primitive pals newsletter
019 image
Rabbit Patch
© Gloria Bowlin / The Crow and the Weasel
primitive pals #019
© Copyright 1997 Maria Pahls
Published to the internet
by arrangement with Homespun Peddler.

Fence Post
the fence post
(editor's letter)


what a busy couple of days its been! the sun has shown its bright face for the first time in weeks. i have been in the garden during my youngest's nap time and any other spare moments that arise. the weeds are having a convention in the veggie patch to be sure! its still too wet to get the last seeds in,but i am hopeful. i found sap sucking aphids on my tomatoes(and some hungry lady beetles not far behind)i think i'm going to try using our shop vacuum to remove the aphids. won't i look crazy out there vacuuming the tomato plants? maybe i should wear all of my pin dolls while i'm doing it,just for effect!

maria pahls
drop a line
miscellaneous letters sent in by readers

diane wrote about some of her european trip:

"I am just back from almost 3 weeks away in the UK and France. We spent almost a week in London visiting friends (we used to live there) I spent most of my free time in museums. One of the best was the Museum of Childhood. It had a wonderful display of dolls, doll houses, toys, bears, childrens' clothing, and items children use. The range and age was huge. I spent several wonderful hours there. The Dolls were the very best. From primitive to very fancy. I would really recommend anyone going to London not to miss this really interesting display."

debee wrote this letter:

"I went with Frannie and some other Crooked Tree Hollow buddies to the Annapolis Quilt Show this past weekend. We each talked for a few minutes about our doll making. The range of styles was neat - there were five doll makers, and five styles. The most prolific and commercially successful doll maker makes country cuties. She has ONE doll pattern, and her challenge to herself was to make as many different dolls as she can using the same pattern. Different fabrics, hair, embellishments, etc.

Then, the next doll maker has a country feel but she uses old stuff - old handkerchiefs, etc., but her dolls have the cute faces - and some of her dolls had been gessoed to look like 1800's primitive porcelain.

Then I spoke - I had a range of dolls from the first sock doll I made for my daughter 12 years ago to the latest dolls - one un-primitive jointed doll and two of the angels with the garden pick down their back. It was my fellow doll makers that liked the primitives. I didn't even dress one - I am embroidering her dress right onto her body - what fun! I always liked embroidery. The audience (ya know, those fussy quilter types) liked the jointed doll best.

The next speaker had the NEATEST little doll - the head is a poppy pod, the arms and legs are sticks, and the body is just a pillow made of homespun.

Frannie was last - Frannie did a great black doll with an embroidered saying on her dress and lots of feed sack dressed dolls-she has a touch that is pure magic.

debee later sent this note when we were discussing dyes:

"My daughter Amy had a social studies project to dye cloth using natural materials, as they did in colonial days. We bought some osnaburg and dyed it with purple onion skins (tan), blueberries (a lovely blue), tea, Cranberry juice (pink), and Turmeric (yellow - we couldn't afford enough saffron). Hey, ya know, we never got that stuff back! I picture this teacher with all these squares from all her classes, making a fabulous quilt! Don't know about if the mildew problem would show up, though... it didn't while the samples were hanging up in the dry school.

Helen's santa (issue #18)sounds great, too. Santa's DO scare most kids to death! I like ALL Santas (I have a Santa fetish and a Santa collection that doesn't near live up to the fetish level - I'm working on it, though) - but the Santas with too-feminine faces are not my favorite. Just think what ANYONE who lived at the North Pole would look like!"

primitive ponderings
questions asked by readers, then replied upon in later issues.

on keeping quilted wings soft but stiffened (#18):

"Use watered-down "Stiffy" and paint it just on the back of the wings. This gives them enough body to stay up but the quilt front still looks and feels soft."-debee

tips from maria for making dolls less country and more primitive (issue#18):

+cut down on rounded features
+limit(sometimes omit) facial expression
+leave frayed edges instead of seams or make seams with big child like hand stitching
+tea dye and instant coffee dye { till your hands fall off}
+favor true homespun type fabrics rather than fabrics that are printed on...homespun will allow you to see the pattern weave/ colors on both sides of the fabric.
+muted and dark colors are favorites for primitive stuff.
+try stuffing with rags occasionally
+limit the use of hot glue and items made in taiwan

"angeled out" issue #18

"it occurred to me this week (while designing a new doll) that i really don't like doing plain ol' dolls, i.e., that i REALLY want them to be angels! at any rate, i'm not angeled-out yet" -tana

question about the old (pastel) burlap from issue #18

" I would think burlap of any color would add a primitive look to a doll. These soft colors she describes sound lovely."-debee

question issue #18 about colored teas for dyeing:

"My friend Frannie had dolls that were dyed with apple cinnamon tea develop mildew. She has used some flavored coffees, though -the dolls smell scrumptious and no mildew problem. I know the mildew would not bother Frannie - she has been known to leave a doll out in the weather on purpose - but she didn't want to sell them."

new questions

jo ann wrote in with this question:

"Is felt "allowed" on primitives? If yes, what is the best method to make it look aged?"

ruth has a question about fabrics:

"in reference to primitive, alot of comments were made about vintage fabric. i am new to primitive. i adore them, so i want to be good at making them. what is considered to be vintage fabric?"
# # # # # # # #
tips & techniques
highlights of tips sent in by readers
(future issues)

cheryl wanted to share this tip on stiffening fabric :

" ...wanted to share a tip with you. One of the snowmen has wings made out of a quilt scrap which is stiffened with fabric stiffener. The quilt scraps that I had weren't tea dyed so rather than tea dying the quilt scraps and the stiffening them, I mixed instant tea with the fabric stiffener and used a sponge brush to put it on the wings. I used 1 C. of stiffener and 3 tablespoons of instant tea. You will need to add a little water after you mix in the tea so it's not too thick. It works great and saves time. Makes a bit of a mess though."
burlap sack
mail order resources section
connecting threads
p.o. box 8940
vancouver, wa 98668-8940
(800) 574-6454
Book Wormie   book reviews
books of interest
"A Santa Story"
by Thimbleberries
205 Jefferson St.
Hutchinson, MN 55350
(612) 587-3944
Books may be found at
contains patterns for 6 different types of Santas.
spider web
web sites of members & other sites of interest
baskets etc.
poetry and verses to use for samplers etc.

It's what you learn after you know it all that counts.
John Wooden

If you wouldn't write it and sign it, don't say it.
Earl Wilson

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