Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Treasures from Throwaways: possibly the best vintage craft book ever!

Summer means not being able to go to estate sales with the clockwork regularity I'm accustomed to during the school year, but it also means catching up on some crucial sorting/organizing/downsizing projects, particularly with regard to my piles of books. I just rediscovered this 1976 gem, Better Homes and Gardens Treasures from Throwaways, and I'm so sorry for you all that I've only got just the one copy because look at this typewriter! You know you want the book that provides the instructions for a "Typewriter Note Holder":

The secretarial pool is no place for a standout like [this] typewriter. Instead, this old machine has joined the executive ranks and now functions as the most unique message center a family ever had. If you think painting a typewriter is a lot of work for just a message center, think of it as creating a piece of pop art—and sign it!

Well, now that is waaay too much work for me, but then I never actually craft any crafts (unless they involve walnuts or pinecones and googly eyes)—I just like to gawk at books like these. I do think this typewriter message center is magnificent, just perfect for one of those pared-down "landing strips" you see touted in the shelter mags and on design blogs. Really, I love everything about that photo, including the prop styling (who is Liz? Who is Bill? Who is Chester? Why does that mug have a "5" on it?").

But as an erstwhile fancy magazine editor, I find this craft project more poignant than loopy. Who even reads magazines now let alone wallpapers their bathroom with clippings from Vogue? This actually reminds me of what my bedroom walls looked like back in the 80s, and, come to think of it, the cork walls I've had in various former offices. Though the book instructs crafters to "preserve your 'cover' job with a clear protective finish," which would make sense in a bathroom (think what the moisture would do to this collage), they also say you can "leave the magazine pages as they are for quick patch-ups—adding new pages to fit your fancy and to maintain the fanciful wallscape." Madness.

Paging through the book now, I'm not sure why I chose to feature this TV Tube Chess Set instead of various other crazy crafts (I might have to continue this post in the near future with more pics). I guess it was just the idea of someone actually having access to TV tubes, let alone transforming them into a chess set. But according to the editors, it was no big thang: "A check at any TV and radio repair shop will net you all the old tubes you want." If you say so!

And finally, we have The Victrola Teen Bar, because who doesn't recognize the genius of gutting your heirloom Victrola?  You won't be able to spin Granddad's 78s anymore, but you can use it to serve popcorn and Cokes to the wholesome teens in your life:
An old Victrola will never replace stereo or TV as entertainment, but as a teen-age party center it's still "the cat's pajamas." Or, in latter day linguistics, it's really cool!

To put it in latter-day linguistics, LOL.

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