Sunday, December 2, 2007

Mural in a Small Town Library

In a small town in central Pa. , an old church has been turned into a public library saving all the beauty that was built into the church long ago. Large stained glass windows , wonderful woodwork. But even more has been added to the character of the building. A mural painted by one of the towns artists, Jennifer Motter.
She loves the library and children, and painted a pastel version of one of her murals in the children`s section of the library.
Painted in pale blues, greens , yellows and browns, it is a fabulous addition to this small library. The lower part painted in a checkerboard design.
The library is located in Jersey Shore, Pa.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Budging the Mule!

A few years ago I had been making my fruit and vegetables from cloth for a few years, same designs over and over. I finally shutdown and couldn`t go any further, even though there was still customers ready to buy them. I made some patterns hoping that others would make them and satisfy those who wanted them. But I still got calls. I`m not complaining, and I was grateful for the work, but like a stubborn mule that will sit down and won`t budge, so was my productivity. I wanted to be grateful, I wanted to be thankful that anyone wanted my work, and in my head I was, but down deep, my creativity/productivity-mule sat not caring what I said to charm her.
No matter what I did, it was like going to the doctor`s office when I went into my workroom. Be thankful this is your job, I was but it wouldn`t budge, you have a great workroom full of supplies, not hearing me......what was I going to do? I had built up customers, made designs, but I couldn`t get to work. Month after month went by, I forced out a doll here, a needlepunch picture there, a hooked piece, but nothing continuous and with that wonderful feeling of creating things you feel right about.
I had heard on a group I was on about making things with no future in mind, such as what a customer may prefer, blue, brown, large small, what the latest trend was, but just making what I loved. This is how I started creating, I was making what I loved and wanted, albeit from patterns, and then people started wanting me to make them a certain color, a certain way, and it changed what I was doing. I became someone making things FOR others FOR money, with their vision in mind, no longer my vision. I wanted to make money , so I changed.Many years later something inside (my mule) sat down and said NO MORE!
I read books, I talked to people , I berated myself ,in search of the answer. I did The Artist Way by Julia Cameron , 2 times, I joined groups on the internet for The Artist Way, but I still wasn`t working. I had friends say maybe you don`t want to do this anymore, and I considered that, but that was never the question in my mind. I read "Getting Unstuck" by Pema Chodron, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. All affirming what I was going through. But still my mule wouldn`t budge. None of the conventional ways of problem solving were working.
So I let go, I did as much in my room as I could, feeling unsatisfied, and like a failure with each piece. I listened to Wayne Dyer say if you don`t know the answer to something , keep asking, that will keep it in the forefront.
I talked awhile back in my blog about going to a Arts Festival in a nearby town. This isn`t a show I ever go to,I had gone once and thought I`d like to aspire to it. This time it sent my head reeling. I was going through the stands pretty quickly looking for something of interest, modern art, contemporary art, pottery, jewelry, I didn`t belong here, people who pay huge sums of money for things come here. Why couldn`t I just look and enjoy others works? My head was stirred, I couldn`t look at the whole show in one afternoon, I was overloaded already. Overloaded and all stirred , a giant pot of soup, stirred furiously. I couldn`t make sense of my thoughts and feelings, I had to wait for the whirlwind to calm.
I thought.....these people all make what they feel they should make, what they want to make.....what they have to make. Nothing is stopping them. What is stopping me? Just ME.
Still no mule movement.
I am asked by a friend my thoughts of various website, what did I think of each website? How easy is it to get around in it? What colors do you like?, would I buy from this website? etc. She was working on her website and wanted my thoughts on websites. She sent me a very long list of antique websites, selling primitives, folk art and antiques and antique style work. As I`m looking and commenting, it hits me, I want to make antique style folk art, 19th century modern art. I had been making a few abstract paintings, I said for my daughter, who needed more color in her house, but never ended up giving them to her, but kept trying at it. I wanted to fuse what I love about antiques with modern/folk art of the 19thC.
What was attracting me , was early makers, the naive works,simple gentle. They had a rag bag, didn`t waste anything , made rugs, quilts, dolls, all for utilitarian use. Original designs mostly, because of many being so isolated on farms,small town ladies, winter idle fishermen.

[ By the mid 1800`s stamped patterns were offered by traveling salesmen. The decline of originality. Patterns copied from prize winning rugs at county fairs and oriental imports were for sale. Customers were easily persuaded to copy a design that had been judged a winner or approved of by aristocracy. Convinced this made the designs have more value than their original works.
That was the beginning of the do it yourself kit, and with it died the daring and gratifying feeling of creating an original. With it, went the confidence of the individual. Mass approval leads the unsure. The title "artist" has come to mean someone who is sure enough or crazy enough to stand alone against the masses. But often, in time, his audacity has changed public taste and what is approved of. ]
(this section taken from Rug Hooking and Rag Tapestries by Ann Wiseman)

Now to clarify, I don`t want anyone thinking I`m against patterns. I`m just saying there was a time when patterns weren`t readily available , and those who created had to make what was in their head. Copying,patterns, wasn`t an option.They could copy what was around them, but no preprinted anything was available. Some where along the way, salemanship convinced the creators that the preprinted "new" way was of more value and society didn`t argue the point.

I am hoping to work in the unfamiliar,(at least to my experience). I see so much of the same on the internet, people looking for ideas because this "originality" has grown dormant, (mine included). I want to stir mine up. Maybe nothing will be there when I dive for it, but I want to try.I hope you will check back to see what I`ve come up with.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Auction Find

Talk about value! This is what I found at the junk auction last week. It had a note" this is a very old pincushion". They weren`t lying! But I still got it for a song. I was so happy. The colors are perfect too. The glass at the bottom is chipped so the dealers that usually pay a lot for antiques thought it was nothing. Not realizing that it`s a make do. An early pincushion made back in the day when everything wasn`t disposible, but reused, recycled into something else. I love this spirit and I try to live this way myself, using old fabrics and materials to become something new to be used and loved. I compose, recycle, and give things away on in my area, so as not to fill our landfills. Most everything in my house is from auctions, flea markets, yard sales, except a few things I wasn`t able to find, and I like to buy a new mattress and box springs.
Auctioneers have probably been throwing these away for years. Who knows? But I was in the right place at the right time last week, at least for something that I value.

Value and Buying What We Love Rant.

My husband and I went for a day vacation to a antique show by the river, you can read about it in other posts here in this blog . It was really fun, a little too hot but we got through it. We searched through yard sales and a firehouse full of junk . Lots of fun places to explore. Then we went about an hour and 1/2 drive to an arts festival. It was very high end modern work. A couple hundred to thousands of dollars for their work. It`s 4 days long. This was the 4th day and they looked beat. I saw a woman that I use to do shows with who does modern works now with paper, she use to do country type stuff but has changed with the times . A lot of the work there bored me, but a few stood out and were interesting . One took antiques and put them together in the most beautiful way. I can`t even explain it, but you know how ,to me, people just take stuff and glue it together , collage it, and it`s art? I always think, I don`t get it. Well, the way these people did it was really great, beautiful old wooden birds, connected to very old cameras, just can`t really explain. I just really felt connected to her work and it rang true to me somehow. Then there was another woman who took junk and collaged it together , it didn`t touch my soul.
I came away from there thinking, all those people made what they wanted and felt what they had to, and it wasn`t for everyone, but for someone who had a connection to it and enough cash to buy it. I had the connection, but not the cash, but that didn`t make it any less great. Really the work shouldn`t be compared as who was the best,(even though they gave out awards for that). I`ve been doing that my whole life, who is the best, but as I have learned, when you think you have found the best, there is someone out there better, or they`re on their way. And it has to do with the judges perception at that point of their life too, their filter in which they see things. This will change over time as life is experienced or failed to learn from experiences. This comparing each others work may be another way of looking at someone else`s paper , looking side to side instead of on our own work. Maybe even an excuse to not do our own work, I`m not as good as them, so why try?.....We must keep our eyes on our own papers as our teachers use to say. Everyone is just doing their work, making things for whatever reason, the love of it, for the money, the statice, the fame, the need to create, the challange,etc. Everyone wants to be accepted , and their work loved, but it`s not reality. You can`t please everyone . How does the saying go? You can please some of the people some of the time........and that`s all we can hope for , some....someone somewhere will want to live with something we have created, and put value on it. Because really that`s the only value it has, besides the value we have invested, time, cost and heart. Whatever someone is willing to put on it at that time will be the value at that moment. Dealing with antiques , i`ve watched things go from being fought over financially at auctions to later seeing them put into box lots later and no one will give $1. .
We have to buy what we love and what holds good feelings of something remembered. Or new feelings of love for the newly found treasure, something that will hold up over the years, that you won`t get tired of ,are my favorite things. Maybe things that are trendy may appear to become outdated, fade in our eyes. To be replaced with a newer trendier thing. But this will lead to a never ending cycle of things that leave you unsatisfied. To find your style and taste, and then build on that, is a great feeling. I found mine by tearing images out of magazines and collaging them together in another book. This helped me see what made me the happiest. That being "early" things. I felt connected to that one persons modern work because she used all early antiques, in a really beautiful way and I didn`t see it as she`s ruined perfectly good antiques. Ok, I`m done, I got that off my mind now. The End.

What did I find antiquing today? Cloth..

I went by a display of an old trunk that had lots of clothing and linens. The woman was saying $500. for all or $20. for the trunk and she would piece the cloth out. That`s all I needed to hear and I started digging. $1. here $3. there . Great fun!

Antiquing in PA.

My husband and I took a day to ourselves to go out antiquing and traveling in central Pa. . We like to go to this antique show every year in July . It`s down by the river ,under trees with a wonderful view and breeze that was so appreciated in the heat of the day.
Love these old dishes, Gaudy Dutch? I believe.
Some standard items at a show, scrub top tables, dough boxes, cutting boards, blue decorated salt glaze pottery, baskets and yellow ware bowls and wooden bowls, butter churn and graniteware.

This was a set of 4 square hooked pads. They were wool except for the pink in the flower area, maybe they didn`t have any pink wool to hook into them. There wasn`t one good hooked rug that I could find, the ones I did find had rips and holes. These pads were in great condition.
2 of my favorites, early Currier & Ives prints of women and children, and spongeware. In the middle is a Wallace Nutting print.

Someone cut down a dining room table to make this coffee table. I like the look of it for the all white decorating.
I found this wonderful long blanket chest, not to buy, but to admire and thought you might like seeing it too. This might fit at the end of a king size bed. I saw someone loading it on their truck when I was leaving.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Monday, July 2, 2007

Great Finds this Weekend......Old Witches Broom?

Look at this old primitive witches broom I found in a junkie pile. It`s much to heavy to use and it`s thick in the handle , it also doesn`t have any wear from sweeping, so I have to conclude it`s an old witches broom. (That`s my story and I`m sticking to it!) ;-) Ok, it`s a hearth broom....

My Great Find this Weekend.....

I was helping my friend set up at the Flea Market and across from us was this big black thing sticking up at the end of their space full of junk. It turned out to be this old cast iron display rack. I grabbed it up , and someone was right behind me wanting it. He followed me to my truck asking if I would sell it, I said eventually I`ll sell it, (someday) . He offered me $15. more than I paid for it, I said no and started walking away and kept upping his offer, I think a whopping $30. more than I paid for it. Now this is a guy who out bids me at auctions every time I want something he wants, he always wins. So I didn`t feel inclined to sell it to him. Not that I have bad feelings about him, whoever is willing to pay the most at auctions wins, but this morning it was whoever was in the right place at the right time. I had thought of putting it in my antique space to hang old clothes to sell, but it will take up more space then what I have there now. I think I`m going to put it in my extra room and hang my antique clothing collection on. It`s very convenient that it comes apart in 3 places for easy moving.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

My Works

Monday, June 25, 2007

A Look into my least half of it anyway.

Center of operations. I move the keyboard out of the way and pull the sewing machine over and sew. I roll my chair to my left and there is a work table, paints underneath in drawers. I`ll share the rest another time.

My Workroom

The old bottom cupboard came from a selvage yard. Early kitchen cupboards I suppose. The top on the right is a newer store display , where I keep my rughooking supplies. On the left is my overflow of books from my bookcase, mostly doll books and early style painting books. A few gifts from friends and some of my favorite collectibles.
I have this old narrow closet for some storage too. I live in an old house with only 2 closets in the whole house and this is one of them.
I was able to find this old pie cupboard at an auction last year and it`s great for holding many of my supplies. I hope to replace the screen for punched tin one of these days.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Last Piece............

I`ve finished another piece, but I need something to put it together in the frame. I decided to try wool. The stitchery store near me was selling out of their line of wool threads, so I bought a bunch of them, thinking I could overdye them whatever color I may need. Then I thought I`d try some tapestry wool, this came in 4 plys and I tried 2 of the 4 at one time. So my last piece I just finished is all wool. Hope to be able to add it on here soon. Check back for the update.

Marg`s Old House in Needle Punch

This piece I did from my friends painting, with her permission, as her work has copyrights.
This is a house where her cousin,and my friend Marg, use to live . This was really fun, adding many colors as I went along, tearing out if I wasn`t satisfied. I put an old piece of funeral fabric behind this for framing. Old frame too. This piece is still available $125. The inside design is 6 1/2" x 7" and the frame is 10" x 12 1/2".

Reversed Needle Punch ?

This is another piece I made that I started with the frame 1st. I love collecting old frames, just can`t walk on by, has to come home with me. This wasn`t an old frame though, but I found it 2nd hand. When I was making this one, I kept thinking about how I like the detail on the back so much better than the front, so I decided to make the back , the front. I filled in every space with tiny stitches. Called it "reversed needle punch".

3rd Needle Punch Piece

I wanted to make a mat, and this is what I came up with. I just punched as I went, I had a certain number of colors I wanted to use, but just grabbed and punched. I made this one after reading the booklet put out by Notforgotten Farm`s called Primitive Needle Punch Primer. They recommend using all 6 strings , so I went and got the needle for 6 strings and I liked the idea of punching bigger designs. I think this looks like a miniaturized hooked rug, like if you wanted to scale down a rug for a doll house or display. You can probably still order this booklet from Lori Brechlin of Notforgotten Farms . Tell her Melanee sent you.

2nd Punched Piece

This is my 2nd piece. I drew a oval that would fit in that frame, then drew an outline design and punched it as I went , no plan as to what colors would go where. I framed it on an old worn piece of quilt,(don`t worry I didn`t cut a good quilt to get this piece, it was already just a section. The frame and quilt are old and worn with real age, so it makes a nice backdrop for my work.

1st Punched Piece

Thought I`d write about needle punch today. I love doing needle punch. I didn`t start with a pattern or kit. I decided I wanted to cover a little coin purse. I have found some silk coin purses in my travels and wanted to do something with them. I traced the shape of the purse onto fabric, added a seam allowance , put it in a hoop and punched it. I did very few colors at first, just to see if I even like doing it.I repeated for the backside but just filled it in with black background color. I was thinking it would be nice to make my doll a carpet bag, but it didn`t turn out like that.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Here is a gathering of some of the bears and dolls I`ve collected and made over the years. They stay in various corners of my house, but as shown here at Christmastime they gather together for a family shot. Some of my dolls live with me for awhile after I make them as I have trouble letting them go.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007


I love early style dollmaking and started with making doll from others patterns. This was my education as to how to construct a doll. So many ways to to do it. And since I wasn`t in school, but in my own self taught classroom, no one was there to tell me this is right and this is wrong. Whatever worked, felt right, and then went on to be what I was looking to create was the right way for me. Each pattern was an experiment at trying it this way and that way. Let`s see what happens when I do it like this person says, let`s see what happens when we make this persons pattern with this other patterns techniques. On and on I went, making dolls, bears, and even doll/bears that I called Raggedy Bears,a dolls body with a bears head, paws and feet. Then dressed like a doll. This is when I started making my own patterns. I had moved past the learning construction stage, and started changing every pattern to something that didn`t look like the original pattern anymore. Then eventually made my own patterns.
Now I love recreating the early dolls. It`s more difficult because I don`t have them in front of me to look at and feel. But I just keep trying this and that and see what comes to be. I start with my own drawing or a picture I have found. Create the pattern pieces and begin..........

I start making my dolls with old feedsacks that I`ve collected for years. I stuff them with various stuffings, fabric scraps,wool ,cotton,sawdust. I stopped using polyfil, because it`s a synthetic and it wasn`t created back in the "early" days when my dolls are made after. I know I shouldn`t use sawdust because it will deteriorate over time. But it gives the best feel for some dolls. So I must do what my heart tells me and use what I feel is right for me. It won`t deteriorate in my lifetime, but someone 100 years from now, will be wishing I chose something else. I hope they could still be here 100 years from now. I love the thought of that.
I know so many on the internet and so many books I`ve read, that say this is an absolute right or wrong about something, such as a technique or a ingredient used in making something. I know I have to do what is right for me. Each artist does.
Stuffing a doll takes awhile as this is the life and feel of a doll. So many variations of what can be done, weighted bottoms for sitting well, lighter stuffing for a doll that will hang or stand on a stand. Crooked neck for an old and worn doll or add a dowel to strengthen the neck.
I continue on to the face. I`m into painting faces right now so I`ll talk about that. I love to paint doll faces. Sometimes I may do one over 10 times, but eventually I get to a point when I can`t find something wrong anymore and I step back and it`s finished. What I mean by something wrong is....something crooked, misaligned, lacking,flat blank face , no soul in the eyes, no flow to the painting, outlines too pronounced, etc. Can`t move on until I`m satisfied and sometimes that means they have to go on a shelf and wait until I can figure what needs to be done to satisfy me.

I move on to the clothes. I love fabric and I`ve collected lots of old fabrics, and some new reproduction fabrics too. I love old metal trims, hand made crocheted edgings, old clothing that can be recycled into something new. Of course I don`t mean anything good, I`ve learned I can`t bring myself to cut into a perfectly good piece of clothing. Had to be from the rag barrel.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

"Early" Beginnings - Come sit at my farmhouse table surrounded by plank bottom chairs, and have some coffee or whatever you prefer........

I fell in love with early things in the late 1980`s when I met someone sitting beside me at a little hometown craft show. The kind I wish I had never gotten out of bed for that day. The thing about those shows were, that even if you didn`t make much money, there was some connection to another show or person to help my career, such as it was. This is what happened that day. I was sitting next to a woman that made dolls like I had never seen. They looked like they were old and dragged across the grass,by some child. I was stirred by these dolls and had to find out more.This woman turned out to be copying a dollmaker
who sold her work at a country store. She was nice enough to share the location of this store. This led me to a wonderful country store that was once ,long ago, the store to the old woolen mills,now closed and empty that was still across the street. This wonderful store is a 2 story stone building with a brook flowing down beside it from the mountain behind the shop. As I walked in it took me back to country stores of my childhood, with wood plank floors that creak and the long counter with jars of penny candy. There was a pot belly stove for heat and a farm table with plank bottom chairs all around it for friends to gather and have coffee and buy handmade dolls, painted wooden santas, houses, antiques, all in the early,folk art style. I had never seen things like things like this and I knew then, this is what I wanted. It connected in me to someplace deep inside. I brought my work there and the owner sold it for me and we became friends. I met various people there, but there was one who eventually would be my best friend,Jennifer. I loved and admired her work so much! I still love it and collect it today. That`s how I learned of "early" things. Sitting at the farm table learning about history and getting to see all the wonderful things people made and brought in to sell. The owner made everyone feel at home,offered everyone coffee, and always had time for everyone. Sold penny candy , but either broke even on the cost or took a loss, because it cost more than one penny each, but it gave a nice memory to the kids that came in. This is where I learned about antiques and old dolls,folk art, painting,folk artists, good shows to go to, primitive decorating. I feel blessed to have been a part of that shop. The owner never made much money, got opportunities to buy great things, and brought together lots of people which is what I remember and I`m sure many others do to.
I`ve tried making many things over the years. Homespun pillows,I`ve woven baskets,dried flower arranging,dolls,painted wood item. I`ve grown and evolved as time went on, thank God. I`ve pursued knowledge of many arts and crafts,and I`ll continue to study and experiment with various techniques and mediums, but when it comes down to what`s important, is the creating and doing, the process, but also the people I`ve met and cared about and learned from,laughed and felt all kinds of emotions with, along the way. I look forward to what is to come as I continue down this "early " path with my work , my house, my antique spaces. I look forward to who I will meet and what I will create going down this "blog" path. I hope to share that feeling I experienced at that wonderful shop in the country, here in this blog, so come by often, bring a cup of something, and read and leave a comment , and maybe you`ll even find something to buy now and then. Come back again soon.