Tuesday, April 29, 2008

when the itch for wycinanki demands to be scratched

This is how I get: Obsessed. Unable to stop pursuing something, even if it sucks the very life outta me.

Sometime last year -- spring? summer? it's all a blur -- I was minding my own business and decided to mind it at the library. On Wednesdays my branch holds Friends of the Library sales. I sometimes buy a book or two, ostensibly to help out, but really just so I can have more stuff to hoard. Well, this particular Wednesday, the one in question, I went straight to the craft shelf, as I always do, and what did I see there but these:

Lovely, yes? Well, you should know what's inside. More lovely stuff, in that kitschy way that only the '70s could bring us, with directions on how to make it all with your own two hot little hands. I bought these books, bounced all the way home, kicked back, and gleefully leafed through them. Slowly, gradually, the obvious started to dawn on me. These books were part of a set! They were craft-o-pedias! They were orphans from a family! These were volumes 3 & 4 -- "Boxes to Card Tricks" and "Carryalls to Confections" respectively -- and it became my mission like yesterday to find the rest and own them.

I went to eBay, where I spotted a single volume here or there. Same with Amazon's used book sellers. Same with Alibris. I did not let this deter me. If it meant scouring the globe or putting up Schmin for adoption (at 22, he was a lot less surly than he was as a teen, and therefore more valuable as house help), I was bound to do it. Google is numero uno because if what you're looking for exists, you can eventually find it there, and without having to explain to your only child why he must go serve as Benson to a family of four. Google led me to the holy grail, The Family Creative Workshop volumes 1 - 23, plus the index. That's a full set, don'tcha know. And it was going for 20 bucks. On Craigslist. In Seattle.

I live in Los Angeles.

People who put stuff on Craigslist usually want you to come pick it up, so I contacted the seller and told her I wanted the set, and could she please hold it for me until I could come up there for vacation in a month. She said yes, and I began to plan a trip I had only been thinking of taking before. Oh, Seattle is on my list. I want to go there. I wanted to go there then. But I really, really wanted to go get those books. When I couldn't finagle a trip, I contacted her again, and asked if she'd kindly ship the books if I paid her in advance. This was after she'd returned from a trip to Paris, and after she'd had her brother ready the books for me to pick them up while she was away, only to find them still sitting in her living room. I give this woman a lot of credit for dealing with a lunatic like me. She wanted them out of her house, and was therefore willing to weigh them, call up UPS, and ship them to me. She did this without renegotiating the sale price. Obviously she was unaware of how rabid and desperate I was. I slipped a few extra bucks into her PayPal account; I didn't want her to stop and consider the ease of re-listing.

Fifty dollars and an apologetic e-mail later (and a milking of the fact that we're both named Carla, even though her Carla is spelled with a K), and I had my books. I figure I got off cheap, considering the cost of hotels and airfare. I also would've had to go to greater lengths to collect individual volumes and believe me, I would have done it. What began as a four-dollar expense during an innocent library visit turned into this:

I have been known to chase what turned out to be duds with this kind of fervor, but in this case, it was well worth it. They don't make resources like this anymore, especially not in book form. This set is exhaustive. It includes crafts that are now lost arts. Next post, I'll show you some of the good stuff.

If you see this set available anywhere, get it. Even if it's in Seattle. I've done my bit and found a couple of sets for you, at bargains, no less. They're available as I type this. Get 'em while they're hot.

eBay deal 1
eBay deal 2
Denver Craigslist

And what is wycinanki (vee-chee-non-kee)? Look here. And here.


Adrienne said...

Ohhhh, I get like that too lol

Anonymous said...

Well, when I mentioned your books in my previous post I wasn't thinking of these attttt alllll!!
You have me laughing sooooo hard, you cannot imagine. Were we separated at birth? I mean you could have been the dormant egg while I was born decades before.
What is it in the brain that triggers this off?
Do you think they exported these to Europe? I am going to find out.

sappmama said...

Isn't it just TOO MUCH? The fever we get? LOL.

Heather, one of those eBay sellers will ship internationally. Might be worth checking out. I'm off for errands and such. Let's you and me try to stay out of trouble for today. Ha ha!

Annika said...

Oh, I have just GOT to have those books! I wonder how much money I have in Paypal...

Anonymous said...

You are too much! I would get like that except I've got a husband in the house and he would flip. And further, I would flip if he started digging into the family finances for "stuff" that he's not going to "use." (He doesn't know I buy fabric on the sly that just sits in a box for months/years). Anyway, there is that new book The Creative Family. Probably doesn't hold a candle to these. But I'm still gonna get just that 1 little book since I don't have space for this whole set. Enjoy and post some pics of what's inside! Did yousee those wycinanki skirts? Beautiful.

yaiAnn said...

Ooooh, I can't wait to see what's in store!

Ellen Bloom said...

I remember those books! One of my friend's Moms had a set. We used to pore over them after school. Congratulations...quite a find!

Anonymous said...

The books are fantastic. The wiritng about your pursuit of them is really funny. I'm glad you got them in the end.

I'm looking to excerpts!

Anonymous said...

Yay! I know this is an old blog post, but I'm so psyched that I just scored the remaining 16 books I needed to completed my set on ebay for $30. So happy!