seed pod newsletter
Sal     © 1998 by Maria Pahls
"Sal" © 1998 Maria Pahls
primitive pals #041
© Copyright 1998 Maria Pahls
Published to the internet
by arrangement with Homespun Peddler.

Fence Post
the fence post
(editor's letter)

dear friends:

another question that seems to be popular is "why the lower case letters?" well, i have a number of reasons...i usually am doing two things at once, sometimes i don't have both hands available to type (picture me on the telephone or holding one of my children). also i used to work in an office setting, you know, the prim & proper grammar and such? well after 8 years of that nonsense i have had enough. oddly enough i'm not alone in my strange habit, over the last few years i have come across at least ten others who do the same...what's next, phonetic spelling perhaps? also in most cases when you see the small letters you know it's me "talking".

primitively yours,
maria pahls
(And when you see upper case you know that your webmaster got his fingers into your text! )

drop a line
miscellaneous letters sent in by readers

a note from ellie...

My husband is out of town so I'm home with all the ponies and the mud!!Stopped in the local Good will and found a marvelous old blanket. I'm going to make a great rabbit with it...think I'll make him a good size...saw one in a shop when I was in Leesbug, Virginia last summer he wasn't for sale, but he has been haunting me since. I just cut out my own patterns and go merrily along just as if I know what I'm doing......after all they're primitive, you know!!!!!

Made a darling angel for a friend in Florida- wide and she had an embroidered rather silly face .....moss and twigs from grapevines in her hair, along with some tiny silver stars,put a streamer from hand to hand with silver ribbon and more silver stars...gave her wooden wings , tied silver ribbons in her hair (love wired goes ever which way).

here's part of a letter from shari lutz about the feb 1998 valley forge show:

At the (1998) show i saw Shack in the Back... Boy, were her dolls wonderful! There were a couple other booths that were marvelous also. I purchased lots of wonderful dolls----ALL at wholesale prices. But I wanted one of everything from Shack in the Back.

I also saw a great booth with paper mache items, primitive witches, halloween stuff, candy containers, that sort of thing. It was all great fun! I received great responses to my elf I was working on, and am happy to say it really took off for me. I picked up lots of new stores, and my two friends also did very well, Nancy being the star snowman maker in the group, and my friend in Ohio being the cloth "star-shaped" santa maker.

The most crowded booths were the primitive booths, I felt. One particular booth had lots of shelving, shutters, things like that. I bought a folk art ladder for displaying things on, a pair of bird-house tie backs for curtains, that was very unique. Shutters, and also a display rack that folds flat. There was also a booth with homespun fabrics for sale, and I bought about 40 yards in different colors. Most of it will go to create new back drop curtains in my booth display.

here's a note from sharon andrews, also about the feb 1998 valley forge:

"Glad to be home and I'm happy to say the show was a great success. It was my best show in 4 years. The show was very well attended and all the buyers seemed upbeat and felt 1998 was going to be a good year for the gift industry. This is great news for all.

I changed 90% of my line. The things I made for Easter were smaller items. I made bunnies from old vintage floral and velvet fabrics. I made another bunny (11"tall) that looked like the old velveteen bunny with a basket on his back The basket was filled with flowers that I over-dyed to make them look old. This bunny was a challenge to make since it had an under the neck gusset. I was very pleased with how it turned out and judging by the orders I took so were my customers.

I had a lot of new Halloween items at this show. It seems like I sold more Halloween than Christmas. My new pumpkin-head man did very well. I call him "Longfellow". He is 32"tall and he has so much character he looks like the subject of a book. When you look at him he looks like you could just write about all his adventures. Longfellow and my new santa with a snow man were the best sellers.

As far as new trends, I noticed the old fashioned jack-o-lanterns were done in every size, shape, and materials. They were made from papier-mache, fabric, carved, molded,etc. They were everywhere.

Lori Baker had her mohair bears and rabbits at the show and she sold out in 10 minutes. She brought a hundred pieces. You have never seen anything like it. She is so good. I bought her small bear (6") kit and was very happy with it. It is all sewn by hand and is for someone that likes handwork.

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

priscilla had this question:

where do you find fake fur for bears? (see burlap sack)

and from diane b:

What is primitive? The question has been asked. Each of us may or may not have a clear cut definition in our minds. In the interest of further understanding and the continued enlightenment of all concerned, I'd be interested in comments from primitive pals .
Webmaster note: Click here for Homespun Peddler's discussion of what is primitive.
and Nancy wants a source for flax:

Does anyone know a good source (preferably wholesale or something close to it) for flax? Buying "twists" locally is too pricey. (see burlap sack)

A question from carolyn:

after i have detailed tea-dyed my santa faces I would like to achieve a hardened effect. I have tried varnish but it doesn't seem to get hard enough. (carolyn try the tip sent in by dian crayne in tips & techniques, dolls treated in this manner turn out with the look i think you're after)

primitive artist interview:
Toni McCorkel

ppals: in your own opinion, what is the difference between "country" and "primitive"?

tm: "Country is 'cute'...Primitive is humorous... it must tickle something inside and make you smile."

ppals: what makes the best subject matter for primitives?

tm: "Anything that can be imagined can be primitive...I have always liked fruit and vegetable's the execution of it, not the subject matter, that makes it primitive...

ppals: if you were to create a starting- up kit for a primitive artist, what would be the "must have" items it would include:
  1. the most important "must have" item is a sense of humor...
  2. muslin (can be stitched, painted, modeled over with papier mache, etc.)
  3. buttonhole & carpet threads... crochet cotton... assortment of needles
  4. buttons... salvage items like old jewelry, old clothes, old linens,etc... dried things... cork for cutting shapes like stars and hearts, etc. sticks... found treasures like rusty bottle caps and the like.
  5. stuffing...sawdust or rags or fiber fill
  6. wool, felt, warm & natural cotton batting, cotton batting, fabrics with texture
  7. wire...all kinds
  8. stuffing stick (I use a long, old, worn-out paintbrush... the pointy end is good for corners and the paintbrush end grabs and pushes the stuffing material real good)
  9. time... and tea, coffee, paint, dye, stain, etc.

ppals:what colors and fabrics do you most associate with primitives?
tm: "Usually the duller shades of colors... although I love RED!... navy, burgundy,dark green, mustard... Fabrics can be anything that looks right... knits, wool,homespun, muslin, Osnaberg, monk's cloth, felt, even fancy fabrics like velvets and satin."      

ppals:tell us about you as a designer, what are your favorite things to design (dolls, wall hangings etc)?

tm: "I love to design everything! It's the making part that often never gets done! I have designed LOTS of dolls, some wall hangings, pictures, cabinets, boxes,quilts...but mostly dolls...The dolls I make usually have words on them and that's usually how I begin...think of the words and then design something that fits the words...for example one set of dolls said: 'This world would be a better place and there'd be smiles on every face if everyone had someone like you.'..each one is different although all have the same words. One has an embroidered little girl dressed in lavender and purple dress and hat peeking around a big red heart...lazy daisy red hearts are on the tips of feather-stitched stems going up the arms and legs..."

ppals: how long have you been designing/have you always done "primitive style" or did it evolve from another style?

tm: "I have always loved's hard for me to achieve that look...I tend to overdo things and the best part of primitives is simplicity..."

# # # # # # # #
tips & techniques
highlights of tips sent in by readers

painted fabric pins

choose small simplistic items and create basic templates on a piece of cereal box cardboard. using the cut out templates, trace the image onto a piece of muslin with pencil. do not cut out. layer the muslin atop a second piece and sew following the traced lines. cut a small slit in one side, trim and turn. stuff full with poly-fill and whip stitch shut.

use acrylic craft paints to decorate. painted pieces can be left to dry on waxed paper. you can add a coat of antique gel stain if additional aging is desired or sand lightly then stain for extra age and wear... when complete sew a pin finding over the stitched up slit.

some examples of shapes include, snowmen, hearts, rabbit heads, cat heads, pumpkins, angels etc.

written by maria, based on a technique by karen lopez

dian crayne's recipe for crackle
applied over over a cloth doll body
  • mix acrylic paint and white glue 50-50 for the base coat (the color that will show through the cracking), let dry.
  • apply a heavy coat of the crackle finish, let dry.
  • paint on the top coat (the color that the item will be) let dry.
  • antique the whole thing with a little bit of brown paint, this makes the crackle more obvious.
the finished effect is that the item is very stiff and looks almost like wood.

glovey love
here are some ideas i had for using orphan mittens or gloves you may have lying around...

canvas /garden gloves: stuff them,then paint with acrylic paint and antique (even crackel) then attach a wooden primitive heart tied on with a scrap of homespun, put in some dried flowers( maybe even paint a nice saying on the hand part). then use some bailing wire to create a hanger where the wrist is and you have a really neat door decoration, for spring you may want to put a primitive bunny peaking out of the top of the glove. on the same note you could also just leave the glove soiled (or get it dirty your self)and stitch the saying on the front and finish with out the paint, just add the sure you've also seen the glove angel dolls where the center finger is her head and the outer two fingers on either side are the wings. i think they glue twigs into the "wrist" for the legs and poke some other twigs in for the arms. usually there is a garden type verse stitched or painted on these little gals and she may hold a star or little garden tools.

winter about cutting of the thumb, first, and baby fingers. sew the glove shut in those spots. stuff and paint or papermache (the paint) to make a bunny head (primitive of course!)you could form a little nose with the papermache and put some twine on for the wiskers.

maybe you could make a annie type glove by painting the fingers red for hair and primitive stitch a face on?

leather gloves ...cut off the fingers and use for boots on a santa or rustic doll.

mittens... to me the shape just lends itself to a garden snail... or some sort of critter with a little tail....or what about making it into a doll head with the thumb as the nose.

burlap sack
mail order resources section

animal crackers pattern co.
      1404 peyton/los lunas, nm 87031
      los lunas, nm 87031
      (505) 865-7218
      plush fur and mohair for bears

flax source:
fleece & unicorn
      seventh avenue ctr.
      123 w. 7th. ave.
      stillwater, ok 74074
      (405) 377-7105
      barbara muret
      every kind of hair that you could want

book wormie   book reviews
books of interest

Garden Tools (Everyday Things)
      by Suzanne Slesin,
      Hardcover - 160 pages (May 1996)
      Abbeville Press, Inc.
      ISBN: 0789200872

Antiques from the Garden
      by Alistair Morris
      January 1997
      Garden Art Press
      ISBN: 1870673174

spider web
web sites of members & other sites of interest

dian crayne's web site

here are some online bear fur & supply sources:
spare bear parts
      box 56r
      interlochen, mi 49643
      (616) 276-7915
      Catalog on website
be sure to check out the old friends series-great bears!

      1760 monrovia, suite a-7
      costa mesa, ca 92627

edinburgh imports
      po box 340 dept r
      newbury park, ca 91319-0340
      1-800-edinbrg call for catalog cost

bear supplies

want to see the original winnie the pooh toys and what the real "pooh" looked like as well as christopher robin... check out this pooh site:

lil country folks web site (karen lopez)

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

Family Cares!
  • I
    • My family's so big
    • I'm laden with cares!
    • I've three little dollies,
    • And four Teddy Bears!
  • II
    • They get in such mischief
    • When they are at play,
    • That I'm sure with the worry
    • My curls will go gray!
  • III
    • Queen Mab cracked her head
    • When she fell off the chair,
    • And Puss had a fight
    • With my best Teddy Bear.
  • IV
    • She pulled out his fur,
    • And he looks such a sight!
    • But Puss says 'twas Teddy
    • That started the fight!
  • V
    • In the hot sun, one day,
    • Sat my baby doll Grace,
    • Till the heat went an' melted
    • The wax on her face!
  • VI
    • And, would you believe it!
    • My naughty doll Jane
    • Lay out on the grass
    • All one night in the rain!
  • VII
    • I have no rest from worry,
    • By night or by day,
    • With such a large fam'ly,
    • And often I say:
  • VIII
    • "I wish I were Mummy!
    • How easy 'twould be
    • To have to look after
    • Just Baby and me!"

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