Quick question: What do you get when you combine cake, zombies, a lawnmower, and a bride and groom? If you said one kick ass wedding cake with some undead cake toppers attacking a wedding party, then you would be correct! I know cake and zombies seem like an odd combination. I mean, one is yummy to eat and the other tries to eat you, but those are just minor details. Between reality tv shows about wedding planning and baking, plus zombies and other creatures from the horror genre becoming a larger part of pop culture; there should be no surprise that someone out there gets paid to make zombie themed cake toppers. A little over a year and a half ago I was introduced to an awesome lady that makes custom cake toppers that include zombies. Her name is Christen and she is the owner of Zombie Holocaust. I had a few questions for Christen and this is what I learned about her...
My name is Christen Baer, I live in central Washington, I'm married to my high school sweetheart,we have a little boy and a couple of snorty bulldogs that run the house.
1. How did you come up with the shop name, Zombie Holocaust? And how long have you been selling on Etsy?
I've been selling on etsy for I think about 6 years now, my first shop was TeddyBaerGirl and I made and sold mostly custom items from paintings, to stuffed animals, clothing, clay figures you name it whatever people wanted or I felt like making. Then in 2008 I decided to get a little darker, I had so many ideas that just didn't fit in the whimsical family friendly shop, so I started ZombieHolocaust, and all but abandoned my other shop. I've enjoyed horror and darker things since a young teen, zombies were always my favorite because they scared the Hell out of me as a child.
I am just now getting over my fear of clowns.
*** I think we can all thank Stephen King's It for that one
2. When did you start working with clay? And how did you get into making cake toppers?
My older sister turned me on to fimo when I was about 9 years old, I started with tiny flowers and quickly moved on to animals and then people, then one day I took a special order from a bride wanting zombies and enjoyed it so much I just kept taking orders, I don't see stopping in the foreseeable future.
3. What other items or characters do you make with your awesome molding and clay skills?
The zombie wedding cake toppers have been my best sellers but I've done cat people, characters, all sorts of animals from domestic to fantasy, celebrities, anime, zombie babies, and voodoo deities, really whatever people want, I'm all about making things custom and special.
4. What do you find to be the most challenging about working with clay?
Shipping definitely. The delicate nature of the clay makes it so that you have to make sure they are packed just right so that if some asshole decides to play soccer with your customers package there will be no damage. And I always insure them so just in case something happens that is unrepairable they will be able to get their money back. Customer satisfaction is first priority.
5. Do you have a favorite set of cake toppers that you have made in the past that are your favorite? and why?
Honestly that's very hard, all my brides have been so awesome that they all have had things that were special, one brides weapon was a lawnmower, one bride had all her men in little green converse.
But I think I have 2 that were my very favorite. One was inspired by George Romero, and included these:
Bub from day of the dead,
Karen from night of the living dead,
The Number 9 girl from land of the dead and The George Romero zombie from the game Call of Duty: black ops2.
And the second one was the bride and groom fighting off the nazi zombies from the game COD black ops.
6. What are your thoughts about zombies making their way into mainstream media? Are you excited for it or concerned about it?
I love it! It amuses me thoroughly and helps me get ahold of zombie related items more easily than before, which I can't complain about. Zombies aren't really something you can pretend to like, you either do or don't and the more that do the better for me.
7. Do you think this rise of the zombies will help your shop continue to grow?
If you mean the rise in mainstream then most likely, more people will be seeking out zombie themed items, however if you mean literally the rise of the zombies then no.... I'll be closing up shop and loading up on ammo.
8. What other sorts of crafts do you do? And do you sell them as well?
I'm fond of many forms, I paint, sew, draw, and occasionally make jewelry. I generally work on a custom basis so many of these things need to be asked for specifically I usually just make them for myself, it's not very often that one could stumble into my shop and find one of these items ready to ship.
9. If you could give a new Etsy seller one piece of advice, what would that be?
Your customers are your success or failure, make them happy and be honest, do your best work and top customer service and it will show. But be patient, not many artists are lucky enough to be successful overnight,so do what you love.
10. Since you are a fellow Horror Couture Team member, what's your favorite scary movie?
Oh that's a tricky one, I've probably watched The Exorcist more times than is psychologically healthy, but I don't know if its necessarily my all time favorite. I probably can't choose, anything with zombies, vampires, supernatural or a psychopath and throw in some humor and some sort of jab at the state of society and I'm pretty happy. The more campy the better.
If you would like to learn more about Christen and her work you can Check out her shop, find her on Facebook, and as a member of Horror Couture.