Photography: George J Rockett / Edit: Zoe London
Joshua Tree is a wonderful place for many reasons. It’s a little slice of secluded heaven away from the major cities nearby. It’s air is clean, the desert for miles is beautiful, and almost every time you go you’ll leave a better person. I take a spiritual journey within myself every time and come back happier. I’m not wearing any makeup in these pics, and out in Joshua Tree it’s more common to not wear makeup, not brush your hair, not worry about yourself for just one minute, than anywhere else i’ve ever seen. I love it, and i’d go back every time. There’s also a wealth of local art, from pop up galleries to outdoor sculptures and conceptual pieces right in the middle of the desert. One that was on my hit list however, was the ‘World Famous Crochet Museum.’ Let me take you there, and relive the story of how it came to be.
Owner Shari Elf, who probably has the best name ever, purchased this old photo-mat without a clue in the world what to do with it. Coincidentally, she’s a lady with a penchant for collecting crochet, and when one thing led to another, her entire personal crochet collection (she states that none of it was made by herself, however!) made it’s way out of storage and into the shelves she built into the photo-mat, and then moved permanently to Joshua Tree. It’s kinda stayed that way ever since, and the crochet collection has expanded into what you see today. That’s kinda all there is to the story, however, it’s a most curious story, and one I absolutely had to see for myself in person.
The World Famous Crochet Museum lies upon the Twentynine Palms highway, as part of a larger art installation called Art Queen. Art Queen is home to ever changing art pieces, from artists all over the world, run not for profit. Shari co owns Art Queen with fellow artist Randy Polumbo, who fell in love with not only the desert on visits from NYC, but Shari, too. Art Queen is the most peaceful, welcoming and exciting art installation i’d seen myself in ages, and you can stroll around peacefully the only people there for a good hour. Shari and Randy believe in a fun and inclusive atmosphere, celebrating thoughtful, inspiring and accessible work. I love the nature and the feel of the place, and you do immediately feel at home, even if home is surrounded by crochet as far as the eye can see.
One of the things I think people presume and sometimes perhaps jump to conclusions about – particularly perhaps the younger generations – is that art isn’t always made with a view for all. I get that perhaps sometimes it isn’t, and not all art is affordable. But one of the wondrous things about Joshua Tree is the art is so pure and without sounding weird – normal. It’s as simple as a photo mat full of crochet. No, really. It sounds like the most ridiculous thing, but it evokes so much within you. Just even the thought of being around so much colour in one room, fills your entire heart with happiness. Both George and I opened the door to the photo mat and grinned like cheshire cats. It’s infectiously happy. Crochet also reminds me of my nan, and of times gone by. It’s perceived often as something of a bygone era, not something our generation does or is exposed to every day. To see little crochet cakes, and rabbits, and a vast collection of poodles – Shari’s favourites – is so joyful and childlike, to see the entire world around us reborn in crochet form, is such a cool little wonder. It definitely is something everyone can enjoy. George thinks i’m batshit at the best of times, my curiosity getting the better of me, leading me down paths towards photo mats filled with crochet, and when I told him that was on the agenda for the day I definitely got an odd look. But trust me, even George was smiling and admiring all the crochet.
I think it’s hilarious. The ‘World Famous’ crochet museum no-ones ever heard of. I love it. It might be a little joke but if you’re ever in Los Angeles, or California in general, with a little road trip craving (it’s roughly 2 hours away from LA) – I can’t recommend the drive out to the desert to experience all it’s wonderful kooky stuff – including the World Famous Crochet Museum – enough. As well as the rest of the Art Queen gallery around the Crochet Museum, Shari has a little shop just next to it filled with cute trinkets, some clothing and some other bits and bobs, with a pay-what-you-want system. With no people on staff, no key to entrance and no security guards needed, it just about tells you everything you need to know about Joshua Tree. It really is the kind of place where you can leave an unlocked gate to an unlocked photo mat full of crochet open 24/7, and not a dime from the tip jar goes missing. You remember there are wonderful people in the world with hearts just brimming full of love and positivity, and in this current climate it’s one of the freshest breaths of air you’ll ever breathe. You just about want to know just why i’m so in love with the desert? That alone right there is more or less your answer.
I’m probably the most curious person there is. If there’s a wobbly broken brick path leading to nothingness, i’ll follow it. I want to know stories, different walks of life and things i’ve never seen before, constantly. The World Famous Crochet Museum was one of those days i’d never been more glad to follow the wobbly broken brick path under the trees, through the gate and to the photo mat. The joy of stumbling across, what is in my eyes, the most treasure possible – will stay in my memory forever.
I hope you enjoyed being transported to the desert, i’d love to know what you think of the World Famous Crochet Museum, and if it’s somewhere you’d stop by on a California road trip! Let me know in the comments!