His art is fueled by a passion to create his own world and never, ever, work as a pool cleaner, the profession of his father and grandfather. A scary Cody Thompson memory: His fifth-grade teacher announcing to the class that some students would follow in their parents' footsteps.

"I said, 'No way in hell. I'm never going to be a pool man.' "

His wondrous plush people are living at Craftland, a shop in Providence.


Anyone named Voz deserves a look. Throw in monsters, and you might want to pull up a chair and sit a while.

Voz Perkins describes herself as a "compulsive doodler of toothy monsters," but that's too self-effacing. She's really a brilliant cartoonist (a budding Roz Chast, of New Yorker fame) whose playful drawings are a mixture of the sarcastic and the lyric.

She puts her roly-poly creatures and their musings on magnets, note cards, postcards, stickers, rubber stamps, and button pins, and she's even the author of eight self-published books, including Monster Doodles by Voz.

A native of Pennsylvania, Perkins, 38, and her husband, a chemistry teacher at The Wheeler School on the East Side, live in Seekonk, Massachusetts, with their 10-year-old son. Perkins has no formal training in art, only a compulsion to draw.

She started out sending doodles on cards to friends, who, in turn, asked for doodles for their friends. That led to her company, Fishcakes, named for two foods Perkins enjoys: fish and cake. She works from home in a spare bedroom, which she shares with a pet guinea pig, Mei.

Why monsters and not, say, ducks?

"I've always liked monsters," says Perkins. "They're not female or male or any race or age. They're monsters. They can be whatever, look whatever. I think people can relate to them. And they're really fun to draw."

They're not afraid to speak up either. "I use semicolons," declares an orange gal/guy with fangs and five strands of hair. A green glob confesses, "I'm odd." And for your best friend, the anarchist: a menacing creature uttering, "I disobey.''

Her monsters are stirring up trouble at Rhody Craft 100 and Craftland and on her website, fishcakes.com, and blog, Stay For Lunch. Most everything is $3 to $4. Oh, and her name? It's short for Vozamer.


If you want to smell like punker Joan Jett, lather up with Kim Gonzaga's homemade soap.

Soap is not something one usually associates with art, but Gonzaga's luxe bars are so clever who can resist. Plus, she gets a nod for her slogan: "A good bath freaking rules."

Made with olive and coconut oils and green French clay, the soaps are free of nasty chemicals that can dry your skin. They're also vegan-friendly, with no animal byproducts.

"Soap making is one of the oldest crafts in the world," says Gonzaga, 39, who lives in Cranston's Edgewood neighborhood with her boyfriend, a proofreader and baseball fanatic. "I try to put my own stamp on it."

That stamp reflects a love of punk rock, feminism, baseball, and pop culture. A sampling:

• Crimson and Clover, an ode in soap to pioneer punk rocker, Jett. This heart-stamped bar is scented with clove and swirling with hot pink, orange, and black.

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