Thursday, September 15, 2016

Thrifty Acres: Aluminum Foil "Fun"

Hello! I've never used aluminum foil for anything but lining a baking dish or wrapping up some leftover. Silly me, limiting my usage of this material to kitchen tasks! But that was before I found this at a used book sale:

Alcoa's Book Of Decorations, authored by Conny von Hagen. The book was published in 1959.

The front cover subtitle is A year-round Treasury of Easy-to-do Decorations for Holidays and Special Occasions. So let's see what decorations Ms. von Hagen had whipped up for this book! I'm warning you, you're in for a real "treat"!

Christmas stockings, made from double layers of heavy-duty foil and decorated with various trims. How unfortunate I've been over the years, to have had to make do with stockings made from fabric instead!

The Three Wise Men, although in my opinion they don't look especially wise here. Foil has been used to form hair, turban, pants and more. The camel in the background is shaped from foil too, of course. 

Okay, this idea wasn't too bad: for a children's party, a train was made from large boxes (the opposite page showed two more train "cars"). The boxes were covered in foil and the wheels were made of foil pie plates. Like I'd said, not too bad, but covering large boxes with aluminum foil sounds rather time-consuming - not to mention the expense involved! 

But of course von Hagen had no qualms about using foil in every decoration imaginable; the projects go on and on. This post only discusses a fraction of the author's foil-induced imagination.

Can you guess what holiday the above creation is in honor of? Perhaps a close-up will help you figure it out:

Did you guess Father's Day? If you did, you'd be right. This number is supposed to be a king, constructed of a broom, foil arms and colored foil crown and ears. The nose is made from a red rubber ball - I'm surprised it wasn't covered in foil too! Dad's presents - in  the form of a tie, pipe, socks and slippers - are shown as part of the figure. "Gift scarf or sports shirt could be draped over the outstretched arm" von Hagen helpfully adds.

Sigh - and here I thought the broom was part of the gift too, so Dad could help keep the house clean! But no such luck. 

But before men could become dads, at least some of them got married first, which meant bridal showers for the women they were marrying:

A "bride" has a body made from a mop that's been wrapped and shaped with - you guessed it - aluminum foil (the mop-head forms the "hair" that you see on top). Net material was used to create the veil and dress. Not sure why red netting was used to make the dress though; you'd think white would have made more sense.

The "bride" is stuck into a wastebasket, so at least the actual bride-to-be gained that and a mop at her shower. But she had to suffer through this monstrosity as a centerpiece! Not sure it was worth it. 

And of course, if you stay married long enough, you get to celebrate your 25th wedding anniversary! It's a milestone occasion to be sure, so do it up in style with aluminum foil! A "tree" centerpiece made of crushed foil rings, a place marker of two more crushed foil ring - doesn't this decor just ooze romance and happiness? No? Well, how about that snazzy number 25 -it's made from painted crushed foil. How clever is that? (not)

It's not too early to start planning those Halloween costumes! So take a cue from Conny von Hagen and make those masks. To do so, all you have to do is shape eight 3-foot lengths of aluminum foil over very large balloons, then pop the balloons. Eyes and mouths are cut out, ears and noses are shaped from more foil, and red ribbon is glued on to make hair. Colored plastic tape or fabric is used to accentuate the areas around the eyes and mouth. 

In case you had to know, the figure on the left is called "Stoopy" and he's described as being wistful looking. Oh really? I can think of another word to describe that mask - it also begins with the letter "w" and is spelled w-e-i-r-d. 

The figure on the right is supposed to be a clown.

Would you rather go as a rabbit? If so, just follow the directions I gave above, only make long skinny ears, use green ribbon for hair (I didn't realize rabbits had any green on them, other than the times they get into vegetable gardens). Make a pointy nose. And for Heaven's sake, don't carry around a bunch of carrots - what a cliche! You're much better off clutching a bunch of Indian corn!

The above photo is from the end of the book. Just in case you think you haven't used enough foil, this mermaid was fashioned for a party with an Under-the-Sea theme (from the way the author described it, it sounded like the party actually happened, in New Orleans). Chicken wire was shaped to form the mermaid body, with lots of lovely foil for covering it. The red "hair" is raffia.

But that's not all! An underwater grotto, rocks, and various sea creatures were constructed the same way. I wondered what the foil-covered octopus mentioned in the write-up looked like, but alas, there's no photo of it in the book.

For scale reference, though, there is a photo of a man hanging up several clusters of foil-covered fish shapes. I didn't reproduce that photo here because the picture quality wasn't very good, but the smallest of the "fish" are about as big as his head - and the biggest fish are even larger than his head. 

So once again, large amounts of aluminum foil were necessary. But not to worry, Alcoa had peoples' interests in mind.  At the very end of the book is this tidbit: "For further information on use of foil for dance or large party decorations, plus special large quantity packages of Alcoa Wrap, write to..." followed by the address for its Pittsburgh headquarters. 

Nowadays, of course, one could just go to the local warehouse club store and get large boxes of aluminum foil there. And you'd better head there soon - Halloween will be here before you know it, so you have to get started on those masks!

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