seed pod newsletter
Black Star Flag
© 1999 Maria Pahls
primitive pals #051
© Copyright 1998 Maria Pahls
Published to the internet
by arrangement with Homespun Peddler.

Fence Post
the fence post
(editor's letter)

dear friends,

here is a quick summary i wrote of a memorial day outing in 1998:

on memorial day weekend 1998, i had the pleasure of visiting the historical landmark : the john rankin house. john rankin was a prespeyterian minister who, after seeing the inhumane treatment of slaves seeking their freedom, decided to relocate from kentucky to ripley, ohio. there he would set up a church and open what would become the first safe haven for some 2,000 slaves on their way to canada. he, his wife, and their 13 children lived in the modest house high atop what is now called rankin hill. the home overlooks the ohio river with a view clear into kentucky.

slaves were routed across the river when rankin placed the signal lantern in his window. from the river banks they hid in the home of john p. parker, and when it was safe they climbed the 100 stairs (which one can still walk on today)up the steep hill side to rankin's home. there he fed, clothed and hid them either in his barn or the eves of his home before the final leg of their journey to cleveland and on to canada.

the original home is well preserved, tho the two additional rooms built by rankin were unsalvageable. his piano, writings, and bible are among the personal belongings in the home. i especially liked the wooden doll cradle and rope beds that were upstairs along with a visual display of many of the "conductors" and prominent figures in the freedom movement.

(parker was an african american who bought his freedom before moving to ripley and becoming one of the underground railroad conductors. parker's home on front street is in the process of restoration and will be soon.)

primitively yours,
maria pahls
drop a line
miscellaneous letters sent in by readers

pattye received her primitive pair of dolls from our recent swap:
"I received my primitive pairs swap from Sylvia Ricks. WOW WOW WOW! She made a the fox and tar baby from "Brer Rabbit".

The fox is about 20 inch tall and made from what I'd call "distressed" fake fur. Sylvia shaved sections and painted some and put "stuff" on it to stiffen parts. He's wearing a tan "work shirt" and brown work pants with cuffs rolled up. He has a wood pin that says "Waitin' fer Brer Rabbit". The face has a long muzzel and tiny bead eyes. His ears are tall and his tail is thick and long.
B'rer Fox © Sylvia Ricks

His partner is a 9" tar baby made of papier mache over cloth. He's dressed in a striped pants and a brown shirt fastened with an old rusty pin. He has a huge straw hat and wide eyes. Both of my girls tried to claim these two for THEIR collections but he's mine... ALL MINE!

Sylvia is such a talented artist. I just can't believe what she comes up with. They're all such treasures. I can't wait for the next swap!" Pattye.
NOTE: Sylvia's "B'rer Fox" is available in both pattern and finished form directly from Homespun Peddler.

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

another look at creative process... patterns or not?

how many of you use patterns, how many make their own, how many just free form (cut it with no pattern)? why do you prefer this method & has it been successful for you?

reminder: even though these are back issues, feel free to respond to any questions and they will be added to the next batch of issues we post.

tips & techniques

salt dough-it-yourself
try this inexpensive and fun recipe for salt dough sculptures:

basic recipe
2 c. all purpose flour (NOT SELF RISING)
1 c. salt
1 c. water

combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. adding water, a little at a time mix thoroughly. you may need more or less depending on humidity. knead for 10 minutes until the consistency of the dough is smooth and firm ( not sticky). keep dough in a plastic bag to prevent drying.

flour hands before working with dough to keep from sticking. if molding dough with cookie cutters etc, spray lightly with cooking spray then remove most of spray with a paper towel. use water to act as a "glue" when joining two pieces of dough.

finished pieces can be baked or air dried before applying a finish.

baking: oven should be set no higher than 325-350' (temp can be reduced for extra thin pieces). use foil under dough and bake 1/2 hour for each 1/4" thickness or until surface of dough is a lite golden brown. bake as soon as possible after making your project. large pieces tend to curl unless weighted down by a metal tool BUT bake it a bit first so it can support the weight. cracks can be filled when the piece is cooled by filling with moistened dough.

there are many "finish" choices including : water colors, acrylics,(you can also color the dried ingredients or water before mixing for varied effects),natural air dry finish,wood stain followed by laquer,metallics (good for stars!),egg yolk finish (applied prior to baking)...all finishes should be sealed for longer lasting salt dough.

so experiment, make a primitive figurine, an accessory for one of your dolls, or some seasonal ornaments. the kids can even get involved in this one~ have fun!

(source: morton salt company publication 1975)



Like Steiff (#50), Bing was a German company. Dating back to 1865,they began with tin kitchen ware and moved to tin toys. Best known for their mechanical toys which included things like tumbling bears ,walking and skating bears, and rabbits. They only made bears from 1907-1932. This makes locating one difficult.

side bar: There were many smaller companies in Europe that made wonderful toys in the early 1900's but you hear mostly of Steiff because they were larger. Also the Farnell Co. in England...They made the bear that was the actual Winnie the Pooh that belonged to the real Christopher Robin. He looked like a normal bear not really like the one we know as Pooh from the books. -lori baker, baker bears

pp: lisa, for those who have yet to see your work, please describe the types of dolls you create:

lg: "i guess you could say that they're not the prettiest girls, but the ones with personality. seriously though, i make mostly rag-type or angels- most often one of a kind because of the vintage materials. i'm pretty much of a purist, down to antique thread if available."
Harvest Moon
pp: what inspires you and tell us a bit about the steps in your creative process when developing a doll:

lg: "my inspiration comes to me in many forms and spirit. my three daughters have been a constant but i can see a doll in a fabulous piece of fabric or in the pages of an antique children's book(another of my many collections) when the doll i want to make comes to mind, i scribble my image on paper, decide on the most fitting approach (e.g. papier mache, cloth) and create."

pp: do you do any other types of primitive hand work or crafts?

lg: "oh yes, i have a very short attention span but i love to keep my hands busy- so i hook, paint, stitch samplers etc...but my heart is truly with my dolls."

pp: recall for us the first doll you owned and the first doll you made:

lg: "i'd like to say raggedy ann, but for me, barbie (tm) was the queen of the universe. i used to draw and make my own paper dolls as a kid, i didn't get into anything three dimensional until about ten or so years ago... i made a baby doll,a muslin cutesy pattern, mine turned out un-cute."
Bed of Dolls

pp: tell us about your "antiquing" technique:

lg: "children and dolls should be well loved- this is the look i most try to achieve in my work. first off i try everything! i'm always cruising the isles at the" hardware store " or reading old and new handy man type magazines for ideas. i mix dyes stains and more importantly regular household stuff and just experiment. (i haven't had any explosions yet). put yourself in the shoes of pioneer women and what was available to them as doll makers. simplicity is always best."

Sewing Circle

Black doll by Lisa Gaines

burlap sack

the angel garden
lisa gaines
1315 dauphin
wyomissing, pa 19610

1021 R Street
sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 442-9225
natural dyes,mordants & assistants and other dye / spinning needs.
book wormie   book reviews
books of interest

beastly abodes
by bobbe needham
sterling / lark books
isbn# 0 8069-3168x
wonderful ideas for wild animal and bird housing that you can make yourself. features rolf holmquest.
spider web
web sites of members & other sites of interest

native american type dolls:

folk art society info:

check out these neat dolls!

jan patek:

here is a place you can see the original pooh toys


The Wind

When the wind is in the East,
'T is neither good for man nor beast;
When the wind is in the North,
The skilful fisher goes not forth;
When the wind is in the South,
It blows the bait in the fish's mouth;
When the wind is in the West,
Then 'tis at the very best.

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