Chrissy Prusha makes cockroach sushi out of felt. She is 28 years old, lives in Hollywood, and goes by the name “Felted Chicken.” Ordinarily, Prusha is a scenic sculptor who sculpts styrofoam into props, movie sets, and theme park rides. Work has been slow lately, however, which gives her time to come up with bizarre things to render in her medium of choice: felted crabs, felted cupcakes, felted mega California Rolls, felted flaming hearts, et cetera.
Tell me about the genesis of the cockroach sushi piece. How did you come up with it?
I often find myself making the same image or working with the same materials over-and-over-and-over again. I had been making “normal” sushi pieces for a while, and needed a change. So I kinda rebelled against myself and thought of the funniest, grossest piece of sushi I could come up with. I HATE bugs, so it was a challenge!
What is it made of?
It's made from wool that I hand felted with a process called Needle-Felting. Needle-felting is the process of matting and compressing animal fibers into felt by stabbing a barbed needle into the fibers thousands of times.
How big is it?
With his wire antenna, he was almost 6″ long. I think I've seen bigger ones in my backyard in West Hollywood, though.
Do you have a special affinity for cockroaches?
No, no. I hate anything that has more that four appendages.
What's the biggest cockroach you've ever seen?
When I was a kid in Texas I had a friend whose dad was an exterminator. He would visit school with those giant hissing cockroaches, yuck.
What other “critter” sushis are you making?
I just finished a cute little Dead Goldfish sushi, and I've also made a giant Black Widow piece and a gnarly Scorpion piece.
Why do you call yourself “Felted Chicken”?
I make stuff out of felt (that's the Felted part). And then I think chickens are just really quirky and funny. They are such bizarre creatures. During art school, I spent two years making only artwork with chicken as the subjects. It allowed me to experiment with different techniques and materials without being preoccupied with coming up with new imagery.
If you were starving on a desert island, do you think you could and would eat a cockroach?
Ummm… maybe cooked, I guess. When I lived in Maryland, the 17 year Cicada hatching occurred. There were millions of giant ugly bugs. People loved to stew them and cover them in chocolate, etc. I never had the nerve to try it. I do love to eat food though, and if that's all there was, I think I would get over it pretty quickly.
We're kind of experiencing a craft renaissance these days. Do you have any favorite craft or felt artists?
Two of my best friends, Shawna Pincus and Michael Bracco, have really inspired me to be more crafty. They both have been involved in the DIY scene in Baltimore for years.
How many felted cockroach sushis have you sold so far?
I've only made and sold one so far. I sold it within two hours of posting it in my Esty shop. My brain is exploding with so many different projects… If anyone's interested, I'd love to make you one.
Was it difficult deciding how much to sell them for? I mean, fuzzy cockroach sushi sculptures seem pretty unprecedented.
Pricing is one of the hardest parts of the business so far. Trying to compete with mass produced, cheap items from China makes many hand-made artist under-price their work. It's sad because I think many artists underestimate the value of their talent. Personally, my craft is pretty time consuming so I can't really go off of an hourly scale. I looked at some other felted pieces that were about the same size and same amount of detail then finally decided how much I could part with my work for without feeling bad.
You can see her work here.