Comings and Goings…

I’ve been trying to keep “home” in my thoughts as the new year unfolds,
but so far “in my thoughts” has been about the extent of it!

We “overed” Christmas and the New Year… That’s a pretty busy time of year for our family. We cleaned up the wrapping paper and cleaned out the fridge. And then we packed, and left home for 12 days. Almost two weeks… Almost half the month! But it was worth it to see these two sweet faces…


And even though we were far away from home, we discovered that…

Home is where they love you.

Even if they are a little bit silly…


Moving into December!

Well, I didn’t quite finish the Pie from Scratch series in October… or in November… but have decided that I will save those last few posts for later. November orders, a couple of shows, and preparing Christmas designs have taken their toll on me! I am still working on the book, and it got off to a great start during the 31 Days Project, so I feel that, Lord willing, it will be ready for publication in just a few months! I also learned that one should be working on a “Fall” book the Winter before… There is quite a bit of lead time needed in just the printing prep and publishing period. As things progress, I’ll stick up those last posts! I think they’ll be much better quality and have more information about making a book than if I just try to finish the posts quickly.

So… moving on…


I started working on some new Christmas designs
just before Thanksgiving, with this little watercolor…

Comfort and Joy Watercolor

It’s still not finished, but it has inspired plans for a
“Comfort & Joy” Collection!

First… a paper cutting, of course…


There might be some more tiny Comfort & Joy cuttings,
but my thoughts are leaning toward some printed things!

Gift Tags… Notecards… Christmas Cards…

Why don’t I think of these things in August?

And, in a moment of sheer insanity,
I revisited the little cuttings for pendants…


These are hand cut, hand painted, and REALLY tiny…


… But they have possibilities!


And they should be showing up in
our shop in the next few days!

And in other news, I bought a new toy…


…Which I think might also have possibilities!

It was not supposed to arrive to arrive until next week,
and amazingly showed up LATE last night!

The UPS Guy scared the soup out of me when he knocked
on the door at that hour! He practically ran across the porch…

Thump! Thump! Thump!

Poor guy… I guess late nights are standard issue this time of year.

But alas… We have a show tomorrow and are frantically prepping.

Can’t play with it for a few days.


Come visit us tomorrow at…

Christmas in Odessa!

We’ll be in the Craft Show at the
Appoquinimink Training Center!

(Spell Check went crazy over that one!

Our girl Katie D. of
Corner Chair
will be there too!

A Date with my Sweetie, Part One…

Last week, Hubby and I took a day to go exploring. We don’t do that often enough, but have resolved to try to go “do something” at least once a month. So we headed North, and ended up at the Delaware Art Museum for the first part of the day. Which actually ended up being pretty much the whole day, because one of us likes to read Every Single Plaque when in museums. (Name withheld to protect the guilty party.) However, the other one of us really likes art museums, so that person didn’t complain. Not one bit. We ended up seeing about half of the museum, and helped them close up. So that means we need to go back and see the other half, right?


One part of the museum focused on early American artists…

Still Life with Fruit by Severin Roesen

…And I can’t believe they let me take pictures!

I wrote a paper on Frederic Church last
year for an art history class…

South American Landscape by Frederic Church

…the paper also included Benjamin West!

The Return of Tobias by Benjamin West

There was a beautiful sculpture by John Rogers…

Coming to the Parson by John Rogers

And there was an exhibit of works on paper by a
twentieth-century Color Field artist…
I recognized her from my Art Appreciation textbook
and thought I’d better take a look…

Work on Paper by Anne Truitt

 It was definitely an exhibit that made you stand back and say “Hmmm…”
I took a picture of this one because green is my favorite color.

A guard came in and explained to my dear perplexed
Hubby that the exhibit was “Arty.”

There was a momentary bonding between the two guys.


The Delaware Art Museum has a wonderful
collection of Pre-Raphaelite art,
like this painting that illustrates a scene from
Briar Rose, or The Sleeping Beauty

The Council Chamber by Sir Edward Burne-Jones

 And an allegorical painting depicting the
composition of music…

Veronica Veronese by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

 The Pre-Raphaelites produced beautiful paintings that focused on nature, literature, and the Middle Ages. Early Pre-Raphaelite paintings had a Christian emphasis, but unfortunately as they grew toward a more aesthetic approach, they veered away from their origins. (If you read all the little plaques about them, you may get a bit disillusioned.) However, their illustrative style greatly influenced the artists of the next generation…

The Storyteller’s Art:
ReImagining America through Illustration

What a great exhibit.

Of course, Howard Pyle was the star.
He’s just plain incredible.

This is Hubby’s favorite…

The Fight on Lexington by Howard Pyle

 I liked his black & white pen drawings
that look like old woodcuts…

Lady of the Lake by Howard Pyle

 I also loved this poster for the very first
Children’s Book Week by Jessie Willcox Smith…

Illustration for Children’s Book Week poster, 1919 by Jessie Willcox Smith

And I discovered a new female illustrator…
I LOVE this picture…

She Loved to Have the Children About Her by Eugenie Wireman

 Howard Pyle operated a school for illustrators in Wilmington, Delaware in the early 1900’s, and N.C. Wyeth was one of his students! What I found to be really amazing was that about a third of his students were young women! There were some beautiful illustrations at the Delaware Art Museum by these talented ladies. Go see them if you get a chance!

And of course, we had to leave because they
were starting the turn out the lights…

The Crying Giant by Tom Otterness

And it’s the end of the post too…
but Part Two is coming soon!

The End by a member of Pyle’s weekly sketching club

“They were never so finely told in prose before.
And then the pictures – one can never tire of
examining them & studying them.”
~ Mark Twain, in a letter to Howard Pyle,
on Pyle’s The Story of King Arthur and his Knights~ 


A yard sale surprise!

I missed the yard sale boat this morning, but gained a surprise anyway! “To go, or not to go,” was the question of the morning. Kate and I debated, and finally decided that since we already had a Long List of Things To Do for this Saturday morning, we’d skip the yard sales today and just get right to work. So she got busy in the kitchen making strawberry syrup…

And I got busy in the art room, adding calligraphy to a stack of papercuttings. I have to be in just the right mood, with the correct balance of caffeine and sugar, and have no distractions to put the calligraphy on almost finished papercuttings. It’s scientific, really, and the results can be somewhat disastrous if the conditions are not met.

It went quite well, this morning, and I’m very glad to report no casualties! And just as I was finishing up the last cutting, my Mom came in with a couple of treasures she found for me at a yard sale…

Two beautiful silhouettes, and the best thing is they were done by two ladies I know… Guild of American Papercutters members Faye duPlessis and Sharon Schaich! Now that’s a wonderful yard sale surprise!

Home again, home again, jiggety jig!

We returned home today from Mount Vernon’s Colonial Crafts Fair, and had a wonderful weekend! The weather was much more cooperative than last weekend’s… not a single drop of rain! There were so many wonderful crafts, fun entertainment, talented musicians, and we especially enjoyed the Virginia hospitality! 🙂

When we pulled into the driveway, we were greeted by freshly washed clothes hanging on the line, a “Welcome Home!” note on the door, fresh flowers on the table, and new homemade curtains… Somebunny had been busy… and somehow managed to hide those curtains from me as she was sewing them! Thanks Kate!


And… tomorrow at noon, American Folk Art is updating it’s theme! Head on over there to see some pumpkin-inspired folk art!


Rain, Rain, Go Away…

Well, we’ve pretty much had a monsoon the last day or so. And lots of gray & drizzly before that. I don’t mind, really, because we’ve had plenty to do inside this week, and the store has been BUSY since we opened! But, Hay Creek was cancelled for today, so we’re leaving today instead of yesterday. (Which gave us more time to get more things in frames!)

We’ve had a grand time with our new fall designs… and just updated the Current Designs Page with a few things! Keep an eye there, as we add designs, and also on the Gallery. We’ll be moving a lot of designs over there, just so you can see them. It’s going to be pretty much impossible to keep a currently available list on the website for the next couple of months, but if you see something, we just might have it in stock… or we’ll be glad to make it for you if not!

Hope you all have a honey-drenched (instead of rain-soaked!) weekend!


In Celebration of September…

In honor of today being the first of September, it was wondrously cool here in Delaware. In the 70’s all day, beautiful blue skies, and a soft breeze. I am ready for fall to get here for good. Really ready. Beyond ready. Can you tell I love fall?

The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown;
The berry’s cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town.

The maple wears a gayer scarf,
The field a scarlet gown.
Lest I should be old-fashioned,
I’ll put a trinket on.

~Emily Dickinson~

It’s still a few more weeks until it’s officially my favorite time of year, but one has got to be in the proper frame of mind to carve pumpkins out of paper! A cool day was just what I needed…


I’ve not been very wordy lately… maybe thinking in pictures instead of words as we’re hitting the “get-ready-for-the-shows” crunch? Lots of new things are starting to find their way into frames, though, and I’ll try to post some pictures as they get finished up! Our first show this year is the Hay Creek Festival… it’s a wonderful mix of history, folk crafts, iron working, steam & gas, music, and really really really good things to eat. (Hubby and I eat Chicken Bot Boi every day while we’re there. Sometimes twice a day. We’re usually first in line asking when it will be ready.) If you can make it, stop by our booth and say “hello!”… we’ll be up on the hill!

Wishing you all a great September!

A peek inside… or art on the go…

Yesterday I got one of Cathy Johnson’s Art Tip Newsletters, and it had some interesting tips and links for making your own traveling watercolor boxes! Cathy’s incredibly wonderful book Living History: Drawing on the Past  sent me in the direction of being a living history artist, and was also the inspiration for my tiny watercolor box… it’s not terribly grand or exciting, but at shows or reenactments, somebody always asks to take a peek inside! In case anyone needs to create a small “on the go” art kit that wouldn’t stand out like a sore thumb at historic events, here’s an idea…

I found an old oil pastel box while cleaning out boxes of art supplies. I chunked the oil pastels in a jar with a bunch of others, and started doodling on the box lid… sort of a “schoolgirl” type of drawing. (If I wasn’t in such a hurry, I might’ve tried using a wood burning tool to etch the design, but alas, this was most likely done at midnight the night before a reenactment, so quick and fast was the goal!) Then I just painted the design a bit with watercolors. I already had two commercial travel watercolor sets that I had never used, and coincidentally the pans fit in perfectly! (Coincidences are especially appreciated at midnight the night before a reenactment.) When they’re used up, or if I ever make another, I’ll look for some metal watercolor pans, or make some homemade ones.

Anyways, here’s the cute little box… It works wonderfully for 19th century events. Probably pushing it a bit for 18th century, but it’s better than modern!


And a peek inside…


And my “historic-art-box-to-go”…


The watercolor box fits in my art box if I arrange things just so. Another greatly appreciated coincidence.

Happy Memorial Day!


O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life! 

Remember to take a moment sometime today to remember those who gave their all for our freedoms, and for the freedom of others around the world.

We’ve been quite busy the past few weeks, and it was good to be home in our own bed last night! (And to not have to wake up and get to work A.S.A.P. this morning!) Kate has been blogging about our somewhat soggy adventure last weekend… We were at Endview Plantation near our favorite place in the whole wide world, for the Colonial Craftsman’s Faire! Somehow we managed to take absolutely no pictures other than set-up, so please browse the links above! We had a great time despite the drippy weather, laughing with the other crafter/reenactors about buckets of water dumping off the canvas flies and floating firewood. Thank goodness for our straw hats, which acted at colonial umbrellas, for our hubby’s that don’t mind getting soaked to the bone to pack us up, and for the die-hard history & folk art lovers that braved the elements. A very wet Huzzah! to you all!

Speaking of liberty, this weekend we were at the Chestertown Tea Party, and on Saturday, we witnessed the reenactment of Chestertown’s reaction to the tax on tea…


Lots of fifes & drums, and lots of people! Sunday was a bit more laid back, and the highlight of the day’s events was the raft race…


Yep, that’s a floating RV, folks. Complete with a Redneck. I think it was my favorite. Nobody sank or fell apart this year, and I’m told that fact made this year’s race a memorable event! We also had “front row seats” for a great Bluegrass & Jug band! They were really good, and even took time to ask the kids to join in… here is a young fellow jumping in for a washtub bass solo…


We have one more adventure planned for next weekend, and then we’ll hopefully have an “adventure-less” summer! I’m looking forward to some home-making time, because things are looking very neglected around here!

Behind the scenes… Adventures in Papercutting, Part 4

To continue from the last post…

My all-time-favorite-most exciting-inspiring part of our days in Lancaster was getting to see the Pennsylvania German papercuts and fraktur in the collections of both Landis Valley Museum and the Lancaster Cultural History Museum. In two areas, we were allowed to bring our cameras, and in another our sketchbooks were okay, but the camera wasn’t allowed. Either way was fine for me… I was just thrilled to see the stuff up close! Landis also mounted a special exhibit in their Visitor Center because the Guild was coming, but I think it’s going to be up for a while, so if anyone has a chance to visit, make sure you go in and see the papercuts. You won’t believe how intricate they are! We also had special presentations by Sukey Harris, focussing on the heart in papercutting, and by Dr. Robert Kline on fraktur, giving special attention to the tulip. (He also pointed out quite a few “Tree of Life” depictions, Penn-German style!) My only wish was that I could have stayed longer, just me and my sketchbook, and maybe some watercolor pencils and a brush. (However, I think the curators would have gotten rather nervous, had any of us whipped out watercolors!)

The information about the fraktur and papercuts was very interesting. It was neat to see the copying the artists did… the printed copies mirrored the early hand-drawn fraktur, and then later on, folk artists imitated the printed fraktur while making home-made versions again. The artists also drew what they saw… from thistle finches (the “distelfink”) and the now extinct Carolina Parrot, to etchings they saw in the family Bible and designs on various other items… textiles, quilts, butter prints, pottery, etc. Inspiration was all around them, in every day life. One artist even used the English coat-of-arms as a design, but replaced the official English shield with a parrot. After all, the fraktur was made just after the Revolutionary War, so a parrot just seemed more appropriate. (Okay, wow.)

I did have to respectfully disagree with something said concerning the symbolism of Pennsylvania German folk art. The copying of a great variety of artworks and designs was pointed out, as mentioned above. The fact that nobody ever wrote down that they were using a specific symbol to signify a specific meaning was pointed out. It was pointed out that the current meanings of the symbols may have been construed by 20th century scholars. Okay, I understand all that about the symbolism… or the lack thereof. However, the main comment I disagreed with was this…

…it’s highly unlikely that a housewife with children tugging at her knee would have taken the time to think about the meaning of the things she was drawing or the decorations she was creating for her home in her spare time…

Not an exact quote, but more of a paraphrase, and I honestly don’t think it was meant with evil intentions or a demeaning attitude toward housewives. However, when I started papercutting, I was a housewife with children tugging at my knee. And when I got a few minutes to draw, paint, or papercut, I DID put a lot of thought into what I wanted my artwork to portray… what I wanted it to say. Yes, sometimes I did just doodle or copy a pretty design, but I was also thrilled to think my art might have multiple layers of meaning. Not that I was a terribly deep thinker or that I was into superstitious beliefs, but I did know what I was thinking when I designed my papercuttings. I thought about how much joy I hoped they would bring to the home they ended up in, and I really enjoyed adding Christian symbolism to them. Having a place to express my thoughts meant a lot to me as a young mom with children tugging at my knee. And I’ll bet those housewives (and schoolmasters, and schoolchildren, and itinerant artists) thought about their artwork too.

One thing I do know about folk art, is that a lot of skills and meaning weren’t written down, but were passed down by word of mouth, or by working alongside an older artisan. Artists themselves tend to express themselves visually rather than verbally, and it’s very unlikely that they would pick up a pen to write down why they drew a heart or a tulip on something, especially if it was generally understood by everyone around them. As a homeschool family, we once studied the meanings of the symbols and colors in coats-of-arms, and the girls designed their own personal coats-of-arms, using symbols that were important to them. Last summer, I met a older gentleman who was a Schwenkfelder, and he told me about all their fraktur, and that it was filled with their beliefs. When Ester Shilo gave me a Jewish papercut at Collection, she pointed out to me several symbolic elements in it, and told me what they meant. When our Chinese visitors gave their presentation, it was full of symbolism. And when we came back from the last museum visit, I went to Trudy Kauffman’s workshop on making a Haus Segan (a Pennsylvania-German House Blessing… thanks Trudy for helping me learn how to pronouce that word!!!), and right there in the packet was a list of symbolic meanings! See, somebody DID write it down!

And besides… symbolism in art is just plain fun.

Okay… I’ll step off my folk art soapbox now, and show you a few pictures!

Here’s how close we were to the real thing…

My favorite…

And we had a wonderful Pennsylvania German picnic dinner in the Yellow Barn…

And couple of things that resulted from sketchbook sketches… not quite finished, but they seemed to fit with this post!

Let’s see… for future scholarly reference, the heart symbolizes God’s love and protection on those inscribed therein, the doves symbolize peace, but also love and union between two, the berries symbolize fruitfulness, and the vine symbolizes that we’re grafted into God’s family!