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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Beans, Beans, Beans, Time to plant the Beans!

Last March, we planted our Scarlett Runner beans inside. They are so pretty, and so easy to grow. Just put in dirt and add water! I grew them a little too early. By the end of March, Meta was watering them and they were getting tall.
Soon, they were outgrowing
my house. By the time I could safely
take them outside, they were up to the ceiling and tangled with each other. I took out the flat of gramps pots onto the deck and took an hour unweaving the vines.

They got Bigger,
And Bigger,
And grew into a fine Tea-Pea, for the girls. 

and then we ate them.
with onions and bacon.
So quick!  Plant those beans. The humming birds, (and me) love the pretty red flowers, and then you can eat them!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Eric Sloane Museum
Kent CT

Roger got out to the country corner of Connecticut. We took the wee girls to the Eric Sloane Museum and the Antique Machinery Museum next door (last August, I am trying to catch up on my neglected blogging).

This is a lovely quiet museum out in the woods. Staff is so friendly. Roger got to play engineer with Isobel and Meta.

Lots of interesting stuff to see.
Here is Roger and Meta sliding back down hill on Argent Lumber Locomotive #4.

There are at least two trains, this one is inside and you get to climb in it and blow the whistle.. cover your ears!

Hawaii #5, a 1925 Baldwin steam locomotive.

There are lots of other interesting stuff too. Here is the Hubbard Steamscycle, handbuilt 1969-1973 by Arthur "Bud" Hubbards of Monroe CT.  Two cylinder, single-acting, 6 horsepower, 100cc displacement. Water tube, superheating coil, 100-600 psi. Fired by kerosene, vaporization burner. Bike frame German Maico 1956.

Oh, and there is a fabulous mineral collection...inside and this great pile of kid rocks outside!

Come on out...
Saturday, May 4, 2013 is CAMA's Spring Power-up Day.
Buy, sell, vendors and lots of fun.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Seed Savers, Iowa

On the way home from the Nordic Fest, Roger and I stopped to check out the Seed Savers Exchange in Iowa. This is a wonderful farm dedicated to saving and sharing heritage varieties of seeds.  I am so glad that farmers and greenhouses are doing well in our currently tight market.  Seems folks are becoming more aware of local farms as a source of good, nutritious food rather than anemic supermarket varieties.  And the good farmers are keeping us all going. I am sure you heard the slogan, "No Farms, No Food."

Here in Iowa, this is a lovely family operated farm.

They have events and workshops and a lovely bunch of garden.

Check out this great portable chicken coup.
And you know how I like waddle fencing and tee-pees....

Reminds me of my own Scarlet Runner Bean Tee pee above!
And... I wonder if they would be interested in selling
my little Red Birds?
My pottery birds, greenhouses, gardens
and gardeners seem to go together!

Check out my birds at

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Iowa and Weaving at the Vesterheim Museum

I have been working on weaving bands or tapes in my "spare" time at fairs.  I found a paddle tape loom in my attic several years ago and have taught myself to make bands, thin weavings for ties and decoration.  Before we had zippers and velcro, many countries made these simple, strong, thin bands by the yard... because they needed something to use for ties. The English, my paddle loom is an English style, made plain bands, but the Scandinavian, Germans and Russians made more elaborately colored bands to decorate their costumes. Having a Norwegian boyfriend, I was even more interested in the fancy patterns.
I have finally figured out how they do this on a flat board with slots and holes, no 4 heddle loom to make it easy. Roger started carving a flat gate style Norwegian loom for me and we headed out to the Vesterheim Museum in Decorah IA for the Nordic Fest in July.

Wonderful, expert craftspeople converge at this museum to demonstrate their work, share their love for early trades and crafts and have a great time with friends.  Roger set up his big tent on the museum grounds to demonstrate his wooden bowl carving on a pole lathe. Potters, carvers, weavers, spinners and artists spent the weekend sharing. I set up my mini pottery and a few yellow ware pieces in Rogers tent, I did not bring my potters wheel and took a break from clay, I really wanted to weave and hopefully pick up some tips from the experts.

I was not disappointed. The museum had a fine collection of early Norwegian tape looms and my first look at old tapes and new done by experts.  I brought along my new booklet I wrote on tape loom weaving and sold copies.

The groups of tradespeople I hang around the country with have a truely great livestyle. We get together at events like this one and work our crafts, share our knowledge and experiences and have a great time doing so.

Above... Roger entertaining and teaching the visitors his trade.

Read more about the festival at:

And my looms at:

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

July in Nebraska

Traveling the fair circuit. I spent this July traveling to the Mid-West. Early July, I flew into Omaha Nebraska. Roger was demonstrating his bowl turning at the Madison County Fair. A nice little fair in the middle of corn fields. The weather was in the high 90s for 6 days of sun.

I sent some pots on ahead, and cut down one of my paddle loom boards to fit into my suitcase. I had to fit 6 mugs and steins, the loom, yarns, notebooks, and some clothes into my two bags. This time, I had to stop at the airport security so they could take out my Oil of Olay bottle. It was 6 oz. Too big. But the nice gentleman said he would scan it, although he doesn't usually do that, and gave me back my Olay. This time, my plane got sent to Minneapolis for the first stop. Which got me debating with others about planning my next trip to Minneapolis. By booking a flight to Omaha by way of Minneapolis, and getting off at the half way point, would now turn into a direct flight and save me having to sit in Philadelphia or Chicago for a couple of hours. The only problem with this is the baggage. What if they had to take my roll on case and send it to Omaha. How much would I have to pay to get it back to Minneapolis? Well, it's something to think about.

I got to Omaha on a commuter plane. A little tight, but a short flight. In Omaha, I had booked a bus that would take me the two hours to the Madison County Fairgrounds. The bus turned out to be a shuttle, which I missed, they had to come back for me and I finally rolled into the tiny town of Madison, population just over 2,000. Corn and soybeans, cowboys, cowgirls, cowkids....all very nice and friendly people.

The corn crop looked dry. I wove on my tape loom to pass the time and met some locals who were interested in weaving too.

This bug on Rogers tent ropes and this corn field, and the beer garden were the only photos I took while there.

Roger and I got invited to a Nebraska corn farmers couch burning party at 3 am one morning. The farmers had 1,400 acres of corn, some was being watered but the whole mid west was dry this summer.

The couch burning started a few years ago and now this once a year event has grown and friends and family come for weiners cooked on a pitchfork, beer and other tidbits while sitting around a huge bonfire on old couches and chairs. After everyone had their fill of weiners, someone put a mattress on the fire and then a couch. The flames shot up into the early morning sky. People backed away from the heat. The couch went up so fast... do not smoke and fall asleep on your couch. WARNING:  Do not try this at home. Folks seem to like to watch things burn, but the fumes were not so good and we left around 4 am smelling of burning fibers and smoke.

We saw some great bull riding, horse shows and met a lot of nice folks. Seems one of this fairs best events is line dancing and the beer garden. Next to each other and about 100 feet from our camper till 1 am.  Crowds of teenagers were great to watch dancing and having a good time to very loud music. They enlarged the beer gardens this year. The enclosed, underage enforced area of just beer, could hold about 2000 folks.

All in all a very nice fair that I would recomend... did I mention the fair admission was FREE?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Dressing a potter from 1820 in New England...

Dressing up a New England potter from 1820 ...
No, I am not a Princess....

This is a real problem. I have found wonderful web sites on fashion of this time period. Late "Regency"? Found some wonderful blogs about dressing in America in Pilgrim days, Colonial times, Regency, Victorian, Edwardian and 1900's dress to. But all these are the fashionable, "I want to be a princess and go to balls" fashion.

What about the peasants? What about the shop keepers, the tradesmen and the working class? One problem is that there were no photographs in the early 1800's. If there were, how many people would get photographed in their street clothes? The really poor would not be photographed at all. So this leaves the painters and illustrators of the day.

Another problem is that the poor didn't pack away their clothes in trunks to be cherished and passed down to future generations. They were worn, worn out, cut down for children and then used for rags before completely rotting on the compost pile. How many people today keep their old underwear? Occasionally pajamas or slips get saved and packed away.

My mother in law was a historian at a local towns' historical society. She was a saver and collector. She saved many old clothes from her mother and grandmothers side and packed them neatly in the attic for us to cherish. These include camisoles, pantaloons, socks, children's garments, children's shoes, many wool and cotton slips, aprons, bonnets, purses and a few Victorian and flapper dresses. The oldest, however, looks to be Victorian, perhaps back to the 1880's.

To the left is an old flannel slip with red wool hand embroidery.

The tucks, hand stitching, knitted trims, banding and buttons are wonderful to look at and a good source for special features to be added to reproductions. But the are still to late for the time period I am looking for.

So what would a potter in 1820 Connecticut be wearing? When not getting muddy and dirty with the pottery work, she would be slopping hogs, butchering chickens, cooking, washing theses clothes with inferior detergents, scrubbing and mucking stalls. I can see myself dressing up in my one nice dress for Sunday church, coming home to make dinner for my 13 children and husband and maybe a neighbor or two, and some work hands. After washing dishes and pots, I would sit down with my knitting needles or needle and thread and work on mittens, a quilt or a new slip for one of my girls like the above.

I have heard one might have two dresses one to wash and one to wear while the other was being washed. Lucky girls had a third dress saved for Sunday. Washing you and your clothes might happen once a week, so you would be rather yucky most of the time. But so was the rest of your family, so you probably didn't notice it.

And then there were shoes. Shoes were leather top and bottom and had wood pegs to hold the soles on. I use new lace up shoes I find at thrift stores, but they have synthetic soles and polyester lining. What I need is a good pair of reproduction shoes. However, the ones available through reenactor sites are Colonial Williamsburg, too early or Regency, too fancy. I need a sturdy, thick leather shoe with no high heel. I am thinking of making a pair of moccasins. This would prompt discussions with my audience at fairs. Of course in 1820 there were a few surviving Native Americans in Connecticut.. or maybe upper New York, who would trade some of my down pillows for a good pair of work shoes.

See my new blog... Peasant Fashions of New England,  and subscribe!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Two new Kittties for us!

Our two new kitties, Tessa and Tasha, sisters, alike but different.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

New face jugs and Dave the slave...

Occassionally I make some face jugs. Most potters at one time or another, are tempted to put a face on a pot. What better background? Pots are round and begging to be tampered with. These are some of my face jugs from last year...

In my travels to South Carolina State Fair, I met lots of folks who knew about Dave the Slave who did pottery one hundreds years ago in their area.

The most interesting thing I think is that Dave signed many of his pots. He also inscribed verses into his pots. So many early potters made a pot and sold it as a common useful item and today we are left wondering who made these wonderful images and the stories behind them.

All crafts are expressions of something the person has inside and has to get out in one form or another. Over the years we refine our style and designs. My new face jugs have smaller features and simplified details. The jug with the bloody nose was a result of being on the same table when I glazed my red birds. I didn't notice it till I opened the kiln and lifted him out, (they take on personalities). My first impression was "Oh no!" But the more I have him around the more I like him and want to keep him.   If I try to recreate some bloody noses, will they come out the same or is this accident a one-of-a-kind creations?

Dave – A Literate Slave

Dave goes by many names including "Dave the Potter," "Dave the Slave," Dave Drake, and simply Dave. There is considerable mystery surrounding this Edgefield artist, but thanks to the former slave's unique ability to read and write, we've been left with an amazing autobiography, scrawled on the shoulders and sides of his remaining jugs and vessels.

Dave was born around 1801, presumably to South Carolina plantation-owner Harry Drake. Drake is thought to have been staunchly religious and may have taught several of his slaves to read and write in order that they might continue to benefit from the teachings in the Bible. Helping a slave learn to read was heavily frowned upon, as common thought concluded that it would lead to free will and possible revolt. A series of laws were passed prohibiting owners from educating slaves, and in 1740 it became illegal to teach a slave to write, although reading was not specifically outlawed.

Dave may have had as many as five owners throughout his life as a slave. Following the death of Harry Drake in 1832, Dave became the property of Dr. Abner Landrum. Dave's literacy by way of Drake was not the only thing that made him unique. Evidence suggests that Dave may have lost a leg as a young man – the result of a train accident. This made him unfit for field labor but well suited to a type of work that required sitting.

Dr. Landrum owned a small pottery yard inhabited by about 15 slave-families. Known in early years as Landrumsville, and in later years as Pottersville, the stoneware produced there was of great quality and beauty. For use in plantation homes, it outshone its predecessor – earthenware pottery – as it was impervious to water and much stronger overall.

And, Daves verses...

Stories are behind the pots we make.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

working with Bob the Sculptor

Today I went to Bob Raymonds to help him hone his computer skills!