seed pod newsletter
025 Miz Poppy Seed © Maria Pahls 1998
Miz Poppy Seed © Maria Pahls 1998
primitive pals #25
© Copyright 1997 Maria Pahls
Published to the internet
by arrangement with Homespun Peddler.

Fence Post
the fence post
(editor's letter)

dear friends,

when editing this issue to post to the "web" i noticed that i had an old letter about asking yourself what is really important to you. so i again, felt the need to touch on this subject... take my ponderings for what they are worth....

to some, a spotless home is at the top of the list. i used to be from that side of the fence, everything "just so". these days with three little ones running about, it just isn't possible to devote time to them, cleaning and working on my hand crafts... i keep telling myself (see i'm not totally convinced yet!) that 100 years from now will it matter if i had all the beds made and the floors mopped? probably not (unless they put it on my grave stone no one will know).

when you talk about your relatives that have gone before you, do you talk about how clean their houses were or how they kept the lawn mowed? again i would say probably not...

so my point is: we have to decide how we spend our precious moments on this earth, we need to make the most of them-since this is "it". i'm not saying this is for everyone, nor am i suggesting that you live in a "pig pen"... i am suggesting that if you look ahead 100 years that much of what we "fuss" so much over seems pretty insignificant.

primitively yours,
maria pahls
drop a line
miscellaneous letters sent in by readers
a vacation report from donna m:

" I visited an Amish area in Pennsylvania around the towns of Smicksburg and Dayton. I went to some great little country shops. We stopped at one quilting store (I went with my sister & sister-in-law-- no DH standing around impatiently!). I bought some nice Hoffman fabrics that look antique. They all look like they have been tea stained.

Has anyone tried the suede looking fabrics? Benartex has some wonderful colors. I used some of the gold suede look (it is 100% cotton) to cut little stars for my pin doll angel. I stiffened the stars with a mixture of fabric stiffener & water.I saw some absolutely wonderful primitive dolls in the country shops around Smicksburg. Some terrific little Raggedy Ann & Andy's. I should have asked the shop owners if dolls sell well there, but I didn't think to. There were lots of Amish dolls.Quilts in this quilt shop in Smicksburg were selling for between $600-700. The wall quilts were $100-150. I was surprised that only 1 or 2 of the quilts used the traditional Amish colors. Most were cream muslin with calicos. Also,there is a weaving shop where they have the most wonderful yarns and rugs." Donna

debee wrote in about some wool and penny rug making: (#24)

"About wool: I just last week bought a rug hooking kit with burlap, wool, and hook all in it for half price at a shop. Frannie and I bought the last two; we debated over which one we should each get, and then I chose the cheapest of the two (because I could afford it at $40) and Frannie graciously took the more expensive. Frannie has done it before; I'm a true novice. I'm going to wait till colder weather to do it.

We had Debbie Hartwick, a doll artist, talk to our doll club about Penny Rugs and we made a little Penny Rug pin at the last meeting. They were really cute. She uses penny rug type designs on her dolls jackets that are wool, and she had a wool vest on with penny rug accents. A neat thing to do when you want to do handwork but don't want to fuss with it too much."

rosalee sent in a note about some very early stenciling:

" I believe I read somewhere that either the convicts who came out to Australia or perhaps early workers who were illiterate marked the bags of wheat they carried with their own particular stencil similarly with bricks laid etc and their wage was factored on that basis."

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

dian sent a note about crewel embroidery: (is embroidery ok on primitives? #6)

" I just found my book on crewel embroidery, which has been packed for three years. SInce crewel -- which is really just embroidery with wool -- dates back to the 16th century in England, it's certainly an old enough art. Crewel was used on household furnishings such as bed hangings, curtains, and seat covers, and also on women's clothing. It seems perfectly reasonably to assume that early settlers in this country might well have used pieces of worn out crewel work as clothing for their children's dolls. I also ran across a small piece of crewel on linen, which I started and never finished. As soon as it's dyed to a suitably muted tone, it's going to be the bodice of a doll dress!" Dian

lucy sent in this question:

"What do you sell a 12" to 15" primitive doll for at a art show or craft show? Just a ball park figure for us beginners. I know you take in account the stuff and time. Still their should be a reasonable area of cost. I haven't done any shows but when I move I'm going to have time. I was working on building an inventory of dolls for going to shows."

kathy w has a pair of questions:

"Alright I have a question for everyone to put on their thinking hats and maybe someone can help me come up with an Idea of what to do with empty General foods International Coffees tins they are about 4inches long and about 2 1/2 inches high. I thought about painting them and then putting grass like material in it and little bears, bunnies etc and decorating them. Maybe some one else could help me with ideas for them. they are metal tins."

"What little ideas do you all do for fillers in your doll shows, what I mean little things you do to sell that do not take a lot time and the cost is fairly cheap and can be sold for small prices ($1.00 to $5.00) I see where some people have small bears, bunnies, babies etc. and items that kids would like to buy. I don't have any of they ideas and would like to know how and what types of things you make at little or no cost."

i asked for feedback on recycling items for dolls:

" far as recycled stuff I use on my dolls, here are some ideas: from goodwill etc - jeans great for making "jeans" for scarecrows etc sweaters - all kinds of possibilities - santa,hats, scarves, and of course to unravel for hair recently from an antique shop i purchased some old keys to use as accessories on a doll, and of course i love old linens, hankies and quilts for use in clothing." rosetta

"i too have used jeans,sweaters,socks,just about every clothing item there is to make stuff. i make doll sweaters from the old sweaters and socks can be cut to make nice sweaters too. keys are great,rosetta, try hanging two on the neck of a scarecrow! once i even recycled a fake wool baby pram into a bear. i dyed it brown and cut the pattern around the embroidered design and zipper parts. he still sits in my sons room." maria

"recently my aunt called and said she had a very old stained tablecloth that had belonged to my grandmother and she was getting ready to pitch it and ask if I would have a use for it. i replied that i would take a look at it and to my surprise it was a cotton lace tablecloth much like battenburg lace, it was pretty badly stained in some areas but i immediately thought it would be nice to use for primitive angel dresses.

i cut apart the tablecloth and made a medium sized primitive angel doll in memory of my grandmother. i had alot of the tablecloth left over so i made one also for my mom and her 3 sisters, they remembered my grandmother using the tablecloth for Sunday dinners when they were young. they were all very pleased with the angels and each one hung the angel in their dining room as did i.

i still have some small pieces of the cloth which will make cute little aprons for some small primitive ladies, which i intent to make up for gifts for my female cousins." anita

i also asked about using gathered dried items for dolls.

"I just wanted to warn you all about a potential problem with using botanicals such as these:

A shop that I am in carries some of the dried flower decor, swags, etc. Well, apparently the flowers were bug infested. They ended up with maggots in some dried orange slices they'd used to decorate the store with. GROSS! Had to bug bomb the store last week and then were closed for a whole day to clean up the mess.

This is not the only time I have heard of this happening. My mom had a wholesale designer's showroom several years ago. She noticed debris under several florals hung on the wall. It was bug droppings! She had to tear them all down and dump them in the trash bin. Never could get hold of the lady who she bought them from, guess she skipped town.

So be careful about where you get your supplies and about gathering your own natural materials that may be harboring unwelcome pests. Better to pay a bit more and buy from some place like San Francisco Herb Co. than to sell a doll that is full of bugs."

"i have had reasonably good luck with dried items, both ones that i purchase and find myself. i did get moths once, but took care of them but storing everything in plastic storage boxes or recycling the plastic zipper bags that comforters and sheets come in. i know this isn't the best place for fabrics and such, but i don't believe in moth balls since they are so harmful and dangerous, but i have seen great moth traps and had success with herbal repellents. i store all of my drieds together in a sealed plastic box as well.

my tips for this would be if you are gathering things yourself, dry them with/in silica gel - this kills lots of creatures. also using silica in the microwave gives the double whammy.

you can also put things in jars or zip lock plastic bags to suffocate any critters-this takes awhile, or how about dropping them in the deep freeze for a day! funny enough the moths came from store bought drieds! also when using nuts and the like, a sealer of some sort would probably shut the critters in the item or the fumes would kill them off.

(oh and try a little mist of hair spray to keep some of your drieds from shattering)."
# # # # # # # #
tips & techniques
highlights of tips sent in by readers
stencils and stenciling

there are many ways to embellish a doll and stenciling happens to be one. imagine if you will a wilting, melting snow man made of a tea-dyed unpainted muslin. how about an embroidered face, then a primitive heart stenciled right on his chest? or maybe he is wearing a vest or jacket with a christmas tree stenciled on the pocket. just to get you thinking...

other primitive crafts,like painted items, also look great with a stencil added. some items i just cannot freehand and that's where the stencils come in handy. often i just stencil where i want it, then go over it with paint again to give that hand painted look.

the technique is fairly simple... choose the paint that is right for the material you are stenciling. use the appropriate size stencil brush (these are the ones with short hairs that have a rounded tip, found in most craft stores).

load the brush: dip in paint, use a circular motion on a piece of scrap paper or paper toweling to work the paint into the brush. do this until the paint appears to be all but faded, ie: no more paint coming onto the towel. then re-dip and do again to further load the color onto the brush.

once the second dipping is not coming off onto the toweling your brush should be ready. it will look like there's no paint on it, but there is and the lightness of the paint gives a more dimensional effect.

once your brush is loaded place your stencil on the fabric or paper. you may want to secure with tape... then repeatedly tap the brush on the smooth, not coarse, side of the stencil.

work the entire stencil, light colors first gradually moving to darker colors. you can shade the stencil to give it further depth by keeping the shapes light in the center and darker on the bottom and edges. also use multiple colors in each color block rather than doing it as a "paint by number". gently remove the stencil and allow to dry.(use a different brush for each color)

you can also cut your own stencils with an xacto type knife and a healing cutting surface. both are sold in art stores. the stencil material is usually sold in "blank" sheets that you can lay on top of the desired shape to trace with a permanent marker. draw and cut on the coarse side. making multiple "overlays" allows you to stencil just about any design.

" I found an old rusted tin can out in the desert. It was the size of a large tomato juice can. I brought it home figuring there must be something I could do with it. I have seen neat primitive designs painted on cans before. But I'm not real good at free-hand painting. So, I used a Noah's ark stencil I had and stenciled on an ark, sheep and giraffes. Added clouds and rain drops, sea and earth, and wrote NOAH-NOAH-NOAH all around the top.

Have since done the same thing using rusted 8" square cake pans. I think the stencil is from Plaid but wouldn't swear to it. I'm not real particular about the mfg.. I care more that it is the design I am looking for. I have also made my own simple stencils. I somehow acquired 2 boxes of overhead transparency sheets in a nice blue color. They make great stencil sheets."

" I found a neat set of plastic stencils offered by American Science and Surplus. They're simple designs, intended for kids, and are cut into sturdy little round plastic paddles, 2-1/2" in diameter. There are birds, animals, flowers, and a few boats, cars, etc. They look just perfect for making a running border around a hem, or a design on the bib of a pinafore -- and they were only $2.00 for a set of 24 different designs! AS&S also carries miniature plastic pigs and cows, little wooden scoops, and occasionally 5" doll needles." Dian

bears: ever thought of making a primitive bear?
here's an idea from karen lopez

"I have had alot of fun with bears... I buy them already made... and then boil them... in tea or coffee and let them dry in the sun... you can tear them and sew them up again and shave bits of their fur here and there to look worn... I have had great success with their finished look and lots of fun... It is amazing how good they really look after that torture... some others have also burned their teddies but that is something I will not do and do not care for the look either."

" Primitive bears: I make bears from the shaggy felt or from homespun. I make them long and lean, but with rounded tummies, button on arms and legs.

I make sure they look pretty beat up and worn. Sand papering holes and patching with big, obvious stitches, tea and coffee staining, also "Kitchen Bouquet", the gravy darkener makes great stains.

Then I go to a thrift shop and buy the oldest, most worn, high top baby shoes I can find. Sometimes they are a bit big, but that just adds to the forlorn, whimsical look. If you can find the old type, hard-soled walkers, they will allow the bear to stand alone.

Sometimes I add an old bib or one made of a piece of embroidered vintage fabric. I had a shop call once to tell me a customer wanted one, but she wanted a discount because it had a hole in it and it wasn't mended very well!! Duh! I didn't know if I should laugh or be offended. I told her it took me extra time to sandpaper that hole there, maybe I should charge her more!"

"Speaking of bears, I have made some primitive-looking bears from Warm & Natural that wear homespun dresses. I love sewing animals like bunnies and bears from this stuff. Looks great after a coffee-staining.

I was tantalizingly close to the Country House store in Salisbury, MD on my way to and from vacation in the Outer Banks of NC. Husband is a demon on the road. No possibility of stopping. Boo, sob. It is from this catalog that I have "stolen" the idea of the bears from Warm & Natural. I don't think mine look quite like theirs, though. Mine are more "beary" and less doll-like that the catalog pictures."
burlap sack
mail order resources section


country stencils
9510 daybreak dr
knoxville,tn usa 37931
miniature stencils and charms for quilts and other projects. (tell them you got their name from the news letter).

blue ribbon stencil co
26 s. horton st
dayton ohio 45403
the most primitive stencils out there!

American Science & Surplus
3605 Howard St.
Skokie, IL 60076
Book Wormie   book reviews
books of interest
Complete Guide American Limited Editions Animal Kingdom 1988-1995
by Peter, St. Consalvi, Lisa Demarco
Published by Hobby House Press 1994
ISBM: 0875884040

Collecting Teddy Bears & Dolls: The Facts at Your Fingertips
by Alison Beckett
Published by Antique Collectors Club 1996
ISBN: 1857328930

The Art of Making Teddy Bears (Milner Craft Series)
by Jennifer Laing 1993
Sterling Publications
ISBN: 1863510990
spider web
web sites of members & other sites of interest

sanfrancisco herb co
sells lori baker items

spare bear parts
all sorts of bear supplies

edinburgh imports
more bears

the country house
poetry and verses to use for samplers etc.

"And were an epitaph to be my story
I'd have short one ready for my own.
I would have written of me on my stone:
I had a lover's quarrel with the world."
        Robert Frost

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