Favorite Craft Books for Kids, Old and New

Craft Books for Kids

I love looking at craft books almost as much (okay, sometimes more) than crafting. In my house growing up, my mom and I always called these “make it/ do it” books, after two of our favorites, her own McCall’s Giant Make It Book (1953) and my Great Big Golden Make It & Do It Book (1980).

Many happy hours were spent poring over those pages. Most of the projects I never made or did, but just knowing that I could, imagining them, and looking over the pictures and instructions was (is) very satisfying.

Kids' Craft Books

I still love make it/ do it books, and in the stack are a few more recent favorites.

Made to Play  by blogger Joel Henriques. This book, given to us by a good friend, inspired our cardboard factory last summer. The author’s blog is madebyjoel.

Sticks & Stones & Ice Cream Cones by Phyllis Fioratta is another childhood favorite.

Oodles to Do with Loo-Loo and Boo by Denis Roche, a Vermont College friend of mine. This one has great illustrations and fun characters who guide you throughout as you make arts and crafts with easy-to-find and recyclable items.

Things to Do Book by Jennie Maizels. I love, love this concept for a book. Each illustrated spread has a theme (“in the car,” “in the garden”) picturing various activities in a particular setting. There are little flaps to lift that are like secret treasures. In concept, it’s a little like a Richard Scarry book with activities to do instead of labels. Perfect for those “I don’t have anything to do!” moments.

I also remember loving A Boat, A Bat, and A Beanie: Things to Make from Newspaper from the library back in the day. It shows you how to make great stuff (sandals! a wig!) out of, yes, newspaper. I think I need to order a copy of it. I love getting copies of old library books I used to check out over and over.

Below: It was so well-loved, we had to re-cover mom’s copy of the McCall’s Giant Make It Book:

Recovered Book

Here are a few of the inside pages:

Vintage Craft Book

Vintage Children's Craft Book

Vintage Children's Craft Book

Ach! There’s just something about these glowing 50s illustrations that just gets me every time. Everything looks so fun! The clothes so quaint! I just want to jump into the pictures, like Mary Poppins’ chalk drawings.

There’s a little video about the McCall’s book here.

What about you? Do you have any favorite craft books of your own, or do your kids? I think craft books make great gifts.

For more kid craft posts, click here.

Hope you have a great weekend. I’m off to the Carolinas conference of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Lucky for me, it’s right here in town.

Vintage Vacation Postcards

postcards-001

Above is a little summary of our New England vacation. A little Cape, a lot of New Hampshire, including a hike through the Flume Gorge, which I had never seen before. I was tickled to find these in a little shop in Bethlehem, NH. I love when old postcards come with messages on them. The bottom one was written by someone whose vacation mirrored ours, fifty some years ago.

I have lots to share, including some digital paintings I did while we were away. I finally finished Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. I highly recommend it, especially if you’re an introvert or have a loved one who is. There are lots of us, so you probably do! I learned a lot.

Hubs and I enjoyed listening to Rob Lowe’s memoir Stories I Only Tell My Friends on our car trip (read by Lowe), and we’ve almost finished listening to Yes, Chef, a memoir by Marcus Samuelsson. Really fascinating and read by Samuelsson himself in his fabulous scratchy voice. His story begins in Ethiopia, then goes on to Sweden, throughout Europe, and on to New York City as he follows his dream of becoming a master chef.

Loved this post of fun summer things to do with your kids, by Blair Stocker of wisecraft. Also, this spaghetti monsters post over at elsiemarley made me smile—it’s part cooking, part craft, and all silly fun.

What have you been up to?

Thrift Haul

I lucked out on a recent thrifting trip.

I’d been looking for awhile for something cool to add to the hall art gallery. Our apartment has a long, long, bowling-alley-like hallway that is just begging for more artwork. Since it’s a hall, you can’t help but stand fairly near the walls, so it’s a good place for groups of smaller pieces that need a more intimate setting.

I found the birds and flowers at thrift shop #1. I love the way the black backgrounds make the colors pop. Somehow it makes them look more modern to me, too. I’ve considered painting the frames aqua or something like that. What do you think?

I found the little house piece at thrift shop #2. There’s just something about it that’s so sweet but not sugary.

Actually I don’t know if I’ll ever get to hang them because the kids want two for their own (girl wants birds, boy wants house). I’m stuck on the hallway idea, though, so we’re kind of in a deadlock over it.

Here’s a detail on the birds. The handwork is really impressive.

Next up: a platter, a Christmas tablecloth, and two skeins of cotton yarn.

I’d been looking for a platter like this for a long time to go with but not match our china (see it here). This one is perfect except I wish it were a little bigger.

The yarn is for our little weaver, and the Santa cloth—-well, I just couldn’t resist. It’s kind of a funny size, but I figure we can use it as a runner or as reuseable gift wrap.

All this loot for 7 euros 50 cents!

Danish and German Flea Market Finds

I could just about feel the flea market in Copenhagen pulling me across the street. Come look! Cool bargains you won’t find anywhere else! Luckily, the family obliged for a few minutes, while I gasped over the budget prices for vintage Danish ceramics.

If you’ve ever been in Copenhagen, you know it’s not really a place for bargain shopping. So I was excited to find the blue Mother’s Day and the black/ white Bjørn Wiinblad plates. Just a few euros a piece for perfect souvenirs.

I’ve been interested in Bjørn Wiinblad since discovering his work in the pages of Holly Becker’s new book, Decorate. Jonathan Adler, whose home is featured in the book, collects Wiinblad, and I just love the zany, humorous figures. BTW, if you want some totally awesome inspiration for your home, get Holly’s book. I’m thinking about just setting up camp in its pages.

The Wiinblad plates are from a 12-month series. I got October and December.

The blue Mother’s Day plates, which are about dessert size but designed for hanging, are Royal Copenhagen from the 70’s. They made one of these plates for each year between 1971 and 1982.

The other two plates (playing children/ animals) I bought at a charity shop here in Hannover. They’re children’s china, something you find a lot more of here because children are expected to use “real” plates, not plastic, as well as real silverware and glass glasses. I just couldn’t resist the one with the children playing. So cute.

The animal plate cracks me up because the wolf is smoking a pipe—-such a taboo nowadays, especially on a product for children. This plate was made in East Germany. I’m not too worried about it turning my son into a delinquent.

The kids love their plates, and I’ve planned a spot on the wall for the Bjørn Wiinblad ones. I’m still looking for a home on the wall for the Mother’s Day plates.

The SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) Summer Solstice Scrawl Crawl was a lot of fun. This was an event blog where SCBWI members across Europe sketched and wrote all day on Tuesday and shared their creations on the same blog. Here’s my entry here, but make sure to check out the others. It’s really interesting to see where people were all across the continent.

I’ve been missing NPR lately and listening to a bunch of old Fresh Air interviews over the web. Favorites: Jason Schwartzman, Chloe Sevigny, Jason Segel, and Ted Danson. I guess I’m feeling like listening to actors. We’ve been watching HBO’s Bored to Death on DVD (with Schwartzman and Danson). It’s always surprising to hear about an actor’s real life—-like, not the tabloid stuff but the nitty gritty, their insecurities. A lot of those in my list have other legit creative pursuits besides acting, too (writing, fashion, music), which I find fascinating.

Hope to see you again soon. School is almost out for us, which means posts may be a bit more scattered, but I’ll be here as much as I can.

If you enjoyed this post, you may want to check out this other one about thrifting here in Germany.

Adventures in Thrifting: Germany Edition

Every town has its own thrift store scene strengths. I love cruising to see what kinds of clothes, craft fodder, and crazy stuff are available. For the most part, the thrifted clothing here in Hannover is not a strength, though I’ve found some cashmere sweaters just asking to be made into scarves.

Vintage textiles are a whole other story. There’s a place here called Fairkauf that’s like the department store of thrifting, with four entire floors of stuff.

My favorite is the floor of household goods, much of it embroidered tablecloths, runners, hankies, plus all-cotton (mostly white) bed linens. The collection of china and dishes is nothing to sneeze at either. I’ve been dreaming up a new quilt and snapped up some of these things with it in mind. I couldn’t resist the cherry placemats, though (not part of the quilt plan) and the bird fabric (also not for the quilt). It’s just asking to be over-dyed, don’t you think?

Below is a “commode” we bought to go next to my work station in the dining room. It holds the printer and scanner (when is someone going to design some more attractive computer equipment?). We were looking at some cheap something at Ikea or whatnot and I thought I could do better. This solid wood, glass-covered, dovetail-drawered baby was only 30 Euros! It also happens to go really well with our dining room furniture.

 

Next up is a candelabra I got at the Flohmarkt (fleamarket) on Saturday. I really like the lines, though I wish it had more candle holders. You need a lot of candles to light up your life in January here. I can’t complain for 5 euros, though! I’ve been wanting to go to the Flohmarkt for a long time. It was pretty cool, lots of interesting stuff, from furniture and antique toys to books and ancient dentistry tools. As you see, I restrained myself.

If you, like me, are a thrifter, you must must read this post by Blair Peter of wisecraft about torturing her husband via iphone thrift photos. It’s hysterical and inspiring. And besides that, she has a great blog with tons of other inspirations.

If you enjoyed this post, you might want to check out this one about flea market finds.

Smurfy Christmas

 

It’s always fun to pull out the Christmas ornaments and to reminisce about where and when we got them. Both my husband and I have several from our childhood, this being one of them. I just love it. It makes me think of third grade. Evidently the kids love it, too, because they kept stealing it away and playing with it, and when I asked where the Smurf ornament was, they looked at me like I was speaking Sanskrit. I tried to describe the Smurf, and my daughter said, “You mean the little blue elf?”

Mr. Smurf is now safely at the top of the tree. Unfortunately several others did not make it safely there and are now in the ornament hospital for repair and convalescence.