Friday, April 22, 2011

Aunt Martha's Workbasket

Sales have been slow, so shopping has been slow, but despite that I still managed to squeeze in a few estate sales and even a visit to the McKinney Trade Days! Now that was fun. I went with a couple of friends on a nice sunny spring day and had a blast sifting through booth after booth stuffed full of vintage and antique goodies.

I picked up a collection of vintage Aunt Martha's iron on transfers and I'm excited to share them, but even more excited to share what I learned about Aunt Martha's and the company's publication, The Workbasket.  I am always interested in vintage home crafts because of course, I'm a crafter, so I feel an affinity with those women of yesterday, also sharing their creativity and in the process attempting to make a little extra cash for their families.  

Aunt Martha's earliest transfers were for quilt blocks. 
Later she added the familiar images we find on vintage tea towels, pillow cases and more.

After doing a little digging I found out that "Aunt Martha" aka Clara Tillotson, was a real entrepreneur and played a big part in making home crafting what it is today! Not only did she create a very large line of popular iron on transfers that are still in production 70 years later, but she also started The Workbasket Magazine.
This is a monthly feature for women to share their ideas for crafts and money making ideas.

Just a few weeks prior to my transfer purchase I had picked up a couple of 1950's copies of the Workbasket. They're full of lovely needlework projects, but what really intrigued me was the focus on crafts that could made and sold to make money.  It's not  a new phenomenon for homemakers to search for ways to bring in a little extra cash,but the Depression made this a much wider phenomenon. I guess this was Clara Tillotson's way to spread the entreprenurial spirit to other women and help them to find a little independence and pride in their accomplishments.  

These are cute! I might have to try this.
Aren't these adorable?
Of course women's lives have changed a lot since the 1930's, every bit as much as our crafts.  But what hasn't changed is our need to express creativity and our desire to improve our families lives. Certainly with the recession we face today we can all relate to the struggles of our foremothers. So the next time you browse the glossy pages of Belle Armoire or Threads or Bead and Button, remember it all started with the humble Workbasket and one hard working woman named Clara Tillotson. 


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