The Qualities of a Leader

I recently heard a story about a great man…

During the War for Independence, a man on horseback and dressed in civilian clothing came upon a group of tired soldiers who were trying to repair a fortification and were struggling to lift a heavy log. Their commanding officer, who was also on horseback, barked orders at the exhausted men. As the “civilian” came closer, he asked the officer why he wasn’t down helping the men. He replied “Sir, I am a Corporal. I give orders.” Seeing they needed an extra hand, the “civilian” got down off his horse and assisted the weary men. When the job was finished, the man gently told the Corporal, “The next time you have a job like this and not enough men to do it, go to your Commander-in-Chief and I will come and help you again.”

The “civilian” was General Washington.

In today’s “pick everything apart” version of history, I’m a little reluctant to include anecdotal stories about historical figures on my blog. However, with just a tiny bit of Googling to verify its validity, I found that this story about our first president was included in a speech at the groundbreaking ceremony for the National Library for the Study of George Washington, so I felt pretty confident about including it here.

Long before I heard this story, I had a great deal of respect for George Washington. Despite jokes over where he slept, he was a faithful, loving, and devoted husband. Despite claims by current historians that he was a deist, Washington was a man of devout Faith in Almighty God. Historians now say that his praying at Valley Forge may have also been a legend, even though it was recorded by Rev. Nathaniel Snowden, an ordained minister and graduate of Princeton, as it was told to him by the Quaker Pennsylvania senator  Isaac Potts. And then, of course, there’s the cherry tree story… We all know that was “fabricated” by that rascal Parson Weems (also an ordained Protestant Episcopal minister) in his biography of Washington published in 1800. Weems claimed that he was told the story by a elderly female relative of Washington, who had spent time with him as a child. It’s interesting to note that sometime between 1770 and 1790, years before Weems “made up” that story, a vase was made in Staffordshire, Germany that depicts a young boy, a hatchet, and a cherry tree, and with the initials “G.W.” to honor the hero of the American Revolution. (There’s a picture of that vase on page 97 of George Washington’s Sacred Fire.)

If you have a free hour, take some time and listen
to this lecture by
Dr. Peter Lillback…
“God and General Washington”

It’s really good.

One thing I know for sure, is that George Washington, our first President, embodied what Christ considered to be the most important quality of greatness… to serve others.

Happy President’s Day!

The Historic Interior!

Good morning folks! We just wanted to let you know about a new and exciting venue for us… Thistle Dew Mercantile is now listed as a Featured Artisan on The Historic Interior! It’s a wonderful resource website for decorating the historic home, and a great resource for museum and gift shops!

Louise Corderman, an interior designer from Fredericksburg, Virginia, is the owner and founder of The Historic Interior. Her incredible website offers resources for historic decorating, renovation, and restoration, and spans the timeline from the Colonial period through the Art Deco period. She has a great desire to promote period artisans and small entreprenuers, as well as small museums across our country. She’s certainly been a blessing to us!

Head on over to Louise’s site for a virtual field trip…
You’ll love it!

The Historic Interior

We’ve also done a bit of re-vamping our silhouette line in honor of working with Louise! Over the years, our silhouettes have been mostly reproductions of original silhouettes by artists such as August Edouart. We still do some original reproductions, but we’re beginning to focus on doing period-correct silhouettes of the common folk of each time period in Early American history. Using our reenactor friends, trips to historic sites, antiques, and historic resources such as woodcuts and prints, we’re developing an entire line of our own silhouettes. You can take a look at the beginnings of the line on our Silhouette page, and can download a price sheet here:

18th Century Silhouettes

Happy Time Traveling!

Join, or Die.

Hubby and I laughed while setting up our table at Mount Vernon… I told him it looked like “War and Peace.” Half of the pictures were peaceful… Lions & Lambs in peaceful kingdoms, Distelfinks standing on hearts that say “Peace,” and lots of gentle quotes and Bible verses. The other half was a stark contrast… a Patriot on horseback brandishing a sword, tea being tossed of a ship in the Boston Harbor, and Patrick Henry raising his clenched fist at tryanny. After a good chuckle at our attempts to make these themes fit on the same table, we decided Thistle Dew Mercantile is definitely well-rounded.


One of our newest silhouettes was inspired by the “war” side of our well-roundedness. Friday morning, as we were packing to leave, I had an idea. The kind that’s not always the best thing to have as you’re packing to leave, as ideas can often mean that we don’t leave quite on time. This idea was inspired by a political cartoon created by Ben Franklin and published in the Pennsylvania Gazette in 1754. Hubby was a good sport and gathered up framing supplies to take with us, as I worked feverishly on the pattern. I was just finishing cutting the first one as we went over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. It’s a little different from most of our cuttings, since it’s in pieces, instead of all one piece. I think that’s the point of the cartoon. I had to be really careful not to lose the snake pieces with the AC blowing in the van!

And it was the first thing to sell on Saturday morning.


A little rebellion now and then is a good thing.
~Thomas Jefferson~

A little something new!

Hello all! Hope your weekend is going well!

I’ve got a little something new getting ready to go on the website! And just in time for wedding season… a Wedding Silhouette package! the background is a print of a watercolor original. Anyway, for the country bride and groom…

We had a visitor in our yard the other morning… we threatened to sting this little guy with our BB gun, but Kate and I had, um, technical difficulties with said gun, and he just continued to wander around the yard, oblivious to any danger. We’re not usually opposed to wildlife, but you see we have chickens, and foxes and chickens do not mix well. This particular fox is still pretty young, and has no fear of people yet. Or any interest in chickens… he was more interested in a bug in the grass than the plump hens that were having a fit just 20 feet away!

And the mail yesterday brought a surprise… it’s official! We’re in!

Finally in frames…

Hello All!

You should see my artroom… and kitchen table… and any other flat surface downstairs. We’ve got frames in every possible state of “done-ness,” silhouettes from historic people to flutter-by’s, squares of candy colored papers, stacks of glass, sawdust that followed Chris in from the barn, and snips of paper that fell off Kim’s lap. Pretty much everywhere.

Creativity is not necessarily tidy.

However. In spite of the mess… or perhaps because of the mess?… things are being created and put into frames. Pretty things. It’s fun to take a couple of weeks away from our normal painted artwork to just work on silhouettes, and we’ve been able to get a good start on our Spring stock. Keep an eye on my Etsy shop, as we put things on there… and if you’re nearby, be sure to stop in the store to see what’s new!



A Creative Couple of Days…

Yesterday and today, I was able to spend some time sketching and creating a few new silhouette designs for Spring! I’ve had Success to the Farmer on the brain the past couple of months, and have also felt a pull to incorporate more color into the spring line (What me? Color? That’s a no brainer!). Yesterday, while playing with silhouettes and frames and some decorative papers, things just sort of “came together.” These guys are destined to be in black frames… which are still tacky with varnish on the art room table at present… but I just couldn’t wait to show you! And yes, black frames… black is “the new white” for spring this year. It makes sense in my mind, anyway, and looks sort of clean and sleek. The background papers will vary, but these are the very first editions, made from the only acceptable piece of paper in our collection. We headed off to the craft store yesterday afternoon to gather some more, and Chris was very helpful and patient about picking them out!


And a couple more…The underground worm was Kate’s idea! And Many Many Many thanks to Kate and Sara Jane for their enthusiastic offer to paint frame while movie watching! Sara, don’t you want to come watch movies again next week?! You’re welcome anytime!