52 Ancestors,
in 52 Weeks
Week 49:
Homemade
Family Finds Charter Oak

Homemade By My Father

For the Week 24 prompt, Father, I shared some of the many homemade items my father created. [1] My father really enjoyed making things: wood, metal, textiles and electronics. This week I will share more photos, but I discovered he did not take photographs of MANY of his homemade projects. My dad always had a camera, but before digital cameras, fewer photos were taken. That’s too bad because my dad made all sorts of things that I have only memories of now. Although, it is surprising how many of his homemade items are still in use, or on display, yet today.

The Workshop

First and foremost was my father’s workshop in the basement of our homes. The photo that includes him at his workbench shows the fairly small workshop he had for 20 years. It was tucked behind the heating oil tank, and measured maybe 8’x12′. However, he could make use of the rest of our large basement for his bigger projects. When we moved in the mid-70’s his workshop got larger, enough for the big lathe set-up. But, the overall basement was significantly less. I think he made use of the garage at the new house, a luxury we did not have previously.

Workshop Collage

Kitchen Addition

One of the biggest projects my father took on was adding a large kitchen onto our ranch-style home in 1964. I can find just one photo of the progression of the kitchen project. Below is a photo showing the kitchen prior to completing the tile work for the wall. The photo with my mother shows the finished wall tile in the background. BTW, the bobbin winder, and the table she is using are also creations of my father’s. The outside photo shows how the kitchen was added to the back of the house. He also built the the steps, large patio and the grape arbor. Yes, he and my mother made juice, raisins, wine and vinegar from the grapes he grew!

Kitchen Collage

Little Green Table

In Week 24, I shared my father’s Little Red Chair project. [2] He made many of those chairs over 50 years and many of those little chairs are still around. Another “little” project he made is the Little Green Table. But, unlike the chair, he only made one! But, I am happy to report it has been enjoyed by three generations of my family. He made the table back in 1952. I remember happily sitting in a little chair playing at the table, or having a snack. As I got older the table was used for holding a stereo, or our Christmas tree. I am happy to report the youngest member of our family is regularly sitting at the Little Green Table to play or have his snacks.

Green Table Collage

Children’s Toys

Several of my childhood toys were homemade by my father, I’m sorry I do not have more photos. Below is a photo of the treasure chest he made for me and I kept all my toys inside of it. He made name puzzles for all of us, I still have mine and I believe my sisters do too. That’s a marble race track in the middle image. Besides the toys in the photo collage, he made toy cars, trains, and boats, doll houses, and doll furniture, game boards and playing pieces.

Childrens Toys Collage

Furnishings

My father made a lot of home furnishings and conveniences, but I have no photographs! I found a few photos where these homemade items can be spotted in the background. Typically only when there was some other event worthy of getting out the camera.

For years our black and white, vacuum tube television sat on a table he made for the purpose. Below the TV, the table had a storage nook for a reclining pillow he shaped from foam and upholstered in orange corduroy. I would lay on the floor, reclined on that pillow for hours every Saturday morning while watching cartoons. Although sometimes I sat on the upholstered footstool he made. He also made the phonograph, radio and speakers we had in our living room for years. He did both the electronics and wood work on those components, and the fancy mesh fabric covers on the speakers. Also in our living room, he crafted a custom valence for the picture window to conceal the pinch pleats on the curtain. As part of the valence he made a light tube fixture that provided nice, indirect lighting.

Furnishings Collage

Besides building the large kitchen I described above, my father made our kitchen table and a set of stools for us kids to sit on. Also in the kitchen, he made a wall-mounted canned goods pantry with combination cork board and chalkboard sliding doors. He made a pegboard for behind the stove for hanging utensils, and jello molds. He also made a lofted bed for our smallest bedroom, that way the homemade dressers could fit underneath and make the most of the tiny space. Once my dad had space for a lathe, he turned lamps, bowls, candlesticks and furniture legs for a variety of projects.

Wood Collage

Artwork

My father also made textile and metal artworks. The giraffe needlepoint piece below won a 2nd place ribbon at the Indiana State Fair. He won a blue ribbon for a metal perpetual motion, butterfly sculpture, of which I have no decent photo… And just for fun, my father would sometimes draw a picture on my drawing pad for me to find.

Textile Collage
Metal Collage

Bob’s Crafts

I have previously written about my father’s website, but it is worth repeating here. Bob’s Crafts is the website he created more than 20 years ago. He created the website to share his love of crafting, and story telling. [3] Here’s a link to a family favorite, the rocking horse pattern. [4] Be sure to try out one of the craft projects he shares on the website and let me know your results. [5]

Rocking Horse Collage

Conclusion

The oldest homemade item crafted by my dad, that we still have, is a small bookcase made when he was in high school in 1941. At 80 years old it is nearly antique! My father made MANY things during his lifetime, some were utilitarian and some were art. Some were even intangible, like his website and the software programs he authored. I cannot begin to catalog all the things he made. My father passed away in 2004, but he was making homemade items up until about the last year of his life. He was a maker, no doubt, and he would enjoy knowing that so many of his hand crafted projects are still in use, or admired, by his family and friends, and now those reading my blog.

1941 Bookshelf in 1993

In the background above is the bookshelf my dad made in 1941. It had a natural finish for many years. It was painted about 30 years ago. Hover over the image to see the color it is today.

SOURCES:

  1. Blog post, Family Finds: Father; https://barblafara.com/father/
  2. Project Post, Bob’s Crafts: Little Chair; https://bobscrafts.com/bobstuff/chair.htm
  3. Website, Bob’s Crafts: https://bobscrafts.com/
  4. Project Post, Bob’s Crafts: Rocking Horse; https://bobscrafts.com/bobstuff/rockhors.htm
  5. Web Page, Bob’s Crafts: Bob’s Stuff; https://bobscrafts.com/bobstuff/index.htm

3 Comments

  1. Susan Blakley

    This is amazing! God bless your father with a gift that blessed his family and those around him. Oh the joy to have something to pass on down the line to the next generations. Thanks for sharing the memory of your dad’s works.

    Reply
    • Barb

      Thank you for your kind words, Susan. You are right about being blessed.

      Reply
  2. Marian Burk Wood

    Impressed by your father’s crafts and so glad you have both photos and stories! Happy holidays!

    Reply

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