SEED POD Newsletter
jack frost by maria pahls
© 1999
Order a Print
Seed Pod #074
© Copyright 1999 Maria Pahls
Published to the internet
by arrangement with Homespun Peddler.

Fence Post
the fence post
(editor's letter)

dear primitive pals:

about this time of year i get "the itch". the halloween goodies start coming out of storage and road trips for pumpkins, rosehips and sumac berries are high on the "things to do" list. that "nip" in the air and the crunch of leaves remind me that fall bulbs need to be set in soon. -and the signs of thanksgiving and christmas will soon follow.

one fun thing i did over the summer was take a working weekend jaunt to mt. vernon ohio. the "from our hands" wholesale show put together by sharon andrews & lori baker, one of several shows yearly, that they organize. what wonderfully talented folks took part! i had lots of fun helping out in the fried green tomatoes booth, and got to see first hand the frenzy that surrounds this type of show! goodness me.

in other news ~ if you get the country register newspaper for WV & PA you'll notice i had the opportunity to do a few illustrations and ads for them in the september 99 issue.

on the pattern front: for those who like both tricks & treats i have two new autumn patterns out that you may have seen by the by. one is grumpkin the pumpkin head - a trickster of a goblin that has many great techniques. and for those who prefer "sweet" there is dear penny pumpkin, a rag stuffed pumpkin head girl, that will make you forget all about the candy bowl! she is part of a new series i am calling "prairie rags". as i have time i will release the rest of the "family" in pattern form. many of you know that i also have a limited supply of finished items for purchase. you can request the list at any time complete with all the particulars about the goodies i have to offer. and check back for a winter pattern release too!

for the time being the newsletter will be done on a seasonal basis right here on the web site. the next issue will be at the beginning of the year in 2000! i hope to get on a roll and have 4 issues per year here at the homespun peddler site. in the past i've relied on membership, to finance the interviews and the extras, but paperwork and the shear effort of putting out a publication every two weeks was just too overwhelming for me!

you can still pledge your support to keep the newsletter going in a few ways...obviously buying my patterns and finished works is a great means of support -OR- if those are not your fancy, then send in tidbits such as resources, volunteer to do an interview or show us a great technique. maybe you know someone who would be great to can even help the news letter by telling two friends about it and asking them to tell two friends in turn is only by your support that a publication such as this is possible. you'll notice too that some changes in the format have taken place,this is because of the seasonal nature of the newsletter.

well thanks for visitin', have a wonderful autumn and a joyous winter!
primitively yours
maria pahls

p.s. if you find any "dead links" in the newsletter or back issues please report them directly to me at a dead link is a url web address to a company that is no longer active. a drawing for a small prize will be held monthly for those that have accurately reported dead links. send me the url for the newsletter page on which the dead link was found & the company or shop name.


Mr. Crow's Prose

Peter, Peter, pumpkin eater,
Had a wife and couldn't keep her;
He put her in a pumpkin shell
& there he kept her very well

For want of a nail the shoe was lost,
For want of a shoe the horse was lost,
For want of a horse the rider was lost,
For want of a rider the battle was lost,
For want of a battle the Kingdom was lost,
And all for the want of a horse shoe nail.

In the Poor Richard's Almanac of 1757 this is written:
        A little neglect may breed mischief:
        For want of a nail the shoe was lost;
        For want of a shoe the horse was lost;
        and for want of a horse the rider was lost.

"fall's delight"

gold ~ vermilion ~ crimson ~ umber
winds that whisper autumn slumber.

shimmer frost-
leaves in heaps-
costumed children-
tricks & treats.

harvest moon and fire light-
scarecrows, pumpkins-
falls delight!

© maria pahls 1999

tips & techniques


in most cases a clear reflection from an old mirror may be more desirable than a dull streaked one. flea market relics are prime candidates for restoration and can be rejuvenated with a process known as resilvering.

when scouting out potential mirrors clean the glass and look for scratches and abrasions on the surface. because the process doesn't improve the surface glass, mirrors that show considerable damage should not be resilvered. black spots may be chips in the glass. deterioration of the old silver, in rare cases, causes permanent staining on the glass. this only shows up after resilvering. flat square mirrors are cheaper to replace than to resilver. those with designs painted between the glass and silvering will result in a loss of the painting if resilvered. cut glass can be resilvered. old glass is brittle and can have stress built up in it, so it's possible that it can break for no apparent reason.

the method of silvering old and new mirrors uses silver nitrate and has since 1835. prior to that mercury was used. since this is extremely toxic do not attempt to resilver a mercury mirror. other poor candidates include german plate (a thin glass with a concave bevel), telescope, camera, and antique car headlight.

in most cases, resilvering increases the value of an antique mirror. for mirrors that are really old or an important designer's piece check with an appraiser first before resilvering. it is also important to note that mirrors of the eighteen hundreds decrease in value if non traditional techniques are used and are likely to contain mercury.

for more information on mirror resilvering, check out the online book "mirror resilvering a how-to guide for the antique restoration craftsman"
by douglas a. low syracuse ny 1996

(Information source: Reflections on Mirror Resilvering by Malvina DeVries.)


to determine the "old from the new" in papier mache halloween lanterns, "Antiques" magazine (see resources under Country Home) suggests using a long-wave black light. when the light is shined on any unpainted surface or a scratch the paper used in new lanterns fluoresces bright white; vintage pieces do NOT. keep in mind that a dishonest seller may deliberately alter the reproductions or remove paper inserts to mislead buyers.
seed pod note: black light is also useful to detect repair in porcelian figurines, glued areas will usually show up under a black light.

dating ratchets (clanking- spinning noise makers) you can help identify the time it was made by the handle. ratchets from pre-1960 have a wooden handle and post-1960 are found with plastic handle.


for an easy quick way to make a really primitive doll head, annie moon suggests using osnaburg fabric that has been washed and dried. once the head is stuffed, and any sculpting of nose, lips, etc. is done ... paint the head and neck with white acrylic. once dry, start painting with black, brunt umber, or any dark color of your choice. as soon as the head is covered immediately begin washing off the dark paint with water using a scrubbing motion. continue using the dirty paint water to wipe off the paint until desired results are achieved.


i had some doll bodies with sculpted noses that were "rejects" for a face i was trying to develop.normally i can get it "right", so i was upset to have put so much work into faces that i probably would be adding to the stuffing bag. having just made several witches it dawned on me that the other faces, if painted green would make wonderful witches. and they sure did! ~maria


i love humming birds,but in fall yellow jackets so are fierce in their pursuit for sugar that the little birds can't eat from the feeders in peace. so next to my humming bird feeder i hung an old fashioned glass fly trap. i filled the bottom with sugar water and the bees meet their fate by flying up inside, gorging themselves "drunk" with syrup and drowning when they can't fly out. the honey bees don't come near it,which is good because i consider them "garden friends". ~maria


for a wonderful festive look - hunt down round metal vegetable/cheese graters at flea markets. if used as a decorative lamp shade over a votive candle, the holes of varied sizes around sparkle from the candle light. (never leave a burning candle unattended) ~ from my flea market pal laura richards.

for LIVE potted root ball christmas trees use hair spray on the needles to lock in moisture while indoors. the spray will wash off with rain when placed outdoors and should not harm the tree. you can also FIX your uncarved pumpkin with artist's spray fixative. a thin coating helps *uncarved* pumpkins stay fresher.

i over-heard the following tips at a flea market and an art show...

greasy? oven cleaner can be used on enamel (such as buckets & pans) and many other surfaces (even wood) to remove grease and other stubborn stains. (always test a small area and wear protective eyeglasses & gloves). rick & virginia lachance

rusty? a flea market dealer told me that for rust on an old lunch box i bought i should try one of the name brand "soft skin" type bug repellants. he said the stuff works miracles for cleaning up most anything especially light rust.

corny hands?
the september issue of country home:country gardens suggests using a few teaspoons of cornmeal sprinkled on freshly washed hands . massage the powder into the skin to remove embedded dirt and rinse well with warm water.
spider web
web sites of members & other sites of interest

pumpkin masters!

library of congress is showing quilts from the American Folk Life Center

Drakes Wool

fredericksburg rugs

the sereph

american quilts!

quilt study group, they don't appraise but will help determine a pattern name & other useful info:

Rita Carl's site- reets' rags to stitches

christmas traditions- carries many lines of holiday goodies and can get most any debbee thiebault pieces you might want!

emily's porch

Making Hands for Cloth Dolls

steve nutt
redware pottery with a unique purchasing program

hickety pickety's new site

pat sloan's quilting site!
book reviews
books of interest

"Play With Your Pumpkins "
by Joost Elffers, Saxton Freymann, Johannes Van Damm
Hardcover - 79 pages (September 1998)
Stewart Tabori & Chang; ISBN: 1556708483

"Play With Your Food "
by Saxton Freymann, Joost Elffers
Hardcover - 112 pages (September 1997)
Stewart Tabori & Chang; ISBN: 1556706308 ;

"Pumpkin Carving Book : How to Create Glowing Lanterns and Seasonal
Displays "
by Deborah Schneebli-Morell, Deborah Schneebeli-Morrell, Debbie
Patterson (Photographer),
Tessa Evelegh (Contributor) Hardcover - 64 pages (October 1996)
Lorenz Books; ISBN: 1859673058

"Country Living Handmade Christmas : Decorating Your Tree and Home"
by Living Gardener Country (Editor)
(October 1999) Hearst Books; ISBN: 0688167764

Amish Doll Quilts, Dolls, and Other Playthings
by Rachel Pellman, Kenneth Pellman
ASIN: 0934672350
This title is out of print ask for it at your local library.

Small Time Operator 6th Ed
by Bernard B. Kamoroff
Paperback - 180 pages 6th edition (April 1999)
Bell Springs Pub; ISBN: 0917510151
contains advise on running a small business

Green Gifts : How to Turn Flowers and Plants into Original and Lasting
Gifts by Gill Dickinson,/Deborah Patterson
Hardcover - 128 pages (August 1998)
Fulcrum Pub; ISBN: 1555913970
*flowers & plant make excellent gifts year round. also contains info on having a "green holiday" including details of potted christmas trees, twig trees & topiary tress.

"antiques" from country home magazine. a field guide to
flea markets & antiquing. 800-925-6241

other tidbits:
the featured artists in better home & gardens country home september 1999 issue are jennifer & norma schneeman
country home
po box 37244
boone, IA 50037

the featured artist in the Oct./Nov issue of Mary Engelbreit's Home Companion is Debbee Thibault. the article will have 4-5 color pages of her work.
Better Homes and Gardens is also working on a feature story about the Thibault folk art Mary Engelbreit's Home Companion 1 800 826 3382

burlap sack

Izannah Walker style doll kit
contents include a ready to use head made by shari(with glue and fragile crackle) . dollskin , complete body & painting instructions & supplies list. you provide your own modeling paste, gesso, Dap, or paints. the cost of $50.00 includes shipping.
allow 4 weeks for delivery
Shari Lutz
1973 Millport Rd (PPNL)
Lancaster, PA 17602
ph:(717) 295-1006 email:

country register PA/WV
send $3 to cover postage in u.s.a. $4for mailing to canada.
3621 Lindberg way (dept PPNL), weirton wv 26062 each edition contains listings of happenings,articles of interest as well as a complete listing of country register papers around the country.

castings video demo
making casting molds instructional video available from rag doll daze's penny dehoff. a professionally filmed video of Kirk Hindman Senior Designer a major toy manufacturer. kirk demonstrates a mold making process for casting. this could be useful for many types of doll-making & crafting. in addition a source list for supplies is given.
to get a copy send a check for $16 payable to
Penny DeHoff
276 Whistling Pine Road
Severna Park, Maryland 21146

for a photograph packet send $2.00
check or m.o. to pat murphy
6900 jennings rd. annarbor,michigan 48105

FROM OUR HANDS,retail show
takes place the Sunday before Thanksgiving
at the Dan Emmet house hotel/convention ctr.
11-4. you can get more information by emailing:

cva-0123.gif Who's It?
What's It?

not only is this term used to describe a lantern made from a hollowed out pumpkin with a carved face, but also describes "ignis fatuus" (also called marsh lights and Will-o-the-wisp). this is a phosphorescent light that hovers or flits over swampy ground at night caused as a result of gasses formed from decaying organic matter.

much like a frying pan this cooking utensil had a shorter handle and three legs which allowed it to set over the coals; frying pans of the day had much longer handles so that the cook would not have to lean into the fire to tend the cooking.

sleep tight
where we now use bed springs,in the past-ropes were used. if the ropes were not tight enough, the sleeper would not be comfortable.

a dealer in men's furnishings. a dealer in sewing notions and small wares. a haberdashery is the shop of a haberdasher or the goods sold by one. (source american heritage dictionary)

a goat's horn overflowing with fruit,flowers and corn, signifying prosperity. also called "horn of plenty". a cone-shaped receptacle or ornament. often used to describe an abundance or store that is overflowing. (source:american heritage dictionary)

rubber husband
a small,thin, round rubber piece used atop stubborn jar lids to apply a "grip" when opening (instead of asking your "husband" to help).


"halloween" means "hallowed evening" because it takes place before all saints' day. many countries have their own traditions and these have been modified by different cultures over time.

the origin of jack-o-lanterns, it's said by an irish tale, is that a man named jack could not enter heaven because he was a miser and could not enter hell because he played practical jokes on the devil. he was left to walk the earth with his lantern made from a hot coal placed in a hollowed-out turnip. in canadian halloween tradition, scottish and irish immigrants of the 1800's used pumpkin as jack-o-lanterns instead of turnips in their celebrations.

the druids,an order of priests that believed spirits, witches and elves came out are credited for the these symbols in halloween lore. cats that were once human beings but had been changed as punishment for their evil deeds.

a summer's end festival called "samhain" was the druid celebration of the summer harvest. decoration during this time included pumpkins, leaves, and cornstalks.

trick or treating (begging)originated with "souling", where people visited homes and offered prayers for the dead in return for gifts of food.

sp74-001murph1.jpg FEATURED ARTIST

Pat Murphy began making bears sometime around 1984. During her antiquing excursions she found herself drawn to the tattered old bears. The extremely high prices that accompanied heirloom bears convinced Pat to try her hand at making her own. With the mohair lining of an old coat, Pat stayed up to 3 A..M. making her first teddy bear. The next day her newly made friend was the talk of her office mates. Since parting with the first bear was not an option Pat found herself taking a request to make a second bear for a fellow employee. Special orders for co-workers and friends kept her busy and gave her the momentum to become involved in the craft show circuit for about seven years.

To supply her fabric, Pat scoured thrift shops picking up old coats with the mohair and alpaca lining for a few dollars each. Five years of bear making, and two washing machines later, Pat came across a mail order source for mohair. She admits that making the first cut into the $70 per yard fabric was a little intimidating! Murphy soon became adept at using the new mohair and even developed several processes for dying and aging the fabric on her completed bears - or "mucking them up" as she called it- because it "looked too new". With expensive nature of her supplies, making a $30 bear was now impossible, Pat needed to leave the craft shows and begin participating in teddy bear shows.

Though she missed the diversity of the craft shows, taking part in the teddy bear shows was a wise move. Since leaving her office job six years ago, Pat has been featured in various publications and was included on an international teddy bear maker tour of Holland, Belgium, and Germany. Her husband, Tom, recently joined the business. (He developed a pattern for the "griffin" bear on wheels which thrilled Pat since she is a collector of wheeled animals.) Daughter Jen, who accompanied her mother to shows since the age of six, is also a bear maker. Jen makes other animals too, and all of her creations are under 12"!

As for the future Pat hopes to take part in more shows like "From Our Hands" which host a varied group of artists. An avid antique and heirloom clothing buff, Pat enjoys giving vintage fabrics, trims and buttons a "second life" as she once did with the discarded coats. Her bear line is always changing though she does a few limited edition series, one of a kinds tend to be favored. (She makes sweet kittens too that are my personal favorite!) Pat is also a gifted photographer and enjoys photography almost as much as bears and collecting.

She echoed the words of so many talented artists that i have been privileged to meet- that being paid to do what you love is a wonderful thing. "Bear making has taken me to many wonderful places and I've met so many wonderful people".
"tarin and friends" © pat murphy
"(L)andy,willow & webster" © pat murphy
"griffin (on wheels) and bing" © pat murphy

"pumpkin girl w/crow"
© paul gordon
"primitive fairy doll"
© maria pahls
"penny pumpkin and putty cat"
© maria pahls
3 dolls
© nicole sayre

© copyright 1999 maria pahls~the seed pod
all rights reserved. no part of this newsletter may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review with appropriate credits; nor may any part of this newsletter be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means -- electronic, mechanical, photo- copying, recording, or other -- without written permission from the publisher. photographs posted on homespun peddler site by permission of photographers and are protected under this copyright.

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