Seed Pod
doll with tree © Maria Pahls
Doll With Tree © 1999 Maria Pahls
Seed Pod #059
© Copyright 1998 Maria Pahls
Published to the internet
by arrangement with Homespun Peddler.

Fence Post
the fence post
(editor's letter)

dear friends:

it is my belief that handmade and homemade gifts are perhaps the best of all. of course the thought counts any time you give a gift, but there is just a satisfaction on the end of the giver and the receiver when it's a creation put fourth from heart to hands.

consider for example herbal vinegar steeped with fresh herbs and bottled in decorative glass containers with a melted wax covering on top. perhaps you own a food dryer and like the thought of dehydrating some apples, strawberries, kiwi, bananas, and pears. i have done this in the past, shopping the discount produce stores or clearance sections at the market for over ripe fruit which is sweeter than less aged produces. i layer the dehydrated fruit in pretty jars and cover the with a scrap of homespun fabric that is secured with jute or string. its nice to intermingle some of those specialty items in with the home dried fruit such as purchased dried apricots, cherries, cranberries and other items that may be difficult to dry at home or not in season. you can also dry grapes into raisins and use canned pineapple in place of fresh. the fruit dried at home tastes really great, and reminds me of stained glass when layered decoratively.

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

diane reminisces about an old neighbor...

"This Annie Moon (ISSUE 55) sure does sound interesting! I would love just to talk with her. When we lived in Arkansas on a farm (late '50's), my Mom and six kids at the time... Dad was in Alaska on the dew line, Port Moller as a matter of fact... we had opportunity to meet some wonderful folks. In particular there was this one family, grandmother, father, (their Mom had passed away) and three children, all of them older than me that lived off in the woods. I used to go visit the grandmother... and sit in the kitchen for hours as she talked about stuff. She would dip into her snuff and fill her lower lip then proceed to tell me things. They didn't have electricity either or running water.

One time grandmother (that is what she asked me to call her...) and I were sitting in the kitchen and it was beginning to get pretty shadowy ... when up she jumped and headed into this adjacent room which was pretty much a storage room... filled with jars for canning and such... there was very little light by then and she was talking about a snake.... I just followed... I didn't know what she meant... well, she "sniffed" out a big black snake... asked me if I couldn't smell it... I said no... she said that it mostly smelled like cucumbers... anyway, she got it and took it outside. A most charming old woman she was, she laughed a lot... I used to go and play with the little Bantum chicks that she raised... These folks eventually moved away after their house was struck by lightning... none of them were harmed but their house was destroyed. My grandmother also lived nearby and she told me that they were definitely hill people... very rustic. My strongest impression of them all were quiet natures, shy, and did not talk a lot... except for the grandmother!

.. sometimes it would be so nice to step back in time, I would also love to visit old grandmother again... boy, would I ask plenty of questions!"

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

new question: what does every one think of mixing an matching the seasons? i keep seeing santas holding pumpkins, fourth of july santas etc....

tips & techniques

skeletonizing fall leaves

you can make a beautiful frieze of skeletonized leaves (painted or left natural) even add small dried flowers for interest. they are quite beautiful when preserved in this way...

leaves fall during autumn after sending their sugar to be stored. a cork layer grows at the base of the stem which stops water from reaching the leaf. in early winter leaf skeletons can be found and studied (for example where cars have been running over wet leaves).

these can also be made anytime of year. start with large leaves with clear veins and ribs. simmer leaves in a large pot for 30 minutes then put leaves and water in a bucket out of doors, cover with a screen & weight with a brick.

after several weeks the flesh of the leaf will decay and can be easily removed (use a small paintbrush to flake off). i have heard that you can preserve these by ironing between layers of waxed paper (place a towel and layer of brown paper over waxed paper and a layer of brown paper under before ironing.)

Preserving Fall Leaves
  1. Gather fallen leaves, in orange, red, and other brilliant colors. Look for soft leaves, not brittle or brown.
  2. Gently wipe leaves off with a damp sponge to remove dust and dry them carefully (between layers of blotter paper in a telephone directory or heavy text book.)
  3. Brush on acrylic gel medium (available in art supply stores) in light coats, one side of the leaf at a time, allowing drying time between sides. A second coat will ensure the entire surface is covered. This should help preserve the beautiful colors of your fall leaves for many years, and keep them from transferring their natural acids.
Maple Ghost - © 1999 Homespun Peddler


select a firm, not overly ripe apple (try jonathan, winesap,red deliciious or rome),peel away the skin and remove any bruises -leave the stem and some of the skin at the top of the apple. carve out eyes,nose,mouth and other facial features. the facial features should be about 3 times larger than what you expect the finished face to be. take care not to carve too near the core or rotting will result. for dark skin use no lemon juice. for lighter skin dip in a bowl of lemon juice concentrate. the soaking should last about 45 minutes and the apple will sink when it absorbs enough juice. (if browning occurs, dip again). take care to handle apple by the stem.

to dry, hang by the stem or pass a wire, shaped like a giant bobby pin thru the core from top to bottom. the drying place should be warm and dry away from the sun. the longer the drying time the better the doll (allow about one month). to shorten the time hang near a heat source. the doll will naturally wrinkle and age as it dries. facial features can be gently manipulated with pressure to form.

for a body a metal armature from a coat hanger could be used or mount the head on a dowel and insert into a stuffed body. press black beads into the eye holes and small white beads can be used for teeth. a matte spray can be applied to the head to make it less appetizing to critters. You can even do a bit of painting on the face if you plan to spray it with fixative.

a template example is shown for carving a face. it illustrates just how much you will want to enlarge the features.

garden gift

for the favorite gardener on your gift giving list why not stuff some garden boots instead of a stocking this year? all you need know is their size and you can pack a pair of garden boots with useful garden items such as gloves, pruning shears, gift certificates for seed catalogs and garden supply stores as well as a bundle of metal garden markers,a box of herbal tea and some garden inspired home decor. also a nice smaller gift for a gardener is always a forced bulb kit ( a bulb glass, and the bulb of your choice along with some instructions for how to force a bulb-found on many gardening web sites)

small rag tree

to create a quaint mini rag tree use a small wooden square block about 2". drill a hole in which a 3/8" dowel rod is glued in. paint the dowel brown and the block in a christmas or other theme, such as checkers or dots etc...take 8" green wool strips and tie them on the dowel, knotting them. continue to put knotted strips all the way up the dowel until it reaches the height you desire. trim the ends of the strips as desired and place a painted wooden star atop or stiffen a felt piece and cut star for the top. make a whole forest of rag trees of varied heights for your mantle. place one in a sata's hands or next to your favorite snowman doll.


James Suddeth

"Jim Sudduth, Born: March 10, 1910 Alabama... as an Alabama mud painter, James Suddeth is the epitome of the true folk artist. undoubtedly, self-taught his career has been a long one.

Jim's mother was a Native American who gathered plants for medicinal purposes. His first painting was done as a little boy while out with his mother on one of her foraging trips. He mixed mud with honey and painted on a stump.

Sudduth married his wife, Ethel, in the 1940's and worked for most of their lives on area farms. They had no children. After moving to town in the 1950's he did odd jobs as a gardener. When Ethel died, his constant companion was his white Shih-Tzu, To-To. Sudduth paints on plywood using different colors of mud, Indian "dye rocks", plants, sugar, molasses and house paint. He started selling his paintings at shows in the 1960's. He appeared on the Today Show in 1980. Sudduth is also known as a blues musician who performed at the Smithsonian Institution's bicentennial Festival of American Folk Life in 1976.

See:Museum of American Folk Art Encyclopedia of Twentieth-Century American Folk Art and Artists.
now & forever
302 depot rt 1130
manchester vermont
proprietors are kitty and charlie

bayberry farm peddlers
po box 447
perkasle, pa 19844
goosefeather trees by lorrie clauss (no relation to santa), german christmas waxed figure ornaments, tin christmas snowflakes and stars by "ed" the tinsmith, old factory paper decoration reprodutions... brochure $2

book wormie   book reviews
books of interest

the heritage sampler
by cheryl hoople - 1975
isbn 08037-5430-2
(check it out in your library) this is the book which i got most of the info from for the apple head doll. it also includes corn husk dolls, straw ornaments, paper cutting and more.

American Country, a Style and Source Book
by Mary Ellisor Emmerling
ASIN: 0517538466

Mary Emmerling's American Country
by Mary Emmerling
ASIN: 1563058952

spider web
web sites of members & other sites of interest

well known paint & mud artists, james suddeth's work Lee Sudduth

geometric designs, woven stuff

Threaded Needle
212 Worcester St.
No. Grafton, MA 01536
(508) 839-1700


"in the depth of winter, i finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer" ~albert camus

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