For (old-school) hipness, gift macaroni macrame
Burt's Eye View
Here’s what I’m getting you for Christmas: one sturdy piece of cardboard; one bottle of Elmer’s glue; one can of gold spray paint; and one box of elbow macaroni.
Merry Christmas! It’s a rooster. Or a pig. Or a cow. Or whatever macaroni critter or creation your little crafter’s heart concocts.
When I was a kid, it seemed like every vacation Bible school or summer recreation camp involved gallons of glue and bales of macaroni boxes. Somewhere in my mom’s kitchen lurks a rooster that I, as an 8-year-old, expertly designed using nothing but uncooked pasta, a bottle of glue with an orange top and gold spray paint.
Or perhaps Mom has sold my macaroni doodle to the Cleveland Museum of Fine Arts and Pasta Productions by now. More likely, she scraped all those macaroni crafts clean when I was 15, boiled them, and served them to me as macaroni, Elmer’s and cheese. Moms do what they need to do to keep teenage boys fed. Otherwise, they gnaw on the couch. And as fast as boys chow down, they’re not likely to notice if something tastes a little pasty instead of pasta-y.
Grownups today complain about kids’ noses always being glued to an electronic screen. Back then, the grownups griped about our earlobes being glued to chunks of elbow macaroni (pirate earrings, of course).
Those days are gone, or so I thought. A quick Google search gave me flashbacks with titles such as “8 Macaroni Crafts for Kids,” “21 Unique Pasta Crafts You May Want to Try” and “63 Macaroni Crafts Ideas.”
While we younger kids encased the gluten in glue and gold, the older kids were inflicted with another craft craze — macrame. That was the art of tying knots in yarn or similar fabric to create a wall hangings that looked just like someone had, uh, tied a gob of knots in your yarn or similar fabric.
Our walls in the 1960s and 1970s were filled with knotted fabrics in all sorts of geometric patterns.
For a few years at our house, a macrame owl hung next to my macaroni rooster. Nobody knows where the macrame owl came from. One day, it was just there — waiting, I suspected, for Mom to cook the macaroni.
Macrame wasn’t just for walls. Every hanging basket had to be made of macrame. There were heavy fashion fines to pay if you simply hung a planter on your front porch without it being ensconced in macrame. The planter, I mean, not the porch — although one of my aunts was crafting a macrame porch cover. She wanted it to match the macrame garage cover that she knotted the previous year. My uncle drew the line at the macrame tractor cover. The yarn kept gumming up the engine and jamming the power take-off.
When we weren’t pasting pasta or knocking knots, you could find us in art class tie-dying T-shirts. While we splashed reds and blues and yellows all over the newspapers lining the fourth-grade floor, our art teacher — a real, live hippie — played a new album called “Diana Ross Introduces the Jackson 5.”
I bet it took Mr. Humphrey, our janitor, months to scrub all the hipness out of that classroom.
This Christmas, I’m giving you the hippie joy of my 1960s childhood. Now if I could just come up with a craft involving a pasta rooster wearing a knotted tie-die macrame apron that held a bowl of sea monkeys, that would be golden macaroni macrame.
— Craft yourself a Merry Little Christmas with Cole at email@example.com, the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook, or www.burtonwcole.com.