Tuesday, June 26, 2007

My Works

Monday, June 25, 2007

A Look into my Workroom....at 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.