Carving and Whittling

this is a group of carved pieces, there has been a lot of whittling going on for years, these are just the things I ended up with.

this is a group of carved pieces, there has been a lot of whittling going on for years, these are just the things I ended up with.

I like the egg, it feels good to hold it. This was one of the first projects and started with a square block of wood.

I like the egg, it feels good to hold it. This was one of the first projects. 

My boys like to carve and whittle. Here are a few of the things they have made. The wooden chain is carved from a single straight board, the egg started as a square block of wood, then there is a box with open center and a carved ball inside. Each of these started with a solid piece of wood.

the little hard hat is carved from bass wood, It has all the detail of a real roughneck’s steel hat.

the leather band inside cushions a blow to the head

There is also a hard hat, made exactly like the steel hats roughnecks wear on drilling rigs. It even has a leather headband inside.

the little shovel is a fine piece of art

My favorite is this spade, made from walnut with a maple handle. The shovel part is carved thin and  is as smooth as silk. It is a contrast between a tool used for hard digging and an exquisite piece of art.

Jamaican Dolls

Jamaican Dolls

these dolls are 20″ tall, made from knit socks

Meet Stanley and Rose Olive, the Jamaican dolls I made  in around 1956 . He was a wheeler dealer and she was a show girl. After a while I decided they needed a place to sit so I made the two wing back chairs. Stanley has a pack of Lucky Strike cigarettes in his shirt pocket, he carries a leather bill fold in his pants pocket with a driver’s license and a picture of Rose Olive. She used to have a big purse but lost it. I liked these two characters. A few years ago, someone came to my house and was offended by them so I put them in the cedar chest in the attic for quite a while. I just recently decided to bring them back out and enjoy them again. They are really quiet nice, they have never caused  trouble ~except for that one time~

Christmas Surprise

Christmas with our family is always full of surprises. I will be having Christmas stories on my blog off and on until Christmas. Today’s was from 18 years ago. We always go to Dan’s and Debbie’s house in San Angelo for Christmas. Debbie has a wonderful Christmas Eve super and she also makes a huge Christmas dinner the next day. There is a lot of fun going on up there.  That year, there was a big gift under the tree, all wrapped up with ribbons and bows, it was an odd shape.  I was in on the ‘secret’, Debbie told me it was a new headboard for Stacy’s bed and it was exciting because I knew she would be SO surprised. Opening gifts got going and finally everyone had opened their things, except for Stacy’s present. Then they brought it to ME!  I was puzzled I thought they had made a mistake. When I opened it, it wasn’t a headboard at all, instead it was this beautiful sign with MCWHORTER carved on it. 

it was four feet long and two inches thick and absolutely beauriful

Dan had made it out of special ordered redwood that had  no knots or flaws. He hand carved it with a hammer and a chisel, (not a router),  every letter was perfect. Then he carved the  beautiful pineapple for the top.

a pineapple is the sign of hospitality Dan carved it out of bass wood, it is thick and stands out from the sign itself. No way was I going to put this sign outdoors~

 I was overwhelmed. I never owned anything so nice, not ever~ There were also 4 X 4 redwood posts with hand carved gold leaf finials on top. It was painted in hunter green marine paint and the lettering was 18 ct gold leaf. They meant for me to put it in the orchard by the flag pole. I wouldn’t even consider that, it was too fine to be put out in the weather. I hung it over the eating  bar in the den and I enjoy it every day. I made another sign for the road, no pineapple on it but people can find my house.  ZZ carved a sign for their house and also made a CAMP ROCK sign for the river). We all had so much fun carving. This was my nicest surprise gift ever, it is a beautiful work of art. Proud Mama~

Indian Mounds

I found this stone the first day in the first mound where we looked. The design is chiseled in a perfect groove and the surface is honed smooth.

For hundreds of years Indian tribes lived in this area but no one knows what ancient people built the thousands of rock mounds that are found in Schleicher County, Texas. Around them you can find flint, scrapers and arrow heads. The mounds are large piles of rocks, shaped in a circle with an opening on one side. All the rocks are burned. There may be as many as 20 mounds in one small area. Dan started looking in mounds in the 1950’s, the first time I went with him we were in the middle of a small oak grove and he was 

I found this stone soon after the first one, it was buried and all the grooves were filled roots and dirt. This one is in perfect condition.

turning over rocks with his prospectors pick. I turned up a flat rock and on the under side was a carving. At first I thought it was something a boy scout had carved into a piece of wood but it was was a rock. I got excited and called for Dan to come look. He thought I had just found some chigger toes, those pepper shaped berries on the round cactus. When he saw the rock, he couldn’t believe it, he thought it was a trick. Then we really got busy and within 30 minutes I had found the second  carved stone.

Dan found this one 6 months later, it is the smallest and the most burned one. It has one small symbol on on the side edge that matches the + on the on the rock above.

We looked until dark and didn’t find anything else except some flint scrapers. I went with him a few more times  but soon he was going every day and staying several hours. Then six months later he found the third rock on a mound about half a mile from where I found the first two. He looked for over 30 years after that and only found arrow heads and scrapers. In researching these rocks he learned the designs on the first two marked stones  are identical in their engraved detail with two historic archeological engravings, one found in crumbling ruins in ancient India and the other deep in the old Mayan country of Mexico.  Someone told Dan about three books by James Churchward written in 1931 that might be of interest to him.   One of them, ‘Children Of Mu’  pictured drawings of artifacts that are identical in character to the two rocks I found.  Dan sent pictures to Smithsonian in Washington, DC,  and Universities of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. No one had a clue (or the money to pursue this). The mounds and the carved stones remain a mystery.

 

 

Three Mermaids Fern Stand

Covered in rust but still a lovely piece of Art Deco from the 1920's. Mama Pelt liked it and I liked her so we both liked these girls~

Covered in rust but still a lovely piece of Art Deco from the 1920’s. Mama Pelt liked it and  I liked her. I have always been happy that I was able to enjoy it all these years. Art Deco or ‘Style Moderne’ got started in Paris and Burssels in 1925.

 

                                Three Mermaids Fern Stand
Meet the Art Deco mermaids fern stand. No one in the family liked it except for Dan’s grandmother and me. She lived in Edinburgh in a beautiful two story home with a nice sun room where she kept all of her pretty plants. When she moved, this is one of the things she brought with her. Mama Pelt was a staunch Baptist, but the family thought this fern stand was slightly wicked and wondered what possessed her to buy it. It is 35 inches tall, made of cast iron by The Booth Company of Chicago (patented pending) back in the 1920’s. I ended up with it. For forty years it stayed on my front porch out in the weather.
Here is the 'after' picture.  a three gallon planter fits inside the rim to hold a large plant. I have tried several but the Boston fern it my favorite.

Here is the ‘after’ picture, a three gallon planter fits inside the rim to hold a large plant. I have tried several plants but the Boston fern it my favorite.

When I was getting my screened porch glassed in, I started working on refurbishing some of my older things to make them nice for the new sun room. Big Papa’s glider and Mama Pelt’s mermaid stand were my main re-do projects. The fern stand was in good shape, lots of rust  but no damage. I spent several weeks working on the rust with steel wool and sand paper until I started to see a moss green color come through. From then on it was just me and three pretty mermaids~ standing still while I cleaned their scales and forked tails. Every day it was, “good morning girls”.
It weighs 30 lbs without the plant so I put it where it needs to stay.

It weighs 30 lbs without the plant so I put it where it needs to stay.

After looking on the internet, I learned a lot about the Booth Company and their Art Deco pieces.This fern stand can also be used as a fish bowl holder, some even had three electric lights. (I found one like it on e-bay for $2,300, it had been spray painted shiny black and was ugly.) It is heavy and it’s a nice shape for a big Boston fern. It looks like a green lacy tree with my three girls holding it.

Angelo State University Folk Festival

 

this is a special photograph for me, sitting behind me were my mother Elizabeth Elder and my little cousin Carroll Morgan, both flew away to heaven within a year~

I was invited to exhibit and demonstrate oil painting at the ASU Folk Festival in February of 1973. I met a lot of people and also saw many familiar faces. I liked the demonstrations, everyone was happy and full of chatter, they enjoyed watching and many of them were also painters. I had my miniature covered wagon and all the little rooms on display so if anyone wasn’t interested in painting, they liked to look at the little things. The famous wood carver, Gene Zesch was also exhibiting his wonderful carvings, he carves old cowboys and anything to do with ranch life, with much skill and unbelievable humor.  I was in good company that day, it is a sweet memory for me~

Miss Piggy and Kermit

she looked pretty happy with him today, it was either lavishing him with kisses or throwing him across the room

When I bought Miss Piggy and Kermit in 1977, she was a hand puppet. She had a big vinyl hollow head, (no body) and the famous elbow length lavender gloves with matching dress.  I had planned from the start to make her into a doll. I made her a soft body, she felt cuddly and nice to hold.

it was fun making the shoes, they were pretty tall wedges.

 

I carved some platform wedge sandals and added satin straps. (They are in style now) Then I made her a long formal satin evening jacket.

A girl likes some bling

Of course she needed jewels so she had  several stands of pearls, a pearl and gold filigree broach and a tiara for her hair.

here he is in his tux, his character seemed to be a happy go lucky guy

 

 

Kermit was just a green frog so I made him a Tuxedo with a pleated shirt, pearl buttons and a cummerbund. I knew it would be what Miss Piggy would want. These two characters have lived at my house, and lived in Sonora, then San Angelo and finally are back with me. (They were Christmas presents that we passed back and forth). They are both in perfect shape, even after 35 years.  We watched the Muppet Shows on TV for several years~ Miss Piggy and Kermit were our favorite characters. I loved those shows. Jim Henson, the famous puppeteer who created the Muppets died in 1990 at age 53.

Restoration Projects

Last summer I had some projects that needed to be done. They took several weeks, the signs were some I carved years ago and the paint was blistering and peeling, the gold leafing was suffering. I also restored the duck house. Here are pictures of that project before and after. The bigger the job, the greater reward! I also added a couple of pictures of Sharon Mittel’s grand kids when they were little to show the duck house back then.

scraping, striping, sanding several times over several weeks time. Until you get past the half way mark, you keep thinking, 'I don't have to do this, I can quit and find an easier project'~

scraping, striping, sanding several times over several weeks time. Until you get past the half way mark, you keep thinking, ‘I don’t have to do this, I can quit and find an easier project’~

priming, then painting with green marine grade paint, drying and painting another coat. Then painting sizing inside the carved letters, let that dry and start the gold leafing. Anywhere the gold touches the sizing, it sticks so you have to be careful and only paint the sizing where you want it to be forever.

priming, then painting with green marine grade paint, drying and painting another coat. Then painting sizing inside the carved letters, let that dry and start the gold leafing. Anywhere the gold touches the sizing, it sticks so you have to be careful and only paint the sizing where you want it to be forever.

Putting the sign back up was the fun part until I was swallowed up in a cloud of gnats. They were the biting kind. When I was digging the post holes 23 years ago, I had to dig 4 because the second one hit a rock so I had to move it over and then over again. They are cemented in and I don't ever plan to dig another post hole~NOT NEVER~

Putting the sign back up was the fun part until I was swallowed up in a cloud of gnats. They were the biting kind. When I was digging the post holes years ago, I had to dig 4 because the second one hit a rock so I had to move it over and then over again. They are cemented in and I don’t ever plan to dig another post hole~NOT NEVER~

  Since the sizing stays tacky for a couple of hours, you only want to paint it on as much as you are able to finish in that time. I finished one half of the sign before starting the other half


Since the sizing stays tacky for a couple of hours, you only want to paint it on as much as you are able to finish in that time. I finished one half of the sign before starting the other half

After putting the silver leaf on the lettering, you brush away the edges and clean it up.

The CAMP ROCK sign goes over the gate going into the place across the driveway. It was ready to be thrown away it was so bad but now it will be good for a while longer.

The CAMP ROCK sign goes over the gate going into the place across the driveway. It was ready to be thrown away it was so bad but now it will be good for a while longer.

The CAMP ROCK sign goes over the gate going into the place across the driveway. It was ready to be thrown away it was so bad but now it will be good for a while longer. Finished and hanging. I am working on a grapevine wreath to hang where the old one hangs. It will have a little bird house in the center. I found a surprise in the old bird house this morning, it had a big lively yellow jacket nest inside.

 Finished and hanging. I am working on a grapevine wreath to hang where the old one was. It will have a little bird house in the center. I found a surprise in the old bird house this morning, it had a big lively yellow jacket nest inside.

This is a little duck house I built with left over lumber after we built our house in 1974. It was home for our two pet Mallard ducks, Stanley and Rose Olive and our four guineas. They all slept out there every night for 8 years.  Three months ago this is what the duck house looked like while I was trying to restore it. It had to be sanded, striped, and calked, then primed and painted. I made the windows and shutters out of cement board this time and they should last forever

This is a little duck house I built with left over lumber after we built our house in 1974. It was home for our two pet Mallard ducks, Stanley and Rose Olive and our four guineas. They all slept out there every night for 8 years.
Three months ago this is what the duck house looked like while I was trying to restore it. It had to be sanded, striped, and calked, then primed and painted. I made the windows and shutters out of cement board this time and they should last forever.

This job took me about 2 months to finish, I was dragging my feet because I couldn't make the calk come out of the calk gun, it needed a stronger hand than mine.

This job took me about 2 months to finish, I was dragging my feet because I couldn’t make the calk come out of the calk gun, it needed a stronger hand than mine.

 took this picture today. I am happy to have it finished and looking new again. Steve Gaines came and built me a cement landing so it wouldn't sit on the dirt, we were amazed that it didn't have any termites after 39 years sitting on the ground.

took this picture today. I am happy to have it finished and looking new again. Steve Gaines came and built me a cement landing so it wouldn’t sit on the dirt, we were amazed that it didn’t have any termites after 40 years sitting on the ground.

  Here we are with the Mittel grand kids. Caroline Mittel, Andy Mayfield, Madeline Mittel, Abby Mayfieldand Missy. I love those kids, they called me Mossy and Dan was 'Uncle Granddad" (of all things!) This was 15 or so years ago.


Here we are with the Mittel grand kids. Caroline Mittel, Andy Mayfield, Madeline Mittel, Abby Mayfield and Missy. I love those kids, they called me Mossy and Dan was ‘Uncle Granddad” (of all things!) This was 15 or so years ago.

That is Andy inside~and yes they all fit~

That is Andy inside~and yes they all fit~

Texas State Fair 1972

they really had a nice space set up for me to paint, show my art work and the miniatures

I painted several large pictures in the 15 days, and probably a hundred or more sketches for people wanting to know how to paint certain things~

It is hard for me to write about this, it was either an accident or just plain luck. I was completely humbled by the whole experience. By 1971, I was painting every day and had started making miniatures (while waiting for the paint to dry) That year I painted 52 pictures~ Jerroll Sanders let me hang many of them in his restaurant in town, and he had a cabinet built to hold the miniature rooms. One evening in July 1972, he came out and brought a nice young man from Dallas who had been passing through and saw all my stuff. His name was Forbes Woods. He bought a small picture and then asked me if I might consider an exhibit at the Texas State Fair in October. (Of course, I was excited but doubted it would happen). A week later, Mrs. Elizabeth Peabody called and asked for some photographs of my work, she was the Director of the Women’s Department for the fair. Things moved fast, she liked what I sent and said I would officially be the ‘Artist in Residence at the Texas State Fair’. One thing she made very clear, if I agreed to do it, I HAD to show up and be committed to 15 days of painting and demonstrating. She called several times in the next few weeks to be sure I would be there.  (the only downside was  leaving our two boys at home, Uncle Bob and Aunt Lucille offered to keep them so that was settled).  In October, Dan and I left in our little Airstream trailer, it was packed from floor to ceiling with paintings, the six miniature rooms, plus a covered wagon I had carved, with over 100 pieces of tiny things that went with it. We got to Dallas in the middle the day and had to move all the things into my space in the Women’s Division Building. What a surprise! There were special cases set up to hold the miniatures and people there to unload and hang the paintings. Everyone was nice and helpful, Dan and I kept looking at each other in awe, this was nothing we had expected. Each day I could hear Big Tex out on the fair grounds, announcing the different attractions, the Dallas Civic Ballet, a man who could pop his eyeballs out of their sockets, Rita McWhorter’s little miniatures and painting demonstrations, etc~) Then for 15 days I painted for wonderful crowds of people, many came back every day to watch and ask questions. ‘How do you paint a cactus or rocks, or water, or a mesquite tree’, I would paint on my pallet or sketch pad and give it to them,  it was fast and I did many of those.  They would come and bring me gifts, like a  small hand painted piece of china  they had done, or chocolate éclairs or cookies they had made. They asked about my boys, and told me about theirs. (painters are nice people). There were hundreds who came through each day and ‘looked and liked’, especially the miniatures. They enjoyed Dan, he was an asset when it came to visiting and talking about the art work. Two days before the fair ended, Mother and my sister Tricia brought our boys to Dallas and when I saw them, I wasn’t the only one crying,  I had missed them terribly and some of those around were shedding a few tears with me. This was the biggest thrill of all. The boys took off and went to see everything at the fair and had a wonderful time. After we got back home, I had lots of nice letters and notes from people who had come to watch. (even a beautiful poem from Dan Hill which he had written for me). It was hard to get my feet back on the ground again, I was feeling good! A few days later I went to a small get together and someone asked me what I had been doing lately. When I said, ‘painting’, she said, “I am getting my kitchen painted right now, I don’t do these things myself like you younger girls do”~ so in that instant I was back to normal.

Miniature Den Restored

I like a den, we didn’t have one in the farm house where we used to live. When I made this one, I knew I wanted one when we built our house. My real one  is connected to the kitchen, you can’t beat that~

I showed you this little den before it had been restored. Now I have changed out the carpet, carved a new coffee table, and cleaned the clutter up. All of the little stuff has to be dusted so I am making it easier to keep clean.

the sailing ship took longer to make that most things but was fun to make. I like detail and this had a lot of it~

When I took the book case down, I got a good look at the sailing ship on  top and had almost forgotten even making it. I had copied it from a larger one  the boys had so that made it easy. I remember painting the sails with Elmer’s Glue to make them stiff so I could make them ‘billow out in the wind’. The shelves are loaded with books, photographs of the boys and a black & white TV set. Nice storage cabinet underneath it too.

 

 

The world globe was one of the more realistic pieces. The wood turnings  were made from sanded down tooth picks, the ‘globe’ was a small ‘roll on’ deodorant ball, and as always, paint did the magic on any carving.

A phone, typewriter and world globe, everything you needed. I remember my first electric typewriter, it had spell check on it and I was amazed,  wonders never cease

 

I like putting a door in the little rooms, it keeps you from feeling trapped. The only thing I ever lost out of one of the  rooms was a Life Magazine from the magazine rack in the den. I didn’t mind, I was so happy when someone liked the little things. Back when I made it, there weren’t computers with printers to reduce the size of a cover and make a realistic copy, that one was hand painted. Usually these little rooms and the covered wagon have been in my exhibits~most times displayed in the open so people could get close and see things~

Miniature Kitchen Make-Over

this kitchen was one of my favorite rooms to do 40 years ago, it has been fun restoring it~

the apples are the size of a pea, I carved them, then cut them in half and painted in the seeds etc. ~the paring knife is half inch long~real metal blade too~

This miniature kitchen has a lot going on. It was easy enough to restore and re-decorate, but I left several things out that were in the original kitchen. With all the rooms, I had too much stuff.  I now have a cigar box full of left-overs. This was my next to last room to fix up and I was ready to get crazy~not from the work but from the mess. All finished, all clean again and I feel like celebrating. On the counter there is a block of Velveeta cheese, a cheese grater and the start of Chicken Enchiladas.

the refrigerator was avocado green, the color for the 1970’s. It is upgraded to stainless steel now~

The kitty is now “Buttermilk” instead of the 40 year old Miss Lilla. The fruit on the counter only needed cleaning, it was carved from a dowel pin, then painted. I wish I could get some creative souls out there to try this carving thing, it is so easy and terribly fun. You only need a dowel pin,   carpet knife, and a fingernail file. The new ‘granite’ counter top is made from a black floor  tile, it was easy to cut with the carpet knife. The canisters are from different size dowel pins, the pots are metal perfume lids that I cut around the center, leaving one little piece in tact and then bending it down to make a handle.

the phone is 1″ tall, one thing about the old ones, you never mispaced them~

I have carved several telephones, they are the old kind by today’s standards. I like the kitchen, maybe because I like my real one so much. Cooking is a great pleasure, we are nesters and feeders~          and also eaters~

Miniature Bath Room

the perfume and lotion bottles are carved from wood and painted. I had a lot more stuff on the counter that I left out this time.

 

The commode and bath tub are carved out of wood. The toilet paper roll is 40 years old and still in good shape.

This is the miniature bathroom, renovating it was pretty easy compared to the other eight rooms, but I always hit a snag somewhere. This time it was a new mirror. It took three tries to get it right. I put new ’tile’ on the floor and walls, some left over from doing the backsplash in the kitchen. When I thought I was finished, Anna said I needed to put uba tuba ‘granite’ on the counter. I am glad I did. I like bathrooms, the bathtub especially, it is my reward every day. My sister Nancy gave me bubble bath one year for my birthday and said I would never have to wash the tub again~ but she wasn’t right.