Australian Home Journal: Part One

I used to make my own clothes waaay back in the eighties and nineties, but for some reason I stopped. I think I was just much more focused on the result rather than the process and eventually grew tired of it. I've recently revisited my sewing machine and I'm loving it! This time, I'm much more engaged in the whole process and and I'm finding it really rewarding; not to mention all of my past sewing projects were pre-internet so I'm now discovering for the first time all the fabulous resources that are out there - so many great blogs, fabric shops and downloadable patterns - yaaay!


All of this sewing buzz prompted me to pull out my stash of vintage Australian Home Journal magazines. Some of them still have the dress patterns inside, but I'm more interested in looking at the beautiful covers for now. My collection spans thirty years from the early-30s to the early-60s, so I thought I'd dedicate a few posts to sharing this beautiful cover art with you. Here are the first seven that I've selected, spanning 1932-38; just look at all of those gorgeous dresses! As a bonus, here's a sassy lassy in a sporty tennis pullover from 1932...

I Love...Golden Books

Before I get started singing the praises of Golden Books, I'm happy to announce that my contact page has just been freshly installed on my site! Come & help me test that everything's working & in order, by sending me an email. Just come & say hi, & I'll say hi back! I was going to put my info page up today too, but it's getting late & I have dinner to make (vegan leek & "feta" pastries!), so I'll make sure to do it during the week.

Just Like Me, written & illustrated by Leonard Weisgard, 1954

A Child's Garden of Verses, written by Robert Louis Stevenson & illustrated by Alice and Martin Provensen, 1951

Now, down to business... I bet a lot of you grew up reading Golden Books. I love that they were such an accessible way to get kids reading & appreciating great illustration. Earlier this week, I was working on a picture, & it occurred to me that it was strangely reminiscent of the spine & endpapers of a Golden Book. It was purely incidental, but it just goes to show what sponges we are as children. How the things we read impact on us in such a profound way. Googling Golden Books today, I discovered this fabulous blog, sadly no longer updated, but it's a little gold[en book]mine of mid-20th century illustration. I've posted the merest snippet of what you'll find there, from some of my favourite illustrators, such as Richard Scarry & the amazing Alice & Martin Provensen. I owned this edition of A Child's Garden of Verses & a few of their other books. I wish I still had them!

The Happy Little Handsaw, written by Robert E. Mahaffay & illustrated by Milli Eaton, 1955

The Golden Calendar, illustrated by Richard Scarry, 1956

Memory Lane: Kitty Cats

It's so interesting to compare the different ways these vintage cats have been depicted - each one quite easy to attribute to the decade it was made. They come in all shapes, sizes & styles, but these 20th century cats are all unmistakeably kitty-esque & adorable! Which one is your favourite?


1. Bookends, LudiesBugaboo on Etsy
2. Vintage Packaging, TinkersEphemera on Etsy
3. Chalkware Statue, Pohlmans on Etsy
4. Letter Rack, RaggleTaggleHawker on Etsy
5. Ceramic Figurine, libush on Etsy
6. Cast Iron Money Box, MaisonMaudie on Etsy 
7. Embroidered Pot Holder, Scarlettess on Etsy
8. Metal Charm, YummyTreasures on Etsy 
9. Ceramic Figurine, SecretAgentGirl on Etsy
10. Salt & Pepper Shakers, The Spectrum
11. Halloween Decoration, MoesArt on Etsy
12. Vintage Greeting Card, GrandMothersAttic on Etsy
13. Vintage Playing Cards, WashiWishes on Etsy
14. Vintage Playing Cards, OldAndWise on Etsy
15. Wooden Clock, Serine23 on Etsy
16. Squeaky Toy, GC5Vintage on Etsy
17. Fortune Telling Cards, RetroHeart on Etsy
18. Ceramic Planter, MarcelAndMargolis on Etsy
19. Squeaky Toy, Hubbubbery on Etsy

Memory Lane: Stationery & Office Supplies

Memory Lane: Make Do and Mend

We've all seen the Keep Calm and Carry On British wartime propaganda poster (& the countless modern variations) - 70 years later, that's still a great message to live by, isn't it? No wonder that poster is so popular!

I have a big collection of vintage British, Australian & American magazines published during World War Two; reading them really makes it hit home how difficult life was with such limited resources, but how people used their tenacity & ingenuity to cope, & make life as comfortable for themselves & their families as possible - so many worthy practices came out of these times of rationing & deprivation. In some ways, with the realities of global warming & the uncertainties of the global economy, living frugally is equally relevant today.

Up to the 1960s, most Australian backyards contained a vegetable patch & fruit trees. Nowadays you're more likely to find landscaping & lawn, yet how we'd all benefit from fresh, organic, home grown produce that hasn't been in storage for months or transported across country. One of the positive shifts in the way we eat has been that people seem to eat less processed foods than, say, 20 years ago (despite time management being a constant issue for most of us), with a renewed interest in cooking & baking at home.

As well as Digging for Victory, other messages  from the British government during the war encouraged people to walk whenever possible due to fuel shortages (Shank's Pony is such a reliable old nag!), & to Make Do and Mend. We all know the virtues of sustainable living, but can always do with some encouragement every so often to consider all the little things we can do that make such a big difference. Don't you think these fantastic posters serve as a timely reminder, from an era when people had no choice but to buckle down, make do & carry on.

Memory Lane: It's Cracker Night!

After Christmas & birthdays, there was nothing so exciting to my younger self as Cracker Night, when the suburbs were aglow with catherine wheels, sparklers, roman candles & bonfires. Cracker Night was held in late-autumn here in Australia (a lingering tradition of the Empire Day holiday of May 24th that were phased out in the 1960s), & it was commonplace to set off fireworks on the abandoned circle of sand in your backyard that, come summer, lay beneath your 3-foot swimming pool. We also observed Guy Fawkes Night on November 5th. I recall an exciting evening at my primary school, where they assembled (what seemed to me) a gigantic bonfire on the school oval & burnt a floppy effigy made of newspaper-stuffed pantihose. I had no idea what the Gunpowder Plot was all about, but it was all very thrilling nevertheless!

Sadly, Cracker Night came to an end in the mid-70s, but I still have fond memories of the excitement of backyard fireworks. To celebrate the exuberant packaging design & advertising of the fireworks of my early childhood, I thought I'd dedicate a series of blog posts to them. This first one is devoted to the beautiful patterns & colours of fireworks labels, & coming up will be a post packed full of fireworks typography, & another about posters & advertising.

I think fireworks packaging & branding was absolute genius - so evocative & exciting - I'm sure you'll agree these patterns are gorgeous. I love that so much attention to detail was lavished on something that would eventually be set alight & explode! But what an explosion...raining stars, fizzy, sparkly, noisy & glorious.

The names of the different fireworks were as colourful as the packaging, conjuring images of fountains & fire bursts, space travel, magical creatures, snow storms, bombs, warfare, jewels & flowers.  Here are some of my favourites...

Twinkler, Floodlight, Crackling Pearl, Emerald Cascade, Harbour Lights, Golden Rain, Sequin Shower, Carnival Torch, Jewel Casket, Silver Fountain, Crystal Spray, Magic Flowers, Star Stream, Silver Cloud, Silver Mist, Silver Streamer, Glittering Cascade, Scarlet Runner, Shimmering Cascade, Golden Zodiac, Jewelled Pyramid, Silver Tree, Jewel Fountain, Harlequin, Magic Tracer, Jewel Torch, Flower Pot, Whistle Stop, Shamrock Shooter, Snow Drop, Snow Blizzard, Royal Squib, Jack in the Box, Signal Beacon, Whirligig, Spitfire, Smasher, Spangled Star Bomb, Fiery Whirlwind, Thunder Flash, Electric Whizzer, Air Bomb, Flash Gun, Dam Buster, Wonder Banger, Mine of Fiery Serpents, Humming Spider, Will o' the Wisp, Pixie Tree, Banshee, Screech Owl, Fairy Fountain, Little Demon, Flying Imp, Fairy Fern, Crackling Cauldron, Moon Travellers, Radium Dazzler, Mighty Atom, Meteorite, Lunar Rocket, Silver Orion, High Ball, City Flicker, Sunset Strip.

Memory Lane: In the Toy Box