primitive pals newsletter
" Crows Nosin' "
© Maria Pahls 1999
Order a Print
primitive pals #055
© Copyright 1999 Maria Pahls
Published to the internet
by arrangement with Homespun Peddler.

Fence Post
the fence post
(editor's letter)


dear friends:
fall is so busy, too busy!!! i feel like a crazed squirrel running from tree to tree trying to make things ready for the winter to come...only in my case i'm scurrying from room to room trying to get stuff ready to sell and patterns written and on and on. i'm sure you can relate to this in one way or another. these old issues are such fun to read, remember to use the handy index to find what you are looking for amongst the seed pod archives!

at the time of this issue artist & doll maker annie moon sent me a nice letter (in the mail!). she talked of her childhood and making "penny gardens". she would dig a hole in the ground, line with moss or grass and arrange flowers or some wonderful child like motif in the moss bed. she would then cover it with glass and charge the other children a penny to have a look at her creation. only a child could come up with such a sweet and innovative idea!

i think child hood is a great place to find inspirations of all sorts. remembering a favorite game, friend, or outing. holidays as a child, seeing things thru a child's eyes are all great wealths of ideas waiting to be sprung from the mind. if you find yourself trying to reinvent something, perhaps you are making a snowman, and you just can't seem to capture what a snow man 'is'. ....stop...think of not how a snowman "should be" but rather, how a child or the child in you sees a snowman.

it is only when we brush away the expectations and let our own hearts tell us how our art is and should be that we can totally be free to create truly wonderous things. try using child like innocence to create something and you might be amazed at what you find. it's true what they say, if you can't figure out your vcr by reading the directions, give the controls to a 5 year old. now why is that? perhaps because they are not afraid to try things, not worried about making a "mistake" and not clouded in the head from the world's expectations.

look at the way a child draws or speaks, while he may not use special vocabulary or techniques he does communicate an idea in the simplest of terms. his imagination is a real and true place that he regularly visits.

i know my train of thought in this piece has much to be desired, but take it for what it's worth and just remember that to get to where we are now we were all children once, and somewhere inside us that little being, pure and sweet still exists.

primitively yours,

drop a line
miscellaneous letters sent in by readers

sharon andrews tells of her halloween decorating

" I just painted my mantle white. I love it. On one side of the mantle I leaned a large old picture frame (with peeling white and gold paint) Then I hung a witch (made by Gloria Bowlin) in the center of the frame. In front of that I lined up 7 tiny white pumpkins (really gourds). In the middle I placed one of my favorite witch carvings. On the other side I place 3 six inch pumpkins and put white drippy candles on them. They look great with the wax running all down the side. I have small displays everywhere of halloween stuff. I have a bunch of my husbands halloween favors displayed on a black shelf. I'm so happy his mom saved these things. One plastic pumpkin is worth $160. Amazing!!! Some years I don't take time to decorate but when I do its so worth the time. I put pumpkins and corn stalks out front. I displayed it all around an old picket gate."

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

annie moon wanted to know if any one knows of any epitaphs. in particular she is looking for the wording on a verse believed to have origins somewhere on a tombstone in England about how "we once were, you shall be"....

twitch wrote in to give her the wording: 'As Ye Are Now, So Once Were We...And As We Are, So shall Ye Be.'". another reader revealed it was taken from the Spoon River Anthology, published by Edgar Lee Masters(1868-1950)

tips & techniques


in earlier centuries tomb stone etchings/rubbings were made as a fond remembrance of loved ones, the stone may have contained an epitaph or story of the deceased person's life. if the family was moving, the grave rubbing might be the only record available of the grave marker.

today, the sometimes ornate work, and often primitive chiseling of historical grave makers is seen as a sort of folk art.

grave rubbings are made using sheets of newsprint paper and sticks of rubbing charcoal. old or historical grave markers can be "copied" by placing the paper over the stone and then rubbing the charcoal across the paper with a large sweeping motion. the final effect is dramatic and can be mounted on a sheet of black craft paper and encased in a an inexpensive acrylic poster frame. with motifs like angels and crosses these make interesting conversation peices either as seasonal or permanent decor.

SHOULD YOU DECIDE TO DO THIS BE CERTAIN YOU HAVE PERMISSION FROM THE PROPER AUTHORITIES... if you are not sure who to ask begin with the care taker or the historical society... of course you will also want to be sure and leave everything as you found it.


gourds have been used for ages by people as spoons, dishes ,baskets, birdhouses and jewelry. i have been fascinated by them since childhood and have enjoyed growing and creating with them from time to time.

to grow a crop of gourds you'll need seeds. the first place to look is at your local market. the little decorative seasonal gourds are a good start. find one you like in shape and color and take it home to harvest and dry the seeds. possibly due to cross pollination this is not always a fool proof way to obtain the gourd you are looking for. the seeds sometimes will yield gourds of other colors or sizes in that same variety. seed catalogs offer a wider and truer growing selection.

since gourds need lots of time to grow and lots more time to dry -some large varieties taking up to two years to completely dry. -you need to plan ahead, for the over anxious there are many sources for dried prepared gourds.

start gourd seeds indoors 4 weeks before the last frost date. transplant seedlings into hill'd mounds and provide a large area for them to sprawl out. unless you have a large vacant lot, only use about 4 plants since they become quite leggy. for smaller, lighter varieties a trellis arrangement is suitable. keep the vines well watered during summer heat and dry spells.

harvest between four to six months later making sure to burn, not compost, the dead vines. vines left to rot can attract pests such as cucumber beetles. should you find your plants with the onset of cuke beetles, apply a safe insecticide soap every few days and after rain.

when you harvest gourds handle by the bottom and not the stem to prevent bruising. cure your gourds in a dry airy place with good air circulation between each. immediately discard any that become wrinkled or soggy. drying gourds may put off an odor, this is normal as are white fuzz and black moldy spots.

when the seeds rattle inside -the gourd is dry and ready to use. a diluted bleach mixture and a gentle scrubbing will remove black mold. if you wish to paint, a fine sand paper prepares the gourd by removing the skin.

gourds look nice just dried and sitting in a bowl or placed in an arrangement on a mantle. dried gourds make great doll heads,and fun necklaces. how about a garland of fall findings including dried tiny gourds? or a giant bushel gourd with it's top sawed off to hold some rag balls, mache easter eggs and wool carrots, cloth pumpkins with halloween eggs or even your wares for a show? the smaller bird house type gourds make nice bowls for storing small findings.

try crafting with gourds for a fun and interesting type craft!

safety note: gourd dust from sanding will irritate the eyes and lungs, always wear a dust mask and proper eye protection.



artist interview

pumpkin boy - © Annie Moon i was intrigued upon hearing of a folk artist that resides in the wilderness of virginia with wood heat and no running water. and when i found out that she made her entire living creating primitive dolls,wizards and civil war santas- and that her name is ANNIE MOON.

i had to know more... so i wrote a note to miss annie moon, trying to explain about this "internet" to someone who i was sure was as down to earth as the ground itself. (meaning that as a compliment of course!)

after a few months passed, i began as always to second guess myself and my communication skills figuring she thought i was some lunatic who she'd better keep her distance from...

then one day out of the blue -way long after i had written to her about doing an interview... i get a post card saying "sure let's do an interview". so i proceeded to send off a copy of the newsletter with another note and even called her.

not surprisingly, this sweet gentle soul was so sharing, allowing me to nose into her life & her doll making with a wonderful echoing back of my off the cuff sense of humor and wise cracks- we hit it off quite well!

santa rides a rabbit - © Annie Moon SP: can you trace back where you got started with creating, sewing etc?

AM: "My paternal grandmother was a "tailor", and I guess I inhaled sewing sitting at her feet 'neath her treadle machine. I always sewed some, but mostly I was a painter and commercial artist, but always I wanted to make quilts, wall hangings, dolls and eventually I did and there's no going back.

SP: tell us what inspires you in your life and a little about your creative process...

AM: "I live without electric or "running" water-it's ME who does the running -I run to the spring and I run to rain barrels!...I'm in a very rural area. I want to be with other doll makers, so I visit Crooked Tree Hollow and other places, but I love my woods, the quiet, my chickens, and dogs. although I love to look at them, I don't use patterns, I have made a few which is hard -since usually I just cut fabric without drawing or designing ahead. I sew every day. My recreation consists of trips to the library, thrift and grocery stores. I rarely get stuck for ideas anymore, they come faster than I can keep up. I use the library especially the children's section, fairy tales, travel, history, holiday sections-magazines. Just making several dolls -rags-or hands and heads mounted on armatures and having them in front of me is usually inspiration enough. being totally dependant on doll sales for every bite of food is very inspiring! I use mostly old clothes, blankets, curtains, whatever I find. I like wood or osanberg for skin. I make dolls in all sizes and they're very ugly. People either love or hate my dolls, there's never a non-reaction."

Tom and his pig - © Annie Moon SP: tell us about the types of dolls...

AM: "The armature dolls range from Santas to witches, old men and women, angels, frog prince and princesses. I also do series; "the man with the moon" is one. It began as one doll, but demanded variations. Another series is " the frog and the angel" doing the "owl and the pussy cat" verses... I must be a professional now because I used to "make dolls" and now I "do series", oh my. I love my work and I love meeting doll makers, they are a wonderful bunch."

SP: annie, i heard that you had a fire, lost all of your earthly possessions, has that changed your work or your life and could you tell us how...?

AM: "the fire?... until that happened, I had been having a rather down-slipping life the last 3 or 4 years, and I was really getting down hearted. the fire, rather than making me more discouraged, fired (Oh no) me up and made me mad and determined instead of giving up.

Of course the thought of losing every possession you have is a heavy burden and especially so to a pack rat, so there's that aspect to get through. The good was how so many people cared so much and the affect on the doll-making,well... for the next 5 months after the fire I lived in an 8x8, 3 sided shed and made 57 dolls. later, I realized they were all very small dolls and I can understand why. Losing [my] beads made me create tiny cloth jewels and using stuff given by other people rather than stuff I had collected really did open new areas of creativeness."

editor's note: annie is a feature artist in a doll book by mariam gourley along with the likes of other well known doll artists.
Dolls shown are: 1. pumpkin boy, 2. santa on a rabbit, 3. tom tom and his pig.

annie moon
po box 686
hillsville, va 24343
send $3.00 for brochure

Modern Post Card
they do wonderful postcards - you provide the photo or art.
reasonable prices for bulk orders

          gourd sources          

Purple Martin Conservation Association
Edinboro University of Pennsylvania
Edinboro, PA 16444 USA
814-734-4420 (phone)
814-734-5803 (fax) (e-mail) (web)
James R. Hill, III Executive Director/Founder

For gourd catalog write:
West Mountain Gourd Farm/P.O. Box Drawer 1049
Gilmer, TX 75644/Ph 903-734-5204
variety gourds from JERRY and RAY DAVIS
in the gourd business over 30 years!!!
11132 Byrd Doerner Rd./Collinsville, MS., 39325
Ph 601-737-5333Email:
E-mail, or send SASE for price list/ identification chart
Gourds: 1000's and 1000's.
Birdhouse, crafts, and ornamental.
P.O. Box 591, Oneonta, AL., 35121
Ph 205-625-5040
Pumpkin Hollow Gourds
610 CR 336/Piggott, AR., 72454
Ph (870)-598-3568/
Email: Ellen Dalton
Tom Keller/P.O. Box 1115/West Point, MS., 39773
Ph: (601)-494-3334
Ozark Country Creations
30226 Holly Road/Pierce City, MO 65723
Ph: (417)476-5454
call for current cost of chart of gourd shapes, prices, & tools
learn more by joining the
american gourd society,inc.
po box 274 mount gilead ohio 43338
(write for current membership rate info.)

book wormie   book reviews
books of interest

for info on mariam gourley books call or write:
     mariam gourley
     1033 M 560 E
     orem, ut 84097
     (801) 225-8011
spider web
web sites of members & other sites of interest

Alternative Technology Association
their web page has a a how-to recipe for milk paint:
Alternative Technology Association - Lance Turner
PO Box 2001 Lygon St North
East Brunswick VIC 3057
Ph:+61 3 9388 9311 Fax:+61 3 9388 9322
mainweb page:

circa 1820

gibson pewter

MB historic decor

rocket dog studio
reproduction castings of gargoyles

bill jones site
(which sometimes features annie moon's work)


epitaphs sent in by readers:

This spot's the sweetest
I've seen in my life
for it raises my flowers
and covers my wife.
Here lies Ann Mann;
She lived an old maid
but died an old Mann.
The dust of Melantha Gribbling
Swept up at last
by the Great Housekeeper.
Owen Moore;
Gone away
Owin' more
Than he could pay.
Mary Weary, Housewife...
Dear friends I am going
where washing ain't done

or cooking or sewing;
Don't mourn for me now
or weep for me never;
for I go to do nothing
forever and ever!
Here lies my wife
in earthy mould
who when she lived
did naught but scold;
good friends go softly
in your walking
lest she should wake
and rise up talking.
(on Ezekiel Pease)...
He is not here
but only his pod;
He shelled out his peas
and went to his God.
Poorly lived
and poorly died
Poorly buried
and no one cried.

Tears cannot
restore her...
therefore I weep.
"Here lies the body of Michael O'Shay
He died defending his right-of-way
His way was right, His cause was just
But he's just as dead, as if he'd been wrong"

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