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Vintage Toys and a mother’s second hand strategy

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As soon as Ramona and I enter a charity shop or a jumble sale I zoom straight to the kids section and pick out the nicest (by nicest I mean oldest/ most wooden/ cheapest) toy or coolest kids book and place it into her hands with an excited exclamation of “LOOK- this is just the ticket!!”  I then move straight away from the kids section, out of danger territory. It may seem a bit mean, or a bit against my “child-as-unique-independant-person” philosophy but I simply CAN’T take home another giant, ugly, fluffy toy circa 1998- and this IS the thing she will choose if left to her own devices.

It is something we have to face, as parents. Kids toys ain’t often pretty – or perhaps often too pretty; pink, beribboned, cuddly. They can take up a lot of space and ruin the aesthetics of a room. I’m sure many of you don’t care, and I wish I didn’t.

But I do. I just dooooo.

Fortunately, the world of second hand provides a mountain of eyeball pleasing kids options. I am always on the look out for retro looking, vintage play things and have found some gorgeous numbers that Ramona loves too.

We have one area where the ugly (by ugly, I really only mean new. Why are new things so damn ugly?) things live, in an ancient deep drawer hidden to the side of the sofa.  And I have just recently launched an Exhibition of Old Children’s Things, on quite a prominent shelf, that all three of us enjoy looking at.

Apart from the Ukeleles, which were gifts,  all of these are second hand. I picked the abacus and clock up from a charity shop in Blackheath a couple of weeks ago for One Squid and found these little playmobil bike riders on that Legendary Farham visit. Eeek, I just love ’em.

I always keep my eyes peeled for little music instruments so that when Ramona’s chums come over we can all have a bash and a sing. We have an immense Salvation Army heritage- all my 3 generations on both sides, my parents, Aunties and Uncles are all ministers in the Barmy Army and Ramona does them proud as she tinkers with this “timbrel” (tambourine) I got for 50p last week at a Bootie.

She is singing “Wind the bobbin up” -which mostly just involves her saying “Pull, Pull” over and over and over. It is her favourite song, she bursts out in it approximately six times an hour but it also sounds a lot like her sound for “Poo” which results is us spending lots of time each day on unnecessary but tuneful potty visits.

And finally, just a couple of weeks ago at my local car boot in East Dulwich I found this pretty ancient skipping rope with a couple of scary mushroom guys for handles.

PS little while ago I posted about some other vintage toys and included some secondhand toy pillaging tips – have a broose. (That’s Scottish for browse.)

PPS Have you found any thing retro for your kids recently?

PPPS I am linking up with the magical Magpie Monday over on Liz’s blog – if you get a chance do go and have a squizz at all their wonderous second hand goodies.

PPPPS Have you noticed my new header? Can you tell me why it is blurry, the blithering, bladdy, blurry &a*t%r&!

PPPPPS If you enjoy reading this old blogaglog of mine, have you had a moment to put me up for a MAD blog award? There are loads of catergories but you could especially vote for me in the “Most Over-Vintaged Up Photo Editing ever” or “Most amount of Made Up Words In a Post In The World”.  No, seriously, I reckon Home/ Thrift/ Craft catergories are possible themes of mine? Muchos Gracias.

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Vintage handmade cards – cowboys, swallows and deers

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When I was nine I sent an anonymous card to a girl in my class that I didn’t like much.  It said “You and your family smell like egg.” Obviously I failed at the disguise-your-handwriting bit and they totally busted me and I had to miss Neighbours while I wrote her an apology letter.

My cards don’t tend to be so cruel these days. They are mostly non existent, which is a bit better, but still rubbish. If I am going to see someone on their birthday then they are lucky and get a nice hand crafted number. But out of sight, out of mind- well, in mind, but not in envelopes or hands which is really more important. This is a problem as half my family live in New Zealand so they are never in sight. However, this is the Year of Change and I have pledged to send a little summin’ on people’s special days.

To make this Actually Happen, and in most thrifty of ways, in a spare half an hour yesterday I cut up some of my vintage Twinkle kids books, placed the images onto some ancient sewing pattern (this is the BEST craft resource – if you don’t already have some sewing patterns, do pick some up in a charity shop for 20p. Great for all sorts) and sewed it onto card.

Well simple but the graphics are cute and retro enough to work mostly by themselves, I reckon. And the old sewing paper just adds an abstract element- those random lines and letters and numbers, and texture. As for the sewing, I only really do this because my sewing machine is so big I can’t lose it where as keeping track of Pritt stick is beyond me.

Cutie little deer, a bit twee, but wouldn’t you like him as a pet?

Love soldiers, hate war.

Got a thing for cowboys? ME TOO!! Check out my Cowboy and Indian jars.

Swallows make my heart sing. Nice poem too- but did you know they had Twitter in 1974? NEITHS!

Needless to say Ramona is in LOVE with this duck card.

Ah, retro adventures.

Got any good quick, thrifty card making tricks?

If you like the look of these kids book graphics – have a squizz at the other things I whipped up with them.

PS If you get any of these cards sent to you anonymously saying you smell like egg IT WASN’T ME.

Vintage Collage – a quick craft

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I have posted before about the utter delights of vintage childrens books– for slashing (Shock! Horror!)  describing them as a “bottomless treasure trove of vintage craftiness”. And indeed, here is another way to showcase their charms. This is a different take on a collage- instead of gluing fun little items onto paper you glue fun little items on to sticks and watch them pop out at you!

I have done this a couple of times, the one shown here was done using cocktail sticks pushed into a bit of candle that I taped up with masking tape (ha, the things you use eh?) but the first time I did it was loads less effort and worked to greater effect so I recommend ze folloving vay…

Take a slim rubber (say, 2cm x 2 cm but .5 cm thick, ish) and a load of pins with big heads. (Gosh, I wish I knew the real names of things sometimes. Surely these have a real name? They are pins but with big coloured balls on the end?)

Take some glue – prickstick or glue gun, something with instant stick.

Take a whole load of teeny tiny papery things you have cut up. Words, birds, numbers, mushrooms. Those tiny photos they give you from the photo shop to preview your pack of pictures.

Bash! Thump! Wham!

Glue the paper things onto the big pin heads.

When they are dry stick them into the rubber.

You are aiming to make the pins invisible so have them sticking out in ways that disguise the other pins.

Working from a central point and out in a kind of sphere works quite well.

Put it in a box frame. This one was £2 from a Mind charity shop.

Bam!

Cut much up recently? Do share 🙂

Thrifty Thursday: The endless giving of childrens annuals

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Childrens annuals are a bottomless treasure trove of vintage craftiness. In the last couple of months I have made a cowboy tin, some bunting, several cards and upcycled a coat hook.  You can pick these up for pennies at car boots or pounds in charity shops that know their stuff; either way it is worth it. You simply can’t exhaust their goodness- you will save wads of cash whipping up gorgeous cards out of their beautiful retro graphics or if you have a bit more time you can craft up a gift for someone- the tin below took about 15 minutes and was lovingly given to my sister (okay, actually she just took it saying “Shall I have this?”)

They provide some great flashbacks (the Blue Peter one with it’s Grange Hill comic strip and epic eighties typeface) and an unhealthy dollop of sexism (sometimes I argue we haven’t got very far with gender equality and then I read Twinkle for Little Girls which stealthily teaches young females to bake and clean through cartoon.) The only problem with them is that they are so cool and old that taking your scissors to them seems quite callous. Get over this hurdle by snipping up the sexist and racist bits- soon you’ll be scissor happy and ready to craft!

The Tin:

Take a Birds Custard Powder tin and cut a comic strip that will fit around the outside of it.

Glue.

Once dry give it a slick or two of varnish.

The Bunting:

Stay with me here, it’s complicated.

Cut into triangles.

Glue onto string.

The Coat Hook:

We had literally been looking in charity shops and skips for a for a bit of wood and hooks to make a peg rail/ coat hook (what do you call these things?!) for AGES.  After a few months we saw a bit of wood by someones bin and thought “PERFECT!” when we turned it over we saw that it already had pegs and was an actual, existing thing! Suffice to say we were exhilarated (just look at our sad, scavangey lives.) It was missing the surface bit of the panels so I cut out two bits of Annual and glued and varnished them on. They are about Dick and his snowballs. Bahahaha.

Hope you find some cheesey, sexist and racist children’s annuals soon!