Posts Tagged ‘vintage’


This optimistically titled book is from my small (but distinguished) collection of vintage craft books. It was published in England in (guessing) the 1930s or 40s (it’s not dated). It contains instructions, diagrams and patterns for an large number of toys of amazing diversity of subject matter. My copy even still has the full size pattern sheet which was loosely inserted into the book.

table of contents

What a gem. You could populate an entire nursery with just projects from this book. Which given the toy shortages of the time (due to the economy and the war) was rather a necessity. The soft toys are either knitted or sewn fabric/felt, oddly there are no crocheted toys. The wood toys include a section on reed basketry and the metal toys (and other toys) includes paper/card models and crafts.

But there is another reason I bought this book and here it is:


Fantastic illustrated endpapers! Virtually every single thing in the illustration is a project from the book. Who knew the hula girl’s boyfriend was a dog? That a monkey could be a fireman? That penguins are allowed on the bus? My very most favorite bit is Punch wreaking havoc with the crane and spilling milk all over the poor Golly, while Judy wisely makes discreetly for the exit.

Overall an entirely delightful window into the past. And terribly useful to boot.

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Yes, I realize that I’ve been having a rather rough time on the health front for the last few months; but at least this most recent blow (nasty, nasty, ugly choke-inducing head cold) seems to be fading. Hopefully I will be turning a corner towards better days and be getting back to making some art soon.

In the meantime, I’ll just be napping in the woods with a few friends. That bear is sure to have a thermos of tea with honey — whiskey is probably too much to hope for.

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No, I’m not planning to entertain any animals; my house is too small. However I do have a small collection of vintage sourced images of animals entertaining themselves. They seem pretty darn good at it too.

Animals having a picnic

The bright flat area colors and simple outlines of this picnic scene rescue it from being overly precious. The interesting (almost faerie-ish) tree and the old-fashioned peddlers wagon are great elements in themselves but in the case of this image they also serve to contain the scene; giving it an intimacy of setting that it would not otherwise have.

Cat and Pig Dancing

One of the best parts of an outdoor summer party is the dancing. That pig is a snappy dresser and the cat is exceedingly light on her feet. Please take notice of the two little bugs enjoying the action.

Animals having a tea party

This somewhat more sedate tea party has an autumnal look to me. All the earthtones and the very confined area of the composition suggest everyone has squished up inside to be cozy. I imagine this party is quite loud, with everyone talking at once. Rabbit seems to be wondering if the tea supply is going to run out and I really don’t fancy the way Cat is eyeing poor Squirrel who just wants to eat his jam tart in peace.

Animals dancing in a winter scene

Lastly here is a bunch of wild, crazy animals having an outdoor winter free-for-all festival. Obviously too much scrumpy has been consumed, and in a rather short time span. Look at the raccoon at the far left (behind the woodchuck); by the look of him he’s drawn the short straw to have to get Possum home safely.

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Cheerful Daisy Paper Doll

Today being another in a succession of gloomy gray days I decided to post something bright and cheerful.

daisy pd cover

Daisy is from the late 1970s and is, as will become incredibly obvious, a Holly Hobbie clone. Well, not a clone exactly as Daisy (the doll) has her own rather distinctive look. But clone-ish in that she has that same prairie-style look to her wardrobe.

daisy paper doll

She’s really kind of sweet even with her rather oversize head. Actually I think her large noggin makes her especially sweet. Though it does make me wonder, how much of her head is hat and not head at all.

daisy paper doll clothes 1

Love the artist smock with the button-up sides.

Daisy paper doll clothes 2

There’s the very obvious Holly Hobbie patchwork pinafore over a blue dress.

daisy paper doll clothes 3

And a warm coat; it may be a gray day, but baby it’s cooold outside!

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Happy Christmas!

brownies christmas book

and a Very Merry New Year.

From me and all the fae folk of this particularly enchanted vicinity.

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The Popover Family

Among the many things I like are books about dolls and their houses (and their people). The Popover Family is such a book, a collection of short stories arrayed as a novel, telling of their many adventures. Comforting adventures with much love and friendship with a dash of excitement. Like many vintage books (this is from 1927) the language is delightfully dated. I’m also inordinately fond of decorated endsheets. Like these:

popover family endsheet

What I find particularly charming about the Popover Family is that fully half the family are improvised dolls. The mother and daughter are regular manufactured dolls; the mother is said to be “a little china doll” and the daughter is stated to be “a little girl doll” which might indicate she’s a bisque doll. But Father Popover and Baby Popover (whose long name is Loo-Loo) are improvised, that is, made of found or as is currently fashionable upcycled objects.

“Mr. Popover was a clothes-pin, tall and slim and brown. His head was small, but his legs were long, and of them he was very, very proud.”

“Baby Popover was a chubby glass bottle, smooth and long and round. He wore a little white cape and a white pointed cap tied over the cork that made his head. He lay in a little wooden cradle, as snug as could be, and he was never so good and quiet as when someone was rocking him to and fro.”

the popover family

As you can see from the above illustration, there are also fairies in this book. Only in one story but that story is rather atypical for a fairy story, involving a domestic crisis wherein the Fairy Queen’s baby won’t stop screaming unless she holds him so she can’t dance at the ball. Mother and Loo-Loo Popover come to the rescue, the crisis resolved and a jolly time is had by all.

There is a decided emphasis on the power of the imagination in books like these. As an example, look closely at their house.

popover family dollhouse

There are no internal doors, no stairs, and overall a general disregard for having things be in the same scale. So the imagination takes over and then anything, anything at all becomes possible. Tea parties with a feast of crumbs, midnight rides on a mouse named Brownie, and a baby who gets colic after his head came off in the bath and he filled up with water. And that is truly magical.

My copy of The Popover Family is battered and worn, the binding is loose, there are copious pencil marking on the text and it’s missing one of the four illustrations (the last, which I think might be of when Santa visits). I love it just the same.

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Less Than Fantastic

spooky chick

Ever feel like things just aren’t going the way you’d hoped? Perhaps this next week will be better.

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Here for your Halloween enjoyment is a little book from my collection. Literally  little; this puppy measures 4-1/8″ x 6-1/8″. It fits very nicely in the hand.

Nutshell Toy Making dustjacket

I picked this up because I really liked how demented the animals on the cover look.

Nutshell Toy Making dustjacket flaps

This book was published in 1964 in England which is kind of obvious if you read the dustjacket flaps and do check out the other titles in the series (listed on the back of the dustjacket).

This clown pattern looks more scarecrow to me so here it is and if you don’t get it made before Thanksgiving it will still fit into your tablescape. It’s meant to be made of felt with a cardstock banjo.

Nutshell Toy Making Clown pattern 1

Nutshell Toy Making Clown pattern 2

Nutshell Toy Making Clown pattern 3

Nutshell Toy Making Clown pattern 4

Remember to click on the picture to get the full size image to copy and print out. Enjoy!


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Every morning when I wake up, this is what I see:

yellow doll dresser

It’s a vintage dolls’ dresser that I’ve had for years. When I got it the mirror was missing from the swivel frame on the top and I never replaced it; it sat empty for a long, long time. Then my friend Elsa Mora blogged about a painting called Alert that she had done for an exhibit of her art. I knew right away where I needed to put a copy of that painting and with Elsa’s permission I printed it out and then the dresser finally was complete.

yellow doll dresser detail

This reminds me every day to stay awake, pay attention, appreciate what I have and let go what I have lost. There is great wisdom and no small amount of comfort in this piece.

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Bonus Paper Doll

I feel a bit guilty about not posting last week, even though I was sick in bed with a bug; which is a pretty good excuse actually. But anyway here is a little bonus post for this week: a Crissy paper doll for you to print out and draw outfits for. Be sure to click on the picture to get a larger image.

I had both the actual doll and this paper doll as a child; both of which I have managed to reacquire thru the auspices of ebay.

Here’s a website where you can learn more than you ever wanted to know about the Crissy doll family. Check out the sewing/crocheting page where you can see (and download) the commercial clothing patterns that were available for her.

Have big fun!

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This is a trial run of a little paper dollhouse that is made of ink-jet printouts fused to cracker and cereal box cardboard. The files were sent to me by Esben (a very generous toy theatre fan) from Denmark. The dollhouse was originally published in Illustretet Family Journal in the first part of the 20th century. This was a Danish magazine that included a great many paper models including some fantastic toy theatres. Since this is just a trial I shrank all the parts down to fit on 8-1/2 x 11 paper and didn’t pay strict attention to scale. The house turned out to be around 1/24 scale (1/2″ to the foot). Even at this size I can easily fit my hand into the attic to arrange the furniture and a friends six year old had no trouble at all playing with the house.

The house is designed to come apart into two pieces — voila! the attic comes off. I particularly love the wallpaper  and wainscoting in the attic.

The parquet floor and french doors in the downstairs room are rather elegant, and the little portraits and sconces are lovely.

The attention to detail carries over into the furniture. Notice the woodgraining on the bedroom set (and the mattress ticking on that bed). Downstairs the table cloth does overhang the table legs all the way around (the legs are inset about 1/8″) and the designer included a piano!

The furniture is only partially cut out — those little white spaces in the chair  and table legs should normally have been trimmed but this was only a test. I printed the furniture sheets on plain white cardstock and didn’t fuse any reinforcement. They are surprisingly sturdy.

The actual assembly went smoothly, all the parts were well designed and fit together as they should. The only problem I had was that I should have just used plain card stock for the attic dormers. The cardboard was a bit too thick and made fitting them very fiddley. Also next time I would cut out the window panes; it’s too dark in that attic. It would be great fun to do this project again on a slightly larger scale and make little dolls to live in it.

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Secret Sue Paper Dolls

This is a vintage paper doll that I picked up a little while ago.

Shhh! She’s a Spy.

She’s also adorable and this is one of those mid-60s sets which had two dolls (a big and a little) with matching outfits.

I especially love the white trench coat outfit — it reminds me of Agent 99 from the Get Smart show.

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