Donut pin, in a variety of flavors; $30, sold individually. John H. Simmons
Donut pin, in a variety of flavors; $30, sold individually. John H. Simmons


CLT Made: Cute Not Kawaii

By Vanessa Infanzon


July 12, 2017 12:34 PM

What: Wearable pop art in the form of a pin or brooch, earrings, necklaces, collar-clips, and magnets.

Vanessa Ross
John H. Simmons

Who: Vanessa Ross is a North Carolina native who imagines herself “a modern fairytale princess, wrapped with pastel cartoon packaging and flying through space with dinosaurs and explosions.” Her interest in creating and building started when her father, an engineer in the plastic resin and composites industry, shared his knowledge of tools, mold making and resin casting with her. This knowledge -- combined with her longstanding obsession with vintage jewelry, toys, pop culture and Kawaii aesthetics -- gave way to Cute Not Kawaii.

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Forest Spirit Mask pin; $40.
John H. Simmons

On the name: It’sa sort of respectful wink and nod to a Japanese counter-culture, which has influenced me greatly over the years.”

How: Ross creates an original sculpture with polymer clay, degassed silicone rubber and urethane or epoxy resin. Each piece is hand painted, top coated and sanded to finish. Then it’s fitted with a pin, earring, or pendant components.

Fish Bones pin, $35; Sea Witch Shell pin, $25.
John H. Simmons

Favorite: “The creepy Alien inspired monsters are one of my newest and most popular. However, if I had to pick an all-time favorite, my donuts are a classic and the most fun to make.”

Cherries pin, $35; Peach pin, $25; Wild Berry pin, $30.
John H. Simmons

On inspiration: “My primary inspiration is my love of the weird and wonderful world of pop-culture. Nearly every one of my pieces is, in some way, connected to my youthful obsessions or something with which I have recently become enamored.”

Find it: Online at or

Find more CLT Made goods by searching the Observer website for that title, or on the “CLT Made” Pinterest page.