Remember The Popsicle Stick Lamp?
I once made a lamp out of Popsicle sticks. What’s worse, I made TWO lamps out of Popsicle sticks because I was ever so proud of the first one I made for my parents one Christmas back in 1977, and I couldn’t stand that they had one and I didn’t. So it was back to the craft store for more sticks and Elmer’s glue.
They were beauties, both of them. Unfortunately, neither my parents nor I foresaw the day years down the road when we could post photographs of our retro crafts through the magic of “cyberspace” and sell them for more money than the new family home cost in 1964.
So eventually the lamps got dusty, looked old enough to toss but not to qualify as antique or even “retro,” and they were history…until just last night, when I Googled Popsicle lamps and found THIS photo that could very well be my very EXACT lamp! At least, whoever took the picture (obviously with intentions to sell it, as evidenced by the cheesy sheet as a back/underdrop) used the same pattern I did. And their picture is good enough for me‑‑by golly, it’s MY lamp and I’m proud of it!
My obsession with crafts started in 1961 or ’62 when, in kindergarten, we made the most beautiful centerpiece‑type thing ever seen in history. It, too, was a beauty: a huge, perfect pine cone sitting up straight as an arrow in a bed of plaster of paris, probably with embellishments to make it stand out as the prettiest one of the whole class. But I don’t remember that part for sure because, you see, there were two kindergarten classes, a morning and afternoon, and I was in one or the other. There was a “vik‑ee” in the other one, which should not have caused problems, but in this case it nearly ruined my life. One of the mommy helpers in my class had affixed the name “Vickie” instead of “Vicky” to MY art project with masking tape; but I KNEW it was mine because it was so neat and crisp and clean, with no crooked or vertically challenged, leaning pine cone or plaster artifacts smashed into it. It was perfect. And it was the beginning of my life battling OCD. But I digress.
My mother, thinking I had the OTHER vik‑ee’s pine cone, made me take it back to school to exchange for “mine,” over my foot‑stomping protest that was probably louder than any sock‑folding‑at‑the‑toe tantrum I ever tried on her. Of course, I believe the other vik‑ee ended up with two art pieces‑‑a lovely, neat one and a messy‑looking one. To this day, I miss that pine cone‑‑and I have been trying to out‑craft my mother ever since.
Which is not an easy thing to do, having a mother who started out making resin grape clusters and broken‑glass poodle wall hangings and now, at the still‑young age of (do I hear the Popsicle truck outside?) still prolifically produces‑‑and sells at craft fairs!‑‑her ceramics, potato microwave bags, wool dryer balls, and lovely glass fired pendants.
Now, we all know what happened to the early 1960s. The Beatles came along at the same time the 1960s were turning into the early 1970s, which was the era of hippies, Volkswagens, and crafts so colorful and bright that a shortage of sunglasses was big news back then. The long lines at the gas pumps one year were, at worst, a frustrating inconvenience; however, the more colorfully adorned, at least the ones who were resourceful enough to see the bright side and take their Polaroid cameras along for the fueling, made a fortune selling now‑retro snapshots of themselves and others who sported eye‑popping tunics and beads, sitting cross‑legged on the hood of their Flower‑Power‑bedecked Volkswagens surrounded by a pungent peace cloud while singing “Where Have All the Flowers Gone.”
Over the years I have tried, succeeded, and sometimes epically failed at every craft imaginable. Show me something cute or interesting that has the potential to be recreated by my own hands, add to that the fact that it won’t cost me a thing, and you have my modus operandi behind those Popsicle stick lamps, the macramé, decoupage, embroidery and cross‑stitching, apple head dolls, the boondoggle woven lanyards, feather flowers, sock monkeys, felt‑and‑pompom animals, Indian beading, things embedded in plastic resin…you really don’t want me to go on, do you?
Oh, and I forgot to mention that I did a lot of sewing of clothes that I actually wore to school. I made a pair of green corduroy pants (with gold pockets in the back) and accidentally cut one of the legs TWICE (read: worse than flood pants) when measuring to hem them, which would
have ruined them but for the fact that the hippies saved me‑‑all it took was some wide, fancy trim added to the bottom of the pant legs, and I was good to go.
Since nobody had come up with the idea of having craft rooms in their homes until like the 1990s, the sewing machine was in my parents’ bedroom. My dad, who was somewhat crafty himself (he did a paint‑by‑numbers when I was very young, even though he can draw and carve things like a champ, and let me tag along on his trips to the Renton Stationery store to buy nifty art stuff) was often the victim of my longing for new duds to wear. Forget the glamorous stepping on pop tops in Margaritaville while sporting a brand‑new tattoo‑‑my dad stepped on sewing pins, probably in his underwear, choreographing the original hiphop dance before it ever hit the streets. It’s too bad he was never given credit for it.
I still believe in‑‑and still do‑‑crafts. And I believe that you, too, must be doing them, because crafts are what bind people together (and, admittedly, also tear them apart, but we’ll try to avoid those kind). Don’t everyone run out and buy up all the Popsicle sticks, because I don’t think that will be a craft I post a how‑to for. We’ll start simple. Stay tuned. I’ll dig through my 40‑year collection of craft supplies and see what I can come up with.