Thursday, May 08, 2008

old school redux: the family creative workshop

I'm cynical about our time. Industries that used to at least nod to creativity and art -- see the music industry, sigh -- are now soullessly mercenary. Publishing is much more about the bottom line than it was 30 years ago. Partly it's understandable, as everything rises in cost. But it's also sad, and very compromising, how much we now bow to profit. There are so many artists, from musicians to filmmakers to people in the visual arts, who "made it" during the '70s but wouldn't be given a chance here in the age of homogenized plasticity. (I can't even imagine Prince breaking into the scene today, not even if he tried to race up on it in his little red corvette. And Joni? Well, pretty in that crunchy armpit hair kinda way, but she ain't no Leona Lewis, so forget about Blue, we can't use it.)

Today, The Family Creative Workshop would stand about as good a chance of being published as Sly and the Family Stone would of getting a record deal. And it's not just that it was published, but how: with serious production value. Representing countless artists and artisans (I love the biographical sketches); presenting hundreds of crafts, culinary items, games, and activities; and coming in at more than 3000 pages, it was undoubtedly a massive undertaking. Every volume could make for endless fun, and each one entertains while instructing, which is no easy feat. (Volume 13: Pinstriping to Puzzles. Volume 20: Tea to Toys. Volume 15: Rosemaling to Scrimshaw -- I've never rosemaled, that I know of, but please, bring it on.)

One of these good old days I'm going to kick back and make the blackwork owl (pictured below) while sipping on the homemade ginger beer featured in the 3rd volume. That's provided I don't get carried away making Ojo de Dios first.

Amazing things lie within these books, and the covers alone are riots of color and play. I can't do them justice, but these are some of my favorites.

There are other great ones, but have a look inside. (It was all I could do not to photograph every single page of every single volume to show you, so a lot of of pictures follow. You know the drill, click for big.)

Have I firmly established that The Family Creative Workshop, this encyclopedia of just about every craft known to nimble fingers, is a treasure? I hope so. I rarely say that anything beats the Internet, and I don't dare say it now, but Family Creative Workshop comes as close as you can get with craft-related materials. Due to its limitations as a set of books, it can't outshine the vastness of the Internet, but it can be a wonderful companion to it. You can't Google something you've never heard of. The set provides a great deal of stand-alone information, and its solid intros to little-known crafts can be used for further exploration online.

More re/views on The Family Creative Workshop:
Apartment Therapy
Tacky Living


Adrienne said...


orchidophile said...

Those books bring back memories. I don't think that creativity is coming back. It never left.

Look at all the great blogs of creativity! Like yours!

You are so right about Prince. His heels would be so misunderstood.

sappmama said...

orchidophile, you're so right. Creativity never left and hasn't changed, but creativity as a commodity has. Thank goodness for the Internet, where we can operate outside of corporations.

And thank you!

Ellen Bloom said...

That's my past art life and inspiration in those books. Again, thanks for the photos and good memories.

Really, there's nothing new on the's all recycled.

Deborah said...

wow, xbox be damned!

Frank said...

OMG, my gramma used to have those! I loved them! Thanks for sharing!

inkberryblue said...

I love the indie nature of the internet too but there's still nothing like a book and those are gorgeous! I've never seen them before ~ I don't think they were ever sold here in The Land Down Under. The Australian Women's Weekly used to provide me with crafty inspiration back in the
'70s and '80s.

By the way, I've found my way here on the Ravelry Bloggers' Comment Train and I've really enjoyed looking through your blog. Thanks!

Heather - - said...

I freakin' love these. I just inherited my mom's old set!! I'm in heaven, seriously.

Anonymous said...

I have a set of these; I've had them for years. They're beautiful. Sadly, I've never found the time to use them properly. I'm hoping, once I get my craft room together, to work my way through all of them and blog about it.

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