Seed Pod Newsletter
ina dibble.jpg
"Ina Dibble" - © 1999 Maria Pahls
Order a Print
Seed Pod #060
© Copyright 1998 Maria Pahls
Published to the internet
by arrangement with Homespun Peddler.

Fence Post
the fence post
(editor's letter)

dear friends:

organize your thoughts:

so often i hear fellow artisans say that they have so many ideas they could never in a life time act on them all. also i hear that there are great ideas that come to folks right before they fall asleep and in the morning they can't recall what it was. i'd like to encourage you, as you develop in your craft (what ever it may be) to keep a few notebooks about the house (and maybe one in the car too). you never know when inspiration may strike and that notebook beside the bed could make it easier to roll over an write something down in the hour of the sand man's arrival. how about in the grocery check out, doctor's waiting room, even line at the fast food drive thru? all of these are time wasters, but if you have a little sketch or note book you can use the time to jot down ideas and small sketches for future works. i also like to jot down names that come to mind to use on dolls, i have pieces of paper everyplace with names on them and i hope to get them all into a book one day. another tip too, if you feel like you have no's a well known theory that once you start making things the ideas will flood in like you won't believe. so pick up some clay,some fabric, or a pencil and dabble around a bit. if it doesn't work right away, pick it up again tomorrow. you'd be surprised how this really does work! is it magic? naw, just stimulatin' the old brain into action!

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

here is a note, rather an article sent in by debee nees. i love her writing style...
"What is 'ART'?

In my backyard, sprawled on the ground, is my latest effort at what I fancy as 'folk art'. It is an angel made of assorted castoff pieces of wood - my trash wood angel.
I spied the wings first, last spring - as I jogged around my neighborhood, I saw a large crescent of wood that was obviously cut from a doorway to form an archway. I looked at it for several months before I asked my neighbor if he would mind parting with it. He, being a very practical man, gave me a sideways look and said, "Sure. I'm just waiting for the dumpster. You can have all the junk in my whole yard if you want it." I don't think he asked what I'd use it for.

It was a few weeks after that that my husband and I hauled the piece, with nails protruding, into the back of his car. It went from my neighbor's back yard to mine, where it languished for almost a year until I could find the perfect "completer" pieces. These, I found all at once at the Rooster Vane,one of my friend Frannie's favorite antique shops in Funkstown, MD. I paid $30.00 for two large fence pickets (legs), two smaller fence pickets (arms), the back of a green painted Adirondack Chair (dress), a pediment (head), and aluminum flashing (halo). Put together, they make a very funky angel about 10 feet high (or long, since she's laying on the ground).

When my poor husband saw me putting this assortment of junque together in the back yard, be looked at me with that deer-caught-in-the-headlights expression he gets now and then when he sees me go off Shabby Shopping. "What's that?" "Well, it's my trash wood angel." "Uh - Where ya gonna put it?" "Well, I was thinking about hanging it from a tree, but those wings must weigh 50 pounds, so I don't know." He gamely discussed the logistical difficulties a few minutes, then sort of woke up to what we were discussing.
"Um - you mean one of OUR trees?"

We have a neighbor (not the practical guy we got the "wings" from) who has a sculpture in his front yard that is a huge pocket knife surrounded by a huge set of keys, a coin, a paper clip - stuff that looks as though it fell out of a giant's pocket. While he is not openly berated by the neighborhood, but is regarded as just a little wacky. Which, truthfully, he is, in a pleasant sort of way. His sculpture is made of real concrete and steel - not thrown-away old wood.

I had pity on my sweet guy - I explained, "I don't really have to hang it anywhere. I just wanted to do it, and now I have."

Do "Real" artists like their own work? I seem to remember the old masters usually did not. What IS art? It is surely in the eye of the beholder. When the Impressionists started painting with their emotions, the Realists called their work "trash". It seems that whenever something new comes to the forefront (or maybe before it does), it is not considered "art" by the established art world.

I've heard it said, and I believe, that art is something you HAVE to do. If you feel the need to paint, or write, or sing, even if it is not done well, it is "art".

So, even if my trash angel never gets hung, I will have put her together once - and that is good enough for me. I had an idea and I took it to completion."

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

on mixing and matching seasons #59

i think its a great idea mixin and matchin the seasons! i suggested on the bulletin board that you make a snowman out of those big white pumpkins and give it a carrot nose or use the stem side as the nose. stack them up and lite em up for christmas. you could cut in the buttons down the front and use sticks for arms. i also saw that jean said she made a fall guy by stacking 3 regular pumpkins. if you're in warmer climates, how about making a mud man or sand man in your front yard instead of a snowman? the neighbors will think you've lost it! ~maria

tips & techniques

Crackle Finish for Wood
  • latex acrylic paint-desired color
  • franklin international™ co.hide glue
  • hot water/ wide paint brushes/cream color latex paint
  • glazing liquid/ mineral spirits/instant colorant-burnt umber
  • satin finish varnish
note: amounts of ingredients will vary depending on the size of the piece being painted.
  1. paint the wood with a layer of the desired color of latex paint and let dry. this will be the under color that shows thru the crackels.
  2. stir the hide glue and hot water together. it should be the consistency of a thick cream soup. brush on a coat of the glue water mixture over the painted surface and be sure to cover the entire surface. i will be just tacky to the touch when dry.
  3. using a wide brush over coat the glue surface with cream colored latex paint. do not overlap brush strokes. crackle will begin immediately. dry for several hours or overnight.
  4. mix the glazing liquid into the mineral spirits to thick soup consistency to this mixture add the instant colorant. suggested is burnt umber, other colors may be substituted. paint this mixture over the dry crackled finish, covering completely. let this dry for a minimum of 24 hours. apply several coats of satin finish varnish.
cornucopia (see issue 74)

try making a "horn of plenty" to display this fall. most basket departments in craft stores sell the ready made type in several sizes or you could make a cone shape from cereal box card board then cover with the newspaper type papier mache.

try to actually weave the top layer with thick double or triple strips of brown paper grocery bag. if papier mache isn't your thing, then wrap the cone base with string (use tacky glue to help hold it) then cover with a heavy layer of paint. you may even want to try weaving a loose primitive cornucopia of grape vine or honey suckle...

fill your cone shape with lumpy bumpy primitive fruit & veggies molded from polymer or made from salt dough. for really interesting fruit how about covering the ready mades from the craft store with papier mache or plaster. you could even go all out and make fabric fruits and veggies. intermingle with some twisted brown vine for a great little piece.

child gifts

we all have those little "some ones" that we know that are deserving of a special hand made item this giving season. here are some ideas to get you started...
  • make a set of small felt animals paint a pint dairy carton to resemble a barn and cut a small hole in it for the door.
  • how about a book? make the pages from felt or felted wool. stitch a little story in or maybe just pictures of bunnies, dogs, cats etc...
  • one thing i did for my daughter was to give her a piece of gray felt and then cut out a bunch of small little pieces of colored felted wool in the shapes of people and animals (very simple shapes) plus geometric shapes. she has a ball making scenes on the felt and changing them over and over.
  • and of course you could always make a child his or her first real rag doll!
  • also consider making and donating a child gift to a homeless shelter or other such organization.


use an old tooth brush to spatter (by running your thumb across the bristles) white paint on stuff for "snow effect" (be sure to clean out and replace tooth brush in holder before your husband gets home)

instant age to sisal trees:
make new bottle brush (sisal) trees look old and faded...dip them for 15 minutes in diluted bleach water.

for sturdier applique...
stitch the edges of a piece to be appliqued to an old dryer sheet (right sides together). slit the dryer sheet & turn out piece. press flat and applique away!


The German feather tree, made of real goose feathers, started many years ago in Germany. The feathers are dyed dark green, today feather trees are made in ever color imaginable.

There are two methods that i am going to share one is a "flat" style where the branches stick out to the left & right. the other is a "3D" style that has branches on an axis around the trunk.

both trees use the same amount of feathers, the 3D tree will be smaller than the flat type.

    Supply list:
  • 100 goose feathers
  • red berries on wire
  • tacky glue
  • dark green floral tape
  • straight pins
  • 18 gage wire
  • 1/4"thick dowel rod (22" for flat, 12" for 3d)
    Flat tree cut wires two each length for branches:
  • A: 7 1/2 "
  • B: 9"
  • C: 11 1/2 "
  • D: 13 1/2 "
  • for E cut one 7 "
    3D tree: cut wires two each length for branches:
  • A: three 5 "
  • B: four 6 1/2 "
  • C: five 7 1/2 "
  • one 7 1/2"
The berry stem should be about 1 inch and should have one berry. stems with more berries can be divided. use 9 berries for flat and 11 for 3D.

Take any of your cut wires and butt the berry on the tip and wrap the wire attached to it around the piece of cut wire to keep in place. making sure the berry is on the tip, wrap the floral tape around the wires, covering them. your tape should overlap itself and be kept taunt. continue wrapping to within one inch of the cut wire's end.

apply some glue on the wrapped wire (about 1/2 inch worth). start as close as you can get to the berry with out covering it... wrap the feather around the wire in a spiral manner using a straight pin to secure in place over the glued area as you wrap... and do the wrapping of the feather very close and tight you don't want to see the floral wrap when looking at your branches.

as you will want to use plenty of glue be sure to have wet rag near by to dab your glued fingers. when you get to the end of the first feather start the next one right on top the first and hold with a pin and put on more glue if you need to. pin in place. then keep on wrapping until you are to the point where tape ends. leave the pins in place until completely dry. one father covers aprox. 1 ". do all your branches this way. a flat tree has 9 and other has 11.

anchor dowel rod to the base.

Putting your tree together:
start with top branch which is branch E for the flat tree and D the 3D. Put smallest branch on top of dowel rod by butting it up next to it by wrapping the part that has no feathers secure the wire feather branch to the dowel rod with floral tape.

for horizontal branches, attach right under top branch by bending the uncovered portion of the wire 90' and butting up against the dowel rod (smallest branches first then next size, etc.) wrap with the floral tape to secure. space the branches as desired.

the flat tree has 2 branches at each level, the 3D has 3 on the first tier, four on the next and five on the bottom. finish wrapping any exposed dowel rod making sure it is smooth and secure.


a wire-toothed brush or a machine fitted with rows of wire teeth used to disentangle fibers as of wool, prior to spinning. a devise used to raise the nap on a fabric. v. to comb out or brush with a card.

to beat the stems & husks of grain with a machine or flail to separate the grain or seeds from the straw.

a manual threshing device consisting of a long wooden handle or staff and a shorter, free swinging stick attached to its end.

to separate the shaft of grain by means of a current of air. or the device for doing so.

kindred spirits
115 colonial lane
dayton ohio 45429 937-435-7758
(937) 435-7758
Homespun Peddler Catalog Page

shop front:
belville house
2025 miamisburg-centerville rd.
centerville, oh

oven craft II clay
14400 lomitas avenue.
city of industry
california 91746
(818) 330-0631
a non toxic oven baked clay.
comes in white, buff, terracotta, and brown,
sold in 2 lb. packages.

the cookie cutter shop
send asse to elenna firme
42795 country road 15
haxtun, co 80731
lots more still cookie cutters, hand made by her

book wormie   book reviews
books of interest
Tasha Tudor's Old-fashioned gifts :
presents and favors for all occasions

Tasha Tudor and Linda Allen.
New York : McKay, c1979.
Instructions for making a variety of gifts for different holidays throughout the year.
spider web
web sites of members & other sites of interest

house on the hill
p.o. box 7003
villa park, il 60181
COST $2 check or m.o.
springerle molds / traditional type cookie presses (molds).
these are the molds which martha stewart & others have used to create fabulous christmas ornaments out of. they press paper clay into the molds and insert a wire loop for hanging. of course you could also use them for cookies too! the molds and rolling pins themselves are beautiful and decorative...
they also have a web site:

the feather tree co
po box 281
sunprarie, wi 53590
(800) 831-1999
catalog $3

never cut what you can untie
joseph joubert

humble people don't think less of themselves -
they just think about themselves less

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