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Origins: Zombie Poodles

Origins: Zombie Poodles


The initial inspiration for zombie poodles in my designs was Beau—an extra large Standard Poodle. Beau lived with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law. He was an exuberant extrovert with no respect for anyone’s personal space and an amazing ability to jump.

Inspired by a weekend visit where I endured Beau’s antics, I drew my impressions in my sketchbook. The first signs of a zombie poodle are clear in those sketches.


 So, that started my poodle period. Poodles showed up frequently in my sketchbooks. Below, a design for a Grecian urn from March 2011.


 Then a design for custom-made cowboys boots from early 2012.


Unfortunately, I never got around to producing those boots.

Later, in 2016, zombie poodles appeared on Calamityware dinner plate 11.


I was delighted by the idea of zombie poodles traipsing around in the traditional blue-willow paradise. I was surprised that so many people liked the idea of having dinner on a porcelain plate with zombie poodles.

Around that same time, I experimented with weaving a pattern of zombie poodles into a fabric using a Jacquard loom. But that idea never went anywhere. It was hard to imagine many people needing a chorus line of poodles on their sofa.


But, the notion of a zombie-poodle textile stuck with me. Early in 2019 I started work on a pattern of interlocking hexagons made up of zombie poodles. 



After quite a few variations the pattern landed here.


And then it was applied to the shopping tote that we offered as a gift to shoppers over Thanksgiving weekend, 2019.


What I like about this design is also true of many of my pattern designs. At first glance, it’s a dignified and pleasant pattern. But when one looks closer, oddities appear. Are those poodles? Wait! Are they really zombie poodles?! Yikes.


 Thanks, Beau. We miss you.


Don—Pittsburgh, November 2019


Comments on this post (16)

  • Sep 03, 2020

    The jacquard poodle would make an irresistible men’s tie!

    — Roxanne

  • Jun 19, 2020

    The ubiquitous black cat wigs me out even more than the zombie poodles!! Right now I’m looking at one of my Calamityware mugs, and my favorite Worse Thing is the spiky monster roaring loudly and getting ready to bang a little guy against the side of a building. It gives me the willies. Calamity Ware is the only thing getting me through this Bizarro Reality.

    — Amy Tannehill

  • May 13, 2020

    I have admired your work for some time , and it was the zombie poodle that pushed me from admiration to purchase. Have got a set of mugs — some to keep and some to give away — and I know that my journey in Calamityware is just beginning.

    — Terri C

  • Feb 07, 2020

    Maybe put that awesome boot within the plate lip & skeleton cowboys & horses … aliens on a round up galloping through the scenery …add some astronauts & a squirrel lol. I am still hoping for a set of Zombie poodles one day though I will have to reprint my wish list in caps over here. I love your work

    — Deborah Peever

  • Dec 20, 2019

    Family faves – Stella d’oro cookies. Dipped in milk, coffee or to help a teething baby – red wine.
    And Fig Newtons. Always a crumbly mess in the back seat.

    I would like an apron with the Stale Fig Newton design OR , natch, a cookie jar.

    — Madonna Hitchcock

  • Dec 17, 2019

    I want the cowboy boots

    — Susan Cantrell

  • Dec 17, 2019

    I want the cowboy boots

    — Susan Cantrell

  • Dec 10, 2019

    Hi, I wanted to get some items last week or so, but couldn’t find the details for the free zombie poodle tote. Has that ended? In any case, I just wanted to share your work is impressive- I love the designs and until I saw a second advertisement, I didn’t know your products went beyond dining plates. Very happy to see the options! I’ve since shared and checked out your site several times- and look forward to more goodies to come.
    Thank you,

    — Erin Naveen

  • Dec 08, 2019

    Those of us who live with oversized, rambunctious standard poodles totally get and are delighted by the zombie poodle. There are 22,000 members of just one of the many poodle groups on Facebook, so let’s just say that there’s a market for whatever you dream up!

    — Loki’s mom

  • Dec 08, 2019

    Owned by a three year old over-sized miniature poodle, I hesitated to add the zombie poodle tote to my Thanksgiving order, even though it was so generously free. I finally did so, and now my beloved Rudy-the-Masterdog is getting ideas. He is questioning where his ancestors are buried, when the night of the living dead will occur and whether allowing his benevolent servants to continue to live is in his best interests. (He did have a prior propensity for binging on horror shows on Netflix, so it’s not all your fault.) Anyway, if it’s possible to use credit cards after the impending zombie apocalypse, we will continue to add to his collection of Calamityware as he sees fit. He offers his best imitation of a grateful consumer for his awakening.

    — Tinga Mastrelli

  • Dec 06, 2019

    Now I get it!

    — GH

  • Dec 06, 2019

    I would totally decorate with that furniture fabric!

    — Miranda Harvey

  • Dec 06, 2019

    My daughter found your dishes one day about 4 years ago and fell in love with the fun in every single one. Her fav was is still the ants on the bowl, lol. I have been adding to the set each year (I think). Thanks for putting humor into some as simple as a set of dishes. Ingenious! BTW I would cover a sofa with that material! And some curtain materials to match. perhaps? Using one of the main colors with zombie poodles around the edge?

    — Nona McKeever

  • Dec 06, 2019

    Wore my Zombie poodle to work for Halloween with a black cape and kinda Bride of Frankenstein hair. Fabulous! We love our zombie poodle plates, shirts and totes. Def up for Grecian urn and cowboy boots! And our old sofa is on its last legs, sooooo…

    — Lyn

  • Dec 06, 2019

    I got the Zombie Poodle t-shirt for a friend of mine who is a dog groomer (and poodle owner). She wore it to work on Halloween.

    — Mary Boelk

  • Nov 25, 2019

    I would gladly purchase a Poodle Grecian Urn ⚱️ from you!!

    — Donna Slane

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