Sunday, January 6, 2008

Teaching Jessi the Art of Making Sock Monkeys

My niece, Jessi, made this adorable sock monkey! We spent a chunk of each of two days (probably 4 or 5 hours total) each making a sock monkey. I would show each step on mine, and then Jessi would do on hers. It was a wonderful aunt/niece experience, and I will cherish it always.

Training Notes
To teach Jessi (who is 14), we basically did a side-by-side making of the monkeys. Beforehand, I showed her all the monkeys I had made and we glanced through the book "Everything's Coming Up Sock Monkeys", for some history and ideas.

Then, we sat down at my sewing table, each with our own pair of Large Rockford Red Heel socks, and the instructions that come with laid out in front of us. I would explain each step, and then do the step on mine. Then Jessi would do the same step on hers.

I've gotten to the point where I have a process. I do all the machine seaming parts first -- body sock and arms, tail on 2nd sock. Then I cut out the pieces and seams. Then I stuff body and arms and ears, then do all the finishing/closing on ears (see previous posts for details). At that point, I have a nice little stack of body parts all ready for attachment. This pleasant hand-sewing/embroidery, is best done in a comfie chair by the fire, so that is what we did.

Jessi pronounced the hand-sewing "easy", and was faster at it than me. The only issue she had was that her arms were attached a little lopsided and a little too far back. Naturally, a good seamstress would have pointed out that you could just rip the seam out and do-over. I think I might have mentioned that, briefly, after going through my theory that the best "art" (and life, in my opinion) comes from your reaction to the little accidents thrown in your way. Personally, I like to build on the accident, such as turning this monkey into the Hunch-Monkey of Notre Dame. Hiding the mistake is always an option (and a strategy I use with all my clothing choices for my own mistake-ridden body).

Jessi had already picked out a fur-lined black sweater for her monkey, which hid the lopsided arms perfectly, so that was her decision. She liked some "zebra" print felt I had, and we just cut it and used some sticky velcro in the back as a fastener. She also like some black, leatherette doll boots I had purchased from Micheal's. Jessi knew exactly how to accessorize her monkey, gluing on rhinestone earrings and using a red, heart-shaped button for a belly-button ring (since the outfit showed off the monkey-belly). I also suggested a red pompom for the top of her head to make that white part into a hat, and Jessi sewed that on. Final touch, a bit of red ribbon with "best friends" imprinted on it to tie a bow at the top of her tail. And, Voila, proud Jessi and beautiful sock monkey!

1 comment:

BKConnelly said...

Google connected me today to your sock monkeys - a crafter journey and I'm so glad that you have a copy of my book, Everything's Coming Up Sock Monkeys and that it helped in ideas! I am a sock monkey enthusiast, to say the least, a maker as well as artist/author - came from a long line of sock monkey makers. My aunt (in the book-pages 130-135) taught me the art of making sock monkeys. She is in her 80's now and can no longer make them so I am following in her monkey footsteps. As Jessi, your niece may also.
Was interested in your 2 questions and of course I do have thoughts on both.
I am currently making and selling sock monkeys to retailers as well as direct to consumers - using eco friendly American made materials as in that way I am a small (very small) American manufacturer. I will think a bit on what I am learning from this experience - it is good - and write back to you. Meanwhile, please feel free to contact me directly at my studio.