I have been making what I like to call my Friends for around four years now. It started on a whim. I was feeling a bit restless, like I really wanted to do something creative, but I just couldn’t figure out what. One weekend I was with my husband in a Launceston bookstore. He was searching for a good woodworking book in the craft section and there, on the shelf above was a little book on sewing with socks. I had never actually heard of this craft and was really interested from the start. I brought the book home and madly started on some of the projects.
Pretty soon I was experimenting with the techniques and with the characters that I was making, inventing all sorts of new little Friends. And that is what they all are, little Friends! When making a new project, the face is the last part that I add, and it is not until I finish sewing it on that I can see an expression beginning to form and the little sock creature becomes a little being, with its own personality.
Making New Friends
People have been making creatures out of socks for decades, particularly in the United States of America where the Red Heel Sock Monkeys have been a very popular homespun toy. At the moment I see many gorgeous Sock Monkeys beginning to pop up in stores and markets around Tasmania. Despite this, I don’t actually make any monkeys!
I use the same techniques to create all sorts of different creatures, from Tasmanian bush animals to elephants; from people to reindeer! Each is hand sewn and the majority are my own design, created when inspiration hits. Often this inspiration comes from seeing a spotty sock (perfect for a lady bug) or a sock with a red toe (perfect for Rudolph’s nose!). Each of the Friends are handmade and unique.
Gen’s Creative Journey
While I haven’t always been interested in working with textiles, I have always enjoyed creative pursuits. After college, I completed a Bachelor of Contemporary Arts (Drama) at the University of Tasmania (UTAS), followed by a Bachelor of Teaching (First Class Honours). After completing these degrees I taught at Deloraine High School (a very rich arts community) for six years, followed by a stint teaching Education students at UTAS which I really enjoyed.
Recently however, my husband Matthew and I have started a family and are the very proud parents of a seven month old boy, Daniel. Currently I am enjoying staying home with our son and working on Gen’s Sock Friends.
Tasmanian Sock Friends
At the moment I have a range of Tasmanian Sock Friends (including Brush Tail Possums, Little Pygmy Possums, Tassie Devils and more) available at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery gift shop at the Inveresk site, a range of bright and happy dolls and animals (including reindeer for Christmas) available through the on-line store Purely4Kids and I have stock at the Suncoast Variety Store in St Helens (which is also where I purchase many of my socks and haberdashery needs as they have a great range).
Finding Gen’s Sock Friends
My Friends have been exhibited in the University of Tasmania Education Art Gallery and have been sold at various markets including the Design Centre Makers Market, Launceston Homespun Market (sadly no longer in operation), the St Helens Easter market and soon to be in the Cork Market (December 10) and the Longford Makers Market (December 18). Some of my Friends have even toured the globe with their owners, residing in Bahrain, France and Vietnam!
At the moment I primarily sell Gen’s Sock Friends through my Gen’s Sock Friends Facebook page as a hobby business. But who knows what the future may bring?