seed pod newsletter
"Chickabee" © 1998-1999 maria pahls
primitive pals #045
© Copyright 1998 Maria Pahls
Published to the internet
by arrangement with Homespun Peddler.

Fence Post
the fence post
(editor's letter)

dear friends:

when this issue was first released the first "primitive gathering" in cincinnati,ohio had just been held. i had also just released my first pattern designs with sharon andrews & co. (those were some exciting times for sure!)

those are two things i consider "milestones" in my life. with the encouragement of the new friends that attended the gathering i continued to produce and develop the seed pod newsletter as well as my own pattern line - two things i'm very proud have accomplished. i have learned so much from writing the newsletter about techniques, history and even a little about myself. it has been hard work, but well worth it! i hope that in some small way you too will draw inspiration from these words and images.

primitively yours, maria pahls

four festive fellows pins
four freaky friends pins
goodtime charlie snowman
guardians of the seasons
ina dibble doll

drop a line
miscellaneous letters sent in by readers

a note from ellie:
"Just returned from N.C. to see our daughter and her husband. Went to Black Mountain... lots of darling shops with antiques and crafts etc. Bought an old piano stool, an old cement rabbit (he's been around for a while)... also found a gorgeous old iron angel with wings about 30 inches tall for her flower bed... I had taken her some old water benches for the house and an antique pew for the dining room... it's looking VERY country and darling!

I made a doll for her from an old printed (faded and grungy) pillow cover. the face was tea stained felt. she wears a dress and jacket and bowler hat. she holds five bird houses and some old cigarette tobacco bags hang from her arms... her wings are of barn siding with little birdhouses painted on them. we thought she was darling...

Nancy strikes rust?

"Shari Lutz and I went to a wholesale suppliers show and found the ultimate rusting product. It's called Instant Rust (how original!), and will go on ANYTHING -- well, most anything anyway -- metal,wood, plaster, cardboard, probably stiffened fabric, etc. It is a two-step process (actually several steps because of multiple coats and therefore takes time). You apply the base coat of Instant Iron, let dry and cure at least 12 hours, then apply the Instant Rust, let dry, apply second coat. They also recommend sealing it.

The neat thing is that you can make your rusty tin wings and all out of cardboard and the end result looks like metal. No more cuts from sharp tin edges, no more smell from liver of sulfur, doesn't take weeks to rust, etc. I used it on chipboard (the hard cardboard without corrugations) -- looks just like rusty sheet steel. I saw it on corrugated cardboard and it looked exactly like an old corrugated tin roof. You control the amount of rust by the amount of the 2nd coat you apply, and by how many coats you apply. It is, in fact, real rust, because the first coat is actual iron particles, ground micro-fine and suspended in a moderately thick liquid. (Doesn't run). Great stuff! Expensive though."

a letter from sharon andrews
on the primitive pals black doll swap:

"Primitive Pals, I want to write about the first doll swap I participated in. I chose to have three partners. The first doll I received was from Sylvia Ricks. The doll was painted with a very folky face, wearing a simple dress, and holding a large slice of watermelon. I just loved her painting technique.

The second doll that I received was from Maria Pahls. Maria and I must have been on the same wave length because the black dolls that we made to exchange both were wearing a red wool dress and holding a small animal. Their names were similar too. Maria's doll was holding the neatest little painted chicken. Her face was hand sculpted and painted also.

The third doll that I received was from Rosie Chapman. Rosie told me that this was her first primitive doll that she has made. She did a good job. Her eyes and mouth were painted and she had a tiny wool nose. I'm not sure what she used for hair, but it was perfect. I just loved the sweet little dress that her doll had on. It had little gathers on the side and looked very old fashioned."

Dolls by
Diane Braund
Sylvia Ricks

sylvia also wrote in about her swap dolls:

"I just wanted to drop a line and let everyone know how much I'm in love with the dolls I got in this exchange, each is a wonder and a treasure. Just looking at each of them is an inspiration for me. The first one I got is from Maria and she is wonderful and very primitive. She has a sculpted face that is painted. She holds in her arms a primitive bouquet of poppy pods, and in the other hand she has the most wonderful chicken. I'm going to have to try to make a chicken like that, it just expresses so much.

The other doll comes from Sharon Andrews. This doll is also very primitive, it is one of her patterns. She has nappy hair, a plush that has been sheared, her face is appliqued and on the hem of her skirt is a 'stitching' that says 'No Sir, I Ain't Seen No Kitten', and her arm goes behind her back where she is holding a kitty. I am so happy I was in this exchange.

Thanks again." Sylvia

sally... with lace collar (kindred spirits)
jerry & dan (fried green tomatoes)
maria pahls & elizabeth,
donna (blue ribbon stencils),
sharon andrews, debee (crooked tree)
gloria (the crow and the weasel),
frannie and paula (crooked tree)
"the first primitive gathering in cincinnati"

i'll get right to the details of this fun primitive gathering weekend...

first to arrive was the group from crooked tree hollow doll club all the way from maryland! frannie, debee and paula were all in my family room waiting for me as i walked in from getting doughnuts! what a sweet bunch of ladies! next to arrive was sharon andrews and her traveling companion becky. of course i had to give a "sneak peak" on the dolls i was working on for the pattern designs! then last but not least was gloria bowlin (the crow & the weasel!!!) and herdaughter amy (moose crossing). we had a quick bite to eat and headed our first stop.... the cincinnati studio of fried green tomatoes! (which has since relocated to indiana)

the trip was not an easy one, even though it was just 5 miles away. the street signs were covered in snow so i kept driving down the wrong ones! but eventually we arrived... i don't think anyone knew what to expect, dan had listened to me going on and on about these other doll makers and now we were all descending on him and his partner jerry- two cars full of excited chattering women!

well, needless to say we all piled in the door and stopped there. no one could move! i then asked "o.k. who's mouth is hanging open?" we all laughed (and shut our gaping mouths!)... it's hard to put into words, but jerry & dan have created a truly wondrous place, chalk filled with folk art and rustic antiques and their wonderful dolls and wood hand crafts. it is primitive heaven for sure!

after the initial shock wore off we were back to talking non stop! the group took a little tour and admired their folk art collections up close. from the front window two skirted figures caught my eye... in no time we figured out that they were alice strebel from kindred spirits and donna hrkman of blue ribbon stencils. they shook of the cold and joined in the fun.

we had show & tell too! sharon andrews brought her new doll long fellow and the original santa that launched her career as a doll maker. debee had her bee doll and a doll with chair spindles as legs. paula had an angel with a beehive hairdo and a mermaid with a funky belly button... gloria brought pieces that she had done to be subjects for painting- two neat dolls, one a santa with a mustard colored coat, snow shoes & a canoe. the other was riding a sled with a snowman hanging onto his neck. we had a few laughs as to weather the snowman was holding on or trying to choke santa! sally showed us lots of stuff that is in the kindred spirits project books. there was the memory tree wall hanging, a fairy, the candle stick doll, the doll from the wool book, the doll that doubles as a project bag and some newer stuff from the bitter sweet book! frannie showed us the awesome bearling dolls she made in sonja sandell's class... donna showed us her fabrics & wonderful folk stencils. such talent all in one room-it was awesome... if that wasn't enough crooked tree hollow presented me with a gift doll and garden basket.

next it was on to 'the old green house' on devil's backbone road where sue & joe brungs were having their 4th annual fairy festival. the snow imps worked hard thru the nite to keep the beauty of the green house hidden, but it only made it more magical! i think every one was in awe of the fairy wonderland that the green house was transformed into. we stayed for about 1½ hours admiring all the displays which featured egg dying, miniature gardens and seeds all the while making wonderful purchases. frannie even bought a fairy riding on the back of a bee.

we had just 2 hours left to enjoy the folk art show, where i got to meet shari lutz and see her awesome dolls. i know she is well known for her santas, but the old time dolls had me spell bound, especially one large black doll that i fell in love with! we all meandered around browsing the booths-lots of neat stuff!

the next day we all met for breakfast and were joined by primitive pal ellie at my home. after much serious primitives talk we said our good byes - our memories tucked away and tied up with heart strings!

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

a comment & new question from caryn:

"Hello, I loved Sharon A.'s tip on the spray bottle for tea-spraying large quantities of dolls (#43). Which leads me to ask how many of us are actually out there selling primitives wholesale that we have designed and 'manufactured' ourselves? A lot of people are selling patterns, but 'manufacturing' has all kinds of challenges and problems that are unique to us. I'm not sure there are too many of us around.." Caryn


when i first started writing the newsletters, a fellow primitive pal told me about the shack in the back patterns. months later i had the opportunity to speak to marcie lajoie over the telephone and discuss her unique work. she told me she wouldn't exactly consider her work "primitive", but other than "folk art", she couldn't come up with another term to describe it. i think what ever you call her creations you are sure to find yourself uttering "wonderful" one or two times!

marcie finds that pattern designs for the simplistic and unique dolls that she's known for come naturally. i was interested to hear that marcie also creates "finished product" items, and plans no immediate additions to her pattern line.

encouraged by her mother (also a doll maker), at the young age of 12, marcie started by making barbie (c) outfits modeled after those worn by the singer cher. later, at about 20, she found herself successfully selling small items made from patterns or borrowed from other designs. around 1990 she began to make and sell her own designs to support herself. she recalled to me the first doll that she ever made, inspired by a photo in a country living magazine- a colonial style doll with a bonnet . once finished she remembered thinking, "i've just made a person!"

Sam Pattern
primitive pals: in your opinion marcie, what draws the line of difference between country & primitive?

marcie lajoie: "primitive is the look of age, whether artificial or real. there are a lot of techniques for aging." (marcie prefers to use vintage textiles-some between 75-100 years old) "primitive is simplicity, country is new. i don't feel the izannah walker dolls epitomize primitive, they are more historic. what primitive is has changed over the past twenty years, native americans made what i would consider the first primitives."

primitive pals: what subject matter do you like best for primitives?

marcie lajoie: "dolls would be my number one and animals second."

primitive pals: if you were putting together a "primitive start-up kit" what would you include?

marcie lajoie: " definitely not glue", and she went on to say, "no glue guns either.- they are the easy way out and that of the crafty world. no poly-fill either for stuffing - instead - sawdust... needle and thread... imagination, no constraints or fears of what is 'acceptable'... old woven fabrics, maybe some examples of faces and paints."

Horses Pattern
primitive pals: what colors and fabrics do you associate with primitive?

marcie lajoie: "there's a look to old fabrics, like wood has a patina, that can't be reproduced. the colors i would not associate with primitive are: 'pepto bismol' pink, or bright primary colors."

primitive pals: can you site any new trends in primitives?

marcie lajoie: "doll makers need to realize that 'it's already been done', but that doesn't mean it can't be done again with your own twist or tweek... there are only so many ways to do a body, it's the materials and embellishments that make it unique... i think books with multiple projects including garments and quilts are popular these days."

primitive pals: what's one thing you find difficult about attaining a primitive look?

marice lajoie: "costuming a doll and carrying a look through the entire doll is a true challenge. i wait to finish the face until last it's really playing with fire since that's the most important part of the doll" .

"i think most any one can sit down and design a doll with a simple drawing, especially primitives, then just wrap rags around it... it's when we worry about marketing and what's 'acceptable' that we get into trouble and run into stumbling blocks."
Scare Crow Pattern

editors note: much of marcie's inspiration comes from old toys and early native american dolls. please see the book she recommends in bookwormies.

"you need to give of yourself when making dolls" ~marcie lajoie

tips & techniques

red rag hair

for red rag hair on dolls try the packages of rags found in the automotive department. clip the surged edges off just fold back and forth like a paper fan, stitch across one long side, clip to stitch line, shake of excess threads and stitch to dolls head. ~judy j.

small garden rake

wrap wire around one end of a stick (you need to determine the proper length based on what you are using it for) bring the wire up and bend it up and down into little rake "fingers". ~Joanie

another use for shoe caddies...

use hanging shoe caddies (the kind that you hang in the closet and have little pockets in them) to stash and organize your art & crafting supplies. ~cheryl


tooth brush rug

it is called such because the "hole" end of a tooth brush is used as the needle with the brush end removed & filed to a smooth tip. the hole in the end is where you put your fabric.

burlap sack

the shack in the back
11750 sw 90th avenue
tigard oregon 97223
(503) 639-0216
      cost $3 for color brochure

To get info on a booklet on toothbrush rugs, write to:
There are good illustrations in the booklet.
    Aunt Philly's     P.O. Box 33051
    Northglenn, CO 80233
    (303) 280-2373

book wormie   book reviews
books of interest

recommended by marcie la joie:

Dolls and Toys of Native America; A Journey Through Childhood
      by Don McQuiston, Debra McQuiston (Contributor)
      Paperback - 120 pages (June 1995)
      Chronicle Books; ISBN: 0811805700

peaceful heart designs continued from last issue
      1996 cost $10.00.
      a twin-size flannel quilt,
      pillow sham and wall hanging.

      1996 $12.00.
      a mini (24" x 24") hand of love quilt,
      five friendship stitcheries,
      three pillows with stitcheries and a gift box.

      1997 62 pgs.; cost $22.00.
      book two in the series "friendship has no season". this book has seven log-cabin inspired quilts, a variety of christmas projects including a penny rug christmas tree skirt and primitive ornaments, a variety of crafts and other goodies to include crinkleroot, the north woodman and three log cabin birdhouses.

      1997; 48 pgs.; cost $20.00.
      a collection of two teddy bears, a sweet annie and ragtime andy, eight antique-inspired doll bed quilts, two stitcheries, a penny rug, a hooked rug, three flower basket purses.
spider web
web sites of members & other sites of interest
candle sites
(candle making equipment)

web site for painter, P. Buckley Moss

hollyberry hill
480 abbie st.
pleasanton,ca 94566
(510) 462-3025

kindred spirits catalog on Homespun Peddler.


a tiny little pod
one hundred seeds sent forth
creativeness and friendship
bloomed upon their course

and from that hundred seeds,
that from the pod did fall
the blooms they made, so perfectly,
shared their beauty with us all.

and as they went along their path
sharing ideas by the number
they helped awaken our primitive minds
from their long and lazy slumber.

verse 1 by maria,
verse 2 by judy jacques
verse 3 by laurie haley

#2       #3       #4       #5       #6       #7       #8       #9       #10
#11       #12       #13       #14       #15       #16       #17       #18       #19       #20
#21       #22       #23       #24       #25       #26       #27       #28       #29       #30
#31       #32       #33       #34       #35       #36       #37       #38       #39       #40
#41       #42       #43       #44       #45       #46       #47       #48       #49       #50
All rights reserved. No part of this newsletter may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review with appropriate credits; nor may any part of this newsletter be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means -- electronic, mechanical, photo- copying, recording, or other -- without written permission from the publisher.
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