Old-time Paper Craft: Swimming Frog

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Friday, August 11, 1911: It is impossible to write anything for today that will prove itself interesting, so I won’t try.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Use a magnet to make the frog swim.

In 1911 Grandma’s little brother Jimmie was 6-years-old. She seldom mentions him in the diary. On quiet summer days I wonder if she ever made crafts with him.

The July 1911 issue of Good Housekeeping magazine had directions for a paper frog that swims.

If you’d like to make the swimming frog, here are the adapted and abridged directions.

Supplies Needed

Heavy white paper

Pencil

Scissors

Small straight (sewing) pin

Paste or glue

Magnet

Thin white paper for tracing (optional)

Click for the frog pattern. Print a copy of the pattern, and then cut it out.

Fold the heavy white paper in half. Fit the straight line of the frog’s back exactly on the fold of the paper. Trace around the pattern. Cut out both halves of  the paper at once. Use a pencil to draw the frog’s mouth and eyes.

Bend out the legs and lower part of the body as indicated by the dotted lines.

Open the frog and lay him on his back. Cover the inside of the head and the inside of the body as far down as the dotted line with glue or paste. Then lay a pin on one-half of the head. Fold the two halves of the frog together and press. This will paste the pin inside with only the pin-head and a small part of the pin standing out from the frog’s mouth like a tongue. Now bend the legs out again, so they will lie flat on either side of the frog when you set him down on the table.

Source: Good Housekeeping (July, 1911)

After the paste or glue dries fill a bowl or pan with water, then set the frog down on top of the water. Hold the magnet near the pin in the frog’s mouth.

Hold the magnet just far enough away from the frog to keep him from jumping. He will follow the magnet in any direction you want.

When you take the frog out of the water, set it on a piece of clean paper and press the feet flat. When it is dry it will be as good as new.

P.S.—Previous posts with old-time paper crafts have been very popular. If  you haven’t already seen them you may want to check them out:

Paper doll girl and her swimming ducks

Paper birds

100 Year Old Patterns for Making Paper Birds

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:

Tuesday, July 11, 1911: Sorry, but I must have forgotten.

Red Winged Blackbird

Bluebird

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Today’s entry should be subtitled “Lucy Wants a Friend”. Let me explain–

It’s wonderful to have my college-student daughter (and her parakeet named Lucy) home for the summer. Since Grandma didn’t write much a hundred years ago today, at dinner I was pondering about what to write: Should I insert a recipe? . . . write about gardening or farming? . . . or I’d seen directions for making paper birds in a 1911 issue of Good Housekeeping; maybe I could write about that.

My daughter immediately said, “Let’s make birds. Lucy needs a friend.”

So today’s topic was decided—and my daughter and I had some quality time together. I don’t think we’d made any paper crafts in at least 15 years and it brought back wonderful  memories of making crafts when she was little.

(It’s truly awesome how preparing and posting Grandma’s diary entries can bring together multiple generations.)

Lucy now has a friend!!

Now here are the abridged directions for making a paper bluebird and a red winged blackbird that was in the April 1911 issue of Good Housekeeping:

Supplies Needed

Colored paper

Pencil

Scissors

Paste or glue

Crayons

Colored pencils

Thin white paper for tracing (optional)

Click here for the patterns for the birds and then print. Cut the patterns out.

(In the old days people didn’t have printers or copying machines so they’d trace the pattern out of the magazine using thin paper.  If you’d like to be really authentic you can make the pattern by putting thin paper over the sheet with the outlines; trace; and then cut out the pattern that you created on the thin sheet of paper. Save the original sheet to make additional patterns in the future. )

To Make Red Winged Blackbird

1.  Lay the bird body, wing, and stand pattern pieces on a piece of black paper, trace, and cut out. Trace the shoulder feathers on red paper.

2.  Paste the red shoulder feathers on the wings, and then fold the wings where they join along the dotted line and cut a short slit where the solid  line is on the pattern.

3. Make a circle for the eye with a white crayon. In the center of the white circle put a yellow dot. Use pencil to draw the beak. (Do on both sides of bird.)

6. Bend out the lower part of the stand, then glue the upper part of the stand to the upper part of the stand on the bird.  This will give a stand of double thickness and with a bend out to each side will hold the bird up as firmly as two strong legs.

7. Now fit the wings on the back of the bird. Slide the slit in the wings into the slit in the bird and stand bird up.

To Make Bluebird

1.  Lay the pattern pieces of the bluebird on a piece of blue paper, trace, and cut out.

2. Using crayons make the breast and throat of the bird a yellowish red. Use a white crayon to make a whitish spot just under the tail. (Color both sides of the bird.)

3. Use a black pencil to draw straight lines on the tail to make it look like feathers. (Do on both sides of the bird.)

4. Draw a round ring for the eye with a red pencil and put a black dot in the middle of the ring. Make the beak black with the soft-lead pencil. (Do on both sides.)

5. Draw straight lines on the wing piece to make it look like feathers.

6. Bend out the lower part of the stand, then glue the upper part of the stand to the upper part of the stand on the bird.  This will give a stand of double thickness, and with a bend out to each side will hold the bird up as firmly as two strong legs.

7.  Now fit the wings on the back of the bird. Slide the slit in the wings into the slit in the bird and stand bird up.

An aside: The directions in the old magazine called for colored paper, crayons, and colored pencils. I was surprised that these items were widely available a hundred years ago—but they apparently have been around longer than I had thought.

100 Year Old Craft: Make a Paper Doll Girl and Her Swimming Ducks

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Thursday, May 4, 1911:  Helped to clean the hall this afternoon and also had to clean the carpet. I penned up some ducks this evening. Didn’t like it very well for I have rather a timid feeling towards them.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Right after I read this diary entry, I happened to flip through the May 1911 issue of Good Housekeeping magazine, and saw directions for making a paper doll goose girl and her swimming geese. And I thought—Whoa, those geese look almost like ducks.

So if a child you know would like to make a paper doll girl and her ducks—they could pretend they were Grandma penning up her ducks so many years ago.

Supplies Needed to Make this Craft

Heavy stiff white paper

Pencil

Scissors

Paste or glue

Water colors, colored pencils or crayons

A “broomstraw” taken out of a broom

Pin

Thin white paper for tracing (optional)

Shallow pan half-filled with water (optional)

Directions

1. Click here for the patterns for the girl and the ducks, and then print. Cut the patterns out.

(In the old days people didn’t have printers or copying machines so they’d trace the pattern out of the magazine using thin paper.  If you’d like to be really authentic you can make the pattern by putting thin paper over the sheet with the outlines; trace; and then cut out the pattern that you created on the thin sheet of paper. Save the original sheet to make additional patterns in the future. )

To Make Girl

2. Fold a sheet of the heavy white paper in half. Lay the pattern of the girl on the paper with the straight edge of the sun bonnet and the straight edge of the dress on the fold of the paper. On the heavy paper draw a line around the edge of the pattern.

3. Cut out the doll. She will be double with two halves joined. (Be sure to make her feet as large as the feet in the pattern. It’s okay if her feet end up being even a little larger than the ones in the pattern. She will not stand if her feet are too small.)

4. Bend the dolls arms forward at the shoulder.

5. Open the doll up and spread paste or glue on the inside of the head and her clothes, except of the arms. (Do not put paste the arms, legs or feet). Press the two halves together making sure that the edges meet evenly.

6. Use the water colors, colored pencils, or crayons to make the dress.

7. To herd her ducks the girl will need a long stick. Remove a broomstraw from a broom for the stick. Punch a small hole in the doll’s right hand with a pin and then push the broomstraw through the hole.

To Make Ducks  (Make 3 or more)

8. Fold a sheet of heavy white paper in half and draw around the duck pattern like you did with the girl. The top of the duck’s head should be on the fold of the paper.

9.  Cut out the duck and fold the wings outward; then paste the sides together. Do not paste the wings or the stand.

10. Decorate the bird to make it look like a duck using water colors, colored pencils or crayons.

11. After the paste is dry stand the duck up.

12. Make several ducks. The girl can then drive the ducks into a pen and to the water.

To Make the Ducks Swim

14. Fold the two halves of each duck stand half way out so that the duck will sit flat on the table when you sit it down.

15. Gently put the ducks on top of the water. The flattened-out stand will hold the ducks up and they will float and swim about as if alive.

16. When finished, take the ducks out of the water and gently dry with a cloth (or paper towel); press the stand straight again as it originally was. After the ducks are dry they will again be able to stand.

(These directions are adapted and abridged from the Good Housekeeping directions.)

Coloring Easter Eggs with Onion Skins

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:

Friday, April 14, 1911: I spent most of my time indoors today for the weather was decidedly dreary and ugly. Had a time hiding pop corn this afternoon from Jimmie and Mother.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Grandma seems focused on hiding pop corn from her 6-year-old brother Jimmie and her mother. Why?? Was there a shortage of pop corn? Had Grandma popped it—and she wanted to enjoy it herself? . . . .

A hundred years ago on this date it would have been Good Friday. I wonder if the family was making any preparations for Easter. The April 1, 1911 issue of Ladies Home Journal provided suggestions for dyeing Easter eggs:

Easter Egg Dye

A harmless dye for Easter eggs is made by boiling the eggs with onion skins. Put the eggs on to boil in cold water, with enough onion skins to cover them. Boil till the eggs are hard. They will come out in pretty shades of brown and red. Polish them with a soft flannel cloth. Two cupfuls of onion skins will color eight or ten eggs.

I used white eggs and the outer skins from yellow onions to test these directions. The eggs were easy to color–and the dyed eggs are a pretty reddish-brown. I’m amazed how the skins of yellow onions produce a dye that is so red.

“Dainty” Apron Directions

15-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Monday, March 20, 1911: Windy day, also snowy this morning. This was the last snow of winter unless we get some more before midnight. Today was Mollie’s birthday. I forgot to pull her ears. Carrie Stout was over this evening. She brought me a birthday present. It was a dainty white apron. Mother said, “It was only a patch.” Well I’ll have to say good-by to fifteen years and pass on to the next. Wonder if I will get any more presents.

Spring of the year, brightest of seasons.

Flinging grim winter into the past.

Leading us on to a happy vacation.

Making us joyous, while life can last.

First day of spring for thee I have waited.

Impatiently, eagerly, day after day

Longing, yet dreading the approach of my birthday.

Sorry, yet glad, when it passes away. 

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Grandma’s sixteenth birthday will be the next day (March 21). Mollie was Grandma’s cow, and it is mentioned several places in the diary. Grandma’s parents must have given her Mollie as a calf (probably as a birthday present a couple years before this diary entry). Each year in the diary Grandma mentions when Mollie had a calf. If the calf was a male, Grandma was allowed to sell it and keep the money.

—————

I wonder if Grandma’s friend Carrie made the apron for her. Grandma’s mother must have been a practical person who prefered large bib aprons that provided lots of protection from spills–but if you’d like to make a dainty apron I found the directions in a 1911 book:

Two sewing aprons can be made from three yards of lawn thirty-six inches wide. Tear the goods into three equal breadths. If the edges are uneven, pull the cross-wise threads into shape by stretching through the bias. From one length tear four strips, thirty-six inches long and six inches wide for the ties, and two lengths for the belt bands. The latter should be three inches wide and two inches shorter than the waist measure.

Take one of the remaining large pieces and turn up a four-inch hem at one end by folding over a narrow turning and creasing evenly. Make a second turning four inches wide and crease. Baste along the line of the first turning and hem neatly with small even stitches, using fine cotton and a small needle.

Beginning with the selvage, slope the apron off a little at the top to keep it from hooping up at the front. It should be one-half inch shorter at the center front than at the sides.

Gather the top three-eights of an inch in from the edge and stroke the gathers. Draw up the threads, making the apron two-thirds of the waist measure. Pin the middle of the band to the middle of the apron on the right side. Hold the gathers toward you and back-stitch to the band. Hem the ties with three-eight-inch hems at the sides and two-inch hems at the ends. Lay a plait in the upper end making it one inch in width and back-stitch to the end of the band three-eights of an inch from the edge. Turn the band toward the wrong side of the apron, turn in the raw edge three-eights of an inch and hem to the gathers, covering the line of sewing. Turn in the ends of the band and hem them to the ties. Overhand the remaining spaces on the band.

The Dressmaker (The Butterick Publishing Company, 1911)

The directions call for lawn cloth.  Lawn is a light, fine, high-thread count linen or cotton cloth.

Directions for Making an Old-Fashioned Scarf

15-year-old Helena wrote a hundred years ago today:

Saturday, January 28, 1911. I puttered around, and did some work today. Although Ruth says, “I don’t do anything,” but as for earning my salt, I guess I earn as much as she does.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

I wonder what Grandma was doing while she was puttering around. . . .Maybe she made a scarf.

Scarves—then like now—were a stylish fad. The January 15, 1911 issue of Ladies Home Journal  had directions in an article titled How You Can Make the New Scarfs:

In the center of the page above is shown one of the satin scarfs which are worn with tailored suits on days too mild for heavy fur. The right side is of black satin and the underside of white. It usually measures about eighteen inches in width, and two yards to two yards and a half in length. In narrow silk just this quantity would be required. The ends are drawn in and finished with silk tassels formed of stuffed oval shapes of satin, hung from cords.

For evening nothing could be more charming than the scarf shown on the center figure on the right. It is made of dotted gauze in a delicate mauve, lined with pale pink chiffon, the ends finished with hemstitching and caught with a narrow band of mink fur. It may be made of different materials in this way. Two-tone chiffon would be lovely—a cornflower blue, for instance, lined with pale pink with a band of white swansdown or marabou confining the fullness across the lower part of the front about twelve inches from the hem.

Ladies Home Journal  (January 15, 1911)

It’s amazing how styles—and terminology—change (or don’t change) over time. In case you care, the definitions of swansdown and marabou are below:

Swansdown—(1) the soft downy feathers of the swan often used as trimming on article of dress; (2) a heavy cotton flannel that has a thick nap on the face and is made with sateen weave.

Marabou—(1) a soft fluffy material prepared from turkey feathers or the coverts of marabous and used especially for trimming women’s hats or clothes. (2)  a large dark gray African stork.

Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary

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