Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Whatever Happened to Beanbag Frogs?


When I was a girl I used to love going to church bazaars. There would be row upon row of yoyo clowns, crocheted potholders and beanbag frogs. I also remember stuffed snake toys, sock monkeys and the woodworked toys created by the "grandpas" at the church. These might have been trains or trucks with lathe-turned wheels. Of course the "oven rack puller-outer" and the "round tuits" were readily available. My brothers always located the clothespin guns that would shoot rubber bands at their sisters.

The best were the Christmas ornaments. Felt ornaments decorated with beads and sequins, crocheted snowflakes and clothespin angels covered the trees. A little later in the late 70's there was a huge trend toward quilting and soon patchwork and calico ornaments joined the rest. A quilt was usually displayed for a raffle and the lucky winner would go home very happy.

A delicious meal was served and we would go home with several plates of homemade treats (usually something that was the "Special Recipe" of one or another of the "Women's Guild" members.)

These items were lovingly created by hand with donated supplies by the members of the church in order to support a building fund or missionaries.

Those days are gone. But why?

The last church bazaars I have been to were the "booth" type arrangements where "vendors" purchased a table and set out their wares. Hardly anything was handcrafted, most was manufactured. There were candles and purses and cosmetics and kitchenware. I discovered some jewelry and knitted baby items that were handcrafted but it still felt like shopping from an individual vendor and not a group effort.

Plates of homemade treats have been declared "illegal." Supposedly, food prepared for the public must be made in certain ways with certain health standards and since home kitchens can't all be inspected and monitored, the goodies are gone.

Raffles are now considered a form of "gambling" and in many cases are no longer allowed.

At one bazaar (not even called a bazaar anymore, but a craft fair) I purchased a sock monkey. I was delighted to meet the woman - a grandma - who made it, but honestly I bought it more for the irony and the kitsch value rather than a genuine appreciation for the handcrafted quality of this item.

Well, I can't change things but I did a little bit to remind myself of the fun of the beanbag frog. I discovered this vintage pattern and decided to make it up as part of my "frog theme." I love how it turned out and I am afraid that I may also have to make the turtle.

What do you think?

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

(1) The beanbag frog is breathtakingly adorable!!

(2) Um, maybe you're already planning this, but this post reads like you are writing a book on mid-century modern American crafts. :D You could do it!!!

See ya soon - cheers, marsha

amy in az said...

The frog is soooo cute-- excellent job!
Ah memories of the Bazaar-- you captured it so well- even down the plates of homemade sweets... my family always made them for the neighbors and my teachers. You even inspired me to share a craft bazaar favorite from my collection :)

Melissa Sue said...

the crafters have gone digital and are ruling the world over at etsy... lol.

do you have an etsy store? i haven't looked yet...

Sharon at American Harvest said...

Laura,
What an excellent post. I was flooded with memories of fun times at my Grandma's church bazaars. How I loved the bean bag frogs and yo-yo clowns. I would study each yo-yo to see what type of fabric it was made from. Unfortunately today, many artists and crafters see no value in those great "Grandma Crafts". I suppose that is their loss. Thanks for the memories of church bazaars and innocent times and especially for making me think about my Grandma D. on this pretty Sunday morning.
Sharon

Tammy said...

Oh my gosh, I had this pattern! I made this frog!!!

the Drunken Housewife said...

I loved my beanbag frog I got as a kid at a church sale. I loved it so very much. I feel so forlorn now, longing for it...

At our church, there were also "necktie snakes", and I had one of those, too.

Angel said...

I have been looking for one of these frog patterns for years!

Where can I get one?

PLEASE e-mail me at cynthiaeakins@comcast.net

I'd LOVE one right away!

debogle said...

I helped my Mother make dozens of these same frogs! We stuffed then with roasted birdseed so they wouldn't sprout if they got wet. All the kids loved them. After my Mom's death we misplaced our beloved pattern, I would love to have another one, can you help me?
E-mail me at deboglenc@yahoo.com

Cheryl said...

Made these in the 70's for myself, and then in the 90's for my kids...and everyone of their friends for birthday gifts. But I've lost the pattern! Can you share yours with me?