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REVIEW: The Complete Book of


Retro Crafts by Lisa Margreet Payne of www.lisamargreet.com


Retro craft lovers get ready to go crazy: glitter-encrusted pinecone elves, teacups with googley eyes, matchstick picture frames and a paint by numbers “Klingon Jesus” (You what? Don’t worry, I’ll explain in a minute). Suzie Millions has written a book that is crammed full of retro craft projects and tips on collecting and displaying them. The projects are inspired by crafts from the 1920s through to the 1960s and subtle they ain’t! If you love your kitsch then you need to get yourself a copy of this book.


Kitsch is an aesthetic all unto itself and The Complete Book of Retro Crafts is a good place to start if you want to dip a


rhinestone-


studded toenail into those waters. The book features some great retro design with its yellow and black


100 | ukhandmade | Summer 2012


illustrated chapter divider pages and an aproned 1950s lady holding up banners of useful tips sprinkled throughout the pages. Like the full- on in your face crafts of those times this book is overflowing with images and information, all topped off with a healthy dose of glitter and glue- gunning.


If kitsch isn’t your aesthetic then hold on for a second before your roll your googley eyes at it. The introduction essay in Chapter 1 entitled “I Don’t Know What It Is but I Made It Myself: The Good, the Bad and the Really Ugly” discusses definitions of craft and tries to place retro craft in the grand scheme of all things crafty. Pretty much the antithesis of high craft, retro craft is “art for Everyman”. As the book says “Grandma may have taught you how to make a knitted beer


can hat, but that hat is decidedly retro craft. There is a low-brow aspect at work here. That’s part of its charm. It’s direct and unaffected. In the vast and ever-more elite and sophisticated art- world buffet, retro craft is the warm and familiar Toll House cookie”.


I think sometimes we all get so caught up in the perfectionism of our work trying to produce the best quality products that we can that we forget an important element of design: play. How often do you let yourself sit down and play with materials and just see what happens? Get out your ribbon stash that you’ve been hoarding, the jar full of buttons that you’ve been squirreling away over the years, the yarn or fabric you’ve been holding onto and are not sure what to do with and start to play around; see what happens. When


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