To the discerning eye of the kitschy cookbook collector, Better Homes and Gardens is the pinnacle of quality. No matter the occasion, meal, or ingredient, Better Homes is always filled to capacity with fascinating, frame-worthy works of art. It should come as no surprise that every picture in their various non-food volumes is just as sensational. Their decor guides abound with tasteful mid-century modern furnishings that would look perfect in a fashionable apartment. But it seems to be their craft books that provide the most varied eye-pleasers. For the next few weeks, I'll be highlighting some of the most dazzling works from Better Homes and Gardens Stitchery and Crafts, published in 1966. It promises to be a 'complete guide to the most rewarding stitchery and craft projects for the whole family' and includes examples of the artistry of weaving, appliqueing, knitting, paper designs, mosaics, and bazaar ideas.
This is the front cover. On a cool spring afternoon, mother and daughter work on their tapestries and rugs in the barn. Mother wears her sweater about her shoulders to combat the slight chill in the air and daughter sips a soothing cup of tea whilst admiring her regal handiwork. But, as is common for all of these publications, there are usually hints of something more sinister in the background. Notice the great rudimentary farming tools strapped to the wall. There is, perhaps, a shovel and a hoe. Much to my horror, I notice that the last implement is actually the severed hand of Struwwelpeter! Clearly he got what he deserved, but it was still a shock to see it hanging there. This visual sets a macabre tone for the rest of the book.
A few lovely burlap sacks and a gorgeous striped tote bag. I would buy that striped tote bag if I saw that in a store. It's beautiful!
Where is Mrs. Bates? Though this rocking chair does have a bright and jaunty cushion, this picture is still reminiscent of Psycho.
There will be more alluring (or alarming) craft items in the coming days, and if you're interested in seeing more 1960s Better Homes and Gardens handicrafts (specifically of the yuletide variety), you can revisit last December's month of crafty Christmas cheer!