It kind of feels like I’m writing about the Super Bowl, what with the Roman numerals, and it being Super Bowl weekend. But no, this is just a continuation of our long-term commitment to sharing our craft book collection with you–lucky you!
This week it’s my Leisure Crafts and Play Crafts books. They aren’t large pamphlets, just 6.5 x 6.5 inches. For those of you that have never run into one of these crafty collections, they were published in ’70s by Search Books of London and Herder and Herder of New York. Mine are from Great Britain, since the prices penciled in the covers are 50-60 p. Now they sell for anywhere from a couple of bucks to $10 each, depending on who’s doing the selling. This shop on Etsy has a nice collection for a fair price. I need to look for that Fun With Shells book just to satisfy my curiosity. Like any craft book from the ’70s, there are a few clinkers, but by and large a lot of the projects are fun, or at least funny.
The book on hand smocking, called Smocking (Needle Crafts 5) is only interesting for its small section on aprons:
I’ve always had a soft spot for smocked garments; probably because I lived through the peasant period of the ’70s and came out with an appreciation for the look based on how comfortable it was. After all smocking was used mostly for laborer’s garments in the olden days before Wikipedia. On the other hand, smocking looks like a lot of work, so I’ve never tried actually doing it.
The basket weaving book contains pretty run-of-the-mill basketry, with a couple of weird things:
Any of you that have ever tried basket weaving know how difficult it is to get the darn things to come out even. Mine have always looked like a pile of laundry, no matter how hard I tried. It must have something to do with finger strength; I just can’t get it pulled tight enough. So, the trash baskets would probably resemble something a toddler made, and if I were crazy enough to try the light fixture baskets, I hope Kathy would slap me. The book does give you enough information to try making baskets, if you dare!
Straw Stars contains just what you think it does:
Straw stars in various configurations. It ramps up in complexity to the eight-fold star and variations thereof. Again, it’s not something I’ll probably ever do, but who knows what kind of a wild hair I might get at Christmas time.
The last of the Play Craft series books is Mobiles:
This is one of the reasons I bought the whole pile of books in the first place. I love mobiles, and this little book details how to make them from paper, veneer, straw, raffia, ribbon, and all sorts of craft materials. It also gives you some pretty detailed instructions on how to construct the hanger thingie, which they also call a mobile. Now that I have the book out, I should make one and take a picture. I won’t be making these owls to hang from my mobile:
Even if they are “… suitable for a man’s room, or for a library or den.” My man would toss me out on my caboose if this mobile showed up in his room. I think all the owls on the right side of the page almost look like they are spookily back-lit. Maybe they would be suitable for a manly Halloween room.
Working with Metal Foils is another one of those crafts that I don’t have much interest in, but hey it was in the pile:
I think most of the projects detailed in here are on the edge of goofiness. The heart and birds on the front and the Garden of Eden are the two best. However, the book is full of these kinds of things too:
Holy guacamole, I don’t get the candle holder/lady with the burning hands in the picture on the right. It’s hard to figure out exactly who these crafts might appeal to. Well, we would appreciate it if someone would make them and donate them to a thrift. Sort of like double jeopardy–we could make fun of them twice.
There are a bunch of toy crafts in these next books. Rag Dolls actually encourages you to make your dolls from rags, bits, and pieces:
The faces are made from old nylons, and the bodies are wire armatures wrapped in yarn. I’m not sure these are really sturdy enough to endure the attentions of a two-year old, but people do collect these kinds of dolls. Further on in the book are some soft-body dolls for the kiddies. The following pictures shows the gamut of the wire armature dolls:
Bunnies to “character” dolls that quite frankly remind me of the seven dwarfs from Snow White. I’m not too sure I would mess with Granny Rabbit holding the spoon either. Now open wide and take your medicine.
I only took the one picture of the Soft Toys:
How could you not love Woolly Toys?
Woolly refers to yarn and knitting. The book informs us that, “Not every household goes in for dress-making, but knitting is almost universal.” Hmm, that must just be a difference in mindsets; I would much rather sew than knit! However, some of these toys are so cute that I might make an exception:
Hey crocheting grandmas, why don’t you put down the hook, and pick up the needles and make some woollies?
I’m pretty fond of this book too–maybe just for the cover alone:
Here are a couple of the projects:
I’m not sure that it’s obvious that the group of figures in the black and white photo are gymnasts, but the snake charmer is unmistakable. My favorite project is the two ladies arm in arm with their trusty plaid pooch. That’s just what we look like heading out on Fridays!
I’m quite drawn to these rope figures:
It doesn’t even look that hard–although I’m sure it isn’t as easy as it looks.
The Asian lady figure looks to be made from raffia covering a sisal rope body. Her head is a cotton ball wrapped in raffia. The hair almost looks lacquered. I love the two girls playing with a hoop and their poodle. The poodle is made from electrical wire, wrapped 40 times around a knitting needle and you use the spiralled wire to shape the body.
The last (yay) book is called Collage:
This book contains some of the coolest and weirdest craft projects I’ve seen in a while. I like the bull which is made from coiled strings of various sizes, beads and glue. It almost looks like the bulls you see in Paleolithic art. I’m sure I’ve seen something similar in art history class.
This little hedgehog is a fun project too:
He might be fun to put on the front of a card you’re making. His spines are made from cane, cut to various lengths. I could do this and have fun doing it!
There are collages made from felt and fabrics. Collages made from old newspapers, or the pull tabs from cans. But, and you know there’s always a but, I’ve never seen a collage made from hypodermic needles:
The blurb accompanying the picture states, “… made from the throw away products of the medical profession.” Granted, these are old hypodermics from before my nursing days. I seem to remember reading somewhere that the syringes used to be made from glass, and a metal piece screwed onto the body of the syringe and held the needle. They could be taken apart and cleaned, hopefully autoclaved, and reused, like this one:
The text with the collage picture ends with, “It cannot be impressed too much upon the reader that almost any waste product can be converted into interesting and exciting patterns.” My caveat would be: Medical waste isn’t anything to play with: go look in some other trash can if you must!
We have a little giveaway for those of you who made it through the whole post. There is just a little condition–you have to want a hankie with the initial R on it:
The first person who contacts us via comments should expect this lovely hankie in the mail. Thanks for reading!