Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Dearest Friends and readers, can you believe another year has passed already? There are so many things that have happened this year in my life, so many to be thankful for....a few things I would like to forget forever. I have met so many new kindred spirits this year, in short, a Blessed life I do have, and I couldn't be happier. I wish all of you a Happy and SAFE Christmas~ not only do I wish for all your dreams to come true, I wish you a marvelous New 2009~ filled with family, happiness, good health and whatever it is that will make your spirit glow.

Pet Nelly is busy helping the dollys prepare for their little Christmas party tomorrow on Christmas Eve. There will be quaint music, and all will dance round the tree in the candlelight. We will sing my favorite 'Wexford Carol', and possibly embide in a little eggnog and sweets. After tucking everyone in to bed, I like to sit and gaze at the Christmas tree, all the little lights on it lit up, with no others. I love how it glows softly, and never seems to change! This is my favorite time of Christmas......

Pet Nelly will be offered in my ETSY store soon. She is a c1760 Queen Anne, antique brown glass eyes, and large pompadour 'do' of auburn mohair.

Beauty spots, real pearls.....and a silke ribbon stomacher she has

Sweet quaint little silke shoes too...

Until then, let the festivities of the season begin!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Dollys Dollys Dollys

I have been working working working ~ and thought I would share one of my more traditional, primitive 18th century Queen Anne dollys with you. I have made her special for Christmas and used only antique bits for her wardrobe, which are all fully removable for play , and include knit stockings, silke garters, little matching latchet buckled high heel shoes, petticoat, drefs, little stole and bonnet. I really Love making dollys!

Click on the picture to make it bigger, and you can appreciate the red top stitching on the back seams of her drefs. I made her bonnet out of a precious c1820 bit of hand embroidered sleeve cuff, with a mull crown.
'Dollye Bonnet' wears several strands of the absolute weensiest 1mm genuine turquoise beads around her neck, and antique brass ear bobs. As with many years of play on the original dollys, poor thing has bumped and chipped off the tip of her nose....I think it adds much character to her winsome portrait.....and her c1840 antique glass eyes

I love her primitive profile, very simple. I made her gown from the most perfect late 18th to early 19th c red toile. There are so many wonderfully reproduced cotton prints at the quilt markets, that do give a correct period impression, but there is just no substitute for the charm and aura a thing of age acquires over its years

I am working on another primitive Queen Anne dolly especially for my ETSY store, so if you like Dollye Bonnet, I think you will really like 'Pet Nelly', and hope you'll check back to meet her soon!
In the means, I wish you all a Very. Merry. Christmas!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Wont you Come....

To the TDIPT Mercantile on the 15th of December and meet Emily?

It has been cold and snowy here, and "I" had planned to make a prettiful winter dollye........but Emily had a difference of opinion......

She says she does not particularly care for the cold and snowy months, but would rather spend her time in the late Spring and earlie summer. She has picked a beautiful blue fondue ombre stripe for her pretty fan front gown, and pearls pearls pearls! She is always elbow deep into the jewelry drawer.....I just could not say no. I hope you can find time to stop by, and do say 'hello'

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Wanted.... a HOME to call my own!

Anyone who knows me, knows that I specialize in early American children's basket purses. I love them. I have studied them for years, and am always on the hunt for wonderful new pieces. Well....its really nice to go hunting and come home victorious! I thought Id share my latest triumphant find....first, was this little cdv of a girl holding one. But not just any purse...hers has a HOUSE painted on it! By her bonnet, and this being a cdv, she most likely stood for her photograph around 1865-7ish. Its not hard to see why her Mama couldn't tell those big blue eyes 'No', when asked if she could have a pretty painted basket purse! Of all my years of scouring and searching, I have never seen another with a house! Christmas has indeed come early.....so I thought.

Not a week after acquiring that image, I was offered this little basket purse~ I couldn't believe it! One in the flesh, with a house. There are no words for my excitement! Sophie is so kind to hold it up for you to see~ it is painted both front and back with a pastoral scene including a white house with red roof & black windows, large green tree to its right, and all is set nicely into a tri color green landscape. The hinged lid is painted in blue dots. You can sort of see the other basket Sophie is holding, about 3x bigger. This one is meant for a smaller child, like the age in the cdv above. This basket is not exactly the same as in the picture above. Look closely and it has a band of openwork above the house, this one is solid....but, the house painted is nearly identical. I have examined the cdv thru my loupe, and the house has the exact number and placement of the windows, same colors and shape, the only difference is this one has a tree. The painter is most definitely the same, adding fuel for my argument that these purses were made, painted and sold commercially.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Traditional Orange Pomanders

To me, Christmas just doesn't seem 'right' without the smell of oranges and cloves. In Colonial times, these were actually made in the summer months, when the fruit was in season(but STILL, very expensive), to hang in a closet or wardrobe to freshen clothing. Only the very richest and most privileged souls received an orange on Christmas, as they would have to be
brought from Barbados, Bermuda or Jamaica....packed in wooden barrels, sailing here on a tall masted ship....

Here are some pomanders that I made a few YEARS ago, they are looking a bit shrunken and rough, but still smell wonderful!

So Come and join me as I make some hanging fresh Orange Pomanders for this Christmas- I will slip on some music- one of my current favorite cd's, and PERFECT for an 18th century
Christmas gathering, I highly recommend a "Hammered Dulcimer Christmas"....wonderful Traditional English Carols (well, minus Frosty the Snowman) played masterfully by Mary O'Callahan....with NO accompaniment.

You will need:

Fresh Navel Oranges
whole cloves
cinnamon sticks
1 bamboo BBQ skewer
jute or hemp twine

I prefer to use the short chubby cinnamon sticks, they fit better with the oranges and don't stick out to snag on things. For Heaven's sake.....do NOT use the nasty artificially scented wooden sticks they pawn off as cinnamon in the craft isle of your grocery....YUK!

The round toothpicks with the sharp tips work best, you will use these to poke a design into your orange. Some oranges have really leathery skins, and you will break the cloves just trying to poke them in without a pilot hole poked first. Find some nice big, long, whole cloves........


If you go to the spice isle, you will see a weensie little couple oz glass bottle of McCormick whole cloves for something between 5-8.00! AKKK......no no no.......we want to have fun, not go broke, so put that down, and go to the MEXICAN FOOD isle. You will find a section of bagged spices, all McCormick still, but in Spanish. The bags of cloves here are just .33 CENTS, and you get waaaaay more in each bag! They are wonderful, top rate spices, don't ask me why they are so cheap, even being the same company. You will find the cinnamon sticks, at a greatly reduced
price here too

Grab an orange, and poke away! I poke my toothpick in at least an INCH, so the juice comes right up to the top and will soak the cloves when you poke them in.~ ohhh they smell so good already! My first pomander I make always bears the 3 circles for the Trinity. You can have lots of fun with these- they make extra special Xmas presents, especially if you poke the intendeds initials into them with the wee tiny cloves

Ok, so once you have finished your design, you can be done if you just want them to fill a bowl or trencher- they make a wonderful display like that....but I prefer mine to hang, so next you will get your big bamboo BBQ skewer, and poke it thru the middle of your orange, all the way thru

The Cinnamon sticks are what holds your orange onto the twine, I use 2 for each pomander. For the first one, on the bottom, take about a 24" length of twine, and make a slip knot over the
center of your cinnamon stick

In this step, you will thread the orange onto your twine. Take your Bamboo skewer, and with a knife, split the flat end up just about 1/2 inch. You will take the loose ends of your twine, and
catch them in the split end of the skewer- then just pull the skewer thru your orange, from the BOTTOM up and out the TOP. Pull it up snug, so the cinnamon stick is touching the bottom of the orange, and the loose ends are now coming out the top of the orange.

Now take a second cinnamon stick, place it at the top of the orange, and wrap your twine around several times, tightly, and tie off. Trim your twine to a few inches, make a knot at the tip, and voi-la, you have a beautiful orange pomander


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Have Ye A Thankful Hearte....

To all of my Dear Family & Friends...those I have met, those I have yet to encounter, I wish you all the Happiest of Days. You need not be in Country to celebrate, to make your own day of
Thanks and reflection on what you hold Dear & Goode. It has been a tough year for me this year, but I wouldn't trade any of it, for that is what makes us who we are, and how we get
from one stage of our lives to another.

I am SO very Thankful for my own Ma & Pa, my Brother, for my husband of nearly 17
years....for each of my 4 children. I thank God for our Health, and for our good prosperity. Every breath of each and every second of the day is a gift, and I try not to waste what He so
graciously has given me. I am Thankful for my friends and patrons of the Museum, for all of you who buy and enjoy my folk art and dollys- I appreciate it more than can be expressed in words.

The turkey (NO!!!! Not Mr Giving ;)), is roasting away in the kitchen filling the house with wonderful smells....I have the celery stuffed...the olives garnished....sweet potatoes
ready to go........green beans with bacon, and the fruit salad for later today. It is a wonderful cold & snowy day, the children are zooming around and making MUCH ruckus, I love every second.

from the Kinnison Family~
Jayson, Rachael, Tressa, Josh, Emma & Pippy.....from the dogs Yetti, Dixie, and new pup 'Lumpy'.....from the kitties GG, Mr. Pappa Georgio, Mary, Milo & Otis.....from the Turkey, Mr. Giving.....the Ducks Toot, Puddle, Bubble & Squeak, the Guinnea Hens Poke &
Joe, and all the hens & Roosters...............


Monday, November 17, 2008


When most folks think of homespun, they think of something plaid first, then maybe if they are historically sensitive, they think next that the fabric was woven at home. Homespun is so
much more than that. True homespun started out on the farm as a seed, and thru many labor intensive steps, became cloth, and was carefully used to make articles for the home and clothing. So what IS homespun? It can be made from wool linen or cotton~ I will be talking of linen.

But do you know what linen is? Linen is made from fibers from the flax plant.

In Colonial times, much time was devoted to the growing and processing of flax fibers....usually the men did the growing and harvesting, and the braking, and then the women & children did
the 'easier' parts, such as scutching, spinning , weaving and sewing..... In 1656, Massachusetts required that children be taught to spin, and that each spinner was REQUIRED to produce at
least 3 pounds of spun yarn~ linen, wool or cotton, each WEEK, for at least 30 weeks of the year! but I'm getting ahead of myself.....

Flax, or Linum sativum, is a plant with a woody stem...the stem is wrapped in the strong silky fibers that are used to make linen thread....a lot of work goes into retrieving these fibers and making them usable. Once the leaves turn yellow, the plant is ready to be pulled...by hand...roots and all. Just picture pulling weeds in your garden, over and over again, for acres and acres......My back hurts just thinking about it.

Pulling flax, as shown in this 1792 engraving

After the flax was pulled and made in to little bundles, the seeds were removed by drawing it thru a Rippling comb. (Seeds from the flax plant are used to make Linseed Oil) This was a comb very similar to the hetchel, except it was more often shorter, with a short handle, and the nails were wider apart, as for now, just the seeds needed to be removed. Think of a medieval looking hairbrush, but made from 3-4" long nails instead.
After the seeds were removed, the flax was 'retted'. It was put in either a stream, or retting pond, to wait for the fibers to rot and break down.....very stinky. Retting in a stream would obviously be preferred, , because the running water carried the stinky nasties away......but it also ruined the water for drinking, so most used a pond for this.
Once sufficiently 'rotted'....the flax was whacked with a brake to break the woody stalk away from the flax fibers. A Brake was a huge wooden contraption that looks a lot like a paper cutter....only instead of cutting, it smooshes, and brakes the fibers~ hence its name. One could also use 'beatles', little wooden mallets that were used in the same way~ this took a lot more time.
After the braking, comes the 'scutching'...or some call it swingling. The fibers were held up against a board, and then was scraped with a long wooden knife. This was done until the fibers were rid of the gummy sap residue from the stalk. It also separated the longer fibers from the shorter ones...the shorter ones being called tow.

I like to ask everyone who visits the museum what this tool is, and as of yet, not one person has come up with the right answer of a wood 'scutching knife'. Its quite long as you can see, but not as heavy as it looks. Its handle & blade well worn from many years of use

Next came Hackling. (you can see a young fair maiden scutching her heart out to the left)

The fibers were drawn thru hetchels of varying coarseness to comb the fibers straight and get them ready for spinning- lots of folks call them flax combs. I have this one here at the Museum,
its 18th century, with a medium coarseness. Finishing ones would have twice this many teeth. Its a simple, beautiful tool to hold, and the hand forged iron nails its made from sound beautiful
when you carefully draw your hand across it....

The faced holes are to insert the hetchel onto a pegged board to hold it in place

Wouldn't want to fall on this.....many bases had wooden covers to protect both the hetchel, and passers by, when not in use

Oak has been wrapped in tin, to give the wood more strength. Hand forged nails were nailed all the way thru. As the flax became finer and finer, it was drawn thru hetchels that had more nails, closer and closer together

All that was left now, was spinning in to yarn, weaving into cloth, maybe bleaching, and then stitching into some beautiful thing.....
bleaching was such a long drawn out process, much homespun was left au natural

You can see my post on bleaching Here :

I feel that Knowing the work that goes into making a product, only enhances the respect and interest of that product, which is why I am so very excited and fortunate to have a wonderful
example of the linen making process here....
This gathering of Early Americana comes from the Blakeman Farm in Connecticut. The flax was grown and processed there
here is an original 18th century skein of flax fibers ready for spinning.

Next is a skein of finely twisted spun linen thread, ready for weaving.

The thread was expertly woven into this unbleached homespun linen.

Last, there is a small bunch of 'tow', the short fibers that come off during scutching, and also hackling....nothing was ever wasted.

Linen making like this was short lived~ by the 19th century, with all the textile mills, handspun, homespun was a bit of a novelty. Many pieces were saved, like my set, and cherished and exhibited in honor of the 'olde days'. Folks were on to busier lifestyles~ no one had the 'time' for making linen anymore....it was a time consuming endeavour, as referenced by John Campbell's diary, Windham, New Hampshire:

" March hath 31 Dayes 1796

24 thrash 12 sook oats and Clean 10 Bushells

25 swingle 19 1/4 of flax John Cochran Breaked 19 Bundles

26 swingle 20 1/2 pound flax John Cochran Broke 20 Bundles Spend /3

27 goe to Town Meeting Spend 1/4d agumment of agumment

28 Thrash 14 1/2 sooks of oats Jam Henry hear Braked flax

29 swingle 15 1/4 pounds of flax John Cochran Breade 15 Bundles

31 go to McGaws after stears spend 1/3d

April Hath 30 Dayes 1796

1st Breake flax for Jamison Henry Goe to George Davidsons to frolic

2 Brake flax to Ditto finish Medow hay Begin on Inglish hay

3 Sunday Stay at home spring like weather Loss goos Last night

4 Brake flax for Jam Henry foornoon and myself in afternoon

Break 18 Bundles Jamison swingle 14 for mee Spend 14d 1/2 On moor Dye"

If I have peaked your interest in homespun and early cloth
making, I highly recommend the book "Linen Making in New
England, 1640- 1860" by Martha Coons

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Looking foreword to the Holidays...

I have been trying to tidy things up a bit....I put the tree up in
the gallery last week or so, but still have Halloweenies that want
to stay out and play!! We normally put up a couple of trees for
Christmas in the house, and then decorate at least one outside for
the animals. I love the Christmas tree, it just may be my favorite
thing about Christmas...besides watching the children on
Christmas morning. When I was little, Ma & Pa let my brother
and I have our own tree in our Bedroom....always decorated with
the neat things we made at school....I particularly liked, and can
remember, the HUGE ornaments we made one year, from a
Christmas card glued onto a foam meat tray(that the meat would
come on from the grocery store)...then we put all sorts of glitter
and such around the outside. Golly I was prolly in the 2nd grade
or so. I have always been a 'gatherer', and I still have several of
the ornaments I made when I was little.....I even still have the
little red felt stocking my kindergarten teacher made for me,
that has my name spelt hideously wrong....but I LOVE it! I can
remember going to school, and looking all over the tree for 'mine',
and seeing the little red candy cane she put in it.....ohhh it was so
hard to wait to finally e*a*t* it! I wonder if I would still
remember that, if I didn't still have the little stocking to keep it
fresh in my memory? I think that is why I love the Christmas
tree so much- I keep all my most precious memories there.

Wixie loves the tree too and couldn't stop hopping up and down
until I took her picture in front of it. I told her the memory
attached to each one as we hung them on. Do you see the
nutcracker to the right of her? My Mom made that when I was
in my teens- a cross stitched band, then she stitched it into a tube
and stuffed it. I can remember her making it. I also keep special
ornaments on that my friends have made and given to me, like
the red stripe star with little painted face from Lorraine of
Piecake Primitives.

Here she is studying one of Joshies pictures he had taken with
the dept store Santa one year....I like to make little paper frames
for them and hang them on the tree. You can make a very special
ornament by letting your child draw a picture- like of a star or
snowman....make sure its big enough to cut a piece out for the
picture to slip behind....then cut it out and hang it on the tree.
They can color it and add their own glitter and such-
I LOVE the little ones the children make me at school each year.
You can see one of Emma she made all by herself last year, it was
my Christmas gift and I adore it, big red pipe cleaners and all!
The little soldier to the left of the Wish star I made, is made
from porcelain made from Mt. St. Helen's ash, the volcano that
erupted May 18th, 1980 in Wa state.....I can still remember
playing in the front yard wondering why it was 'snowing' in the

Wixie wants to be a part of my tree too, so I told her she could,
as long as she could be still.....which I suppose wont be for long!
Can you imagine getting a dollye for Christmas, and finding her
hiding in the tree on Christmas morn? How FUN that would be!
Actually, I think I like the look of her peeking out at me, maybe I
will have to do a dollye tree next year? hmmmmmmm

Grete (pronounced Greet), is telling me I need to get back to
work! Doesn't she look wonderful up on the sweet meat tier with
my white Christmas tree ornaments? I know I'm not the only
early bird when it comes to decorating for Christmas, so I hope
you all take time to enjoy your decorating, don't forget to set
aside a little extra for remembering

Friday, November 14, 2008

TDPIT Mercantile Update~

The mercantile has been updated~ hope you all will go and check out all the wonderful pretties! I had a bit of a problem with photobucket this month, so all of my alternate views are at www.diamondkfolkart.blogspot.com

Thursday, November 06, 2008

November is a 'White Christmas' on the TDIPT Mercantile.....

This November the TDIPT Mercantile is having a White Christmas ~ and also a Holiday Open House celebration, so I hope you will stop by on the 15th to see all the beautious Christmas pretties. Every purchase made, from any artist this month, wins the buyer an entry into the door prize drawing~ you could win a beautiful handmade, or even a 50.00 TDIPT Mercantile gift certificate! The rules are no showing previews of our White Christmas pieces, so I'm not!!!

'Joy' & 'Holly' are quietly warming up their little voices for an evening of Caroling

They cant wait to glide thru the freshly fallen snow to regail their neighbors with Traditional Olde English Carols
Both are special dollys~ Holly is dressed c1830, while Joy's dress I made from an absolutely gorgeous antique 19th peshkir, totally hand embroidered in gold tinsel and foil

I hope you will save a little time to come visit us on the Mercantile on the 15th! (always updated a smidgy early on the night of the 14th for those who just cant wait!)