Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Fabulous & Frugal Fun: By The Book

I can never pass up an old craft book. But Don't Throw it Away! by Vivian Abell, published in 1973, was way ahead of the times with it's popular-today theme of reuse and repurpose. This was the 10-cent part of the $5.25 take from my sister's and my three-hour garage sale spree back in June.

Before we start into the magnificent creations featured on the cover (There are hundreds more inside, all with easy-to-follow instructions!), a word about Vivian Abell. In 1973, she was a 25-year devotee of crafting and the owner of Craft Town in Verona, N.J. where 20 different craft classes were taught each week. She co-hosted a TV show called "All About Crafts," and in 1972 judged the national decoupage and egg decorating contests. Repurposing Goddess!

Just what did Vivian create? Let's start with the tall-backed chair in the middle of the page. Why that's a hall coat rack and bench, made out of two washboards, a wooden ironing board and scrap lumber. And then just to its left is a an old military boot turned into a dainty pink lamp that she suggests as a whimsical accent to a child's room

And what to do with that old meat grinder? For some reason, meat grinders must have been a prevalent find back in 1973 since Vivian demonstrates several ideas to spruce them up, one being the bright yellow confection of a lamp just below the pink boot. Don't you love the pink ball fringe for a touch of added oomph!?! Let your eye wonder on down to a jaunty pink pin cushion fashioned out of a tin can, peruse over to a bleach bottle snowman and then head right up to the left-hand corner of the book where there's a delightful bird feeder fashioned out of two salad bowls.

The ideas go on and on for using things like kitchen graters, peach and olive pits, panty hose, or even flashlight lens! I'll leave you with a few words from Vivian: "People are doubly pleased when they can make an exciting new possession from what would have been a discard," she wrote from her home in Upper Montclair, N.J. " There's a special satisfaction from almost nothing or turning an old eyesore into a useful, attractive object."

I couldn't agree more!

For more current ideas on breathing new life into old objects, pick up The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating with Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details at Borders, Barnes & Noble, Amazon or Powell's.

The Elegant Thrifter

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous!


  1. I need this book. I have a pair of old motorcycle boots that I need to turn into bedside lamps with roofs.

    Thank you for sharing this. Viv may have been the Repurposing Goddess of 1972, but I think all your readers will agree that the title firmly rests on your shoulders now.


  2. I have come across this book before! She was ahead of her time!! Lots of creative ideas!!

  3. What fun! I have some incredibly dated books in my craft collection - it's true that the '70s ones I collected as a child are now looking a lot more cool than the '80s ones from my teens! We have a meat grinder...

  4. What a great blog, if I can figure out how to "follow" blogs, yours will be one of the first...I will be looking forward to getting your book, I just love that title! I love finding beautiful things and giving them new life...sometimes just a good cleaning is all they need and voila...Gorgeous. I am new to blogging and have loved getting to "meet" all these great people and seeing their wonderful blogs...Rose

  5. I wish I could have given my mom this book when I was a kid. She would throw away or give away a lot of my toys and treasures while I was at school because she claimed my room was too cluttered! Thank goodness she's 1500 miles away now from my "junk"!



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