
I dropped out of high school at the beginning of my Junior year so I wasn’t really there for long. I had a spiral perm! I was on the Dance Team, I was an aspiring singer. I spent the majority of my high school time commuting between my hometown and LA. I really only went to school to socialize. I had a pretty even mix of friends from every little microcosm of groups. Outside of school, I wrote a lot of poetry and painted occasionally. I was pretty outgoing and took every opportunity to make a joke. I was nominated as one of the most photogenic girls in my class. How embarrassing! I didn’t have a boyfriend because I was terrified of boys. I felt pretty lost most of the time. Oh and let me not forget to mention that I was an obsessive fan of the New Kids On The Block!
(This is actually Woodland Deer, I’m an idiot.)
8. Marilyn Manson is looking for a unique gift to give to his girlfriend (I should Wiki him to see if he even has a girlfriend right now, but who cares really). Originally, he wanted to make her a mudpie using Transylvanian soil made moist with gypsy urine. But because of time constraints (and a Romanian urinary retention pandemic) he turns to Etsy, which for the sake of this question is now a large auditorium filled with artisans, and gives each shop owner an opportunity to use five, and only five, words to describe their shop, at which point whoever piques his interest the most gets his Absynthe-soaked money. It’s your turn next, and you only get ONE CHANCE SO DON’T BLOW IT. What do you tell him?
Melancholy, black comedy, macabre, surreal, subconscious. I don’t know, does that work? Did I win??
9. You win! In fact, his ladyfriend just scored 8,000 points by accidentally-on-purpose poking out a hobo’s eyeball with your tombstone ring! Then she mopped up the blood with a blouse, which she’ll wear to dinner tomorrow night because that’s her style. Now, describe your personal style.
I love heavy, long, faux fur winter coats, big rings and big jewelry, lots of black, and anything that a wayward fairy tale princess might wear. I love avant garde clothing, a symmetrical cuts and such.
10. What can we expect next from the brilliant Coral Armour?
I have some ideas but I’m not finished putting the pieces together in my head yet. I want to go in a different direction with the dolls. Much closer to the way they were when I first started making them. It’s all still brewing in my brain, and hopefully sometime soon I will have time to devote to making them a reality. I kind of want to make a few different versions of The Peppermint Princess doll that I made last Christmas. That seems to be where I’m going at the minute. Still going to experiment with the new shop and try to keep the creativity flowing. Sorry that’s a really boring answer!
Somehow, I have a hard time believing Coral could EVER be boring.
Now you know the pertinents about the brains behind two very unique Etsy shops. If you’re anything like me, you’re wishing you could go hang out with her rightnowthisverysecond. But if you’re as geographically unfortunate as me, stalking her online will have to suffice.
Want more Freaky Features? The previous two can be found here.
**I may have let my personal feelings for the tombstone ring get in the way when typing out its name, so don’t think Coral is some sort of egomaniac. I’m just really super obsessed with this damn ring and feel that every one should have one. So go! Hurry! They sell as fast as she makes them!