primitive pals newsletter
ride 'em crow boy  © 1998 by Maria Pahls
"ride 'em crow boy" © 1998 by Maria Pahls
primitive pals #31
© Copyright 1997 Maria Pahls
Published to the internet
by arrangement with Homespun Peddler.

Fence Post
the fence post
(editor's letter)

dear friends:

recently i came up with a pattern for a santa that is a pin doll. he wears a deep red wool coat. the original one was cut from a hand-dyed wool square i purchased the local quilt shop. to make several more santa pins i'd need more of the wool. i returned to the shop only to find they were sold out. disappointed, but not ready to give up...later at home my fabric stash revealed quite an ample supply of white felted wool and i remembered a 1/2 box of scarlet rit brand dye in the laundry closet....i said to myself, "it's worth a shot".... put a big pot on the stove with a strong concentration of the rit dye and added the white wool. it stewed there for about an hour then i carefully removed it to drip dry on the clothes line...once dry the wool was rich, deep, beautiful red, even better, in my opinion, than the costly store bought stuff.. i went on to dye some gold and orange squares as well that i was equally happy with. the lesson i learned is that when you are in a pinch and need to make due with what you have - sometimes the results are well worth the effort or even better as in this case.

primitively yours,
maria pahls
drop a line
miscellaneous letters sent in by readers
dian crayne described a project she was working on:

"I had SUCH fun this evening! I had a stuffed doll body with the arms and legs attached, so I put a profile face on it and needle modeled that, then painted the head, arms, and legs with acrylics; distressed everything with a little bit of burnt umber, and finally coated it with a water-based gloss varnish to which I added just a drop of yellow paint. Tomorrow I'll make her a pair of bloomers and a petticoat from some of my tea-dyed and distressed muslin and, if I can find the right box of fabric, a black taffeta dress."

debee sent in a note and here is part of it describing some items she recently saw-maybe says something of current trends:

"Went to Occaquan - a historic little town outside of DC in Virginia - today, and saw several wonderful primitive pieces amongst all the country. Came home inspired...Saw some dolls with hooked embellishments on their wool clothes, dolls with rusty tin hands and feet, a doll with eyes that were satin stitched moons, some snowmen made of smoothed logs with old spindles for legs.... Beautiful!!!"

paula s sent in a letter and part of it described her current projects:

" Right now I'm using Indygo Junction's Humble Spirit book (SEE ISSUE 27 BURLAP SACK)to make the pumpkin and gourd head dolls. The also have really cute painted gourd cups but I haven't tried any of those. I'm also making some scarecrow ladies that are my own design. Their bodies are chicken wire stuffed with dried sweet annie. Have another idea in my head to make a cloth doll dressed in a halloween costume. A couple of variations are in my head- just haven't gotten them to my hands yet."

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

paula s:
" I read something last week that had been written about primitive dolls that kind of bothered me. The comment was made that if you made a mistake while making a primitive doll it didn't matter because the mistake added to the character of the doll. I found myself taking exception to that comment. I think it is only true up to a point. I think to make an authentic primitive style doll takes a lot more skill that what primitive doll makers are often given credit for. Especially if you are making a doll with historical leanings. I have a friend who has made beautiful contemporary dolls for years and she just made two primitive dolls. Her comment to me was that she was surprised that they were harder to create than what she thought they would be. I'll get off my soap box now, I just wish so many people in the doll world didn't see primitive dolls as step-children...keeping in mind the origin of cloth dolls....."
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tips & techniques
highlights of tips sent in by readers
witch "which" hair?

judie suggested dying some white fleece with green kool-aide! She says she knows someone who does this and sells it as witch's hair!

gravy master

"Hi everyone just thought you might be interested in something I tried this past week. I wanted to antique some muslin and I am always interested in trying new things. I was going through my cupboard and came across a bottle of "Gravy Master". I thought, hey why not give it a try. I had a few yards of muslin soaking in hot water and I added about 4-5 tablespoons of Gravy Master to the muslin and swished it around. Then I hung it dripping wet on the back porch. In a few hours I had a really marbled water stained look on my muslin. This is really an old, used, and abused look. I am making some snowmen out of this muslin. I would just add Gravy Master until I achieved the desired effect. A coffee and salt mixture is my usual primitive dye but I like this new/old look too.Happy Fall"
pam s.

on your creative space (#30)

"I'll endeavor to describe my sewing room, it is definitely a "work in progress". For many years I've had two tiny tables with my sewing machine and over locker on each. I have one wall of shelving which eventually will have sliding doors closing over the top of them. Recently, my husband installed a large bench that I asked specifically to be extra wide. He made the thing too thin, saying it would have been more expensive etc to have it wider. He did braced it with extra timber, it doesn't vibrate, which was my main concern. So I have a 8ft long bench running along one wall, on the wall in front of that is a 6ft corkboard for all the ideas, reminder's, photos and pattern I'm currently working on - that is such a help.

At right angles to that is my wall of shelving and plastic boxes for storage. I sorted my bear mohair and patchwork fabrics into them, crazy patchwork stuff in others, sewing notions are in a wire trolley that wheels under the bench. I have a 6ft bookshelf that will definitely go soon, the shelves have collapsed under the weight of all my books and stuff, so they all lay on top of each other and generally look a mess. I want a long low shelf for books etc, so I can use the top for display. Also have a TV on the bench, a cassette/radio for talking books or music and last but not least a comfortable chair for reading etc.

It is my cubby and I love it. I have the ironing board set up permanently and can feel very superior by ironing as it comes off the line, which is my only claim to domestic fame. I then have a chair in the lounge room which is like an island, surrounded by books, hand sewing, stuffing, coffee cups and other stuff. My neighbor calls it the 'Queen Chair'."

"You asked about sewing rooms. I have a nice size spare bedroom for my very own but you'd never know it for all the junk I have. Lots of fabric and books and supplies that I can't keep organized. My husband made me two tables with folding legs that I keep up all the time now. Plastic storage containers underneath and more stuff on top of the tables. Also in the room is a bookcase, desk and hutch. I have just enough room on one table for my sewing machine. All cutting of fabric is done on the ironing board that is kept up all the time. One table is half devoted to rubber stamping, another vice I've developed this year. Part of the current problem is too many unfinished dolls and crafts. My husband looks in the doorway and won't even go in. His tool rooms are immaculate of course. I do marking, cutting, and machine sewing in my room. The rest I like to do in the living room. Of course this also means it is usually a mess as well. Its a good thing we have a very casual life-style and hardly ever entertain."

paula s

new questions...

"Has anyone noticed rapid fading of Rit brand dye? In August I splashed a strong solution of tan Rit on muslin, put together a doll's body with it and here in October it has faded to a jaundiced yellow. This doll is not sitting in any sunlight, but a year from now she could be back to her natural muslin color. Anyone else with this problem? How about with tea or coffee fading?"

(kelly-did you wash the muslin before dying, and was the nuslin unbleached type? just thought that might make a difference. you may try some natural dyes & mordents to set the dye.)

I am doing a wholesale show in January, and would like to introduce some primitive different rabbits. Any suggestions? Anything else that might be added to the table in Easter theme?"
burlap sack
mail order resources section

american reflections primitive patterns
508 haines neck road
salem new jersey 08079
phone 609-769-4120

"The Shack in the Back"
11750 S. W. 90th St.
Tigard, OR 97223
$2.00 for brochure.
book wormie   book reviews
books of interest
(some books with dye info)

"tasha tudor's heirloom crafts"
isbn 0-395-73527-0
(see chapter 5 "of weeds and warp") in addition to dye information it also contains lots of tidbits on other heirloom type crafts. book by tovah martin

"a weavers garden by rita buchanan"
isbn 1883010071
book distributed by
interweave press inc
201 e 4th st
loveland co / usa
this is a simple small book with recipes and answers to questions that the beginner beginner & experienced dyer would find useful.
spider web
web sites of members & other sites of interest

tasha tudor's web page:
needle art
poetry and verses to use for samplers etc.

monday's child is fair of face.
tuesday's child is full of grace.
wednesday's child is full of woe.
thursday's child has far to go.
fridays's child is loving and giving.
saturday's child works hard for it's living.
and a child that's born on the sabbath day
is fair and wise and good and gay.

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