Hello Art Starlets and craft connoisseurs! I’m Molly Moran, creator of Snarky Scouts. I’m pretty new to the craft vendor world, and this will be my first year at Art Star Craft Bazaar in Philadelphia. Brace yourselves!
Snarky Scouts is my reinvention of actual vintage Girl Scout and Boy Scout badges into funny, usually inappropriate merit badges for adults. These take the form of 5×7″ letterpress prints and felt brooches or ornaments.
The Girl Scouts of America discontinued this style of merit badge a few years ago and they use a new merit badge system now. That means I can find lots of these old badges on eBay. I do the letterpress myself at Pyramid Atlantic Art Center’s letterpress studio in Silver Spring, MD. I hand-sew and hand-embroider the felt items.
I started this project last year when I was looking online for old badges that I thought I might use to decorate a zip-wallet. As I looked through several old Girl Scout badges on eBay, I couldn’t always tell what the badges represented, and I found myself making up silly names for them. The one I remember most clearly is the badge for Reptiles and Amphibians – to me, it looked like a turtle walking a high wire. So I made a badge for “Turtle Circus Arts.”
Once I realized that this could be a viable project with items to sell, I applied to a large juried craft show in DC, and funded my startup costs with a Kickstarter campaign. I didn’t know what to expect, but I found that people loved the badges and I sold out of nearly all my designs. So this year, armed with a better sense of what people like, I’ve added about two dozen new designs to my repertoire and a couple new craft fairs to my calendar – including ASCB in Philly!
While the art technique in my work is letterpress and needlework, the most expressive aspect is the humor I use. It’s with humor – this less tangible, less material aspect of the work – that I experiment and invent. My ideas are inspired by the imagery of the actual badges, so there’s a constraint inherent in the process that is challenging and fun. I’ve recently had ideas for four new designs, which will debut at ASCB in November. I’m most excited about introducing the merit badges for “Road Rage” and “Day Drinking.”
I think part of the pleasure of reading these badges is realizing the extent of the departure from the original meaning of the badge. The history is important. So I use only real scouting badges, and I research each one before incorporating it in my designs. With every item I include a little card with information about the original use of the badge.
My absolute favorite part of this project is having a booth at a fair, because people laugh at my items. We’re not talking a polite little giggle, we’re talking completely busting up. It’s awesome: it’s an entire day of getting to watch my work make people laugh. It’s a joy and a gift and it inspires me to keep at it. So come by my booth on November 7th or 8th – I promise you’ll find something that makes you smile.