Artist Spotlight: Raq’n Monkeys!
by Stacey Peacock - Alberta, Canada
The age old question, “So what do you do?? I'm a belly dancing, stay-at-home-mom, with a BFA collecting dust on the wall. Instead of becoming an "artist" in the traditional sense, I work with my clients to create one of a kind, custom designed, wool simian caricatures. What I really mean is – I make sock moneys, with boobs.
The very first Raq’n Monkey happened by accident in 2008.
I was contracted to teach a children’s sock monkey workshop,
and was so inspired by their creativity I knew I needed a mini me to play with too.
The fact my troupe was performing at Edmonton’s Feats Festival the next week gave an obvious theme to debut backstage!
She was a HUGE hit everywhere we went.
My mini-me Caasii got to travel to workshops and festivals and camps, meeting all the famous people, collecting their photos for her own album like autographs.
Other dancers wanted one too!
Sure, why not? I can do this in between my other projects.
For every new doll sent out, 5-10 other people would find me on social media asking about one for them, or their teacher.
It spread to other cities, and states, then countries.
What started out as a fun sewing hobby was blowing up beyond my wildest dreams.
We can barely keep up with the custom orders some days, but people see the value in waiting for something that is unique and created by hand.
I think of it as comparable to ordering a custom costume piece.
Today there are almost 300 dolls hanging out in dance studios around North America (plus Egypt, New Zealand, the UK, and Asia)
My future goal: #WorldMonkeyDomination !!
Raq’n Monkeys are not your typical sock monkey.
They start the traditional way (just a sock, some stuffing and buttons) but with a few secret tucks and stitches, grow to Barbie’esque proportions. Each is customized to reflect the dancer’s physical characteristics, unique dance personality and costume wardrobe.
My design has changed just a little over the years, but the level of costuming and personalization is intense! Trying to fit all of that onto a small piece of wool sock can be a challenge - but I love a good challenge.
When someone dances, I see the performance but I’m also imagining how would I replicate that in miniature? I think my favourite costume to date was replicating Shahrzad’s iconic donut costume
I enjoy getting to know each client through chats, photos, and some serious snooping (investigating!!) through their social media profiles - trying to find a way to make each doll feel personal... hand embroidered tattoos, miniature props, facial expressions and costuming quirks.
The final question I ask is always “Do you trust me?”
I’m honoured to count many of them among my friends now.
Every doll is treated to a photo shoot before heading out to it’s new home.
If at all possible, they are posed & photographed to recreate some of the dancer’s own photos, but my favourite pictures are the ones they send back of their new friend on it’s own adventures.
While a majority of the monkeys are based on dancers, sometimes I’ll take on special commissions. Musicians, theatre, comic-con, drag queens - anyone with a specific look that can be reproduced in miniature can be a lot of fun!
It’s a wonderful way to commemorate a favourite performance, costume, event, or just because you want to!
Come find us on social media - and be sure to enter the special Fanoos - Raq’n Monkeys giveaway! Winner to be chosen July 31, 2021
* psst - include a monkey emoji in your context comment for an extra ballot
Stacey Peacock is a fabric artist from Edmonton, AB Canada 🇨🇦
She is the creative mind behind Raq’n Monkeys and an active member of the bellydance community for 20+ years.
Aliases: Veil Dancer, The Monkey Mistress & Dr. Sock Simian