Here’s what passes for funny in the crafting world: putting a big, bushy mustache on nearly anything — pillows, glassware, jewelry, even knitted coffee-cup cozies and baby pacifiers.
A mustached baby? That’s a giggle.
The mustache motif — with handlebars or without — has been around for several years in the crafting world, and its popularity remains steady.
“I remember some of the first mustaches cropping up ... in 2007,” in jewelry, recalls Emily Bidwell, merchandising specialist and In-house Style Expert for the online crafts site Etsy.com.
What began as a practical joke, she says, endured because of the mustache’s simple, strong and universally recognizable shape.
Some images become popular then fizzle out — the space alien is one — but the humble mustache endures.
“Over the years we’ve just seen more and more mustaches,” at Etsy, says Bidwell. “It’s ever popular.”
A recent search of the online, handmade marketplace found more than 14,000 mustached crafts for sale.
Among those is the black, acrylic ‘stache necklace crafted by jewelry designer Ran Milstein of Ramat-Hasharon, Israel. He sells it from his Etsy shop, Milkool.
“I see the mustache piece as something silly, and wore it myself a few times when costumes were required,” Milstein says. “I know that it brings smiles to people’s faces, and that’s all that matters.”
His customers include a teacher who used her laser-cut mustache necklace to quiet a rowdy classroom, and a woman who bought several for family members to wear to her father’s funeral.
“He had a glorious mustache and (she) hoped these would help to lighten the mood,” Milstein says.
Jessa Decker-Smith of Denver saw a mustached pacifier on Pinterest, the online “pin board” where people share favorite photos and ideas, and decided to make a few for her baby daughter, Hazel, and mustaches for her two older sons. “It was so funny and so easy to make,” says Decker-Smith. “It really brings a snicker to your face.”
Decker-Smith has been to parties at which paper mustaches attached to chopsticks were handed out as silly photo props. They’ve become a popular party favor at weddings, appearing in Etsy’s wedding décor listing. The online site also features more than 200 generic “party packs,” from wearable mustaches to cupcake toppers.
Mustaches come in many shapes and sizes, but two of the more popular styles used in crafts are the handlebar, with its curly ends, and the droopy horseshoe. Their simple, strong lines are easy to cut out of paper, felt or fabric.
Amy Anderson of Seattle is a crafts blogger who painted a handlebar mustache onto a small wooden stool two years ago, and still fancies that piece. “I like funny crafts or unexpected things,” she says.
Lawrence Rubin, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., psychologist and “pop culture fancier,” suggests that the mustache in crafts may represent “women’s attempt to recreate the male image in their liking.” A well-coifed mustache, he says, “might be a way to take the harsh edge off the masculinity through a more humorous depiction of a man.”
The mustache also harkens to the 19th century, he says, when it represented masculine charm and confidence.
Bidwell thinks that’s the secret to the mustache’s staying power. She’s seen a growing interest in 19th-century styles and values in her Brooklyn, N.Y., neighborhood.
“I can only speak for Brooklyn, although I’ve seen it in a lot of places — this return to urban farming and more Victorian styles, doing things in an old-fashioned way,” says Bidwell.
“People who are crafting can find so many ways to use the motif,” she adds.