Monday, June 18, 2012

She's (so not) crafty

Right as summer vacay begins I tend to have all kinds of grandiose plans about what we'll be doing in this year's Mommy Camp, those slivers and slices of downtime between attending actual camps and going to the grocery store and going on vacation. My vast collection of vintage craft books figure mightily into these visions but somehow I never really manage to pull it off. I just don't have the crafty skill sets.

Like many a ’70s child, I hooked my share of shag rugs—I wouldn't be surprised if a couple of my original orangey-brown owls on cream backgrounds are floating around on etsy. (It's more likely they're moldering in one of my parents' storage units.) I made some pillows, some potholders, some easy needlepoint. I think there was a brief moment when I knew how to cross-stitch. But none of it really stuck. And I never felt especially drawn toward the stitchy-bitchy, crochet-grrrly, knit-witty trends of the past decade or two. Maybe if there was a way I could craft and read and run on the treadmill and blog about craft books simultaneously,I'd feel my time was being used more efficiently. Probably I'm just lazy.

Nature crafts are different. No two words go together better. I was no Girl Scout; I never went to any old-school summer camps. I never made a dream catcher. But I am quite capable of affixing googly eyes to a split walnut and calling it an owl. Finding interesting sticks in the backyard and propping them together and calling it a Fairy House. Creating a pine cone forest in the sandbox. It's just easier. Nature is a very forgiving medium; nature makes everything look good.

Anyhoo, Nature Crafts by Ellsworth Jaeger (Macmillan, 1949) might be the first nature crafty book I bought in San Antonio (as you can see, from Half price books, where they don't think twice about putting a stupid pricetag on a cute dustjacket). It's the first of many craft books I'll feature here, which fall into two categories, design-wise—old school, pen-and-ink illustrations, and super-saturated color photos a la the ’60s and ’70s.

I love these illustrations though I would never make any of this stuff. I should try at least. My five-year-old is obsessed with Susan, the corn husk doll beloved by Laura in Little House in the Big Woods. She even has an old wooden toy she carries around and calls "Karen." Yet when I look at these "directions," my head starts to hurt and my vision blurs. But if I saw the Chipmunk Candy Butcher (awesome band name!) or the Porcupine Match Holder in reasonably good condition at an estate sale? I'd totally buy it.


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