There is nothing about this Prim Whale Pull Toy that I don’t love. All the little bits and pieces that have become its creation DNA have their own story. I discovered the wool at a local fiber studio located in a one room school house that made me green with envy. The button that became the most perfect all seeing eye has been in my stash for years. I was always certain that one fine day this one lonely button would find its purpose, and it certainly finally did. The wheels are made from antique spools. I especially always love a project that Dave and I work on together and we had great fun putting our heads together to figure mechanics, design, and materials. We rummaged through our growing debris pile as we made repairs to our old farmhouse to salvage the perfect rustic wood to give form and function.
It all started with a sweet headboard we found at the Whiskeag Flea Market. I had intended to make a coat rack, but then I took an upholstery class this summer. I’m not sure if I am having a love affair with furniture makeovers or the pneumatic staple gun, but either way, I’ve been going to town.
This became a family project and The Hubby scored big when he found two bureau legs at our local flea market. He built the frame of the bench with a table leaf that had lost its table. Once his carpentry bits were complete it was my turn. Webbing, foam, layers of cotton—the works. And we’re thrilled with the result. It rustic yet decidedly elegant.
I love a good design challenge. It gets the blood flowing and exercises lazy neurons. It all started with a simple request from a wonderful photographer, Sara Jensen. She was looking for something vintagey—rough around the edges. Lots of texture (yes! that’s my department!) . I mulled and turned things over in my head for a while. Had a glass of wine. I had visions of burlap and the vintage hand crocheted lace I found in an antique store in the Catskills. But really, I wanted to do something for her that was rough, yet fragile. I wanted to create a foundation from which you could tell a myriad of stories, whether they are real or make believe. And then I remembered…
What seems like a lifetime ago, I designed a sweater that was knit entirely from torn strips of muslin. I don’t recall what prompted me to do that, but it was fabulous. I don’t mind saying. So—and trust me, I am not digressing—we bought a couch a few weeks ago off of Craigslist. It’s divine. Restoration Hardware. HUGE savings. We will leave it at that. But the crazy lady we bought it from also gave us a really nice sheet to help protect it in its travels. I dug it out. I tea stained it in the tub. I ripped it into strips, sewed them together, and knit a bonnet. Then I cut ribbon. And I melted it, and I burned it. I made a flower. Then I drowned it in tea. Because it wasn’t fully distressed, it was simmered in coffee. More ribbons and delicate branches, and I’m lost in a woodland reverie. A fairy tale comes alive.
Can you tell that I’m excited about this design? I already see it in so many different colors and variations–personalized in so many ways. I see this bonnet on the most precious babe for her first voguing moment before the camera or adorning the littlest flower girl at the wedding. I see blooms that perfect soft shade of blush cherry blossoms or as vibrant as the deepest red rose.
On a recent trip to Maine I delighted in finding a trove of vintage feed sacks. Probably post WWII. And I had a vision of an old farmer in the corner of his barn painstakingly making a little gift for a little granddaughter. I don’t know where that came from, but I decided that I would try to capture the essence of that image by making this piece myself.
I cut and sewed all the pieces by hand, intent on a rustic primitve look. I allowed the wear of the Wirthmore feed sack to be included in its own charming way. He is carefully stuffed with organic fair trade cotton. This little guy is sewn in a permanent sitting position. His small eyes are black beans.
I spend a lot of time rooting through flea markets. Pieces of other people’s live present themselves to me, and I create my own narrative. I wonder if someday one of my pieces will be discovered in a dusty box in some vendor’s stall waiting for a new story to be told.
I think it may be something about all this snow that sends the mind wandering into mystical places. Places that are verdant and green and full of life. It’s amazing what the imagination can do to escape the monotony of shoveling. As I pitch shovel after shovel of snow away from the house, I find myself fantasizing about the flowers I can make grow in my studio, if not in my yard.