One of my goals for the indoor-outdoor yarn art exhibit I did at the Delaware Museum of Natural History in 2014-15 was to engage with the community from start to finish. The centerpiece of the work was a 40-foot yarn snake, dubbed "Yarnboa," to complement the exhibit "Titanoboa: Monster Snake!" I created a pattern for a yarn segment and invited crocheters to participate. From Delaware to Hawaii, they responded! Because I didn't specify a color, I received a rainbow of yarn segments, which I then assembled between the head and the tail. Yarnboa was stuffed with recycled plastic bags crammed with newspaper. The plastic bags kept newsprint off the inside of the snake, and also made for a smoother look. The names of everyone who provided a snake segment appeared on the signage next to the display.
The next opportunity for public engagement came on site in the Museum's Nature Nook, where I taught kids to finger-crochet one weekend afternoon. Everyone got to see an unused Yarnboa segment up close, and went home with bracelets and necklaces they made themselves. Some of the young kids picked up the technique in a flash!
After an extended stay in the DMNH's atrium due to popular demand, and the fact that Museum personnel loved the colorful snake, Yarnboa came down. The Exhibits Manager and I slit it open down the seam, and the plastic bags and newspapers were recycled once again. The unstuffed snakeskin was much easier to transport than the finished artwork had been! No contortions necessary to wrestle it into my trunk. Everything fit into one large bag.
At home, I washed the fabric and then cut it into shorter pieces, Lining up three of those side by side made just the right size blanket, approximately 36" x 48". I used black yarn to seam these and as a border around each one.
My plan from the beginning had been to repurpose the snake into something useful. Recently I dropped off the blankets to the Friends Association for Care & Protection of Children, a West Chester, PA organization that helps homeless or near-homeless families stabilize their lives and find or maintain permanent housing. Marie there could not have been more gracious, or more delighted to receive the blankets. Her enthusiasm reminded me that even a little thing can make a big difference to someone in need. A few days later I received this lovely letter from her:
(Yes, my name is Sharon, not Stephanie, but I guess in her excitement Marie just picked a name that started with S!)
Farewell, Yarnboa, your colorful snakeskin was beautiful to behold and is now keeping children warm. I can't think of a better second act for you.