Behind Grim Stitch Factory...
About the Artist
“Attending College in the 1980s was really a turning point for me. I was studying art and film. I like horror movies, but my film instructors came from TV and documentary backgrounds and were quite inflexible when it came to their students pursuing horror. So naturally when it came time for my film project, I decided on horror. Looking back, I really wasn’t that surprised when they asked me to leave the College shortly thereafter. Apparently filming a girl being tied down in a field and then cut up with a chain saw did not measure up to acceptable Canadian film standards. One instructor even suggested I even seek “professional help”.
It was then that I realized that if I was to do what I wanted in life, I was destined to carve out a niche for myself. But it dawned on me one afternoon while I was flipping burgers at a burger joint; one could not simply become an “artist” without an incredible amount perseverance and a litany of part-time jobs in the meantime. So after College, and after the burger joint, I worked in many fields, partly for experience, often for interest, and usually just to buy me time while I tried to find my footing. I was young. What did I care. I dabbled in journalism, studied animation for year, worked at sleazy film casting agency, did hosting on cable TV show, starred in a really cheesy horror movie, and finally I worked my way into special effects make-up, which I currently teach part-time at a College. Oh, and along the way and somewhere in-between, I also began designing scarecrow masks. Yes, scarecrow masks. It’s a passion and a job that befuddles most people even more so than stories of my time at a sleazy casting agency.
“What do you do for a living?”
“I design and build scarecrow masks.”
It’s not an unusual response. In fact, the question I am asked most often is what inspired me to make scarecrow masks? Well believe it or not, it has absolutely nothing to do with horror films or Halloween. My love for scarecrows and what inspires me to make them was born out of my passion for rural exploring.
You see, as a kid, I spent a lot of summers up at my Uncle’s cottage. While some preferred fishing or swimming their summer away, I liked to explore. I especially liked running through a huge field just west of the cottage and to an old dilapidated farm and farmhouse. The first time I came upon it, I remember how fascinating it was. The decay, the smells, the eeriness of emptiness, and those holes in the barn roof out of which birds fluttered. I unearthed a cow skull my first year, and in the field, I found an old scarecrow perch. Rotted, barnacled rope and rusted spikes fashioned two cedar tree limbs into a cross of sorts. The thick weathered cedar wood was splintered open in deep cracks and parched gray from years of sun bleaching and which had oddly made the wood appear more like bone.
I never forgot that huge creepy scarecrow perch. I saw it only five times in a handful of summers, but not a year has gone by since that I haven’t thought about that perch. I’ve been fascinated by scarecrows ever since, and I hope you feel and see that passion in my work.”