Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Macrame and Matchboxes

My new office space shares a floor with a resource library for teachers. I had a look along the shelves in a break from unpacking my boxes, and, amazingly, found a book called Miniature Macrame for Your Dollhouse!

I had been thinking that my 1970s dolls houses could use some tiny macrame objects, like plant holders:

or wall hangings:

(this is an owl),

or even a swinging chair:

which this tiny Erna Meyer doll seems to be finding a little precarious.

I've never made macrame, and don't really like it! but I do remember that lots of people had it in the 70s and 80s (this book was published in 1981). I can't imagine why this teacher resource library had a book about miniature macrame - I would have thought life-size macrame would be easier for kids to make, and produce gifts for their mums or dads.

I think this guide to making models from matchboxes and matches, also in this library, would have been borrowed more often:

This booklet is published by matchmakers Bryant & May (their matches are called Redheads in Australia, and (apparently) Beehive in New Zealand). As you can see from the cover, some of the models and techniques are quite sophisticated, but the book also includes instructions for making basic matchbox furniture:

as well as furniture made from matches:

I can't see a publication date, but the booklet refers to a 1989 Australian Standard for safety matches, so I'd guess that this dates from the 1990s. The furniture illustrated could have been made at any time in the last hundred years, though!


  1. what a great find! it gives me lots of ideas for the future. I used to make macrame in the 70's, there were plenty of plant holders or wall hangings in my flat, I still have some of them in a box, in my "attic in the garden". I'll do some for my dolls houses, it will be a pleasure. It's probably the same models, but made with thin wool, instead of cord.

  2. You can't imagine why the makramee-book is in that library? Well, ask me; I do know the reason:
    For your joy! And for my joy, because I have so many matches (from my matchbox-sofas) and now I have a good reason to make furniture with it (like the sponge-sofa, do you remember? the inspiration was from your side too.)
    thank you very much for sharing, I don't like makramee too, but I remember I had one piece in the 80s too.

  3. So fun they have doll's house books in the school library!

    This reminds me of my own schooldays. I can't knit or use a sewing machine, so I never did well in arts and crafts when I was a child. But I did manage to learn macramé. And now I see in the arts and craft's stores it's become popular again, but mostly for making bracelets. But unfortunately I don't remember how to do it anymore.

    And I guess most of us have made doll's house furniture out of matchboxes at least once in our lives :-)

  4. Far out! Macromae! I had a bunch of projects I half completed. All those knots. I want one for my Tomy 70's house.
    Don't you havepictures of little matchbox chairs and sofa your mother played with? It reminds me of goose quill furniture too. And I have seen chairs made from "wishbones", rather gruesome for me...

  5. What a great find! Are you going to try some of the projects out? The macrame looks very promising.

  6. very, very cool rebecca :) maybe someone had a dollhouse projekt at school and so they bought these books?! anyway i think those tiny macrame objects will be perfect for a 70s dollhouse! i never made macrame too and i can´t imagine how to make all these knots at such a small size? i would love one of these plant holders for christine´s livingroom, it´s so 70s and 80s there and she would like it too.

    i have a german book from the 70s called "alles für die puppenmutti" and you can also find instructions for matchbox furniture there.


  7. I love the little macrame doll swing...or maybe it's just the little doll in the swing that makes it so adorable!

  8. Thank you all for your comments - I'm glad you enjoyed seeing these books!
    The macrame projects I showed here are all made of waxed linen cord, according to the book. I guess that would be very fine linen cord. Some of the other pieces in the book are made with something called 'Coats & Clark Speed-Cro-Sheen'! Unfortunately it doesn't say what that is.

    I'd like to try making some of the macrame pieces, though I suspect that, like CM, I'll end up with half-finished projects! Still, I could always put them in a dolls house as something one of the dolls was working on :-))

  9. Hi Oese, I look forward to seeing your match furniture! I saw some coloured matchsticks in a shop - now they make them without the red end, and in lots of different colours, so you don't have to collect lots of used matches! I guess that's because now they don't want to encourage smoking, and anyway lots of people use lighters if they smoke.
    I have bought some coloured sponges, so I'll have a go soon at making some chairs :-) But I have to wash the sponges first, because they all have some antiseptic in them, and they feel damp and sticky.

  10. Hi CM, yes, I do have some of my mother's matchbox furniture - I've just added a tag for it.
    I quite like the quill furniture I've seen, and twig furniture, but not the wishbone furniture - although it might be quite appropriate in a giant's house!

  11. I can remember learning simple macrame at Guide camp - in the shade by the river on a very hot day. We were taught to make bookmarks, and used our big toe to hold the work to the right tension. I recall being quite proud of what I made.
    I used to make simple furniture out of matchboxes, based on the designs from the 'Things to make and do' Ladybird books.

  12. Dear Helene, I think that if you never did well in arts and crafts as a child, it's because your teachers were not creative themselves! You, who have made the lips sofa, the ball clock, the facade of the shop and pub, the church, and all the wonderful scenes you create ??? Their ideas of arts and crafts were obviously too limited!

  13. Hi Nicola and DollMum, I'd love to see the designs for matchbox furniture in the books you have or had! We had lots of Ladybird books, and I still have some of them - but not a Things to make and do, that I remember.

    What a vivid picture - making macrame bookmarks by a river in the heat! And keeping tension with your big toe - somehow I don't think that would work for these pieces ;-))

  14. Awesome designs of articles made from Macrame.May I know where will I get this "Miniature Macrame for Your Dollhouse!" book?

  15. Hello Daisy, Thank you for your comment. Miniature Macrame for Your Dollhouse by Marjorie Ames is out of print, so I'd suggest that you check sellers of secondhand books. I had a look on Amazon, and there are 3 used copies available at the moment, two in the US and one in the UK:
    you could try other secondhand book sellers in your country too. Best wishes, Rebecca