Arts and Crafts for 1950s Kids

After too long a break I am back! This time I’m thinking about the large amount of art and craft activities we did as children in the 1950s. If it was dry we were outside, if it was a wet day or if it was winter and the evenings were dark we were inside and occupied with various games and activities – imagination games, board games, reading books and dressing up. One of my main memories however is of art and craft activities.

We always had paints, crayons and paper in the house. We also had a wide range of crafts we enjoyed, some were ones shown to us by our mum, others came in kit form. Art and craft kits were very popular gifts, especially for girls.

We all (including my brother) learned to knit very young and also to do cork work – known to many as ‘French Knitting’. My dad used to put metal staples into used wooden cotton reels for this activity and we made miles of the stuff using oddments of my mum’s knitting wool. The tubes of knitting produced have limited uses!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA       knitting-kits

Most of our activities were home-grown but here are some of the kit activities I remember being given as presents;

basket-weaving, raffia, plaster model making, painting by numbers and embroidery. My brother used to be given model soldiers to paint, Meccano and Airfix models to construct and paint.

basket weaving.jpg    beads   embroidery


We always had Plasticine around too. We called it clay. It was SO hard to mould compared to modern materials such as Play Dough – but we didn’t know any different!

plasticine      sewing             vintage-1950s-mccalls-golden-make-it-book-kids-crafts   wood-burn   meccano  paint-by-number-kit

100-colour-paint-by-numbers-1950s-vintage-paint-set-top-best                  83501_toy_soldiers_in_boxes.jpg

I loved receiving a new paint tin as a present! The tins often had lovely pictures on the top. Best of all. however, was the inside with all the pristine squares of water colour paint each one with its name printed underneath it. I loved those wonderful words – Ultramarine, Burnt Sienna, Yellow Ochre, Cobalt Blue, Burnt Umber and Prussian Blue are some I remember well.

12 thoughts on “Arts and Crafts for 1950s Kids

  1. Wonderful memories. The joy of a new painbox!

    And now you’ve jogged my memory, I recall doing ‘French Knitting’ with a wooden cotton reel, but I wouldn’t have a clue how to do it now.

    I also remember a substance called ‘glitter wax’ that we considered a step up from plasticine. It came in lovely vivid colours, and we warmed it in our hands to make it pliable.

    My sister made what we called a ‘hooky rug’. That involved hooking small rectangles of left over fabric through a piece of hessian. The end result was very colourful.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I remember ‘French Knitting’. I’ve been wondering about trying it again because it strikes me that the results might make really nice strong yarn for crochet projects that need a chunky yarn (like rugs, for instance).

    Also, I remember doing lots of stuff as a child with plasticine but my mum used to put it near a heater and that would soften it. 🙂

    Where do you get your pics, are they your own?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi. I have used a few of my own but mainly they’re found on Google Images. Every so often I post a note about copyright in case I get anyone complaining. I think corkwork would crochet up really well. I seem to remember it grew very fast then we had to find uses for it. I remember coiling it around and sewing it into mats to be used for teapots or as dressing table mats!! I’m writing a post script today as I’ve recalled some other activities. Thanks for commenting. Meryl


    • Sorry, I’ve only just seen your reply (I have memory issues, just written about them, but nevermind).
      Oh using the resulting rope or yarn for mats sounds a great idea!
      Google images is a search engine so a lot of stuff that’s there is not meant for re-use, but there is a Creative Commons search page you can use to find copyright free images, here: Flickr is a better site – and under each post there you’ll see the licence or, if it’s copyright protected it’ll say ‘all rights reserved’. There is also a site called Pixabay that offers copyright free images. The best way to use images is to give a link back to the original.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. This brought back lots of pleasant memories. I’d forgotten how much I loved crafts when I was a kid. When my brother and I were very little, my mother would make us “snow” to build 3-D pictures with. She made it with Ivory Snow and water, using an egg beater.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s