Saturday, April 9, 2011

Basketry - An ancient craft still very much alive

It's an art as ancient as man himself, practiced by many civilizations including the Egyptians, Indians, Eskimos and many other cultures. Handmade baskets were as common in the homes of our ancestors as was their daily bread, yet each design was as personal and unique as a fingerprint. They stored grain, transported goods from one village to another, stored corn for drying... and even today we serve bread in a basket at the dinner table.

So.... are you ready to try your hand at basket making? There are lots of different methods for making baskets, but you need to get started somewhere. Let's talk a little about two easy techniques... twining and coiling.

Twined Basketry -

This is one of the most ancient methods used for making baskets. You have to wonder where and when the first person learned this novel intertwining of fibers that enabled them to construct baskets and other containers (just like you wonder who was brave enough to eat the first artichoke). Like most crafts developed by ancient civilizations, twining used for baskets has continued in use over the centuries and even today is an essential part of living in some societies. And twining isn't just for baskets. You can make lovely accessories for the home... flower pots, plant holders, rugs and even lamps.

So, what is twining? It's a simple process where two or more cords called weft are twisted around each other between cords called the warp. By changing the direction of the twining techniques, a variety of patterns and designs can be made. How to Twine Baskets and Such by George Smith is a great Basketry tutorial from the 1970s. Using 5-ply Jute, 4-ply Sisal Tree Rope, Polypropylene and Mop Cord he covers five different twining weaves... each with the purpose of adding design and durability to the finished projects. Projects created as you learn twining include baskets, a rug, tote bag, lamp, pillow and more.

Coiling Method of Basket Weaving -

You'll find this method an easy one to master... and your works-in-progress will be infinitely "portable". It's adaptable to an endless variety of materials including strings, twines, crochet and macrame fibers, leather, wool, mohair, linen... just about anything you can imagine. Basket Magic by H. Trester is an excellent tutorial for coiled basketry with easy to understand illustrated instructions and some fantastic projects to make as you learn. Projects include Baskets, a Wall Hanging, a Belt and a Handbag.

Soooo.... what are you waiting for? Visit my store, Stone Hill Collectibles, and satisfy that Crafting urge. You know you want to!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Louisiana Gumbo... Poem turned into Needlepoint and a Family Memory...

One of the things I enjoy the most about selling vintage items are surprise connections... This is a wonderful story about one of those "connections"...

I recently found an unusual needlepoint pattern by a lady named Ora Mae Harding who passed away in 2009. For several years she designed needlework and took great pleasure in working with color and texture. Well, this pattern was a delightful poem titled Louisiana Gumbo, written by one C.H. Dillemuth. From the name you might think it's a recipe... but it's not the kind you cook. This one represents the "Gumbo" of nationalities that call Louisiana home.

Well... I listed this Needlepoint pattern in my store. Shortly after that, Charles Dillemuth's granddaughter was researching her family history and stumbled across the needlepoint pattern. We exchanged several delightful emails and the needlepoint pattern is now hers. She was completely unaware that her grandfathers poem had been reborn as a needlework pattern and now she's trying to see if anyone in her family knew the lady who did the needlework. She sent me a copy of the original poem along with the photo of her grandfather that you see here. I asked if I could share the story. She said her grandfather who passed away in 1989 would have gotten a kick out of it!!

A Recipe
by C.H. Dillemuth

Base Stock:
Start with fifty tepees of 100% Americans (Choctaw, Natchez, Houmas, Chickasaws, or other long forgotten ones).
Now drop in 10 canoes of French explorers.
Add 17 schooners of Spanish settlers.
Pitch in a few frigates of Portuguese pirates (with some Canary Islanders).
Now add all the lost and wandering Cajuns (absolutely essential for the proper flavor).
Dump in assorted Germans, Alsations, Italians, Hungarians, Swiss and Swedes.
Now thicken the broth with the cream of African tribes (Congolese, Nigerians, Swahili and more).
Don't forget, add one can each of Kentucky riflemen, Tennessee woodsmen, and some fighting Irish.
Pour in a flock of Mississippi Rednecks (they are still pouring in).
If desired, stir in a few Texans and assorted Western cowboys - their hot air will keep the pot bubbling.
And for an extra touch of flavor, ladle in some Lebanese, sprinkle in a few Syrians, spoon in some Latin Americans, and round out with some homeless Sephardic Jews seeking a permanent hearth.
Now garnish with Damn-Yankees who have sense enough to leave the snow behind and you wind up with
Uncle Sam's best dish

Here's the original poem on the left with the Needlepoint pattern on the right


Come visit me at Stone Hill Collectibles... You never know but what there might be a few family memories of your own hidden on the shelves... perhaps Moms recipe in a cookbook... a place remembered on a postcard... or perhaps even the crochet pattern for that beautiful heirloom afghan that your grandmother stitched.... And if you make a "connection" of your own that you'd like to share? Just let me know!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Those adorable Kissy Heads, Squeezums or Kiss'n Critters...

Everyone has seen or had one of these at some time or another. They're known by various names: Squeezums, Kissy Heads, Kiss'n Critters, Kiss Me Quicks, and probably others that I can't think of right now. Squeeze their cheeks and their mouth opens wide. They're terrific for holding some tiny little surprise item, the most traditional use is with a Hershey's candy kiss in the mouth so when you squeeze the cheeks you get a kiss!!!

These make up quickly with Plastic Canvas and there are dozens of delightful designs to choose from. You can use them for Party Favors, adorable magnets (clamp your notes in the mouth), Christmas Stocking stuffers, to hold money for a gift, as package ties, placecard holders... the possibilities are endless. They're perfect for clamping (biting?) onto the branches of a Christmas Tree as Ornaments. Pass them out in the morning and they'll keep the kids occupied and happy... and give you a few minutes to relax before the day really gets going.

Kiss Me Quick from Leisure Arts has patterns for a Lion, Clown, Alligator, Zebra, Parrot, Lamb, Monkey and a Cow. Christmas Squeezums from American School of Needlework has over 2 dozen Holiday designs including Santa and Mrs. Claus, Snowflake Singers, Angels and more. Squeezum Folks from American School of Needlework has another 2 dozen or so designs that you'll love, like: Punk Rocker, Construction Worker, Fortune-Teller, Highway Patrolman and others. You can find a terrific assortment of Craft Patterns for Squeezums at Stone Hill Collectibles. While you're there check out all the other wonderful Craft Patterns for other great projects. And don't forget to pick out your Free item before you check out with your goodies... one per order (please) and NO minimum dollar amount required.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Rainy Day Clothespin Crafts

What do you do on those cold dreary rainy days of Fall and Winter.... when you start to hear "Mom, there's nothing to do"?? You stop whatever you're doing and try to come up with something interesting to occupy the kids. Sometimes you might say "Let's make cookies". Sometimes you might "suggest" they clean their rooms (accompanied by the sounds of groans and wails of protest). Well here are some fun ideas for projects that will keep the kids busy, happy and productive (even the grown-up kids) using simple modest wooden clothespins. You'll definitely want to keep a stash on hand. And the really good news is, inflation hasn't caught up with the lowly clothespin yet!!!

So, what can you do with a wood clothespin? Has your child ever brought home from school a reindeer ornament made with 3 clothespins? Well, that's one of hundreds of possibilities. You can make clothespin dolls, clothespin dollhouse furniture, clothespin toys, clothespin ornaments, clothespin wall plaques... and more.

There are different types of wood clothespins available, some in different sizes, and they can all be used. There are Flat Clothespins (also packaged as "no-roll" clothespins), Doll Pins (round clothespins that have already had the ends trimmed off straight), and Spring Clothespin Halves (spring clothespins with the spring removed).

Here are some suggestions for your Rainy Day Clothespin Project Box:
1. Clothespins... LOTS of wood clothespins
2. Popsicle Sticks
3. Glue
4. Paints and inexpensive brushes
5. Colored marking pens
6. Fabric scraps
7. Yarn
8. Beads
9. Trims
10. Wood spools
11. ... anything else that might make a fun embellishment.

This is sure to be a favorite rainy day activity for the kids, so keep that project box full and ready.

The Clothespin Book by Jan Way has some adorable projects: a Toy Soldier, the cutest owls you ever saw, Raggedy Anne & Andy Dolls, a clothespin train (complete with Engine, Coal Tender, Milk Car, Tank Car, Box Car, Log Car and a Caboose) and more. Clothespin Critters and Other Fun Things by Geri Whetham is filled with ideas including: Camels, Boats, Horses, Planes, Tractors, an Astronaut and tons more. Cleverness with 3 Kinds of Clothespins from Plaid includes: Baskets, Planters, the 3 Wisemen ornaments, an eagle, an Indian Chief plaque and even more ideas. And finally there's a fantastic book from Hazel Pearson called Clothespin Dolls and Furniture including Spool Ornaments with projects like Indian Brave, Squaw, dollhouse furniture (bed, table, chair, vanity) and the neatest spool ornaments for the Christmas Tree.

If you're looking for even more Rainy Day project ideas for kids, stop by Stone Hill Collectibles and browse the shelves. I have over 1000 craft patterns now (and adding more all the time)!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Handpainted Tole, Rosemaling & Folk Art by Grammy BJ

Grammy BJ is my Mom. She's 89 and an amazing artist with a passion and a gift for painting. All too often I see the spark dim in seniors who don't have hobbies or interests. But not my Mom. She does beautiful Tole work, Rosemaling, Folk Art and Primitive Folk Art... and the real gift is her desire to share her work. She loves to paint and enjoys tremendously seeing her work show up "on the computer". So she paints and paints away her days... and hands off wonderful pieces to me, looking forward to seeing them in my online store.

She just recently handed me a collection of trinket and treasure boxes, and said "these would be perfect for Christmas". So I took lots and lots of photos and now they're "on the computer". These are mostly wooden boxes with hinged lids and a latch in the front. There's even one box with a rosemaling design that could be used as a way cool retro wood purse... it has metal corners, a hinged lid, latches AND a handle.

And what collection of rosemaling would be complete without a stunning design on a black background??? This truly would be a lovely one-of-a-kind gift to surprise someone with... it's just beautiful!!

You can see all of her boxes "on the computer" in my online store now. Mom broke her hip on Valentine's Day 2008. Painting was the last thing on her mind for a while, but she's back on her feet and doing terrific (and alot more careful about what she's doing). It's a real joy to see her painting again... and I hope you enjoy her art as much as I do.

But wait.... there's more!!!! She also had fun painting some delightful birdhouses (which are "on the computer")... and some precious miniature pieces called ACEO's (they measure about 2-1/2" x 3-1/2" and can be slipped right into your wallet for art to go!!)... also "on the computer". There are miniature Fanciful Birds and there are a few Other Critters. You'll fall in love with all of them for sure!!!

So if you're looking for something special for someone on your Christmas List... be sure to stop by Stone Hill Collectibles... a Grammy BJ original might be just what you're looking for!!!

Friday, October 2, 2009

The old-fashioned art of Tin Punch

The Colonial days of early America were filled with the hard work of building a new life, home and nation. The pleasures and comforts of life were few and far between and difficult to come by. Tin punching was easily accomplished using materials that could be found around the home. Candlelight was enhanced with tin punched shades of different shapes and sizes. Tin punched panels that would let air in but stop the insects worked beautifully as screens. The Pie Safe provided a place to store baked goods while they cooled... the decorative tin punched panel protected the food while the hot air escaped. Finished Tin Punch pieces added appeal to otherwise sparse and modestly decorated homes. The Welcome placque shown here is from a 1983 Tin Punch pattern book.

So are you ready to give this wonderful craft a try?? The tools required for tin punching are simple and you probably already have what you need around the house. You'll need a lightweight hammer, a center punch, and a piece of plywood that is at least 1/4" thick. The plywood should be the same size or a little larger than the piece you will be punching. You'll also need some tracing paper to copy your patterns onto and masking tape to fasten the traced designs to the metal. If you want a satin finish on your completed project you'll also need some 0000 steel wool and any brand of dull or matte finish plastic spray. This Colonial Couple is from a 1983 Tin Punch pattern book by Jan Way.

A variety of metals can be used: Tin, Tooling and Decorative Foil, and heavier metals (.010" to .020" in copper, brass or bronze, and aluminum).The choice of metal and material thickness will depend on the effects you'd like to achieve. Copper and Bronze or Brass will produce a rich, lustrous finish. Aluminum and Tin can be finished with various antiquing finishes (don't be afraid to experiment). Aluminum is not a traditional tin punch material, but it won't rust and can be finished with a lovely pewter effect. What appears to be quilt blocks to the left? This is just an example of some of the amazing effects you can accomplish by combining your imagination, creativity and tin punching. You'll find these patterns in a 1984 Tin Punch pattern book by Jan Way.

The thinner materials will produce a more rustic effect. The heavier metals will give a quilted effect. Whatever your choice, you'll achieve the best effects if your punch tool is not allowed to heavily pierce the metal. Practice on some small pieces until you get the hang of punching... and experiment to see what effects you like the looks of best.

So what can you make? Lampshades, Candle Shades, Picture Frames, Placques, and many other beautiful items. Locating vintage pattern books for Tin Punch designs can be difficult but I currently have several Tin Punch books available in addition to wonderful pattern books for many other crafts. Please come and browse my selection of items at Stone Hill Collectibles. And don't forget to check out the "Free with Purchase" craft patterns (no minimum purchase required).

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Recipe for September - Raisin Cake

This is a handwritten recipe found in a copy of the
1923 Household Science Cookbook

1 C Sugar
1/4 C butter
1 egg well beaten
1 cup raisins cooked 20 min in 1-1/2 cups water
1/2 C raisin water
1 tsps soda
2 cup flour
Bake in loaf

Browse our fantastic selection of vintage Cookbooks . They all contain more delicious and unusual recipes.

Do you have your own special recipe that you would like to share? (you know... the one everyone raves about when you make it???). Send it to me at Recipes . I'd love to include it here and in my next newsletter!!