When I found out that my dear friend had given birth to her son Isaac prematurely, the only thing that I could think to do with my worry for them was to make Isaac an enormous stuffed spider.
At some point I read or heard something about black and white patterns stimulating babies’ developing brains. In retrospect, I imagine that is a drastic oversimplification of someone’s preliminary research that got completely distorted in its portrayal in the popular media, much like the Mozart effect. Either that, or I just imagined that I had heard that somewhere, when, in fact, I made it up altogether.
Be that as it may, I used black and white patterns as a jumping off point. I chose to make a spider both because spiders have a lot of legs and eyes and such that I figured would be good for a baby to grab onto and because I really like spiders. I chose to make it two feet long because I always overdo these things. I chose to use various fabric textures, under the theory that someone exploring the world with his hands and his mouth would appreciate some textural options.
I decided on a black velour and two different black and white patterned cottons for the abdomen and cephalothorax. For the legs and eyes I chose eight different colorful patterned cottons plus a white vinyl.
Each of the eight eyeballs is made of pentagons assembled into a sphere, using both the colored patterned fabrics and the black and white fabric. Because the pieces were so little, it proved to be easier to hand sew them then to sew them on a machine. I think I made a blessing out of a necessity by using a thick thread so as to create textured ridges on all the seams, again, under the theory that it might be a nice touch for someone prone to chewing on things. I attached each eyeball to the cephalothorax with a length of elastic wrapped in black and white fabric, giving them some movement and bounce.
I also made big vinyl pedipalps for the front and a crazy big stinger of some kind for the back.
I believe that initially little Isaac greeted the gargantuan spider with equanimity, but I am told that it has recently been banished from his bedroom because it was inducing nightmares.