Just in time for Valentine’s Day, local yarnbombers showcase their love of downtown Collingswood on the lampposts of the downtown business district.
By Matt Skoufalos | Photos by Tricia Burrough
For years, Collingswood has identified itself with the marketing slogan, “It’s where you want to be.”
It might be time for a new pronoun.
As has become evident from large-scale, community projects like its annual yarnbombing exercise, the borough is reliably happy to serve as blank canvas for the ideas and efforts of its citizen volunteers, be they musically, environmentally, ecologically, or artistically oriented.
That seems to make Collingswood a lot less “where” you want to be and a lot more “whatever” you want it to be.
For Director of Community Development Cassandra Duffey, harnessing those energies to beautify the downtown business district with fiber art is just another reflection of that attitude.
“It’s so symbolic of Collingswood to say, ‘Who wants to do this fantastic thing for the community?'” and get such an enthusiastic response, Duffey said.
For the 2016 yarnbombing, the installation of hand-woven works in uncommon, public places, borough residents were invited to produce tapestries that would replace the banners that hang along the Haddon Avenue light standards.
There are 14 in all, decorating poles from the Old Zane School building down to the fountain at the LumberYard. They vary in subject matter from Papa Smurf and David Bowie to colonial America and Chinese New Year.
“We thought that they stand out very well,” Duffey said. “You see that color and beauty as you walk down the avenue.”
The other thing Duffey noted about the banners is how much work was required to produce them. At 3-feet-by-5-feet, they approach the size of a woven blanket. Since both sides are visible to pedestrians, knitters had to double their efforts.
“When you look at those banners from the ground, they’re kind of big,” Duffey said.
“When somebody hands them in, they’re enormous.”
And since the project is volunteer-driven, yarnbombers did the work basically for the cost of materials (or used their own). Sponsored by the Collingswood Business Improvement District (BID), the project has an annual $1,000 budget, and Duffey said barely a quarter of that was expended.
“I don’t give them any direction,” she said. “They don’t get paid for this. They do it because they love being here.”