Monday, July 2, 2007

Vegetable Magnetism

The 1970s and 80s were a dark time in the history of handicrafts. The intricate crochet and embroidery of the past were cast aside in favor of knitted toilet paper roll covers, garish afghans, and monstrous macramé creations. I myself turned out dozens of latch-hook rugs and even a plastic canvas needlepoint tissue box cover. The only bright spot was the emergence of a previously underutilized artistic medium: pantyhose. The advent of sheer nylon was a boon to stocking-wearers, of course, but its use in crafts is not as well appreciated. When stuffed, its sheerness and strength allow it to be sewn into expressive features belonging to, what else, food with eyes!

A crafty aunt began creating stuffed pantyhose food with eyes magnets. Soon a fried egg, apple, and ice cream cone “soft sculptures” graced our fridge. I even made one myself: a carrot with an unfortunately large forehead that always made me think of Frankenstein’s monster in carrot-form. Some of the original magnets can be seen below:

Here is a close-up of a pumpkin magnet, another c. 1982 original:

While very cute, it doesn’t have the impact of the others, as it’s common for pumpkins to have facial features.

Recently, through the miracle of eBay, I was able to obtain the instruction booklet “Fruity & Vegie Refrigerator Magnets” by Dumplin’ Designs (1982).

Other magnet designs include an orange, pear, strawberry, grapes, cherries, tomato, green pepper, corn, peas, cauliflower, and a featureless sack of potatoes. While the instructions are easy to follow, the modern-day crafter may encounter one roadblock: finding yellow, orange, red, purple, and green pantyhose. In the 80s this was not an issue; I fondly remember my rainbow-hued knee-high stocking collection. The prescient author, seemingly knowing that a drabber future would be in store, also suggests dyeing white nurses’ stockings to the desired color. Although forgotten for more than 20 years, perhaps these delightful characters will return once more to enliven the stainless steel kitchens of the 21st century.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this blog! I have been looking for this instruction booklet for a while now. I made these back in the day and would like to make them with my kids now. Thanks again!