Vintage Junkin’ Book – A Treasured Find

‘How to Make Something from Nothing’

John and I love used and antique book stores.
You know the ones… with the old creaky and crooked wide plank floors; the slanted overstocked shelves that seem to defy gravity; and that wonderful smell of books… of real honest to goodness books… some antique, and some just well used and well read. The best kind… because we can easily afford them.
Whenever we travel we hunt out these book stores, and always spend more time than we should… rummaging through the written treasures… thoroughly lost in such a good way… and totally enjoying ourselves.

Our favourite book haunts so far are Shakespeare & Company in Paris (we’ve only been to Paris once for a week, but we were at this book store 3 times),

and Willis Monie Books in Cooperstown, New York, (of which I don’t have a photo), where we’ve been a few times, (declaring mostly books when crossing the border) for the Baseball Hall of Fame and for this fabulous book store.
Well, we recently discovered one of these wonderful throwback book stores in a small town close to where we live, The Olde Same Shop in Neustadt, Ontario, and I couldn’t believe what I found there.


How to Make Something from Nothing


It’s a vintage junker’s book… published back in 1968… ‘How to Make Something from Nothing’ by Ruth Stearns Egge. It’s a first edition, but doesn’t have much monetary value yet because I found it all over the place when I googled it.
But who cares? I think every junker should have a copy of this book.

Here’s what’s written on the inside of the dust jacket.

‘For the amateur decorator with more imagination than money’

(um…yes… that’s me),

‘here are lively, informal, easy-to-follow instructions on transforming castoffs into splendid gifts and decorator pieces for the home.’ 

How to Make Something from Nothing

‘An ardent junker herself, Mrs. Egge tells how to conduct a fascinating junk safari into the attic or antique and secondhand shops and what to do with the trophies you bring home.’

(Junk safaris? Count me in!)


How to Make Something from Nothing

‘You will learn how to strip away old paint and tarnish, to rebuild and refinish your creation with professional expertise, and how to adorn it with the baubles, bangles, and beads gleaned from your search – in short, all the necessary techniques for turning a white elephant into a decorator triumph.

(I love baubles, and bangles, and beads!!)

How to Make Something from Nothing

‘The art of “junking” yields both the magic of browsing for treasure and the very real satisfaction derived from a few hours of playing Pygmalion – of hammering, painting and polishing to create decorator items uniquely lovely, uniquely your own.’

(Magical browsing is right up my junkin’ alley.)


How to Make Something from Nothing


‘Tarnished andirons, newel posts from wrecked town homes, deftly turned table and chair legs, bits and pieces of fabulous junk jewelry – these emerge from the creative junker’s hands as graceful wall sconces, fantastic baroque candlesticks four feet high, table lamps fit to grace the pages of Better Homes and Gardens, and dozens of other elegant whimsies to add spice to your home decorating scheme or to give as welcome gifts.’

(Elegant whimsies?!! How wonderful is that?!)


How to Make Something from Nothing

‘Richly illustrated and engagingly written, this is the perfect book for every hobbyist on the lookout for a new and immensely challenging craft.

(And creatively rewarding… and sooo much fun.)


How to Make Something from Nothing

And on the back of the dust jacket:

‘Ruth Stearns Egge first became interested in the art of junking when she sensed a provocative resemblance between a baroque candelabrum highlighting one of the “decorator rooms” at an expensive department store and a pair of ancient andirons stored in her attic. That particular shock of recognition marked the beginning of a fascinating hobby that grew into a profitable source of extra income.’

(I’m hoping mine does to… eventually.)


How to Make Something from Nothing

‘How to Make Something From Nothing’ is Mrs. Egge’s engaging account of her conversion to junking and an easy-to-follow introduction to what is likely to become a popular new decorating craze.’

A popular new decorating craze?!! I love that!!

I always knew I was a little bit crazy.

When this book was written I was just 7 years old, and already a seasoned thrifter. It’s in my genes… a part of my DNA, and I’m thoroughly enjoying reading this book. It’s one of my favourite finds ever! So many of her tips and ideas are just as usable today as they would have been back in the 60s.

Are you a Thrifter/Junker? Find out by taking my Thrifter’s Questionnaire.

Sprinkle some junk with some love today… and smile! 🙂

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  1. What a great find. I love books like this. I love the idea of turning different and unique items into something completely different than what originally intended.

  2. Tuula, you could have written that book and MORE! It's so you! What a wonderful find!

  3. Mrs. Egge is Mother Of all Junk Goddesses. I wonder how she would react reading countless blog posts espousing her philosophy. Wonderful find!

  4. This is such a neat find with a lot of helpful information. The bookstore looks so cute from the outside too. What a great place to have by you. My husband would enjoy some place like this one.


  5. What a cool book to find. I agree with Gail; you definitely could have written this book.

  6. I love bookstores like that!! And this book is SO you Tuula!!!


  7. Very cool book–just goes to show you that some of our fabulous new ideas are really old ideas that we've rediscovered! Bookstores are among my favorite places:)

  8. WOW! You are so creative. I love the idea of using vintage things. I am looking for ideas to use my Mom’s handkerchiefs that do not require sewing. She passed in 1996 and I would like to make something with them. I have made some things using E6000 glue but I am not sure about using that on handkerchiefs as they are not very heavy – some transparent/some not but still not heavy. Any ideas? And thanks so much for adding me to your posts!

    1. Thanks very much for your comment! You could use fabric glue or there are adhesive strips made for fabric. Just a few ideas. 🙂