Keeping crafting traditions alive

South Dakota State Agriculture Heritage Museum held a Nifty Fifties flower making class on March 6. Carrie Van Buren, curator of the museum, taught the class how to make the simple, decorative flowers. 

“We got the idea back in December when me and the other museum workers were shopping for the supplies for an ornament making class and we actually found the directions to the crepe flowers. The company that we bought the ornaments from also had made the directions for the flowers,” Van Buren said. “We also had received materials from an extension club, when they are done we get their items, like directions for hats and sewing. Inside one of the boxes was directions for this and so we thought it would be a good idea.” 

Making crepe flowers was very popular in the 1950s. According to Carrie the directions are copyrighted back to 1956 from an extension club. Extension clubs are a women’s group that taught homemaking according to North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension’s website. 

The club had worked in food preservation and canning as well as many others. After World War II had ended and Durham County Extension Service made it into their new offices in Durham, the clubs started to begin more domestic issues. When the 1970s came around there was a drop in membership. Younger women were not willing to join the club because they wanted to be workers instead of homemakers. Eventually urbanism took over homemaking. 

There are still organizations around, but not as many as there had been. So when one of the groups stops meeting, their things get sent to the museum. That’s when Carrie figures out how to incorporate things into classes, according to her. 

One of the directions called for poppy flowers. 

“Poppy directions came from the company that also sold us the Christmas stuff, and the rest of the directions for the flowers came from books that we had received,” Van Buren said.