May 21, 2007
Oh how I love a cute softie. As kids, my sister and I had a huge collection of stuffed animals, many from the store, some made by loving aunts and other friends. One of my favorites was a rag doll made of muslin and calico leftovers by my Aunt Cindy. My dad built a "zoo" for all of them, which was a giant shelf to keep them all up off the floor. Making softies was even more fun - I can still remember making a pink dinosaur out of felt in an early home ec class.
About a year ago I wanted to make some more softies, and stumbled upon this wonderful book in the library: Making Stupid Sock Creatures, by John Murphy. The creatures are hilarious, but what appealed to me most about John's creatures is that they're all made from re-sourced materials - namely cast-off socks. You can see a great gallery of them here. Since reading John's book, I've made a lot of sock creatures myself (including the ones in the photos above).
The Stupid Creatures have progressed beyond just old socks. Last summer I saw a collection of John's latest creatures in a gallery in Asheville NC, which included creatures made not just cast-off socks, but old T-shirts, jumpsuits, and all kinds of other garments. This year the Stupid Creatures folks are co-curating a show of plushies at the PUSH skate shop in Asheville themed "medical experiments." If you're lucky enough to be nearby, go check it out!
Sock monsters are obviously not a new idea. I have no idea when the first sock monkey was invented, but people are continuously taking this creative recycling idea to new heights. Jaypeg's sock monkeys are some of my favorites. She's even posted easy sock-monkey instructions on her blog.
This spring I made a sock monster - a sock snake, to be precise - together with Jake, a friend of mine who is six. He picked out the socks, designed the snake and helped cut out the pieces, and I did the sewing. He stuffed it, with a little help, and then gave it the straightforward name of "Snakey." Snakey only took about an hour to make, from sock selection to the eye details. Nowadays he enjoys basking in the sun on Jake's windowsill at home.
The sock monkey permutations have me wondering about what other kinds of kids' toys people are making out of re-sourced materials. It's funny to me that folks spend so much money on the latest electronic gadgetry and sports gear for their kids -- there are so many fun low-tech home-made toys just waiting to be assembled.