Vintage Craft Workshop – Cathy Callahan

Vintage Craft Workshop: Fresh Takes on 25 Classic Projects from the '60s and '70s

Vintage Craft Workshop: Fresh Takes on 25 Classic Projects
from the ’60s and ’70s

By Cathy Callahan · Reviewed by Katy McRae

I have to preface this book review with the fact that Cathy Callahan is one of my crafting idols. Her blog is one of my favourites and I stalk her on Facebook. Her collection of retro craft books and magazines is truly awe-inspiring, her passion for ’60s and ’70s craft borders on the fanatical and her sense of style just plain rocks. So when I discovered she had produced a craft book I bought it, pretty much sight unseen. I did check out the title – Vintage Craft Workshop: Fresh Takes on 25 Classic Projects from the ’60s and ’70s – and figured I couldn’t go too far wrong.

Cathy has taken some of her favourite projects and, with the help of some of her crafty friends, given them a modern make-over. She’s gone for the classics – free-form crochet vase covers, string art, painted stone paperweights, raffia flowers, paper mache. It’s a ’60s and ’70s craft-fest with all the colour and kitsch you’d expect. I have to be honest here though – sometimes the remakes are just not as cool as the originals. But isn’t that always the way?

The instructions for each project are clear and Cathy includes patterns at the back on nifty, perforated sheets that can be torn out without doing damage to the book. It’s a nice touch. The other thing that Cathy does really well is intersperse the craft projects with short biographies on crafty ladies of the era. So not only do you get to make stuff, you get a history lesson along the way.

As Cathy rightly points out, the business world of the time was dominated by men. However, in the late ’40s and early ’50s a few independent-minded women were starting their own craft supply companies, popularising supplies that brought new options to the home crafter. When craft really took off in the ’60s and ’70s these women – Aleene Jackson, Hazel Pearson  and LeJeune Whitney among others – became crafting superstars.

So while I may not be so enamoured of the actual projects, I do love the book. It’s a good retro craft resource, a great read and a welcome addition to my own fanatical collection of craft books.

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