Monday, October 12, 2009

Superbook of Things to Make

One summer in the early 1970’s, an aunt from Norway visited our family in Colorado. Aunt Åse, my mom’s stepsister, stayed for a month as part of her trip across the United States. She spent time with everyone in our family, but I really wanted to monopolize her time. I liked her because she laughed a lot. She also seemed interested in all of my craft projects that I showed (bored) her, and that made me like her even more. I was a crafty child—constantly making stuff, and always taking art classes. I think I was 10 years old at the time. I gave her a special tour of our neighborhood mall, which included a stop to one of my favorite shops, Bauble Mart (the bead and craft shop). The summer flew by and Åse went back to Oslo.

Above: The design of Superbook of Things to Make is very au courant now—with touches of decorative fonts. The font on the cover reminds me of this typeface.

Months later, deep in the middle of a Colorado winter (we actually had big snow storms then), I received a package from Norway—from Åse. I tore it open—it was a book called, Superbook of Things to Make. She purchased the book in London, on her way home to Norway. She signed the inside…thanking me (for making her summer trip so fun).

I was thrilled...and became obsessed with the book for the next year. I told my mom that I wanted to make every single project in the book. Superbook of Things to Make seemed a bit exotic too me then, because it was all in metrics, and the styling of the book seemed very modern.

I found my old treasured copy of Superbook of Things to Make at my mom’s house a few years ago, and it brought back all of the fun times I had reading it and making the projects as a kid.

Mr. Peacock still likes these “Clock Flowers” what looks like a cleanser can vase (painted white) .

I made this straw curtain with straws and beads from Bauble Mart.

My projects didn’t turn out looking as good as the photos in the book. I didn’t know they had art directors and stylists perfecting each project for the photos, and would sometimes get frustrated with my results. I wish I had a photograph of one of my projects from then—it would be a good laugh!

I made these planters out of old cleaning bottles, but I didn’t paint them as precisely as the book...

...and my seedlings didn’t get as bushy theirs either.

Mr. Peacock loves patchwork, but I didn’t get around to making this “Patchwork Wallpaper” project. I think it could still could be relevant for the right room. They used wallpaper sample books, but you could simply mix a few wallpaper patterns into a patchwork.

I see a glimpse of some red toile peeking through the chair and table.

Colored tape carefully patterned on a wall...

I like the diagram too!

Superbook of Things to Make was such a thoughtful gift. I wore the book out—the binding is ripped and the corners are tattered. Åse sent me another great gift a few years later when I started to study (and become obsessed with) Russian, but that’s another posting.

Any other crafty kids out there? You can buy a vintage copy of Superbook of Things to Make (by Pia Hsiao and Neil Lorimer) here. Did anyone else have Superbook of Things to Make as a kid, or have any other favorite childhood craft books?


pve design said...

Wow, you hit my craft chord with this Superbook of things to make! Growing up one of seven, I made tons
of crafts, never ever bored! I love things like this!
What a great book for a teacher!

That's Not My Age said...

Lovely story - reminded me of a TV programme we had in the UK when I was growing up, called 'Why Don't You.' It was quite crafty, and run by a bunch of kids, the theme song went, 'Why don't you switch off the television set and go and do something less boring instead.....'

Snappy said...

Love the book..

jason said...

so completely cool! I love the graphics...and that clock flowers have inspired me.

Alejandro Rincón said...

love to have that book! i just am an adict of that sort of things...

janes_world said...

Oh my god. I had this book as a child and my sister and I used to LOVE it and try to make all the projects. Back then it wasn't easy to get hold of all the craft stuff you needed. We once tried to make something out of match boxes from the book and used red, gloss, paint. It got all over the garage floor and we walked it into the house as well. BIG trouble! I just ordered it off and am sending it to my sister as a surprise. I'm getting myself a copy too just for old times sake! So glad to share this little memory :D

janes_world said...

Just had to add, I found this cute book about 15 years ago in a thrift store. Similar art work etc (which I love), but just for adults to make drinks!