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“There’s always a chicken in my house,” Carly Pumphrey says with a smile.
Her warm brown eyes light up as she talks about “chickening,” the catch-all term used by Sally Linville and her artisans to describe the process of handcrafting Chicken Footstools at thecitygirlfarm. Since 2012, Carly has been a part-time “chickener,” one of the first friends of Sally’s to participate in creating the chickens. Having known Sally from their Kansas State University days, when the two were part of the same Interior Architecture and Product Design program, Carly says it was a no-brainer to agree to help Sally create more chickens. “I couldn’t help but say yes,” she says.
For Carly, there is real pleasure in doing the work of chickening. “It’s, quite simply, this creative outlet that I want to make for, even though I don’t have time for it,” referring to her very full life that is overflowing with her part-time job at an architecture firm as well as her husband and their three children. “It’s an opportunity to contribute to these beautiful things within my skill that are outside of work and home. I don’t feel I invest in things that don’t have a deeper purpose and meaning behind it. These chickens do have that [purpose and meaning], which is another reason I want to make time for it.”
There are many steps to building the chicken footstools, but Carly particularly enjoys arranging the felt pieces onto the chickens to create their whimsical wool plumage: “Felt has a way of showing you where it wants to go. It’s like a puzzle that could go lots of ways. There’s always this discovery process in the details. No one chicken is the same.”
Carly describes chickening for thecitygirlfarm as pure “joy. It’s probably what anyone would say in seeing a chicken for the first time...I see this big picture of joy coupled with this art and design world we both come from. I am continually asking myself, how am I inspired? I feel as though [when chickening] I can be an artist, even though my business card doesn’t say ‘artist.’”
Although the important demands of work and family are her priorities, Carly says she will always make time for chickening: “I’m in it as long as I can be in it.”
> Allison Branch