Friday, May 30, 2008

For the Love of Non-Waterproof Sea Life

Morgan K. Reynolds '08 turns a mistake into a cottage industry.

By Kristen Koczarski 

Morgan K. Reynolds, grew up with a phobia of cephalopods. While she has always had a love of the ocean and sea life, she was always inexplicably terrified of octopi and squid. This all changed last summer, when Reynolds, now 23, had a nightmare about being attacked by an octopus and in the process of trying to fight it without hurting the animal, and she ended up just holding the creature. The dream turned from a nightmare into one of genuine connection.

“That the next day, all fear I had of tentacle creatures had melted away and had been replaced with a really deep and peaceful curiosity,” she said.

This newfound fascination came to a head two months later when she was snorkeling in the Aegean Sea and came face to face with a live octopus and stared its “beautiful octopus eye” as long as she could before having to surface for air. Since then, Reynolds has had great interest in both octopi and squid, so it isn’t a surprise that when her attempt to crochet a heart for this past Valentine’s Day failed, the half heart turned into a yarn squid.

Reynolds, who graduated from Chester College of New England in May with a bachelor degree in Interdisciplinary Arts, has turned a botched heart into a cottage industry. For her senior project she crocheted a number of squids and put them up for adoption. Her gallery opening on April 18 featured a multitude of colorful crafted squids, each with their own unique designs, personalities, and histories. Each squid had a small booklet that contained its birth date, hobbies, likes and dislikes. For example, Poncho the Mexican superhero saves piñatas from destruction and enjoys enchiladas and sauerkraut. At the event there was a table where those interested could fill out adoption forms to take a squid home with them. There was a $25 adoption fee; $5 of that Reynolds donated to Warm Hands, Warm Hearts, which distributes clothing to families in need. Before she began birthing squids, Reynolds crocheted scarves for Warm Hands, Warm Hearts and wanted to find way to continue to give, without taking away from her squid-making.

The squids caused such a scene that before the night was over, all the squids were spoken for and there were requests for more. Many were taken in by their unique look and careful craft. One professor said, “Just look at that one’s face. You can see that the poor little cephalopod needs a home.” For most it was the stories and personalities that drew them in to the little yarn squids. One happy squid adopter said, “Each squid reflects the personality of its owner. I feel that Morgan has captured little narratives in each squid. Each one has a history and exudes a certain humanity.”

For all those who missed out on the gallery, Reynolds has continued to produce more squids on her own and via commission. The price for a commissioned squid varies depending on the specifications. Since February, Reynolds has brought nearly 30 squids into the world, and has many more in the works.

Like any good adoption agency, Reynolds wants to keep track of all of the little ones she has put into good homes. She maintains a MySpace blog and encourages squid parents to keep her informed on how the new member of the family is doing. Many have already sent in pictures of their squid in their new homes and stories about how their squid is getting along.

“I want it to just be a community of people, who can know each other through their squids, and feel good about something that’s silly, but has a great undertone,” she said.

More information about squid adoption can be found at Reynolds can be reached at

Kristen Koczarski is a senior creative writing major at Chester College of New England.

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