make it do or do without

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Saturday, January 12, 2008
When I was going through a bunch of old newspaper clippings at my Sweet Sad Crazy Lady job (don't ask) I came across this unidentified bit which was on the back side of another clipping. (which is why it's just partial and I don't have the date, although I think it might be from the thirties as it has that depression-era aura of practicality and forced cheer. The picture for this post is from WWII, when "go shopping" was NOT the advice given to the populace of our nation at war.)

...indeed many pretty and useful articles for the home can be made of things ordinarily considered of no value, and thrown away. Old broom-handles make very good towel-runners when painted and varnished or enameled. Boxes large enough for packing quilts, or small enough to hold handkerchiefs, pins, and so on, tiles for umbrella holders, jugs, jars, bottles and other containers, covered with fancy paper or wall-paper pasted on, then lacquered and varnished are very attractive; for small jars the fancy envelope-linings are beautiful and in a little while one can save quite a quantity to use in this way. Patchwork aprons utilize scraps and are very odd and pretty, as well as serviceable; even bathrobes made of patchwork are popular -- and of course there are always quilts and cushions. Old dresses, with sleeves removed and necks lowered will serve as underskirts. And we all know that old garments of any kind, stockings with the rest, can be given a new lease on life and usefulness by making them into rugs, crocheted, braided, hooked, or as you please. Really there is no necessity for wasting anything.

These are all good ideas today, too! I love the emphasis on "pretty and useful" -- why not make your life a little brighter by choosing/making utilitarian things that are attractive? This resonates with the modern indie craft movement which thrives on the aesthetic of "very odd and pretty." The article writer seems a little more enamored of varnish and lacquer than is the current fashion, but the sentiment is familiar.

No Necessity: I have been getting rid of a bunch of stuff. I'm a semi-reformed sentimental packrat and I have too many things. I've been successfully reducing, although it's taking me longer than I would like. The big lesson is not getting rid of stuff, though -- that's not so hard once I get into the zone (may I recommend donating whatever is donatable? it makes it so much easier to let go knowing that it may get another shot at usefulness with someone else) -- the hardest part is not dragging NEW stuff home and falling into the same old trap. Do I really need it? Will I use it? Will I still be using it in a year? Do I really want it? (this last one is always a good one to ask -- I'm surprised at the number of times my answer has been "no," which is great from a less-junk-having/ more-money-having perspective.) I'm not saying that there is no room for buying things for pleasure, I'm just saying that often there is great pleasure in finding just the right thing instead of 15 things that aren't quite there.

Speaking of reusing material ubiquitous for our times, has a fantastic roundup of Plastic Bag Crafts, including how to make fabric from them! (and yarn for knitting!) there are lots of cool photos and links to many, many tutorials.

In News Completely Unrelated to the Above, The Complete Jane Austen starts tomorrow night on Masterpiece Theater (PBS)! It starts with Persuasion, and I'm anxious to see if it's as good as the 1995 version which came at the start of the last Jane Austen boom. I remember watching Pride and Prejudice as it came on night after night -- it was DEFINITELY water-cooler conversation at my place of employment. Actually, this news is not completely unrelated, as Jane was a quilter.
4 comments on "make it do or do without"
  1. I had a dream last night/this morning that I was looking for the perfect advertisement from the thirties or forties that was set on tin or whatever sort of metalish substance they used back then, so I found it a bit odd when I saw your featured photo of the day...weird. Now I am off to see a movie called "One Missed Call". Margaret Cho is in it so hopefully there will be some laughs. Edward Burns is starring in it. Poor guy.

  2. I've been researching WWII info lately (I was a child during that era) and yesterday read a review for a picture book about a family who sent shoes, clothing, and food to German families after the war...creating a bridge of friendship. I recently heard a lady speak at our church who told how packages from Americans after the war saved their lives as they were scavaging for food.

  3. That is weird, BBD! How was the movie?

    That's so interesting Mary Emma. What was the name of the picture book?

  4. The movie was fine. The under-13 group sitting 2 rows in front of us seemed to calm down once the movie started...and freaked out towards the climactic ending, which was fine with me as they were actually "feeling" the movie, and I find that to be enjoyable, to an extent. Ed Burns and his nose did a fine job. Maragret Cho was in it for some reason that I just can't figure. Erich enjoys these J-horror movies and, for the most part, I find them to be pleasant enough diversions.
    But yes, the dream I had about locating the old advertisements and then your blog post happening the same day? I like those weird little "What the?" moments. It's like deja vu but different.


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