Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Living Memories: Introducing The VBS Collection

The number of branded home collections that arrive at retail each year always amazes me. This big-name designer for that furniture maker or this homey concept translated into sheets, towels and dishes. That’s why I have threatened to launch my own "designer" line: The VBS Collection.

Some might ask what VBS stands for. But if you grew up in the South or in the Midwest like I did, you won’t hesitate to identify this summer-season acronym: Vacation Bible School.

During the 1970s, Vacation Bible School took place each June and lasted a half-day for an entire week. While we got our daily dose of religious teaching, my favorite VBS memories are all those ingenious crafts we made.

Now this isn’t a VBS project, but it could have been. I think I made this in fourth grade when I was a Cub Scout. You can see how we battered the wood by pounding nails and screws around the borders. To create the effect of a vintage photo find, we tore the edges of a magazine page and added a smear of brown shoe polish to emulate a good scorching. Then we glued the picture to the square of wood and followed it up with several coats of shellac.

At Vacation Bible School, we took masking tape, ripped it into shards, applied it to jelly jars and then covered them with a coating of brown shoe polish to create the effect of leather. (Witness yet another crafty use for shoe polish!) We carved church shapes out of pure Ivory Soap. We strung colored yarn around Popsicle sticks to create what we called God’s Eyes. We poured layers of tinted sand into baby food jars to form a colored dessert. And we brought in clear vinegar jugs, filled the bottoms with soil, dropped in plants and miniature figurines and sealed the containers shut for personal terrariums.

Oh the things you can do with toothpicks (paint them and affix them to a checkbook box with Elmer’s Glue!); tiny seashells (poke a hole in them with a needle and string them for a wind chime!); or clear, plastic food container lids (color them with markers and shrink them in the oven for tiny, hanging ornaments!).

Picture frames crafted out of button-encrusted tongue depressors? Lampshades decorated with lengths of yarn in hues graduating from orange to brown? Ceramic planters decorated with colorful bottle caps? Bedding sets printed in motifs of decoupaged flora and fauna? Sounds like a VBS Collection to me!

In May 2009, Clarkson Potter will publish my book, The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating with Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details.


Unknown said...

I totally know VBS. I loved the crafts too...these yarn dream catchers woven over two sticks put together like a cross. My favorite part of the day was the music...a guy with an acoustic guitar and "This Little Light of Mine" -

saw your status on facebook and checked this out. I love it.

Life As g said...

This is so true! SO true. I particularly liked the Christian fish we made with Ivory soap.

Those were some creatively cheap projects we did!

Great post....