May 21, 2007

softer softies

toy mosaic

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.


Anonymous said...

And there are so many ways to teach your kids numbers and colours and stacking and sorting and threading with things you already have at home without needing to buy books printed on unrecycled paper and toys made out of plastic!

Anonymous said...

Ooooh. You make me want to make a new one! I am inspired. Have you seen Sarah B's sock creatures? I think they are ace.

amisha said...

i love your softies... so cute and a great idea to re-use materials to make wonderful creative toys!

shash said...

CUTE snakey

bugheart said...

hooray for
the sew
in sew green
love your softies,
the post,
the photos!

tracy said...

fantastic! thanks fpea!!

shari said...

yes! great post f. pea! sock softies are super cute.

cally said...

a good softie is like a good meal, they are better than shop bought because they are made with love. of all the things I had as a child the one I treasure most is a knitted teddy bear my aunty jessie made for me.

Era said...

Ooooh, I was introduced to Stupid Sock Creatures last year and I went through a serious phase where I searched every thrift store in the area for good socks to use. I also amassed quite the impressive button eye collection too. So happy that you're sharing this aewsome recycling activity with your readers!

littlesouthernmama said...

I actually cannot sew...can't even cut in a straight line with a ruler to guide, if the truth be told! My talents lie elsewhere! I just bought off of a super cute softie made out of repurposed wool from sweaters! My boys both have serious dust mite allergies, so her use of wool as even the stuffing makes it allergy free for us! It is an alien with two eyes and four legs...super cute! I love the idea of handmade and repurposed long as I'm not trying to make them!