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.

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 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~

Covered Wagon Heading West

all the nice soft things for a good bed

The story goes that Thomas McCann met Blossom Blue at a social affair in Boston and had to act fast, he was on his way to Oregon to stake his claim on the new frontier. He didn’t have a real commitment from Miss Blossom but would woo her with letters until he could return for her later. He loaded up his wagon with trunks, bedding, tools, cooking utensils, and  everything he could carry to set up housekeeping.

a muzzle loader and 6 shooters in his gun belt,

He would be packing his six shooters and a muzzle loader. The gun powder is in the powder horn,  or in this case, a rooster spur.

 

Saws, hammer,brace & bit, and a good hatchet

Next he gathered up all the tools for building a place to live once he got there.

 

here are gardening tools which will go in a tool shed once it is built, A kerosene lantern is an important item, and a mouse trap~

A crate and gardening tools, they would be stored in a tool shed when he gets one built. The lantern is one of the most important things he owns

the photograph album is filled with old pictures

Some treasures are packed too, the telephone was ahead of it’s time but will be handy in the future

I can imagine the sweet sound of a guitar , softly filling the evening with it’s music 

 And how about a little music,(get your guitar baby)
 I will finish my Covered Wagon up tomorrow, then get back to flowers and recipes etc.

Miniature Covered Wagon~Goodbye

Miss Blossom tries out the front seat, she is wondering if she was a little too hasty~

It looks like it is going to happen, Thomas’ letters won  Miss Blossom’s heart  and she is gathering up her belongings and waiting for him to come and take her away. Aunt Edith has been on her bed bawling her eyes out for days~
A young lady needs her things

sewing basket, books, chamber pot, pitcher and basin, all those letters from her sweetie~

the pinto beans are loaded onto the mule, those keep for a long time

the china is made of clay and then baked, the silverware is from copper wire, flattened and shaped~pretty crude but the best I could come up with~

wash board, oak buckets and tub, ironing board and iron, clothes pins, and everything a woman could ask for~I like washing clothes~ put them in and push the button~

everything from coffee grinder to butter mold. The knives have oak handles and all the metal parts are cut from a tin can~

the pans are made from lids, the cast iron skillet is carved from wood, the spoons were copper wire, flattened and shaped

Off to Oregon and their new life together~

~as Blossom was saying~ “and when I was four my daddy got me a pony for my birthday and mama said he had been foundered because his hooves grew too long and he was too fat, but thin ponies got it too, so Daddy sold him and I remember how much I cried, but they said they would find me another one, but they never did, then when I was six~ ~ ~” 
This was going to be a long long journey, Thomas wondered if he might have made a mistake~

I have enjoyed doing this blog on the wagon. Time to take it back to the Schleicher County Museum where they are kind enough to keep it for me.

Miniature Covered Wagon

this wagon is one foot tall, ready to roll

We were in Mexico in 1968 and  I found a beautiful miniature Conestoga wagon. It was well made and I was excited to buy it. After I had it for a year I kept thinking about trying to take the measurements and copy it, but in oak instead of the light wood it was made of. At that time I had no power tools so the wheels were a challenge. I used a coping saw. This project took several weeks but everything was coming together and I could see it was going to work. It was a good feeling when I  put the ‘canvas’ cover over the bows, which was a  dish towel that I painted several times to make it stiff. It just seemed to turned it into a little house. Although the wagon is completely made of oak, I needed to make parts of it look like metal, I mixed silver paint with burnt umber oil paint and it did look like steel. I started adding everything a person would need, traveling across the Great Plains to Oregon in a covered wagon. A ladder, sacks of feed, a crate of ‘live’ chickens, a quirt, an anvil, tools, a lantern, and of course a muzzle loader. I used a rooster spur for the powder horn, perfect size. Then I found a little mule in a shop and knew this was going to be my one ‘bought item’. (I named  her Molly) I loaded her with sacks of feed, garden tools, and a butter churn. Now all I needed was a story to go with the wagon, so I named the fellow Mr.Thomas McCann. He was leaving his sweetheart Blossom Blue in Boston for the time being and would return for her later when he was established out west.  A package of miniature letters, each hand written, tells their story~ more on this later~    This has been my favorite blog to post, I suppose building this wagon and all the little stuff for it was was the most fun, but I always like whatever  project  I am doing at the time.

the envelopes are smaller than a postage stamp, all the letters are hand written~they are quite proper

 

Miniature Attic Room Restored

this room is for relaxing, snacking, and painting. It was one of the most fun to make and to restore, it had everything except my sewing machine~

Today I am showing the miniature attic room. It is also the painting room. I never had an art studio even though Dan wanted me to have one when we were building our house. I liked to paint on the kitchen table in the middle of family life. I would work for several hours after the boys went off to school, then put everything away to cook dinner. It was always nice to start out with a clean space again.

The sandwich here is 40 years old. (I have since made a fresh one), my favorite~ham, cheese, tomato and lettuce on soft bread~

Back to the attic room, there is a real card game going on, and place for someone to have a ham sandwich, bag of Fritos and a Coke.

In real life, I never used an easel or stool, I propped the canvas on my lap and painted at the kitchen table, I usually had a Dr. Pepper that lasted me all day~

Then a place with all the things I needed to paint pictures. The paint box has lots of tiny tubes of paint, brushes, turpentine, and yes it is a mess just like in real life. A stool, paint rag, pallet, and easel with a work in progress.

Finally a cozy bed, I like beds. I had lots of good feelings when I was restoring this room~

Miniature Dining Room

I don’t have a formal dining room, I never wanted one. When I was a child and someone passed away, they often put the casket in the dining room for viewing~yes and men came and sat up with the body all night~

this little tea cart is 2 1/2 inches tall, the paintings are scenes from Bourbon St. in New Orleans, copies of real ones I once painted . (We spent our honeymoon in New Orleans in 1953)

At first I thought this little dining room do-over would be the easy one. It took me more than two weeks. Everything in the china cabinet was in good shape, no repairs there.  The fruit bowl on the buffet has apples, oranges, and bananas that are carved from wood. I started by whittling a piece of fruit on the end of a dowel pin, this way I had something to hold to, then  sanding and shaping it with an emery board. Finally I cut it loose and painted it. The grapes are mustard seeds rolled around in Elmer’s glue to make a clump, dried and then painted. They are still good after 40 years. Pile it all in a bowl (perfume lid) and it is done. Copper wire is great for so many things, I hammered it out in a flat ribbon and made the arms for the chandelier and the drawer pulls from that an then painted them with gold leaf. The dining chairs got new covers. Glue has always been a problem for me. It needs to be tacky so it will  hold the pieces together and then dry strong. There is no way to join the parts and then hold each tiny piece for 20 minutes until it bonds, it has to be sticky.  I think I have finally found the perfect glue, it is Loctite Stik N’ Seal. The carpet is the original, velvet fabric that I painted a design on.  I  re-varnished all the little furniture in each room, it made a big difference. I use polyurethane satin, everything looks   brand new again. This project was almost as much fun as it was the first time ~except nowdays I get tired and think about a nap~

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.

Miniature Mess

This is some of the furniture and accessories for three of the rooms. Jitter Joe sits beside it to show it’s size. Every piece is hand made, no kits~

The blog this morning showes my big mess. Last year I was working all day, every day re-doing the miniature rooms and didn’t have time to put together a good blog. I thought this do-over would just involve a little  touch up painting and cleaning. No, all the stuff had to come out, furniture needed new varnish, walls repainted, (some three times because the paint color I was wanting  was the color of my knit shirt, I took it to Lowe’s to match it and when I put it on the walls, it looked like Pepto-Bismol). Not good for a formal dining room~ The old glue was failing on a lot of the things, I had to make  new draperies and curtains. Then when the kids came for dinner the next Sunday, Dan told me I should do a complete renovation on the kitchen with ‘granite counter tops, stainless steel appliances and a travertine black splash’.  I think he was teasing, well big surprise Cowboy Bob, I did it. For the counter top I bought one floor tile the color of uba tuba granite (66 cents) and cut it to fit. I painted the appliances with silver leaf, and I worked on the travertine tile. Maybe I will have something better to show tomorrow. Right now I am going to go watch another episode of Downton Abbey. That is my reward~