CYC presented each of the Sweet Tooth Hotel Intangible artists with the opportunity to write their own guest post for the CYC blog. We told them they could write a post over any topic related to their install or CYC AIR experience. The following blog post is written by Twinkie Chan! Twinkie is a crochet artist who designs and crochets fun, food-themed accessories like cupcake scarves, hamburger mitts, and hot dog purses. Twinkie’s unique work has been featured online, in print, and on television, from BuzzFeed to Mollie Makes to Crochet Today to HGTV.
Written by Twinkie Chan
When I see my name on signage and marketing as the artist for my crochet installation, “Sucre Fleuf!”, I always wish I could tell everyone how much help I had and how I could not have made any of it happen without extra hands. It takes a village, as they say, to crochet a bakery, and I’m excited to have the chance to reveal some behind-the-scenes action and high-five the people
who made all of this sugary magic come to life.
Since I live in San Francisco and the installation venue, Sweet Tooth Hotel, is in Dallas, I was already nervous about how to ship my crochet work if it were big and how to help prep the space if I lived nearly 2,000 miles away. Plus, I had a day job four days a week which limited the time I could spend on this enormous undertaking.
What ended up happening on my part was a lot of planning, managing, and outsourcing. I handled all the concepting and pattern-designing (except for one pattern which I’ll note later), but as an artist, my instinct was to make everything myself and crochet every inch of the installation. That was just not realistic. I’m glad that I leaned on other people, though, because meeting new people in your creative community, drawing on each other’s strengths, and feeling the power of collaboration is truly invigorating and inspiring.
I started the whole process with some rough Photoshop sketches. I chose a big hallway in Sweet Tooth, and I started imagining my dream bakery inside of it. Jencey, the owner of Sweet Tooth, requested that I break up the hallway space with different environments, so I then imagined this bakery in the middle of a garden or forest. I tried to keep structures simple and easy to execute because I had never worked on such a large project before, but Jencey was awesome and always encouraged me to dream big. I had no idea we would end up building out an actual front façade for Sucre Fleuf! and it turned out so perfectly! I’m not sure that I ever met the team who did the actual construction, but I know that Sweet Tooth’s team did a lot of the painting and prep. Also, I have to credit Jencey for the idea of turning the “second story” windows into tv screens with video footage of me walking past them. I love that little detail!
For the actual crocheting, I called upon some of my long-time helpers, and I also reached out for more help via an open call on Instagram. My turnaround times were always very short for various reasons, and I’m so grateful for the hustle that my crochet elves mustered in the name of art. Only one of them also lives in San Francisco, so I coordinated a lot of yarn-shipping in various batches with everyone else. My helpers did most of the basic crochet construction on their assigned pieces, but I wanted to handle most if not all of the finishing touches on my own, so I needed to make sure they delivered in different stages so that I could keep writing and prepping new patterns while also embellishing finished projects from a previous batch. I’m not going to say it was a well-oiled machine, because let’s face it, life is real and nothing goes as planned, but I certainly couldn’t have produced this body of work alone.
- Rita (my very first crochet helper for over 10 years!)– ritabakez – sourdough turtles
- Gretchen Wu – kitty loaves, swan cream puffs, parts of the raspberry St. Honorés
- Lizi Bronzon – lizilovescake – bunny baguettes, teddy bear bread rolls, garden bunnies
- Emy Kind – Rosemary’s Baby MEK – candles for bday cakes, pup croissants, all the donuts for the donut walls, decorations for sheet cakes
- Amanda M. – strawberries and leaves
- Thread.Winners – marshmallow bunnies
- Trisha Vicari – marshmallow bunnies
- Sara Tibbs – rands crafts – heart cakes and birthday cakes
- Kat “PK” Delurgio – Namaste Stitches – cream puff towers, tiny bear cakes, star cakes, jelly fish, cinnamon snails
- Wendy Chavalia – Crochet in the Falls by Wendy – cream puff towers, mice
- Erin Manke – EMankeCrochet – ice cream cone friends
- Me – all designs (except for the waffle cones, pattern purchased and used with permission from my friend Copacetic Crochet), wedding cake, sheet cakes, garden caterpillars
Even my mom volunteered to glue on about a bazillion plastic eyes and sew white eyelet trim to the pink aprons. My roommate and bff Manda helped brainstorm structural ideas for the ice cream cone friends, hand-sewed decorations onto the heart cakes, made all the little pink aprons on the mice, and crocheted some frosting blobs for the tiered cake even though she’s not really a crocheter. She also had to deal with me taking over multiple rooms in the house with all my installation pieces and craft supplies.
For the first days of my week in Dallas, while trying to finish everything up and meet my fellow CYC AIR cohort, my longtime buddy Candace of Super Good met me from Austin to help start installing pieces. She helped me unpack all my boxes, visualize where everything would go (because sometimes it doesn’t turn out the way you’d planned in Photoshop), finished some bunny baguettes, and turned loose strawberries and leaves into arrangements in pots. I have really funny photos of her with a nest of crocheted berries and leaves on her head, but she would probably kill me if I posted it here.
For me, this installation was like a movie. You hear a lot about the main actors and maybe the director, but you have to remember just how many people’s names roll by during the movie credits. I’m so grateful to the CYC for the opportunity to be part of such a unique experience as Intangible and also for the opportunity to thank the amazing team who supported me through nine months of dreaming and creating.