Christina Kenton first elected to make protectors for her lighters because at night, left outside, they got chilly. And in the morning, after a stay in the great outdoors, they often would no longer work. So, she built her lighters a casing to keep them warm.
But instead of a simple sleeve, she creates fanciful, hand-sewn worlds that swallow the lighters whole. For one cozy (or Koozie, or coozy, or coosie, or a plethora of variations on the term), Kenton crafted a bed with pillows the pattern of a cloud-dappled sky. In it, a green fruit and a rogue flamingo watch idly by as an unexplained cavity tears through the bed "Nightmare on Elm Street" style, with a yellow hand reaching out from what's underneath. Magritte would surely appreciate the horror.
It's not too surprising that dreams are a main source of inspiration for the Vancouver-based artist. Many also contain fantastical animals -- two-headed pigs, snakes emerging from cows and horses with necks that droop down to the floor. Kenton also cites her late grandfather, surrealist painter Ladislav Guderna, as a major influence. "I believe I inherited his need to constantly create even if nobody sees," she wrote in an email to The Huffington Post.
Kenton starts by sewing each case by hand, then applies a paper technique to bring her three-dimensional sculptures to life. She tops them off by hand-painting the exteriors and sometimes affixing a miniature or two to the hybrid dioramas.
"I started adding miniatures to my sculptures about a year or so ago," Kenton explained in an interview with Accidental Discharge. "I was once in a craft store and found a tiny ziplock bag with a couple of miniatures -- a priest, a jogger and a married couple -- and then I was hooked. I went online and found a never-ending world of miniatures, there was anything I could think of. I found miniature porcelain false teeth, shrimp cocktails, duct tape, and it went on and on."
Kenton has been creating her lighter protectors for around a decade now. Along with the common therapeutic effects of art making, Kenton also noticed the repetitive, detailed work helped soothe her chronic vertigo. "It's an escape," Kenton explained. "My ideas come from dreams I have and whenever or whatever I pursue, does not always have to make sense."