Bob's Burgers Snails Sculptor Macy McKenny's 5 Creative Essentials

Have you heard of this gal yet? You know, the one who made those Bob’s Burgers snails and got to quit her day job because of it? Turns out, she’s also a delight, and has plenty more to share.

Simon Says Macy owner Macy McKenny, 30, is a full-time sculptor based in central Phoenix, but she has sold her fun, happy-little art figurines all over the world. For now, McKenny’s studio revolves around her dining room table, where she’ll sit and sculpt while guarded by her miniature Dachshund, Tango.

Here’s how it happened. McKenny was watching Bob’s Burgers when she decided to make her favorite character, Louise Belcher, into a little snail. She posted her creation to her Instagram, where it was spotted by the studio behind the show – Bento Box Entertainment – who posted it all over. Buzzfeed then saw it, and covered McKenny’s work in a December 2014 article. That’s when she blew up. Commissions began pouring in, and within a week, she essentially had no choice but to quit her job as a graphic designer and start sculpting full time.

Though her signature results are creepy-cute creatures with eyes for days, McKenny hopes to expand into the world of fine art and gallery shows (the first of which is scheduled for January 2016 at Leanna Lin's Wonderland in Los Angeles).

But until then, Macy McKenny’s five essentials for her sculptures are sculpting tools (obvs), music to set the mood, artistic surroundings, her dreams, and her social life.

Being a sculptor, McKenny needs clay modeling tools, and she has plenty of them around her in-home studio – or more precisely, in-kitchen. Her kitchen table holds glassware stuffed with tools with all different end points, ranging from needle thin to fully spherical.

McKenny’s favorites are the needle-top and Royal Sovereign brand rubber-tipped tools. “These tools can do all kinds of cool stuff,” she says. “You can make different kind of weird textures with these.” Textures range from fine hair to holes for eyes, cutting, smoothing, you name it.

“The way that it sinks into clay is so satisfying,” she says of her rubber-tipped tools, adding, “It’s really hard to say especially with clay that any one tool does this any one thing… there’s a billion different things you can do with it.” And the medium being clay, it’s easy to undo a mistake or start over.

“Nothing is permanent until you bake it,” she says. “There’s an analog 'control Z.'”

“I always, always have music on while I’m sculpting,” McKenny says, “and I tend to curate my playlist or what I’m listening to depending on what I’m making.”

McKenny places a bright red JAMBOX directly in front of her sculpting zone, firing up her Spotify playlists like “Bubbling Over” if she’s making something “super-Saccharin sweet,” or conversely, “Kinda Badass” if she’s making something a little bit weirder.

“I find that music affects my mood a lot, and it definitely carries over into what I’m making,” she says, explaining how she learned this about herself at a young age after creating a somber self-portrait while listening to too much Coldplay.

McKenny’s home is peppered with little creatures in every room (bathroom included), but they’re not all her own work. She says she likes to surround herself with other artists’ works she enjoys.

These go between her sculpting area and the JAMBOX.

“So generally, I have a little array of things watching me here,” she says. “I keep stuff like this out because it’s the kind of stuff that I make, so it’s inspiring to me.” McKenny says these pieces to be specifically chosen and purchased, so arranging them in her line of sight creates her own “little gallery.”

“I like to make things from my dreams.”

McKenny has had vivid dreams – and once, chronic nightmares – since she was child, but there was a way to cope. “I’m an avid lucid dreamer which I’ve done since I was a really, really little kid,” she says.

One of McKenny’s many pieces is a little odd orange monster. “This little guy I met in a lucid dream,” she says. McKenny explains she was lucidly perusing her dream world when she came upon a table of her own sculptures. “I found a whole table of things but I loved him,” she says, “And I was aware that I couldn’t take him back to my waking life.”

McKenny says she walked around with the little orange figure in her hands, feeling its contours, and realizing touch was the perfect way to bring him back with her.

“I woke up and sculpted it, and from I remember, its almost exactly as I found it,” she says. “So I definitely gain inspiration from the weird things I see in my dreams.”

McKenny is not afraid tell you she’s an extraverted person…which, you know, makes sense.

She says it's important for her to exercise the extraverted part of herself, despite piling-up commissions inquiries. When she first quit her job after the big boom, she sculpted away in her home studio without seeing anyone for about eight months. “For a while staying in all the time and sculpting was fine,” she says, “I think it was because it was this new thing I was doing and I just kind of holed myself away.”

But mom knew better. “When I quit my job everyone was really supportive, but my mom and some of my friends were like, ‘Wow, you’re going to be working at home? That doesn’t sound like you.’” In a way they were right, but McKenny has discovered that in another way they weren’t.

McKenny says she’s sure to take one or two days a week to see friends or a show, and often has friends over to work on a project while she’s sculpting. “I am okay with a lot of alone time more than I ever thought that I would have been,” she says, “But definitely, I need a balance.”

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Lauren Cusimano was the Phoenix New Times food editor from 2018 to 2021. Joys include eating wings, riding bikes, knowing everyone at the bar, talking too much about The Simpsons, and falling asleep while reading.