If you invite Shannon Gerard to your trunk show, you are pretty much guaranteed that she will be the first to arrive to help set up and when she opens her trunk you will be simply amazed at the things she has made out of yarn. People say that crochet is ‘so easy’, but I can’t quite wrap my head around how you go about making plants you can’t kill, sprouting avocado seeds, strawberry-topped tarts, mustaches (or plushtache in Gerard-speak) and other anatomy from a couple sticks and ball of yarn.
Of course, this is just a small fraction of Shannon’s talent. I would encourage you to snoop around Shannon’s blog, her website and her etsy shop to learn more about the lovely, humourous, but deliberate work she creates.
You are involved in a lot of diverse craft – crochet, comics, screen printing, etc.. Where did it all start for you?
SHANNON : My crafting started with storytelling– I used to think of myself as a writer before anything else– which led to bookmaking and drawing. I started to make books that weren’t traditionally structured and got into the sculptural qualities of book binding materials. Then I learned crochet because I wanted to create the Boobs and Dinks as a side project to a book I was writing. But since then, crochet has taken over my whole life! Once I started, there was no stopping.
What is the story behind your Boobs and Dinks project?
SHANNON : Boobs and Dinks was first just a side project to Hung no.3; Lonely Tylenol, a comic book I wrote that tells the story of my boyfriend finding a lump in his testicle. We were pretty scared about it and tried researching online, but found very little information for men. Of course there are millions of resources available to women about breast health, but not so much for guys. So I asked a friend to teach me to crochet because I had this vision of wanting to get at the fear with some useful information that was delivered in a soft and humourous way. I really wanted to make plush warm-up toys that educated people about body awareness and crochet was the perfect medium. Although it is definitely still connected to the book, Boobs and Dinks has become a huge multi-dimensional project of its own– people really respond to it! Since it started, I’ve found out about so many other amazing craft related projects that deal with cancer and human frailty and fear. I’ve also connected with so many other crafters and video artists and writers and organizations that deal with very similar issues.
Oh and, my BF was fine– the lump turned out to be just a dilated vein– but that fear when we discovered it was so intense, and I hope the project humanizes that kind of panic in a way that people can understand.
Is there anything you can’t make with crochet? Seriously!
SHANNON : Well, I want to make cowls, but I can’t read or write patterns. I’ve made a few attempts at learning, but just gave up. The beautiful and addictive thing about crochet is that you can just think of any shape you want to build and then make it up as you go along. There are only a few different variables but no end of ways to combine stitches to get the design you want. But sometimes the math is a bit tricky to work out the first time. You should see some of the prototypes for my projects- they are so hilarious and lumpy.
What was your biggest craft triumph?
SHANNON : Crafts mostly always feel triumphant! There is such a strong community spirit in crafts. Ideas are constantly evolving and growing because of the inspiration of others. Because there isn’t a lot of “mine mine mine”, you can work on projects with friends (at a workroom Stitch and Bitch for example) and always know that your work is respected. And many times ideas become strengthened by the input of others. Last year at the Valentine’s Trunk Show, I was talking to Ayalah at the workroom and since she is a medical illustrator, she gave me lots of tips for making my plush hearts more anatomically correct– so this year I have a whole new and improved pattern! Stuff like that is my favourite thing about crafts. Everybody triumphs!
Are you planning on selling some rummage at the show? if yes, what might that be?
SHANNON : Yep, I’m combing my stores for rummage– so far I have a few odds and ends of yarn, a batch of 35mm colour slides, some old blank mini-journals, and maybe some fabric squares I cut out for a quilt that never happened.
What Valentines gift would melt your heart?
The Love & Rummage Trunk Show will be at the workroom on Sunday February 8, 12-5pm.
All photos courtesy of Shannon Gerard. “Last Year’s Heart” photo by Alison Westlake.