Come on in my kitsch-en

A lot has been written about the DIY movement in recent years, but for those who enjoy making something—yet aren’t compelled/motivated/experienced enough to embark on a knitted afghan or decoratively painted highboy—never fear. Your crafting book has arrived.

Local designer Suzie Millions, a professional artist who admits to inheriting the “festooning” gene, just published The Complete Book of Retro Crafts: Collecting, Displaying & Making Crafts of the Past (Lark Books, 2008). The how-to guide is equal parts coffee-table quirk and serious instruction on fabricating such lost delights as folded paper-chain picture frames, star-burst clocks and whimsy pockets.

“I tried to go with things that would give people a sampling of everything,” Millions explains. “I tried to appeal to older and younger crafters. Also men, though you don’t tend to think of men as crafters.” When she embarked on the book two years ago, she designed an ambitious 75 projects, whittled down to the 50 ideas featured.

That narrowing down (and who, besides Millions, knew there were nearly 100 things to be done with empty spools, colored pipe cleaners, discarded bottles and Styrofoam orbs?) leads to an interesting point: The “Complete Book” is not exactly a be all and end all. The author, who says she considers anything less than 800 pages to be a little light on information, wanted to call her book, “More Than You Need to Know About Retro Crafts.”

The reality is, Millions writes with such a friendly, conversational style—her instructions studded with admissions of her own trial and error process and her asides both clever and inviting—that there’s no such thing as too much with this book.

For would-be crafters looking to break into a new hobby, the author suggests starting with the Just A Memento plate “because it’s straightforward and impressive” or a matchstick frame “because it’s something to which anyone could endeavor.”

Even those not eager to dig out the glue and paints can hitch a ride on Millions’ vintage apron strings for tips on collecting, trawling flea markets and thrift shops, and developing retro taste.


who: Suzie Millions
what: Leads adults’ craft night in honor of The Complete Book of Retro Crafts
where: Malaprop’s
when: Saturday, Jan. 19 (7 p.m. Free. 254-6734)

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About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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