The Hometown History column is presented by the Fenton History Center and The Post-Journal. Each Friday, a distinct item from the Fenton History Center collections or archival special collections will be featured. Learn about your hometown history through parts of its past.
If one of the items featured brings back some memories or brings up a question, please contact the Fenton History Center at 664-6256 or firstname.lastname@example.org to share your memory or get an answer to your question.
By Karen Livsey
A decorative bowl made from old Christmas cards, circa 1940, is on display at the Fenton History Center.
As you are pulling out the Christmas decorations this year, will you uncover a pile of old Christmas cards from past years? Are they last year's cards that just got put away with everything else? Or are they special cards that are kept from year to year because of the picture, the sender or the verse?
So what are you going to do with those cards this year? What will you do with the ones you receive this year?
Recycling is one option.
In past decades, cards were recycled into craft projects, although it was not thought of as recycling. It was making use of something still too good to throw away.
One of the craft projects made bowls from cards. Two of these bowls are on exhibit at the Fenton History Center as part of the holiday exhibit. They were probably made in the 1930s or 1940s. The person making them was either very clever or they had a pattern for the shapes needed to be cut from the cards, and they knew how to sew. Patterns were undoubtedly printed in many of the women's magazines of the day. They were traced and shared with women in the sewing circle, the home bureau or the neighborhood club that met for coffee.
We do not have a pattern for these bowls in the collection. But we do have the Internet, and within a few minutes we had a pattern and instructions to create a bowl from old Christmas cards. First you have to decide what design/pictures can be cut from the cards in the shape and size needed. You can even color coordinate or pick just one theme like angels. After all are cut out, two pieces cut from the cards are glued together back to back so that there will be a design on the inside and the outside of the bowl. These pieces are then stitched or crocheted together, eventually forming a bowl to hold maybe this year's Christmas cards. If you don't know how to crochet, the Internet can probably teach you. If you crochet them, you may have to punch holes first. If you sew them, you may need to find that old thimble to get through the paper.
You can also cut cards so that you have a supply of those small gift tags to add to the wrapped gifts. Dig out those old pinking shears if you want a "fancy" edge, or borrow some of the cutting tools from the family scrapbooker's supply.
These are just two recycling ideas from yesteryear. You may not have time to do it now, but next January as you pack away the Christmas decorations, save out the cards and get creative. You will have gift tags and bowls for next year. The same can be done with birthday, Easter, Halloween and Thanksgiving cards so you can stay busy all year.
The hours for the Fenton holiday exhibits are Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Christmas Eve when the hours are 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The exhibits are closed on Christmas Day.
The purpose of the Fenton History Center is to gather and teach about southern Chautauqua County's history through artifacts, ephemeral and oral histories, and other pieces of the past.
Visit www.fentonhistorycenter.org for more information on upcoming events.
If you would like to donate to the collections or support the work of the Fenton History Center, call 664-6256 or visit the center at 67 Washington St., just south of the Washington Street Bridge.