Growing up during a recession wasn't all bad. My Mom had been laid-off so, for the first time since my parents divorced, she was home a lot. I learned really useful stuff in Girl Scouts, like canning and recycling. We didn't have money for entertainment so we spent a lot of time just playing outdoors, riding bikes with more patches than tires, playing Bloody Murder or Statues in the twilight, catching fireflies, and digging really big holes. I was 13 but it was OK to play with the little kids because acting like a teenager required money for new clothes, eight track tapes, and hanging around with friends. I didn't have extra money so my teen activities consisted of watching Good Times and testing out some new vocabulary words. There was plenty of time to play.
When the weather was ugly we did a lot of crafts indoors. My mother is one of the craftiest people I know and she has a real talent for turning anything into a project. She also worked part time for Lee Wards Crafts, one of the greatest craft stores of the 70's. (It was bought out and eradicated by Micheal's in the 90's.) Lee Wards understood the need that people had for crafts that were practical and used stuff that didn't cost a lot. Instead of precut, ready to assemble and paint, kits they sold tools and and booklets that taught how to make things from scratch. Like lanterns out of tin cans
or unique accessories out of things you had laying around.
But my favorite crafting activities involved the use of newspaper and glue. There were so many things to do with these two simple and continuously available items. Paper mache, jewelry made from newspaper beads of varying sizes, and an unending variety of things that could be made by folding and weaving newspapers.
Apparently I'm not the only person who remembers those crafty recycling years. Many of these items are reappearing in the marketplace. Mostly in places like Etsy and Ebay, but a few have gone more mainstream. Like this...
"The Daily" is a 15 inch handbag made of water resistant woven newspaper and a plastic shoulder strap. It's available online at Ecoist for just $158.
Now I have to admit that I actually kind of like this bag. However, it qualifies as a Bad Bag because, seriously, if you have the money to buy it then you are just pretending to be part of this struggling economy. For those of us who aren't going to see a bail-out anytime soon there is an option to blowing your weekly grocery budget on a trendy handbag. Weave your own. Here are some really fantastic instructions!
Oh, and if the economy gets much worse here's a how-to for making shoes from newspaper too.
When beggars and shoeshine boys, barbers and beauticians can tell you how to get rich it is time to remind yourself that there is no more dangerous illusion than the belief that one can get something for nothing.
Bernard Baruch, 1929