This is a carved mallard duck, his name is Stanley. He came in two large chunks of wood and I used a carpet knife to make him look like one of the two real pet ducks I had for 8 years. It took me about 16 hours to do the work with the knife, then several days to paint him. By the time I finished, I was loving him just like the real Stanley. He is about 18 inches long~ life size. On the underside I wrote a note to remember what was going on with my family at that time and how old the boys were. (I have also written on the bottoms of drawers on my favorite furniture so I can recall the thrill of the day I got it and what time in our lives it happened, like a journal you could say). I got my two real mallard ducks in 1976, when they were two days old, I built them a duck house, they had the water trough and a big yard. You never know how wonderful feathered pets can be until you have had them. In the years since then, Debbie has had Katie Mae, Algeritta, Sarah Kate, and several others.(Sara Kate and Katie Mae were invited into the kitchen on Christmas Eve every year to enjoy a pint of fat earth worms from Wal Mart!) Anna has had the 21 peacocks and 7 pet chickies, there have been at least 8 parakeets through the years, most of them named Blue Boy. Birds make nice pets. They are beautiful and smart, most of all, they love you back~
This is the guest bedroom. The bed is about 18″ long. The posters are made from dowel pins and the solid pieces are mahogany. It sits in the corner of my bedroom. Once when Elizabeth Ann was two years old I was reading and heard her say “my bed’. When I looked up, she was sitting in the middle of it, patting the pillows and saying, ‘bed, my bed’. I was sure it going to come cashing down~ but it held her. When she got up and went to get something, I put some books under the mattress to prop it up so there would be no weight on the tiny legs. It always made me happy when she liked the little things. All of my dogs have been on the that bed, they recognize what it is. Missy would take naps there and hang off on three sides. I like little things. We all have that child side in us forever. Elizabeth’s 27 years old now. She is halfway around the world in Uganda, starting a wonderful new married life with John. I miss her. What a sweet and wonderful blessing she is. Love you ZZ!
This armchair is 8″ high and a copy of one in my living room that I have had for 45 years. We bought it from Bennett Brother’s of Chicago, a wholesale place that put out a wonderful catalog every year. They carried nice furniture, as well as jewelry and almost anything you could think of. The prices were ‘wholesale’. The miniature chair was easy to make, upholstered furniture didn’t take as much time to make as the wooden pieces. The lamp table was a copy of a real one I had. The books are a little block of wood, covered with pictures of books from a magazine, just cut out the picture and fold it over the wood. One book is True Women by Janice Woods, I scanned the book jacket and then reduced it down to the right size for the miniatures. No matter how tiny these things are, you can recognize the covers and read the titles. It is the same with photographs, I scan, then reduced the size and frame them in something like an ear screw that has the the stone taken out. Jewelry makes perfect little frames. This chair is like the one I sit in every morning to read the paper. I have said before how much I enjoy the morning paper~if I am not liking the way a story is going, I just turn the page. The TV news turns into a loud debate, Breaking News! Then the rest of the day, each commentator giving their take on it and explaining it to us dummies~I like the Standard Times and our wonderful local paper, The Eldorado Success~
I copied a chair that had belonged to Dan’s grandmother which was over 100 years old. The real chair was hand made and uncomfortable, the seat was too high, so I cut off the legs and made new mortise and tenons, put it back together and it is now (like in The Three Bears story) just right. The miniature is 12″ tall, my first attempt at carving. It is made from dowel pins and oak wood. Ron Sutto came one day and told me how nice it was, in fact he bragged so much about it, I was feeling just pretty good! After he left, I picked it up and said something like, ‘it is a pretty good piece of work’ ~ then dropped it on the tile floor and it splattered into a dozen pieces. (pride before the fall) I put everything in a shoe box and left it for a couple of months before I had the energy to rebuild it.This was the beginning of a passion for making miniatures.
I enjoy making miniatures but once in a while I find something special and buy it~ which was the case with this little Crescent cast iron cook stove. I had seen one many years ago and had always wanted it. This one I found at American and British Antiques in San Angelo. I got excited, I was going to buy it no matter the price. Then more excitement ~ it was only $12. It had a broken leg on the back but the piece was taped to the top so everything was there. It even had an iron skillet and Dutch oven. That was a happy day. When I got home, I ‘glued’ the leg back on with Halliburton Wield and it was like new. I have had it on my counter for at least 35 years to enjoy while I am cooking. I made a miniature potato masher, butcher knife, spatula etc. to go with it, also a little iron, which all women used when they had a wood stove, heat the iron on the stove top and iron the clothes. The oven door opens, the fire box opens and is filled with wood, the lids on the burners are removable. Though it is not a real salesman’s sample, it is much like one. Salesmen used to travel around rural areas with smaller versions of everything from stoves to furniture and take orders. These samples were exact copies of the real thing in detail and workmanship but about 1/4 the size of the real piece. It is a rare thing the find them these days and they are beyond expensive! Anyway, this little stove has been one of my all time favorite things to own.
Today’s blog is one I originally I posted last year. I would like to post it again since at that time I had just started my texasmornings and had very few people looking. I was feeling pretty good when I was up to 9 lookers until someone told me that by the information on the my stat counter, 5 of those were me. So after a couple of weeks, I was up to 4 real people looking. One more thing that confused me was the time, instead of regular time, it used Military time so it ended up going on in the middle of the afternoon instead of early morning. Someone told me Military time ran from 12:00 midnight to 24 hours later and then started over at 1:00 AM. I would throw that system out but maybe we would have lost a war or something if we had done it my way.
This is a John Townsend secretary I copied from a real one I have in my living room. It is 23″ tall and made of mahogany. I found a place that made skis from thin strips of wood and they gave me enough scraps for years of projects. Unlike the smaller miniature furniture, the drawers and doors need work on the larger pieces. It took a while to make it, all the drawer pulls were made from copper wire that I hammered flat, then cut into shape with a scroll saw, probably something like making jewelry. Dowel pins are great for carving figurines, vases and all the pretty things we like. I found a jewelry place in Bryan going out of business and bought a box full of stuff. I took the stones out of the earrings and used the bezels to frame tiny photographs. Crystal beads and chains made great chandeliers. It was always fun making the furniture pieces but the best part was making all fancy things to fill the shelves. There are envelopes the size of a fingernail, addressed and stamped, inside each one is a two page letter. It only takes simple tools to build and carve these things. I used a coping saw, Diamond Deb fingernail file, emery boards and carpet knife. Later I bought a small scroll saw, it has a round sanding disc to shape the turned pieces. Finding good glue was always a problem, it had to be sticky to start with and then be really strong when it dried. This was always happy work.
This 9″ miniature violin was a model kit from a Neiman Marcus Christmas catalog years ago and was a gift from my son Dan. It was a wonderful project and I enjoyed putting it together, every piece was machine perfect, exactly to scale, there was no detail left out. I almost hated to stain and varnish it, it looked so good in the natural wood. Since I like music, I like instruments. It sits on my piano and I look at it every time I am playing. Wonder if I have enough space to talk about my piano lessons~ I took music from Miss Ellington for 6 years, she didn’t like me and I didn’t like her. I hated those lessons! Recitals were the worst, it meant a new dress and a corsage, but the humiliation of playing ‘Birdie in the Treetops’ while my little sister (who was 4 years younger) was playing ‘Moonlight Serenade. I just could not read music. One day I told Mother that I was not going to take lessons any more, and she couldn’t make me, I was quitting! She said that was fine, I didn’t have to but I was going to go sit on Miss Ellington’s piano bench for 30 minutes twice a week. Finally a couple of years later, she let me quit. About that time, the movie ‘The Third Man ‘ came out and it had that most beautiful and haunting song played on a zither. Somehow I picked it out on the piano and soon was able to play it. I drove everyone crazy with it, I opened the windows so the neighbors could hear, I was hooked on the piano after I found I could play by ear. Years later at a Bridge party Sharon was telling us about her sister Joan who use to play ‘Third Man Theme’ over and over until she was ready to scream, she said she ‘just wanted to hang Joan on the wall and beat her ’til she bled’. I am laughing when I think about it, I still love that song.
These are my miniature blue chairs.( I copied them from two I bought at Robert Massey’s in 1967 and they are some of my favorite pieces of furniture.) They were fun to make, they are 8″ tall. All the miniatures show better if they are just below eye level, then they are at the same angle as you see your real furniture. You have to trick the eye.
I used to have them sitting in the living room on the floor with the other little furniture and Jitter Joe started taking them in other parts of the house so I put them in a safe place. I am always happy that all my puppies recognize it is furniture, they want to lie on the bed, get up on the sofa and sit close to the chairs.
One time when they were puppies, Jitter Joe and Little Elmo got into a fight behind these two chairs and rolled them around but no damage.
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.
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.
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~
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.
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~
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
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.