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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Wacky Wednesday #49—Straws

This week the creative challenge I dreamed up was to make a dress from drinking straws. White or clear straws? Too boring. Brightly colored straws, please. I estimate that I used at least 200 straws and the whole outfit came together for $5 ($3 for straws and $2 for hot glue sticks, plus fabric I already had in my sewing stash).

There is no symbolism intended in this costume. No agenda. No hidden cause. Just the fun of wearing something that isn’t usually seen on clothes.

When your shadow is pointy you know your costume has texture…


In progress…

The back has straws except for the lower half, which has pipe cleaners—wouldn’t you rather sit on pipe cleaners than straws? Me, too.

One fun feature of straws is that they have a bendable neck. This makes drinking easier and it also makes my wacky straws dress even wackier because seeing hundreds of bendy straws going in lots of directions—hey, that’s just delightful. One girl I saw today described it as a rainbow cactus, a description I thought was terrific.

I look like a package of straws and a porcupine had a baby. (And I’m fine with that.)

Adding some bendy straws to my sunglasses seemed like a good touch, so I did…

Bendable straws are quite common—to the point that when I get a drink somewhere and I’m given the straight straws that don’t bend, it’s a little surprising. (Maybe they’re cheaper to manufacture so some places buy them, figuring it won’t kill us to use a straight straw.) When I get a non-bendy straw I think, “Hmmm. This is less convenient. I like conveniences. Do they also want us to go back to other old-fashioned customs like rubbing sticks together for fire and driving cars as Fred Flintstone did, feet to ground?” (I shouldn’t speak for everyone, of course, but I think it’s human nature to adjust to changes that make our lives easier and then to feel a little annoyed when we’re expected to do things the old (more tedious) way.) There are bigger problems out there, but still…

Bendy straws actually have been around longer than I’d realized. It was in 1937 that Joseph Friedman invented the bendy straw (aka the “articulated straw”). And straight straws have a much longer history than I’d ever thought. Who would have guessed that straws date back to 3,000 B.C.E., when the Sumerians used them? The oldest straw found was a gold tube inlaid with lapis lazuli, found in a Sumerian tomb. Next to it was a solid gold Big Gulp cup. Just kidding. Maybe.

Anyway, back to my costume. Unlike some of my creations, this costume is very lightweight, which is always a bonus. I also liked that the straws move in the breeze like a kinetic sculpture.

And while we’re on the subject of moving straws, a happy memory came back to me yesterday while I was putting finishing touches on this costume and post. I remembered a funny moment from the tv show Alice, which I watched as a child in the 80s. (You remember it? It deserves its own post, so I’ll add that to my list of future blog posts.) The show was set in Mel’s Diner and was about a waitress named Alice, her two waitress friends and Mel, the grouchy cook. There’s a moment when scatterbrained Vera attempts to open a big box of straws and hundreds of straws fly in all directions. Below is a photo of Vera opening the straws. It's a screen shot so it's not very clear but it gives you an idea of the moment. I’m including a two-second video clip below.

This moment makes me laugh every time I see it.  Although I hadn’t channeled that moment consciously, I love that my dress has an explosion of straws on it, just like Vera’s straws.

I’ve said it before in Sarah’s blog land: art needn’t be something fancy, tucked behind velvet ropes and available only in museums. Art is all around us. Sometimes it’s made of everyday materials and a fun idea. It’s not always serious. Sometimes it makes you laugh.

I hope you’ve found my latest creation fun. This week’s costume is not meant to be symbolic or deep. It’s just about trying something new. Just because. 



  1. Replies
    1. Adri, thanks! That was my goal...(And also not to poke anyone's eyes...)

  2. Your imagination is incredible. Very gifted cant believe its number 49

  3. Oh, thanks, Ally! You've always been so enthusiastic about my ideas and I appreciate it...

  4. Fabulous. I'm glad you didn't poke anyone's eyes out. :)

  5. You've done it again. Very creative.
    An "articulation" note: Steam engines were articulated:too long to make the curve, so the front half had its own carriage, which pivoted.
    Love Dad

  6. So great and colorful! Like a rainbow porcupine! Who knew that the first bendy-straw was created a full 80 yrs ago??! And it's been a hit ever since! And that straws date back 5 thousand years?! I would've never guessed that. 😊 I always learn something new from your posts πŸ˜„

    1. Thanks, L! I always think it's fun to throw in a little trivia about the things I'm blogging about and I'm glad that others find that part interesting too...

  7. Do you think porcupines should color their needles? Very cute, indeed.

  8. Dear Sarah Darah, You are now officially named, "the Queen of Straws," (but also of hearts, because your heart is so big). I absolutely LOVED this costume- so bold, bright, and colorful. So full of life, and energy! You look like a giant straw brillo pad, ready to be used! Love you, Auntie E

  9. Aunt Eileen, wow, thank you! So sweet. This was one of my favorites, too, and the mix of happy colors was part of it. Love the brillo pad interpretation!