Studies in Crap: Clown-Crotch Birthday Cake & Other Unfortunate Crafts


Each Thursday, your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from basements, thrift stores, estate sales and flea markets. I do this for one reason: Knowledge is power.

Various Clown-Related Craft Books

Discovered at: Thrift stores throughout the Midwest

Post-Poltergeist, Pennywise, and that Pied Piper of diabetes, Ronald McDonald, it’s not news to point out that, on the creepy scale, most young people rank clowns somewhere between nursery rhymes sung in a minor key and mustachioed uncles who friend you on Facebook.

But since it comes from 1981, we must assume that this cake decorating guide is not meant to make kids feel safer by depicting a clown’s lollypop crucifixion. Instead, the designers at Wilton must have truly believed kids wanted a big ol’ slice of the crotch of a clown etherized upon a table.

Anyway, here’s why clowns freak people out in the first place.

This invaluable photo — the only one we have of the exact moment America lost her innocence — was the cover of a pattern book published by the Spinnerin yarn company in 1944.

Fortunately, the clown turns up nowhere inside. Instead, Spinnerin offered helpful patterns to help you turn your toddler daughter into a minx.

As we can see, selfless Americans spent much of the 1940s laboring to inspire Nabakov.

I’m not sure we can run the next one without getting arrested.

We can laugh because, unlike our clueless grandparents, Americans today would never permit the sexualization of minors in our culture!

Then as now, boys get off easier.

“Hey, little love,” he calls. “How’s about you minx those gams of yours over here?”

But back to clowns! Here, from 1971’s Afghans Made With the Heir-Loom:

Let Molesto teach your children a lifelong fear of rubber-gloved probing!

Heir-Loom Publishing’ had democratized the craft of afghan creation. With its patented pin-and-plastic helper square, and this book full of patterns, even the most fumble-fingered home-ec dropout can polish off a world-class monstrosity . . . like this dot-matrix Humpty Dumpty achieved in the medium of yarn.

Crafts were hobbies, now, so instead of whipping up sweaters for Ice Nymphs and Men About Town, Americans were free to perpetrate horrors like:

“Pup’s Bathroom-Time Fantasy!”

“Steam Roller One, Little Girl Zero.”

Finally, like most people of distinction, you understand that the best way to class up a drab Rolls Royce is to let it blow its nose on a homemade afghan.

That’s it for clowns and afghans, but I can’t resist one last ’70s craft Crap marvel.

From a 1975 embroidery book:

Mustard-pants glory!