primitive pals #10
© Copyright 1997 Maria Pahls
the fence post
this issue is packed with lots of great tips, techniques, and sources.
some of your letters contained info about what you do for large shows and your feelings on fabrics suited for primitives. i've pasted these together as a "collage" of comments in primitive ponderings section.
miscellaneous letters sent in by readers
diane tells us about her current projects & travel plans:
"You asked what we are all doing,I seem to spent most of my free time trying to catch up on digest.I am also making doll pins for the exchange, trying to finish a quilt (my first) it is a"primitive" log cabin which when I finished sewing I tea dyed. I am also doing a crewel embroidery with a group from the Embroidery's Guild. When we finished it will be critiqued. I am also planning a trip to England in May. As well as trying to run a home be a mother and wife and work almost full time. Maybe I should just get on one of those buses to La La Land...."
(and later when i asked her about her trip she wrote about her plans that sound really fascinating...)
"You asked about our trip to the UK and France. We are just going over, no tour. We lived in London for a few years in the 70's so it will be a bit like going home for us. Lots of friends to visit and news to catch up on. I also have some family in Paris so we will have a few days there also. I hope to take some classes at the Royal School of Needlework while in London. If I don't do some calling and writing I'll be to late. I also want to see some of the wonderful museums exhibitions of clothing and needlework as well. I don't think I'll have any trouble filling my days up."
kathy (who still is troubled about this 5 day show she's in gave us a little update:
"I'm really busy working on my dollies and wall hangings for that craft show at Cooks forest State Park this summer have never done one this big so I'm not sure how much to make so I will have enough left over for some other shows in Oct and Nov. So that after that show in Aug, if I have some dolls left over for the other shows, I can get started on my Christmas dolls and wall hangings and won't be too rushed. I have never done such a show before and don't know what to expect. Do I sound like maybe I'm a little scared about this show ?-well I am. I've never done one like this and I don't know how much to make.
questions asked by readers, then replied upon in later issues.
on multi-day shows:
i've done several 3-day shows; most were part flea market as well, though they were advertised as "antiques and country crafts" events; i.e., the antiques were questionable, and some of the crafts left something (or much) to be desired.knowing how much merchandise to take is a very difficult question for ANY show, regardless of length. would be good to have some information re: whether the attendees (the public) are there to browse or to really buy. my general rule is to take as much as i can get done.craft malls/consignments/shops
I don't think that they are taking anything away from shows at all. I welcome the competition because I think it makes me work harder to improve my work. I don't think anyone that loves crafts could pass up a craft show no matter how many craft malls are in their area. What really gets my goat is the crafters that sell their crafts for little or nothing. They will spend hours on a item and then turn around and sell it for $5.00 !!!!!! I don't get it!!! If their time isn't worth more than that I wish they would just stay home!!!! As far as the shows that charge big bucks for booth rent, I avoid most of them. I always research a show before I participate in it. I look for other crafters that do the same kind of things that I do and who's prices are close to mine and talk to them. If they aren't doing well they are more than likely willing to say so. The rule of thumb that I go by is you should be able to make 10 times in sales what you pay for booth rent. If you can't, the show isn't worth it. I refuse to do a show that takes a % of my sales. The way I look at it is if they want a %, they should do part of the work!!!!!!! The bottom line is if we all (crafters) don't start pulling together and demand fair treatment, it won't get any better. Stand up for yourselves!!!!! How's that for a soap box...
i feel like the craft malls are just like any other mall...they run the littler businesses out. usually when a major chain moves in the mom and pop stores are pushed out. then the chain controls the market. i see this trend with the craft malls too. many of the prices seem too high for the crafts, and i think its because the crafters have to keep up with the high cost of rent and the percentage they must also give of their sales...i much prefer the little shops. usually i will sell items at a sliding scale, the more they buy the lower the price (but still enough to make a nice profit).
Being from the Western New York area - we do not have ANY Craft Malls, just shops that take in consignment items and are displayed by the owner at her discretion. My dealings with shops have all been favorable and fair. To me, it is easier to furnish a shop with my items as it sells then stocking up for a show and being left with stuff that didn't go over (something we all go through). I would rather pay a reasonable fee per month for someone to do all the "sales work" for me .
I have been in a mall and a couple country shops. Unfortunately the mall wasn't very good. A craft mall has to have good traffic, parking, and crafters. Customers have to want to buy in the shop and come back. Advertising from the shop is very important. I guess what I'm trying to say is before you go in any shop do your homework and make sure it is the right place for you. I've done much better in the current shop I'm in because the owner advertises and has a good customer base. He does take 30% but I get steady sales all year long and therefore can concentrate on the better fares. Also it builds a good customer base for my dolls. There are advantages to being in a shop but like a craft mall, you need to do your research. Since i work full time and craft part time, I felt that being in a shop and doing only selected fairs throughout the year in my best interest. Being in Hawaii, we're isolated, so I can't go to the next state and have to settle for what fairs are here. I do one spring fair, and about 4-6 at Christmas one of which is a home fair i put on with a friend.fabrics for primitives
As for fabrics used in primitives, I use a fabric sometimes called scrim. Found in drapery depts. When washed and dried it does interesting thing. Tea staining, also coffee staining adds to it. Also try different brands of tea for different colors. Another interesting fabric is cheesecloth. It takes dye well and also does interesting things when you have put it in the dryer.
I like to use muslin and calico mostly and cotton prints. I think it's what ever you like to work with and what you think looks good on your dolls.
To answer Anita's question about fabric used as clothing on primitive dolls, I use all kinds but I tea dye everything. When it comes to my dolls I don't really follow any rules. I make what I think looks good and to heck with what everyone else thinks!!!
I use quite a bit of lace with my dolls, but I use the heavier lace, almost a crocheted look to it...have found some vintage lace at sales too. Lace tablecloths are a good source for jackets & aprons. I also buy lace doilies and use as collars, cutting out a center piece for head, then using that piece as a decoration on dress or handbag of doll.
Primitive is all in the eye of the beholder. I really don't feel there are any "set standards" as to what is and isn't primitive....it is a blend of the creator's style and the current trends. I also think that there are many diverse aspects in primitive from almost Victorian - antique to whimsical folk art. Just look through Country Sampler magazine for instance and see how each ad is described...it may be surprising what is advertised as a primitive item.
I use a lot of homespun fabric which to me is a plaid or check-like fabric that has no right or wrong side to it.. usually 100% cotton...frays nicely too. Calicos are "out" in use for clothing. Believe it or not, I have even used the "wrong" side of a printed fabric as the "right" side of a garment. I find my best buys in the "discounted" bins. anything that looks unusual including wool, flannels, nubbly silks, etc. There are no steadfast rules in choosing a fabric-whatever hits you !! sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.
the wonderful thing about primitives is that they can be whatever you make them! tea-staining is good homespun (woven) plaids are very popular for primitive doll clothing. i occasionally use some lace in/on my primitive pieces, just don't overdo it. i'd recommend sticking with antique handmade lace for this, though i supposed tea-stained new lace would work too.
i use mostly muslin for my doll bodies sometimes the real loose woven stuff and warm and natural for bears and rabbits. once the doll is sewn i dye it with a combination of tea & instant coffee solution, drying in the sun seems to have the best effect. for the clothing i use home spuns, some of that polar fleece(ugly colors only)muslin, flannels and wool. i have been collecting old clothes at the thrift store for a quarter each to cut up for clothes too.opinions on pattern craft tin and tin info.
many of you wrote in to say that Quick Rust Tin does not work that well and is very expensive.
About that quick rust tin.... don't expect great results. I have tried it before and it doesn't work all that well. It will rust just a little in 30 min. Also, it's really thin(that may be nice for making tin buttons since it's easier to cut.) When I use tin for my dolls I use the tin that is made for tin punch. I buy several sheets at a time and just sit it outside to rust, that way when I need it I have it.
Rusting Tin: I have found if I coat a piece of aluminum (which won't rust-but is easy to find and buy at hardware store) with a thin coat of Aleenes glue, let that dry, then paint over that, the paint adheres to it nicely. I usually paint first with black, then add dabs of browns to give a mottled rusty look... I even add cinnamon spice granules to the paint to give it a true "rusted" appearance....works for me!!!!!
Also, when doing smaller pieces such as stars, I use the technique of "Burnt Brown Paper Bag". I don't know if anyone is familiar with this, it is from Aleene's Creative Living Show. It gives a metal-like look to any shape you might want. see below for this technique...
I am really impressed with all this tin stuff - I've seen tin punching but never really checked it out. During our holidays I bought some tiny tin charms (stars, hearts) for embellishments and wonder whether it would be possible to do this out of a sheet of tin - maybe using one of those fancy hole punches??? I'm not sure how thick the tin is.
i've painted tin with plain ol' acrylic paint. i've only done it once, but it worked fine for me. i used the metal that's sold in hardware stores for roof flashing; it's about 6 inches wide and comes in a ?? foot piece for about $3. I'm not sure if it's tin or aluminum, come to think of it; maybe that would make a difference.new question:
what if any thing, have you used polymers for on primitives or accessories?
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tips & techniques
highlights of tips sent in by readers
rosetta sent in this info on the cinnamon cutout mix:
Cinnamon Mixture: i used a prepackaged mixture from Off The Beaten Path but the recipe is basically this... 1/2 c. cinnamon, 3/4 c. applesauce and 2 Tbs tacky glue. stir in applesauce and glue with cinnamon. work mixture with hand for 2-3 mins to form a ball. if too wet, add more cinnamon - if too dry, add more applesauce. knead the ball on a cinnamon-sprinkled surface until it holds together well. divide into 4 equal portions and roll out each 1/4" thick. cut dough with cookie cutters. place on cookie sheets or wire racks. use drinking straw to make a hole in top for hanging. air dry ornament. turn over from time to time to ensure even drying (takes approx. 24hours). for faster results, place in sunlight or dry in a warm oven (200 degrees) for an hour or less.
tana sent in her method too:
the basic recipe for cinnamon ornaments is applesauce and cinnamon. some recipes also add white glue, but i've always just used the first two ingredients. TIP: squeeze most of the juice out of the applesauce by forcing it thru muslin (not cheesecloth, it's too loosely-woven); this is messy, but you'll use less cinnamon this way. next, mix cinnamon into the applesauce until it's of a consistency where you can roll it out and cut shapes. i've also used combinations of cinnamon/nutmeg/allspice (any of the brownish spices!) drying the cut-outs SLOWLY (very slowly) has worked best for me; more like dehydrating them, even! turn on the oven very, very low (150F?), then turn it off and put the cut-outs in (on baking sheets); leave the door ajar and you'll get a wonderful scent wafting thru the house! when the oven cools down, repeat the procedure. drying these too quickly seems to make them warp (curl).
brown paper bag(used to look like tin or other metal cut-outs)
sent in by joanie(she saw it on tnn, on arlenes crafts show)
I will try to describe the technique of burnt brown paper bag:
1. glue 2 pieces of brown bag (grocery bag is fine) together with Aleenes glue in the gold bottle. let dry for 1/2 hour or so...
2. cut the shape you want from this, spread one side with the glue, covering entire side, hold this side into a candle flame and let it burn...it will turn black and bubbly. this part is kind of tricky and could be dangerous if you aren't careful, if it flames a little that is okay, makes more depth to shape. I usually hold this piece with needle nose pliers. Repeat for other side of shape.
3. when finished with the burning, lightly rub off the soot with paper towel. I then usually take gold paint on my finger tip and lightly dab it to achieve a burnished look. I have seen them use different colors of paint to get different looks such as a patina finish, etc.
That's it !!! It really is foolproof - if you miss a spot in burning, you can go over it with more glue and re-burn. It might take some practice getting used to the burning of the glue but so far I haven't had any disasters. I like the look for stars or small wings, looks like tarnished gold or brass. Can look like rusted metal depending on the colors of paint you use. Acrylic paints are used, by the way.
Hope I described this all right - give it a try....they make beautiful leaves, butterflies, suns, moons, flowers too, because it can be gently shaped to give it dimension. It's cheap too !!!! All you need is a grocery bag!
F E F E F E F E
mail order resources section
Off the Beaten Path
5203 N. Oak Trwy
Kansas City, Mo. 64118
they have all kinds of cutters, mixtures , patterns etc. Pattern Crafts also carries some of their items in their catalog. (see web site below)
P.O Box 25639
Colo.Springs, Co. 80936-5639
Phone: (800) 456-1239
books of interest
web sites of members & other sites of interest
Meet Joel & Tammy at
off the beaten path.
cookie cutters, recipe cards, storage tins and lots of other neat things.
O P O P O P
poetry and verses to use for samplers etc.
"When there is an original sound in the world, it makes a hundred echoes." John Shedd
"Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." -Muriel Strode
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