When Madison Stump isn’t teaching first grade at Kendall Elementary School, you can probably find her in her “art shed” experimenting with various fabrics and yarns, working on her next creation for her other job: The Stump of Approval.

Back in 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic was in full swing, closing schools, businesses, and pretty much everything else, Stump found herself with a lot of time on her hands that she hadn’t had as a pre-pandemic teacher.

“I like to stay busy,” says Stump. “So I was like, ‘Okay, I have all this free time, I have a bunch of art supplies. Let me start creating.’”

She started with her yarn rainbows: colorful decorative pieces made from thrifted yarn in need of a new home. From there, she began experimenting more and more, building a catalog of unique creations.

Check out her bucket hats if you are looking to add a splash of color to your outfit. They are full of a hodgepodge of patterns featuring everything from fruit to frogs! They have a sturdy brim that makes them perfect for a day at the lake!

As a frequenter of garage sales and thrift stores, Stump’s passion for creating has come together with her love for upcycling, resulting in much of her work coming from repurposed materials like shirts and jackets, patched with cut outs from old bed sheets from the 1990s.

Stump describes her art as “various accessories and decor that brighten your life,” which includes a variety of fun and useful fiber arts. These range from scrunchies, earrings, and bucket hats to reusable paper towels and dog toys.

She ended up with so much art that she didn’t know what to do with it. She began by giving her creations away to her friends, but what started out as a pandemic hobby for Stump, quickly became a part-time job.

Her art started getting sold in local shops around Bellingham just in time for the 2020 holidays. Now, she enjoys selling her art at in-person markets where she gets to socialize with the customers and fellow artists in her community, getting new ideas, and sharing her own.

Now that pandemic restrictions have eased and school is in-person, Stump’s free time has gone down, forcing her to
balance her two careers and cut down on things like local markets. But her desire to create still remains.

“Like I said, I find a lot of joy in being busy,” says Stump. “Being a teacher is definitely something that you need to destress from. So finding something to do as a decompressing activity is helpful.”

Being back in school meant that Stump had to change the way she worked on her crafts. Summer break has become her opportunity to experiment with new ideas, leaving the busy school year for easier tasks.

“I find during the school year I stick to making products that I have made before because I know what I’m doing. I just change up the color scheme or fabrics,” says Stump.

The school year also means she gets to bring art into the classroom, which she says she loves to do. Each week she integrates an art project for her students into her teaching.

In the future, Stump hopes to take things a step further by bringing her passion for teaching out of the classroom and into The Stump of Approval.

“My goals moving forward would be … to teach classes on how to make your own felted earrings,” says Stump. “I’ve taught one class before in the mall. Doing that is definitely something I’d like to do.”