A Study of Spun Cotton Crafts - Vintage Inspiration and Ideas
For the last few years I've been collecting and selling vintage spun cotton crafts, some of them antique. I love the simplicity of the material, and all the unique ways it can be transformed. The old-world craft has seen a resurgence in popularity lately, and folks are working with cotton in some really imaginative ways. It's gone way beyond Christmas. I've got big plans this year to work with some newly made spun cotton shapes, and so I've dug out a bunch of pictures of my vintage pieces for inspiration. Thought you'd like to see them too!
Cotton ornaments have their origins in 19th century Germany. Originally, shapes would have been made from cotton batting that was hand-molded around wire forms. Later, they would be made on a lathe with molds to form tightly spun shapes. During the Victorian era your Christmas tree would be trimmed in cotton fruits and fanciful Dresden paper shapes. (The thought of lighting a paper and cotton-laden tree with candles gives me chills, but I'm sure the sight was enchanting.)
This year I'm going to make some fruit decorations inspired by these older ones. I love the crystalline mica over a bright painted colors. Some fruits were plaster-dipped before being painted to give them a smooth surface.
By the turn of the 20th century, Russia and Eastern Europe were also producing some terrific cotton crafts. This little clown is a hand-built figure:
Mushrooms are a symbol of luck in Germany - Gluckspilz. You know how much I love little mushrooms!!
Some of my favorite spun cotton ornaments are bell shapes:
These Shiny Brite angels have spun cotton heads, and cardboard bodies:
Do you wanna build a spun cotton snowman? I certainly do.
Here are some cotton batting crafts. They are really just made out of thick chunks of cotton with cuts in a few places to give it shape.
The ribbon strips on this Santa keep him from falling apart. It's a neat way of working with loose cotton. I'd like to try something like that with layers of quilt batting.
These little baskets were made in Germany c. 1950s. The entire basket is a spun cotton shape, and the fruit inside is as well. I might have to make a variation of these for Easter!
This year I'm introducing a line of newly made spun cotton shapes for any of you who are interested in re-creating some of these traditional crafts. These are made in Europe, using the old-world techniques. Now in the shop: Ball shapes from 10 - 45 mm:
2 inch carrots (or icicles!):
Doll bodies! Think of those Shiny Brite angels or the little snowmen. You can make your own!
Retro spun cotton bells - I can't wait to coat some of these in mica:
Pears and rose hips (or gnome heads):
And, of course, mushrooms!!
Also coming soon for spring... spun cotton Easter eggs! It is going to be so much fun around here. Check out the spun cotton section of the shop, to get your own shapes to play with. I'd love to see what you come up with!