I was in Exeter recently in a pretty area on the outskirts of the town where there is a small parade of shops. There’s a couple of cafés, a jewellers, a clothes shop and more – all of them independent and slightly quirky – just my sort of place for a browse among lots of pretty bits and pieces! None of them sold ‘essentials’ but hey – you never know what you might discover for use in a project or to spark some creative idea… so I felt justified having a good rummage!
I spotted some lovely old buttons in one shop window and went inside where they had an amazing collection of old ‘recycled’ buttons of every shape, colour and design you could imagine! They also had a small selection of dress fabrics hanging up. Now I am no dressmaker, but these were lovely and reminded me of frocks my mother had worn. They even had dress patterns – remember the ‘Simplicity’ and ‘Butterick’ brands? – with shirt-waisters and 1960s shift dresses.
Everything seemed terribly familiar and ‘comfortable’ and I started chatting to the shop owner. It was then I discovered I was in a ‘retro’ shop! It seems my childhood era is now on the verge of being ‘antique’ and is classed as retro and therefore very ‘on trend’!
I have to say this didn’t do much for my ego, but rather than feel huffy about it, I just found it fascinating. Looking round this little shop was like stepping back in time and I felt about 12 again, and it was really rather lovely and comforting.
They had games and puzzles that I hadn’t seen for years. Remember how we all used to do jigsaws or play Ludo in the days before playstations and ipads? They also had lots of old cream and pale blue enamel kitchen bits and pieces – now called ‘kitchenalia’ apparently – and all carrying impressive price tags despite being chipped!
What struck me most of all was how the colours then were so different from now. Not exactly more muted, just different shades. One big change is in the quality of print and packaging. Today we can print photos and patterns and pretty much anything on our home printers – look at all the lovely things we print out everyday for our card and craft projects – but back in the 1950s and 60s, most designs were drawn illustrations involving little photography, and the colours were much less ‘natural’ that we expect today.
While I wouldn’t swap our multicoloured hi-tech modern world for the 1960s, it was wonderfully nostalgic, and a little bit sad, to feel I was back in time to an era when life seemed slower and more innocent and it brought back lots of happy memories.
So tell us… What iconic images bring your childhood back to life?