seed pod newsletter
"Jiggs" - © 1998 Maria Pahls
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seed pod #057
© Copyright 1998 Maria Pahls
Published to the internet
by arrangement with Homespun Peddler.

Fence Post
the fence post
(editor's letter)

dear friends:

well i just can't keep my mouth shut when something is on my mind. so here are a few of my jabberings about copying other people's ideas. take it for what it's worth, and remember this is just my opinion. i would be happy to hear other opinions! gotta fill this dead space somehow!

taking off the training wheels

i was thinking back, and tho i don't remember when it all started, i know somehow it did. maybe it was when i first mimicked a word back to my mom. or when she covered her eyes to play "peek-a-boo" then i too, covered mine to do the same. maybe it was when my teacher wrote those perfect alphabet letters to copy on our practice pads. what about that boy who drew the lollipop trees and four petal-ed flowers that everyone thought were so great-so of course we began to draw them the same way....perhaps it was the girl with the newest fashion or hair style that everyone just had to try. the truth is when we are coming up- we learn by copying.

in my mid twenties i used to buy dolls, because i hated following patterns, and examine them closely to see how they were made. in fact, i admit that i sometimes copied them. for me it was sort of like training wheels, finding out if i could do it, not quite sure if i could come up with something like it on my own. or maybe i was lazy. one thing though, i never took credit for the design....things eventually evolved. after that followed a phase where i tended not to copy but to be "inspired by"...what i mean is if i saw a certain doll, say a scarecrow i would make a scare crow but just do it my way. so the basic idea was the same and the finished item was different. i think there is a nice thick black line drawn between inspiration and knocking off a design.

upon thinking about the subject i figured if someone wanted me to have their exact doll down to the last detail idea for my own use, they'd put it out in pattern form. (there in lies another whole discussion of people who make patterns from other peoples ideas and those who disregard copyright on patterns). but even changing an original design 10-15% still dosen't cut the cake for having it be my own idea.

sometimes something happens tho, a kind of magic where two people have the same idea and even some of the littlest details are the same. this is really mysterious, and it does happen! usually there is a nervous moment when one tells the other that they had the exact same idea but generally, because the two could discuss it in the first place, shows that there was no harm meant. the fact that someone worries enough to talk up front to another who's work she feels she may have gotten "too close" to generally can be reassuring that no harm was meant.

what i wonder about is how some one could feel good about knocking off other's work for any period of time? it's one thing to pay for an idea by purchasing a pattern, and it's not harmful to make a doll for yourself that is like one you've seen, but to out and out call someone else's work your own and sell it as your own idea for profit is stealing. if a crafter wants to make copies it should be from patterns that allow multiple copies to be produced (many are very specific as to how many can be made) or original ideas of their own. copying is how we learn, people make patterns to teach us and share their ideas with us. (making dolls in a particular "style" to mimic a designer is a whole 'nother discussion). there are now and again real designers who steal others work and display it as their own. as protection artists can "get out there" and let people see their work so that they will come to recognize copies. those who are crafters can help by respecting the wishes of the pattern designers and avoiding patterns whos copyrights they do not agree with. as collectors we should research artists if at all possible -most all are honest hard working people...too bad a few bad apples out there feel other's work is for the pickin' and choosin' to steal from.

well for me, eventually the training wheels disappeared. once i let sweet inspiration in, i didn't need them, i just had to trust myself and find my niche...i didn't say that that darned "bike" didn't crash now & again, but it sure feels good to know that i'm riding on my own two wheels.

what do you think- post your comments on the BULLETIN BOARD...

primitively yours, maria pahls

Also see Homespun Peddler's
Comments on Copyright.

drop a line
miscellaneous letters sent in by readers

verlene brooks of jiggety jig and the girls in maryland's crooked tree hollow doll club and penny dehoff's rag doll daze club had quite a wonderful visit recently. here are some thoughts from verlene on her adventure:

" I've never thought of myself as a teacher, I'm intimidated by large groups, actually small groups too, hate public speaking, avoid crowds, hide from strangers, avoid school meetings like the plague, and love to be alone. Not the stuff teachers are made of. Once I get started sharing I seem to forget all that and I really do enjoy it. Just gotta learn to get over the before-hand jitters! I've taught small craft classes at lady's gatherings at church, shared with grade school kids, helped parents paint props for drama, and taught primitive doll making at the local craft store. My trip to Maryland to teach was a never-dreamed-of dream come true. I had a wonderful time, the girls made me feel like one of them and I was very touched by their kindness and acceptance. Frannie, you're so sweet and my goodness what a house! I don't think I ever looked her right in the eye, I was too busy gazing around at the walls, the ceiling, the floor. Every place you looked there was something fun to see! Crooked Tree Hollow Doll Club is a special group of ladies and if you ever get the chance to go, GO! I was privileged to meet Shari Lutz (wonderful humble lady), Carol Merck (who laughs so hard she cries) Twila (very delightful), Terry (funny girl and editor of CTH newsletter and owner of the Twisted Twig), Toni you sweetheart (who hosted the classes, thanks Toni), Paula Setters (good with clay), Cyndi Rowe (love your comedy acts!), and many others who were real friendly and chatty, wish I could name them all. I also visited Penny DeHoff, she lives in an old Victorian home with a wide wrap-around porch. She loves to cook and garden and entertain and my time with her went much too fast.. We had chatted via email of sitting on her porch swing and visiting but we were much too busy shoppin'. Had a great time and met a few really nice gals from her Rag Doll Daze Doll Club, hi Laura and Michele..

Going to MD has been a highlight of my life and I will always be grateful for the opportunity to go. Loved the Ivy Cottage! Thanks Penny and Frannie for inviting me, you guys are the best!"

kim talks about llamas:

"I recently met with a couple who own a Llama and Alpaca farm and have asked me to design some dolls incorporating this fur. I am very excited about this new challenge and the "wheels have been turning"! They sent me home with a few small bags of fur to experiment with. I have an idea for a Santa and possibly even a llama doll more whimsical rather than realistic). Visiting this farm was really an amazing experience. We walked right out into the field with over 60 llamas, it was an awesome sight! Some of them the llamas) were very friendly, one was nuzzling my ear while another was untying my shoelace. I fell in love instantly with these animals and hope to own a few of my own some day. " I will keep you updated as more develops on this exciting new adventure!" ~ kim ( things that make you smile)

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

NEW QUESTION have you ever made a scare crow or have one in your garden or yard?


i collect "halloween" antiques and collectibles because our sweet daughter was born on halloween 1970! the collection "lives" at my house and decorates crooked tree hollow each halloween season -- i have olde and new paper mache jack-o-lanterns and black cats , one adorable vintage 'tin' pumpkin -- and about a dozen old halloween horns and clickers -- and I also collect antique children's halloween costumes in blacks and oranges). AND in my collections is an assortment of pumpkins, black crows and scarecrows, ghosts, goblins and witches. i also buy 'new' halloween items to add to the mix- frannie

tips & techniques

" dressing up your decor!"

we often think of dolls, quilts and primitive collectibles as art, displaying them as such in our homes, but~ have you ever thought to embellish your collections with a few vintage clothing items?

homespun bonnets and dresses, time worn baby clothes and socks, vintage christening gowns all have a rightful place on display and out of the drawers. consider putting up a shaker peg shelf and hanging some old baby shoes by the laces, or a tiny doll or child's dress on it's own miniature hanger. a simple string across the fire place mantle with mittens or socks (mismatched or in pairs) that are clothes pinned along it's length. stacks of old knitted sweaters tied with a bow or string would be a folksy and warm addition to your winter decor. you can even make your own tattered socks into a fun decoration. darn socks by inserting a light bulb in the foot (or an old darning egg) and do some tiny patching stitches with colorful thread to make the socks look mended. consider making two dresses next time you are making a doll, one for the doll and one for the wall.

as with most vintage linens, heirloom clothing needs to "breathe", and what better way than to display these quaint treasures where everyone can enjoy them!


if you'd like to extend the life of roses, fruits and fall leaves and at the same time create a beautiful still life to grace your home try waxing. though not everlasting, waxed florals will last lots longer than fresh cut flowers and the wax coating gives them a unique look like vintage "waxed" fruit.

  1. melt two blocks of paraffin in a can that is placed inside a pot of water (make shift double boiler). BECAUSE IT IS EXTREMELY FLAMMABLE DO NOT PLACE DIRECTLY ON BURNER AND NEVER LEAVE UNATTENDED, STIR CONSTANTLY OVER A LOW HEAT.

  2. use fresh unblemished flowers or fruits, leaves etc. and dip into the melted paraffin, coating completely. use tongs if necessary. it may also be helpful to divide the paraffin and pour it over the item catching the run off on aluminum foil .

  3. before setting aside to harden, separate petals with a tooth pick. hang items on a taunt cord over layers of newspaper to dry. for larger fruit dry on foil and trim paraffin with a paring knife if needed.
tips: chilling fauna first will sometimes yield better results. old fashioned rose varieties, with "loose" petals, accept the wax more freely. this technique can be used also on dried flowers. the best teacher here is trial and error.

source: "les immortelles: everlasting blooms-the beauty of" by georgeann brennan & kleinman.




SP: "verlene, tell us about your history as a doll maker. how you got started..."

'Ole Stockin Stuffer' © Verlene Brooks VB: "I learned to sew at an early age. My Dad was a preacher with 5 kids to support so my mom made most of our clothes to save money. My earliest creations were simple doll dresses which were nothing more than a scrap rectangle with a hole in the middle for the neck and a rubber band around the waist. My first actual doll didn't come along until 1968 when I decided my husband and I, as newly weds, needed something to make our home look more personal - and something that would fit with all the antiques we were collecting. I made a little 12" black dolly with button eyes and a flour sack for the dress and bandana. I didn't really start making dolls (as an addiction) until about 7 years ago, although I've always been addicted to collecting and creating.

I've done the craft show /consignment route for 20 years here locally, doing mostly wooden painted designs and homemade baskets. Sewing didn't appeal to me for a while because I had sewn all my own clothes in high school and it seemed like work and I wanted to play. But soon I tired of the mass-production of shows and shops, and about that time I took an interest in dolls again. The dolls saw in stores, and even at the craft shows were so cutesy and frilly, they just weren't me and they certainly didn't fit our house which was filled with old stuff.. That's when I began to design my own. That was fun but I still didn't want to make more than one of a particular design to sell.

Then in 1995 I decided to try my hand at making patterns for a few of my designs. With a few borrowed dollars from my dear hubby, I placed my first ad in a crafters' magazine. Then last winter I got "online" and advertised a few of my patterns. "

brooksmgoos SP: tell us your influences if any and if you consider yourself as working in a particular style.

VB: "I guess everything influences me, the woods and forests especially I guess because they just seem alive. Words fascinate me and sometimes they will prompt an idea, as with my "Bear with Me" pattern. Style is something I have yet to figure out. It's hard to look at my own stuff and say it's this or that style. Some people tell me it's a cross between folksy and primitive. Oregon is very slow to pick up on new things, we are still doing lots of victorian and country blue. "

SP: we'd like to hear about your pattern business...

VB: "To date I have about 65 patterns, My favorite patterns are always my newest ones, after a year or so they seem to get old, but maybe that's natural.

SP: do you prefer a specific subject matter and where do you get your ideas...

VB: "Subject matter varies as inspirations come and go. Ideas come from everywhere, from old books, watching people, from reading, from dreams, from faces in the clouds or in tree bark. I really thank God for the gift of creativity and for the ability to see things in my head and then being able to put them down on paper.

SP: many of us have seen the great drawings you do, verlene, and i know you do sculpting with polymer tell us about these talents and any other talents or hobbies you have.

brookswhistle VB: "Working with my hands is very gratifying to me. It relaxes me and I feel a real sense of accomplishment. Whether it's doodling on the telephone book, reupholstering an old chair, or wallpapering the kitchen, or tatting a little trim for a new doll collar, or whittlin' on an old twig beside a campfire, I just love the journey, the process of creation. Playing the piano was a creative outlet during my childhood and early married life, but crafting has kinda replaced that now, although I still do love to play occasionally. 20 years ago my honey and I built our own house, so I learned to work with power tools out of necessity. I loved the smell of freshly cut wood, and once the house was done, I began to make little wooden painted accents, accessories, and shelves for our home and to sell. Used to play a little guitar, accordion, harmonica, sang a lot with my sisters. Love to write...started a novel once, it's under my bed. Love to fiddle with things, rewiring vintage lamps, taking old clocks apart to see why they don't work. The only thing I hate to tinker with is car engines!"

SP: what is your favorite medium to work in for making dolls? and why.

VB: "Today it's clay and fabric, tomorrow who knows! But I really don't think I will tire of the simple rag doll who can sit slumped in the corner chair and brighten the whole room with her crooked smile. I'm kinda itchin' to get away from the paper work of patterns and make some one-of-a-kind dolls, or do more woodwork, or re-paper the bathroom, or make curtains for the bedroom, or fix up that old wooden chair out on the deck., which I don't have time to do now. I used to do some carving, but had to quit because of carpal tunnel syndrome and now clay seems to fill the need for the 3-dimensional. I have a small collection of carved santas I did about 8 years ago, very primitive cuz I was in such a hurry to finish and get 'em painted."
Verlene Brooks / Jiggety-Jig
phone: 503-631-7273
FAX: 419-710-4277
brochure: $2
address: P.O. Box 755, Boring, OR 97009

Pitch Fork Llamas/Registered Llamas
White & Natural Colored Registered Rommeys, Raw Fleece, Roving , Sheep Pelts
Cindy Cieciwa
4190 W. Cook Rd.
Swartz Creek, MI 48473
(810) 655-4091
Fax 810)694-0666

Adam Higgins
Spring Valley Farm Clemmons, NC
The Home of SPR King Arthur (info. about llamas)

cva-0132.gif   BOOK WORMIE
book reviews
books of interest

The Embroiderer's Flowers
by Thomasina Beck
September 1997 David & Charles Uk; ISBN: 0715306928

The Embroiderer's Country Album
by Helen M. Stevens
Flowers, Wildlife, Cottages, Churches, Barns, Village Scenes, Country, Landscapes
Paperback - 144 pages (May 1999)
published by: David & Charles
ISBN: 0715308254

Sara Midda's South of France : A Sketch Book
Workman Publishing Company
ISBN: 0894807633

Designing With Collectibles
Candace Manroe
ASIN: 0517132966

Mary Emmerling's New Country Collecting
Clarkson Potter
ISBN: 0517583674

Collecting American Country
How to Select, Maintain, and Display Country Pieces...
C. N. Potter Publishers
ISBN: 0517549573
stuffed bird
"Stuffed Bird" © 1999 Maria Pahls

spider web
web sites of members & other sites of interest

Hickory Hill Quilts
Antique Quilts, Vintage Fabric, Quilt Heritage Books, Reproduction Fabric, Bottle Kits and Quilters Dream Cotton Batting.
PO Box 273
Esperance NY 12066
Ph: (888) 817-6577
Fax: (518) 875-9141
Kris Driessen

red dawn
a personal web page of Dawn Duperault has a wealth of information on caring for and cleaning antique linnens.
main page:
kindred spirits article:
kindred spirits catalog page

pat broyles' fabulous lamps and log cabins

home arts has a nice selection on popular collectibles. check it out at Country Living's site:

things that make you smile kim whritner

collectors headquarters

twin brooks
vintage stuff for sale including halloween page

richard miller's (awesome) halloween page
-lots of great pictures of old stuff

Heart of Country Antique Show
every october - 150 dealers - held in the Opryland Hotel
phone: 800-862-1090
web site:


c Tom Allen, printed with permission

How 'bout them scarecrows,
Ain't they true;
Scare'n away bad birds,
And good birds too.

Shoo'n them Blackbirds,
Starlings and Crows;
Chase'n 'way Bluejays,
Let'n corn grow.

Dressed-up in old clothes,
Chest full of straw;
Tattered hat on its head,
Fastened not to fall.

Stand'n high on a post,
Ever on alert;
Keep'n critters from the field,
Threaten'n to hurt.

How to make a scarecrow,
Ain't so very tough;
Just get ya-self some old clothes,
And fill 'em full of stuff!

visit tom allen's web page to see great stuff about growin' up in the country:

dolls © Sharon Andrews
Witch, Pumpkinboy / Cat,
Bear, and Hare
© Sharon Andrews / Lori Baker

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