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Dolls, Toys and Teddies

By Charles Hopkins Published 12/8/2013 | Crafts

Stringing popped corn, linking paper rings together for garland and making toys, dolls and teddies are still popular today.

For instance, one of the old-time crafts is the clove apple, better-known today as a pomander ball. When finished, these clove apples gave off a pleasant perfume, and it was common practice to place them in closets or in a dresser drawer to scent scarves and hankies. They still make nice gifts today for teachers and friends, or relatives who live in nursing homes.

It's very easy to make these, and all of the materials needed can be purchased in grocery stores. And even more popular today is the use of an orange in place of the apple.

To try your hand at this craft, purchase one apple with a stem and about three small packages of whole cloves. Thrust each clove into the apple like a little peg as deep as it will go. Using a darning or knitting needle makes it easier to first make the holes.

Start at the stem and circle round and round, pegging the cloves close together. When finished, tie a ribbon with a loop on top to hang in closet.

To cover an orange, first soak it in olive oil. Then take whole cloves and stick them into the orange as tightly as possible. When you have finished inserting the cloves, rub the orange with two teaspoons of orris root (or arrowroot) and two teaspoons of cinnamon mixed together. Tie it with a ribbon. It will have a lovely spicy odor that will last indefinitely.

In the toy department, everything old does seem to be new again.

For instance, Crayola crayons were born in 1903, and have been bringing out the artist in children ever since. Today they are as popular as ever, and are found on Christmas morning in many children's stockings in small boxes and large packs under the tree. Often they are accompanied by coloring books, construction and writing paper.

The crayons can be found in just about any store from grocery to drug to arts and crafts. The old colors are still available, but new bright hot fluorescents are also on the scene. And they still come in the original breakable version. What manufacturers have yet to invent are unbreakable crayons (which truly would be a modern miracle).

Another favorite toy for over 80 years is the Erector Set. The original sets were metal, but in the mid-1960s these were replaced with plastic substitutes. However, a French company called Meccano has revived these construction sets with metal parts (including some plastic) and engineering designs similar to the original. So once again a whole new generation of youngsters can enjoy hours of construction fun.

A great gift for children ages 6 and up is cotton jersey loopers, an old-fashioned fun and easy craft that makes pot holders, rugs, etc., on a small loom. A one-pound package of loops will make about 16 pot holders. These come in assorted colors and sell for about $ 4.

And what could be more traditional and old-fashioned than plain white cotton or linen handkerchiefs that you have supplied with a crocheted edging? This gift can be slipped into a card to be mailed to friends.

Here's another possibility: To a plain hankie, iron on a transfer pattern and embroider a plain or fancy monogram or design. Embroidery floss and hoops can be purchased at craft stores and craft departments.