Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Beautiful but dodgy - what to do?

The trouble with ye olde kids' books, circa 50s, 60s and 70s is that, while the illustrations are sometimes gorgeous and/or irresistably kitsch, the stories at times leave a lot to be desired if you're trying to raise kids who are aware of gender and class difference and independent of extraordinarily gendered representations of nuclear families. (Obviously more contemporary kids' books have these issues too, but for now I'm just talking about the older ones because they are the ones I most commonly find in op shops, and they pretty much invariably have the best illustrations.)
I don't know about you, but I'm a sucker for a beautifully-illustrated book, even if the story is more than a little dodgy. So what to do? The answer is... drumroll please... CRAFT!

This evening, while Pearl was at Alfalfa House's management committee meeting, I had a rather hedonistic time eating chocolate, drinking beer, crafting and browsing itunes. Was I in heaven? Pretty much. And I have these cool cards to show for it. Here's how you do it.
Firstly, you get a box of some kind, which you've been diligently saving for just such an occasion. My personal favourites are Ryvitas (amazing with butter and cheese) and Weet Bix (amazing with butter and raw sugar, and can I just say at this juncture that mis-spelling something for the sake of branding is lazy and annoying). I'm pretty sure that other boxes work just as well.

Flatten out your box, and, using your sewing machine, stitch your chosen illustration to the printed side of the box. The book I'm using is called The Mouse's Wedding. I found it in the op shop in Tathra, which was a veritable GOLD MINE of kids' books, both dodgy and otherwise.

Now, cut out the picture, quite close to the stitching, so on one side you have a bit of lovely, unbleached cardboard for you to write your messages of love on, framed by some stitching, and on the other side you have a cute/kitsch/beautiful/nostalgic illustration. Cool! If you're adventurous, and can be bothered changing the thread on your machine, you could use something other than white. This could complement your illustration, and would also make the stitching show up in any photos you might take for your blog.

And now you have a super-cute, one-off, totally recycled, easy to make and awesomely awesome card (or pile of cards) for some people you love. Easy peasy.

And the edges of the boxes make super-duper bookmarks.

The end.


  1. so wonderful, beautiful. what a lovely and productive way to spend the evening. can't wait to make some of my own. xxxx

  2. Shut UP! For one, that sounds like a great way to spend a night. For two, that is a definitely awesome idea!