Monday, December 07, 2009

My Victorian Houses - I Had To Keep Them!

During the last few months I have been happily creating some of the items from punch-needle, cross-stitch, and needle felting kits I had purchased during the spring. All of the kits were purchased with the thought of giving the finished projects as Christmas gifts this year or next.

Of course, like everything I create I tend to fall in love with the finished products. Some more so than others. Some so much so that I selfishly decide to keep them for myself and my home decor.

Well, I have to tell you that I absolutely fell in love with my Victorian cross-stitch village. Now I know that wasn't the intent, but I couldn't help myself with my Victorian houses. If it's Victorian it's right up my alley. Ya think!!!! LOL LOL

My Victorian house village was created based upon a Dimensions cross-stitch Gold Collection kit called "Christmas Village Ornaments." It was supposed to be a series of Victorian house ornaments with a cross-stitch front and felt cloth back outlined with a braided gold band.

However, I didn't make my Victorian village as cloth ornaments. Instead, I enlisted the help of my younger brother to create wood shadowboxes that I painted with a blue/white/green sponge affect.

My Victorian village includes the following:

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Reflections On Age

I think I'm mellowing with age. Either that or I've become much more philosophical in my old age. Now, I'm not really old by any "senior" standards - especially my Mother's and her friends, some of which are 90 and older. But, I officially became a "senior citizen" when I turned 55 this this year.

There was a time when I thought that was really "old!" YIKES!! That was during my youth when I was invincible - nothing could touch me and I had all the time in the world.

Now, time flies by faster than I would ever like it to. In fact, I was thinking about this the other day when I was watching a documentary on the Kennedy assassination, the Martin Luther King assassination, the Bobby Kennedy assassination, and the turbulence of the late 60's and early 70's.

It suddenly dawned on me that I had graduated back in 1971 which is 38 years ago. I'm amazed that it has been that long. Where did the time go? Looking back I know that I was involved with living my life during those 38 years, but what exactly had I done during those last 38 years? Sure, there are lots and lots of things to be proud of, things I accomplished, skills I'd learned, countries I'd visited, jobs I'd had, etc. There were also a lot of people who have come into and out of my life during that time. Some I loved deeply and cherished who are no longer with me - but, whom I'd love to just have one more minute with.

But, I'd be hard pressed to sit down and relay everything to you. I just can't remember everything. I'd like to remember without referencing anything. Fortunately, I'm a pack hound! LOL LOL I keep or have kept everything.

To remember everything that happened during those 38 years or since I was a little girl I'd have to turn to the memory books that I've been keeping since I was 10 or so. I'd have to look back on some of the old family pictures. I'd have to look back to all the old greeting cards I've been keeping since I was about 6 or so.

I'd have to re-read some of my old correspondence and look at all the Christmas cards I'd received over the years. I'd even have to re-read some of my old school papers, theme papers, projects, reports and test answers to see what I may or may not have been thinking at some point in time. Yes - I actually did keep all of them since the 6TH or 7Th grade.

I kept everything and, when I have time - which is almost NEVER I like to flip through some of the boxes. Sometimes such wonderful memories are brought back to me when I do. Something I may have forgotten. Someone I may have forgotten.

Part of me would love to have 55 years again and part of me just LOVES being a "senior" citizen. I'm proud of myself and my accomplishments. I'm in the happiest period of my life and, truthfully, would not like to be a teenager or twenty-something individual again. I know who I am, what I've accomplished, and where I'm going.

I'm a product of the baby boomer generation and women's movement and proud of all that we have accomplished. I cherish it all as I know all to well how hard it was back then and how far we have come. I have plenty of stories to tell - some of which I'll write about some day - some of which I won't.

However, I have a long time yet to go by "senior" standards and would LOVE to live to be 100 years old. I hope I do. I've still got a LOT of challenges ahead of me. So many things yet to do - yet, so little time!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Last Year's Punchneedle Kits and Shadowboxes

Like everything I do I never do anything in moderation. Instead of just creating a couple of punchneedle and cross-stitch kits to give as Christmas presents I created 30 or more. As a result I had more than I needed to give as presents. Was this intentional? Maybe!

Then again, maybe not! Maybe I'm so highly organized that I knew I would need some in the future. Anticipating the future? Maybe! Then again, maybe not!

In any event I ended up with more shadowboxes than I needed. The punch needle pine tree shown above was created based upon a "Pine Tree" pattern kit by Rachael T. Pellam of Rachael's of Greenfield that I added a dark green, burgundy and white sponge painted wood shadowbox frame to. This pattern included detailed instructions and tips for punchneedle as well as an iron-on transfer sheet that you had to iron on to the foundation cloth which was included in the kit.  It also included a piece of paper with the DMC floss numbers printed on it and each of the floss strands grouped by color tied to a punched out square next to it's respective DMC floss number.  It did not include a diagram with the detailed numbers on it but included a listing on the back of the pattern indicating which DMC floss numbers were to be used and where.

I also found a wonderful punch needle pattern by Linda Coleman of Jeremiah Junction called "Folksy Sheep" that I liked.  As with my other punchneedle projects I decided to add a sponged painted wood shadowbox frame.  I wanted the frame to appear like the sky so I sponge painted it royal blue, light blue, and white.

The pattern and instructions were easy to follow and the diagram was well laid out and easy to read. The pattern included the pre-printed weavers cloth.

What I also really liked about the Jeremiah Junction pattern was that it not only included a diagram with the colored DMC floss numbers but included a picture colored with the DMC floss colors and a table that included a small square of the DMC floss color and it's respective DMC, ANC, or JPC floss number.    The kit included reverse pre-printed fabric, DMC floss, and pattern with instructions.  The design was printed on the reverse side of the fabric and you work on the reverse side when punching to create the image on the front side.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Should I Dig Up The Time Capsule?

I'm going to date myself by telling you this story as it's a story about when I was in the 6Th grade which is some 44 years ago.

Now you might be wondering why I relating a story that is so old. You see, it has to do with something we did when I was in the 6Th grade. And, it has to do with the question, "Should I Dig Up The Time Capsule?"

For those of you who are from the baby boomer generation or before you know what a time capsule is. For those of you who don't - let me explain. Back then time capsules were all the rage with teachers and students. You would take a large metal box or tin can and fill it with all sorts of material items, papers, etc. - anything relating to you and your culture. Then you would bury it outside in the hopes that someone in the future would find it.

Well, my 6Th grade class buried a time capsule back in 1965. Back then my 6Th grade class was housed in an old four room schoolhouse and the time capsule was buried in the back right hand corner of the schoolhouse next to the foundation. We buried it about 3 feet deep - I think.

I can't remember whether it was a box or a several coffee cans that we buried. It may even have been the size of the box above - just not as old as that one is. I just can't remember. In any event, I don't remember exactly what we put in it - but, can remember standing outside with the rest of the class while we buried it. I can remember the teacher saying that we were all charged with opening up the time capsule some time way in the future. Whoever was still around. It's coming up on 45 years since we buried it. I'd love to dig it up and find out what we put in it.

The image above is from an article on the Ozaukee Country website and is about a 100 year old time capsule they found hidden within the cornerstone of the County Courthouse .

According to their website, "The time capsule contained newspapers, paper documents from organizations and churches, business cards, 1901 stamps and coins, a small metal plaque memorializing the contractors Wurthmann and Vollmar, commemorative ribbons from the cornerstone celebration, four historic photographs, an original copy of Becker’s poem, speeches from the ceremony, and the script for the laying of the cornerstone ceremony. All these items appropriately reflect the people and the culture of Ozaukee County 1901."

I'm not even sure the old four room schoolhouse is still standing or whether or not the time capsule has already been discovered. I hope it hasn't been lost. If the schoolhouse is still standing do you think I should dig up the time capsule? Or, leave it for another 45 years or even 55 years years until it's 100 years old

Friday, November 20, 2009

One of My All Time Favorite Pictures

While browsing through some of our old pictures the other day I came across one of my all time favorite pictures. So, I thought I'd show it to you and explain why it is one of my all time favorite pictures. The reasons are purely sentimental, emotional and humorous.

The emotional part is because it shows my beautiful step daughter and I with my twin granddaughters during a wonderful period in all our lives.

The sentimental part is because when I look at this picture it is realistic as to how things are with a little sense of humor thrown in. You see, for me, I can see what all four of us are thinking.

My step-daughter is trying to get one of my granddaughters to hold "Mommy's" hand. I can almost hear her saying, "Hold my hand. I don't want you walking in the street without holding my hand!"

My granddaughter is holding on to Mommy's hand while trying to get her sister to hold her hand. And, she is getting ready to say, "Why won't she hold my hand. Mom she won't hold my hand!"

Her sister is holding her twin sister's hand while reluctantly holding Nana's hand. I can almost hear her saying, "Boy you are tall. Should I be afraid?"

I am holding on to my granddaughters hand and looking down at her saying, "Don't be afraid. I'm not a monster! Tall, but not a monster! LOL LOL"

The following picture is what happened next:

I can clearly remember that day. It was one of those all time beautiful weather days and we all had a wonderful time that day. Looking at the picture brought that all back to me and I was happy it did.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

What Do You Think? Do You Think "Gray Is Beautiful?" and "Do You Color Your Gray Hair?"

To go along with the discussion I wrote about in a post on my "Gray Is Beautiful" blog entitled "What Do You Think About Being Gray! Come Join In The Discussion!" I thought I'd add a few polls to the sidebar of my "Gray is Beautiful" blog.

One poll is entitled "Do You Think Gray is Beautiful?" and the other is "Do You Color Your Gary Hair?" I'd love to know what everyone thinks. If you get a chance please visit my "Gray Is Beautiful" blog and participate in our polls.

I'm going to leave the polls up for a few months to get a good response and will let everyone know the results when they're up.

So, what do you think? - "Do You Think Gray is Beautiful?" "Do You Color Your Gray Hair?"

Graphics Copyright © 2009 - All Rights Reserved - Linda Walsh of Linda Walsh Originals.

What Do You Think About Being Gray! Come Join In The Discussion!

The "grays" decided that they would like to know what everyone thinks about being "gray." You see, they are all "PROUD TO BE GRAY!" and don't mind telling you so.

As far as they are concerned aging is beautiful and gray hair is not only beautiful, but something to be proud of. It's a totally natural process and one they feel is a something that should be celebrated. After all they feel they've earned all those gray or white hairs. Their feeling is that you should stand up and say, "I'm gray and proud of it!" Better yet, "I'm a senior citizen and PROUD of it!"

Forget coloring your hair to look younger. The "grays" are all proud women who have the confidence that comes with age. They know who they are, know where they've been, and know where they would like to go.

And, they don't feel there is any need to disguise their age by coloring their gray hair. Color their hair - no way!

They're in the happiest times of their life and do not feel the need to change their appearance to disguise who they really are. Gray is the new blonde! Come and enjoy the times of your life. You've earned it.

The Gray Is Beautiful Gallery is in honor of all the aging, graying, baby boomer, senior citizens, Grandmothers, Nana's, Grandma's and Grannies out there. Come join the "Gray Revolution."

Come join in the discussion and let us know how you feel about being "gray." Leave a comment on this post of Gray Is beautiful Blog.

Graphics Copyright © 2009 - All Rights Reserved - Linda Walsh of Linda Walsh Originals.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Well, I Didn't Win - But, That's Okay!

I thought you'd all like to see my floral crafts entry for the Cloth Doll Artistry group Halloween Challenge in the Crafts Studio. The Halloween challenge was in every studio of the Cloth Doll Artistry group so there were a LOT of entries - especially, in the Cloth Doll Studio.

In any event, if you're a reader of my Linda's Blog you know that I LOVE dolls and doll making, but I also LOVE Floral Design and have been creating floral creations since I was about 10 years old.

I can remember my first floral creation. It was Thanksgiving and I wanted something to serve as the centerpiece for my family's Thanksgiving dinner table. I didn't have any money to buy anything and there weren't any craft stores like AC Moore and Michaels back then so I couldn't browse through endless aisles of craft supplies until I got an idea - like I sometimes do today.

Plus, I wanted something natural so I decided to take a walk in the woods and see what I could come up with. I ended up making some sort of pine cone, pine needle, acorn creation that I kind of glued together with Elmer's Glue, but it did the trick. It served as a lovely Fall centerpiece for my family's Thanksgiving table. And, of course, I was as proud as a peacock of my floral creation.

Over the years I have honed my floral craft skills such that creating natural and silk floral creations comes easily to me. It usually takes an hour or so for me to create my floral arrangements and, as a result, they adorn my house as decorations all year long. The bigger the arrangement the better in my mind. Unfortunately, the bigger the better is not always the best for storage. Large seasonal and holiday floral arrangements require a LOT of room to store and, basically, monopolize my basement. Have I mentioned that my husband is a SAINT to not only put up with my dolls, but my floral arrangements as well! LOL LOL

I'm always getting off track, aren't I? Back to the contest. In any event my entry did not win, but that's okay as far as I'm concerned. I enjoyed making it and it will take it's proud place as the centerpiece for my family's Thanksgiving dinner table this year.

Plus, I may just make a how-to crafts e-project out of it. It's fairly easy to put together and I think my blog readers and customers might enjoy making one of their own. We'll see. Only time will tell.

So, I didn't win, but that's okay. My blog readers and customers will be happy if I make an how-to crafts e-project out of it.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Pattern He'll Be!!

Well, the votes are in and my Santa doll entry for the Santa Challenge on the Cloth Doll Artistry group didn't win, but he'll become a pattern. And, that suits him just fine.

I had previously written about being in sewing heaven when I was creating him but, wasn't able to tell you the details of the challenge at that time.

Well, the rules of the challenge were that we would each have a partner that we would swap 3 different holiday fat quarters with. Each of us would use the fat quarters sent by our partner to make a Santa doll. We were each sent a simple body pattern to use that could be altered anyway we wanted. The clothing was entirely up to us as long as we used the fat quarters we were sent and, as a bonus, could add 2 solid colors. There were three categories we could enter our doll in: Silliest Cartoon Character Type Santa, Most Creative In Color In Style, and Most Traditional In Style To Father Christmas.

My partner had sent me a bright red/green fancy floral fabric, rustic pine cone printed fabric, and a light beige/cream fabric. I decided to make my Santa Victorian in nature (pray tell now why would I choose that? LOL LOL) with a long lined coat and cuffed and gathered pantaloons.

His lined jacket was adorned with gold trim on the inside and outside edges of his jacket with the front lapels folded back and tied in place with DMC floss bows. His lined jacket was fastened with a wired gold bow belt and the lined sleeves were gathered and cuffed.

You can't tell from the pictures, but he's also wearing a solid green tunic that is gathered at the neck and wrists and fastened around his waist with a gold rope. His hat had a lined band and matched both his coat and pantaloons.

I also decided to partially embroider and watercolor his face and give him silver embroidered glasses, as well as a raised nose. And, I decided to sit him atop a wrapped box with a large wired ribbon bow and have him hold a pre-bought decorated wooden sled.

It was a tough challenge as all the Santa's that were submitted were excellent. I submitted mine under the Most Creative In Color and Style category. It was hard choosing which one I liked for each category - besides my own, of course!! LOL LOL

Alas, he didn't win. Congratulations to all the entrants for submitting some amazing Santa's and congratulations to all the winners in each of the categories. I LOVED each and every entry and thought they were all winners. Of course, I'd hoped I would win. I didn't but - a pattern he'll be!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

What's A Little Sawdust?

You might think that because I like dolls, especially Victorian dolls that I tend to be a "girly girl" and don't like getting dirty and all messy. Well, you'd be wrong.

Just to give you a little background for my story I've always LOVED the Victorian dolls and, at the same time, have always been somewhat of a tomboy. Not to the nth degree as some tomboys are, but enough so that I could be called that while I was growing up.

I'd have to blame that on my older brother - the "Irish Twin" I've posted about and eluded to many times. He was always getting me into trouble. Riding our bikes through mud puddles, using a magnifying glass on our shoes to see if it would burn a hole in them, jumping off stone walls into piles of snow, carving our names with pocketknives in the side of our house, and surprising our parents on the day after Christmas by stuffing the fireplace with wrapping paper and then lighting it. We were trying to clean-up and help. We just weren't old enough to know to open the damper to let the smoke out.

Since he was my only playmate for a while whenever we played something he always wanted to do "boyish" things. Play with my dolls and have a tea party - NEVER! So, I was a bit of a tomboy thanks to my older brother.

Well, when my two younger brothers were born my "tomboy" days just got worse - especially when they were teenagers. Come on, Linda, let's play tackle football. Let's have a snowball fight. Let's go swimming in a mud hole. How about climbing some trees - which we stopped when my younger brother fell out of one! Let's work on the car - YUCK! Let's build something - maybe!

Because of my older brother and younger brothers (hooligans - all of them) growing up I was both a "tomboy" and "a girly girl." Thankfully, after my younger sister was born I was finally able to do some "girly girl" things - like having a tea party with the "dollies."

As I got older and got my own home I settled in with more "girly girl" things and decorated my house with Queen Anne furniture and yes, dolls. Lots of dolls. Did I mention that my husband is a "saint" for putting up with me and my "dolls?" If I didn't - well, he is.

But, every once in a while I do something tomboyish and actually surprise myself with liking it. To get back to the beginning of my story - the reason you'd be wrong about my not liking to get messy is that I have spend several days in the last few weeks covered with sawdust - from head to toe. And, here's the real surprise I just LOVED it.

You see, one of my younger brothers has the most INCREDIBLE workshop you'd ever want to see. He has every tool imaginable for woodworking and I just love sitting in his shop and working on something. Of course, I always bring something I want him to do. Last year, he helped me with some of my presents. My brother is quite the carpenter and I've posted about him before in a post entitled "Woodcrafts and Wood Furniture My Brother Made Me."

In any event - back to the story - this year I once again enlisted his help with finishing some of the presents I hope to give this year. When I asked him if he would help he said, sure - as long as there aren't too many of them. I, of course, said, "There's not too many!" Well, when I showed up with 33 of them - he looked at me with that look only a brother can give you that says, "I may LOVE you, but - I'm going to kill you!"

Little did I know that he had already suspected I had a LOT for him to do and already had "payback" in mind. You see, I came home with a TON of woodcrafts that he had made for Christmas presents this year and which I needed to paint for him. I just know that when he was loading all of them in my car he was smirking knowing full well that they were going to take me a long time to paint. And, for sure, he was muttering under his breath, "gotcha this time!"

Little does he know that I have a long memory - and, well, Christmas 2010 is just around the corner. The 33 boxes this year will be small potato's compared to next year. Payback's a bitch, brother! Gotcha! LOL LOL

Thursday, October 01, 2009

A Little Witch History

With Halloween comes the most recognized of the villains - the witches.

That got me to thinking a little bit about witches. And, of course, when I get to thinking about something I inevitably wonder about their history and what started the fear of "witches?" This fear might better be defined as a "manic craze" that lasted for hundreds of years. YIKES!

Now, I might be a little more curious about "witches" than I should be. You see, I was actually born in the state that is notorious for witches, witchcraft, and witch trials. Plus, in my genealogy search I found there may be a witch or two in my family in the past! YIKES!

Maybe I'm actually a modern day witch? Nah!!!! Witches don't like Victorian dolls - or do they?

So, where did it all begin?

The most notorious of the witch lore was the Salem witch trials and the website has a wonderful history of the Salem witch trials entitled: A Brief History of the Salem Witch Trials - One town's strange journey from paranoia to pardon -, October 24, 2007 - - By Jess Blumberg. It is well worth reading.

But, before the witch trials where did the fear of witches begin?

Maybe the place to start is with the definition of a witch.

So, what exactly is a witch?

Well, according to The Free Dictionary a witch is defined as:

1. A woman claiming or popularly believed to possess magical powers and practice sorcery.

2. A believer or follower of Wicca; a Wiccan.

3. A hag.

4. A woman considered to be spiteful or overbearing.

5. Informal A woman or girl considered bewitching.

6. One particularly skilled or competent at one's craft: "A witch of a writer, [she] is capable of developing an intensity that verges on ferocity" (Peter S. Prescott)

Well, that's a pretty broad definition. Just being an ugly evil looking old woman (i.e. hag) can get you defined as a witch. With that definition a lot of us are in trouble! YIKES!

Maybe a sorcerer, magician, or devil worshiper is more like it. I tend to think that most everyone would classify a witch as someone who can cast a spell over you. Wouldn't you agree? If so, that person is practicing witchcraft.

According to "witchcraft" is defined as follows:

Witchcraft (also called witchery or spellcraft) is the use of magical faculties, most commonly for religious, divinatory or medicinal purposes. This may take many forms depending on cultural context.

The belief in and the practice of magic has been present since the earliest human cultures and continues to have an important religious and medicinal role in many cultures today.

"Magic is central not only in 'primitive' societies but in 'high cultural' societies as well..."

The concept of witchcraft as harmful is often treated as a cultural ideology providing a scapegoat for human misfortune. This was particularly the case in the early modern period of Europe where witchcraft came to be seen as part of a vast diabolical conspiracy of individuals in league with the Devil undermining Christianity, eventually leading to large-scale witch-hunts, especially in Protestant Europe. Witch hunts continue to this day with tragic consequences.

Since the mid-20th century Witchcraft has become the designation of a branch of modern paganism. It is most notably practiced in the Wiccan and witchcraft traditions, some of whom claim to practice a revival of pre-Abrahamic spirituality.

The word witchcraft means "craft of the wise" and witchcraft is thought to be the oldest of religions.

As with many things in folklore some believe the roots of witchcraft come from the Celts living between 700 BC and 100 AD. The Celts and their religious leaders, the Druids, were spiritual people, who worshiped both a god, a goddess, and believed in reincarnation. Some historians say that witches date back to the days when the goddess was worshiped. During that time there was great respect for the powers of nature and for women as the creators of life. However, there are some who believe that witchcraft was alive well before the "Druids" and around 1800 B.C.

Witches, in fact, were respected members of the community up to about 1,000 A.D. They were valued for their ability to ease pain, heal people, and heal sick animals.

The religious beliefs and practices of the Celts became known as Paganism. Some say that their any beliefs and rituals spawned many of the practices associated with witches, such as: concocting potions, mixing ointments, casting spells, dabbling in the supernatural, forecasting the future, and performing feats of magic. These practices and many of the nature-based beliefs held by the Celts and others became known as witchcraft.

So, what led people to a fear of witches or, in other words, witch hunts, which is a search for witches? The inevitable result being burned at the stake or lynched? Yikes!

Around the 14Th century with the rise of Christianity and demise of paganism witchcraft became branded as "demon-worship." Witches became feared because with their knowledge of healing, herbs, hypnosis, etc. they could do things that the majority of the population and the religious leaders could not do. This was too threatening so the Christian Church taught that those claiming to heal outside the context of the Church (healing through faith and prayer) were thought to have obtained their skills from the Devil.

When North America started being settled witchcraft was practiced by some of the early colonial settlers in order to help the early settlers save their settlements from attacks by the Indians.

In some instances, the witches were put on trial before being burned alive or hung. I'll bet the witches wouldn't agree that they had fair trials - now would they? More like mass hysteria leading to execution would be a better description. Mass hysteria led by instigators who had an ulterior motive for persecuting the wrong-doers.

Witch hunts in Europe started around 1480 and went until 1700 during which there were anywhere from 40,000 to 100,000 executions. By most accounts people were accused of witchcraft in order to explain some human misfortune that couldn't be explained else-wise. Something supernatural. Something that bewitched someone causing them to behave in an anti-social manner.

However, not all witches were the same. Some were bad witches and some were actually good witches. Some were sorcerers, some were midwifes, some were just plain healers.

In the Christian religion sorcery came to be associated with heresy and the denouncing of one's beliefs, which of course was very threatening to religious leaders of the time.

In Europe during the medieval times the fear of witchcraft rose to the level of mass hysteria resulting in numerous witch hunts. It was believed that the witches had entered into a pact with the devil and were being directed by the devil himself to commit unthinkable acts. Hundreds of thousands of people (mainly women) were executed, tortured and imprisoned.

In Europe witches have typically been women. As with a lot of beliefs, witchcraft began with the pagan belief in witchcraft that was associated with the goddess Diana, who was the ancient Roman goddess of the moon, the hunt, and chastity.

Most witches were thought to have the ability to cast a "spell" upon someone - good or bad. Some were also thought to have the ability to conjure up the dead and/or ability to talk to the spirit of a deceased person. Some early Christian authorities believed that witches made deals with the devil to gain power over infertility, child welfare, or even revenge against a lover. Witches had the power to disrupt marriage. All of which were seen as acts against the church.

According to folklore witches inevitably had the mark of the devil - which was a brand placed on their skin to signify their deal with the devil. YIKES!

However, not all witches were "evil." There were "good" witches or "white" witches who were able to heal the sick, who meditated, and brewed potions at the request of the person inflicted. These potions could heal the person inflicted versus causing them to act against their will. Good healing power, in other words, power that was beneficial was tolerated and acceptable behavior.

Within witchcraft itself there were different levels of "magic." "Black magic" is used to harm another human being. " Green magic" is used to align oneself with nature. "White magic" is used in an attempt to better oneself and align oneself with the needs of society. It does not entail harming other human beings. "Grey magic" contains an ethical code that is particular to the practitioner. "Folk magic" is a mix of many rituals; herbalism, faith healing, curses and hexes, candle magic, etc. and has thrived in rural areas for centuries.

Evil powers usually attributed to witches were the ability to make food poisonous, the ability to fly on a broomstick, the ability to make people sick, and make crops fail.

The most famous witchcraft incident in the North America were the Salem witch trials that took place in Salem, Massachusetts. These were a series of hearings before a local magistrate prosecuting people for witchcraft. Between February 1692 and May 1693 over 150 people were arrested and imprisoned. Twenty nine people were convicted of the felony of witchcraft with 14 women and 4 men being hanged for it. One man was crushed with stones to get him to admit he was engaging in witchcraft. He never admitted it.

However, the belief in witchcraft didn't just exist in Europe and Pagan or Christian folklore. It existed in South America, Asia, Egypt, ancient Babylonia, India, Japan, Africa and in many of the well known world wide religions. In fact, in some cultures in Africa a belief in witchcraft exists even to this day.

Whether or not there actually are "witches" with special powers as foretold throughout history and throughout many regions and religions remains to be seen. What will remain is the folklore of the "witch" and their "evil" powers which will forever be associated in western culture with "Halloween" or "All Hallows Eve."

Witches are a favorite creation among artists and crafters. However, Halloween has also become a favorite of doll makers and crafters because there are so many different types of dolls, doll patterns, paintings, sculptures, graphics and crafts that you can make for this one holiday.

It might be ghosts, goblins, and witches. Or, Frankenstein, Dracula, and vampires. Maybe, bats, pumpkins, and skulls. Even, skeletons, monsters, and mummies. You also have candy corn, costumes, and haunted houses. It's definitely a wondrous holiday for crafting.

You can even design your own fabrics using all of these wondrous characters like I have.

So, this leads us to another question. Where did "Halloween" or "All Hallows Eve" start?
The answer lies in the true origins of Halloween and the ancient Celtic tribes who lived in Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Brittany. November 1st for the Celts marked the beginning of a new year and the coming of winter. So the night before the new year the Celts celebrated the Festival of Samhain, who was the Lord of the Dead. The Celts believed that during this festival the souls of the dead (including ghosts, goblins, and witches) returned to mingle with the living.

In the Druidic, religion of the ancient Celts, the Druids would light fires and offer sacrifices of crops, animals and sometimes humans, as they danced around the fires. The season of the sun would pass and the season of darkness would begin.

On the morning of November 1st, the Druids would give an ember from their fires to each family who would then take it home to start a new cooking fire. The fires were intended to keep the homes warm and free of evil spirits such as banshees. It was believed that at this time of the year invisible "gates" would open between the real world and the spirit world. Movement between both worlds was possible, especially for the witches.

In order to scare away the evil spirits the Celts would wear masks and the children would wear costumes. Halloween costumes have traditionally been monsters such as vampires, ghosts, witches, and devils.


Because in 19Th century Scotland and Ireland the reason the children wore such fearsome costumes was the belief that since the spirits of the dead were intent on doing harm that night, the best way to avoid this was to fool the dead spirits into thinking you were one of them. So, you would dress up as a witch, monster, vampire, and skeleton.

So, we know the reason for the costumes. Why carve pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns and put scary faces on the pumpkins to boot?

Why put candles in them and set them on the porch?

This tradition is also derived from ancient celebrations and actually began with a turnip. The Celts would hollow out the turnips and place lighted candles inside to scare off the evil spirits. When the Irish came to America, they discovered that the pumpkin was a much larger substitute for the turnip. If it's larger, it's scarier. If it's scarier it will ward off evil spirits.

But, why are they called jack-o-lanterns?

It all started with an Irishman (of course) named Jack who was forced to roam the earth with just a burning coal inside his pumpkin to light the way for him. He had to roam the earth forever because he had never performed a single selfless act his whole life!

But, why the door-to-door trick-or-treating you ask?

Once, again we go back to Ireland where there was a custom of farmers going door-to-door to collect food and materials for the Festival of Samhain and the bonfire. Those who gave were promised prosperity; those who didn't received bad luck! When the Irish immigrants came to America the door-to-door trick-or-treating came with them and thus the traditions began.

I, personally, have made many witches and have designed many witch doll patterns for my Linda Walsh Originals website. 

Whether your favorite Halloween monster is a witch holding a jack-o-lantern, a ghost, a goblin, a vampire, Frankenstein, skeleton or mummy, it's safe to say that Halloween will remain a favorite holiday among children and among crafters.

Of course, one of my favorites is the witch.

After all - all us "hags" have to stick together!

Don't we?

Friday, September 25, 2009

One Of Our Patterns Was Featured On

Sometimes when it rains it pours.

And, sometimes it's just a delightful sprinkle.

Well, the month of September has been a delightful sprinkle for Linda Walsh Originals. Not only were our Victorian "Ladies" written about by Elizabeth de Almedia who is the N.Y. Doll Collecting freelance writer for the, but one of our patterns was published on the website and blogged about in the Favecrafts blog.

To give you a little history behind our pattern being published last May Christine Doheny, who is the editor of (which is published by Prime Publishing LLC) emailed me and said she had run across one of my Uncle Sam dolls that had made her smile. She asked if I would be interested in contributing a craft project, tutorial, or tip to or contributing something as a guest blog on the Favecrafts blog.

When I had a chance to respond I sent her back an email thanking her and asking her which Uncle Sam doll she was referring to as I have a LOT of websites and blogs! LOL LOL Ya think! LOL LOL But, I might be interested and asked her for more information on what was involved and how much time it would take. As always - I had a lot on my plate! LOL LOL

In any event we corresponded back and forth a few times and I finally decided since it was my favorite time of the year - Fall - that I would send her my "Punkin Ornaments Are We! A Trio of Ornaments" pattern and did so last week.

Well, I'm excited to tell you that it was published on at the beginning of this week. If you'd like to see it please CLICK HERE.

Linda Walsh is here to teach us to make colorful pumpkin ornaments. Using felt, flannel and fabric you can create these wonderful Halloween crafts in no time. This is a great free sewing pattern and you can make a trio of them.

She also told me I could post about it on their blog so I, of course, agreed. A chance to blog and I not take advantage of that! You'd have to be kidding! LOL LOL

Here's what said about themselves on the About page of their blog:

Thanks for visiting FaveCrafts’ blog space! is an exciting resource for all things craft — from expert tips to project ideas for every style and skill level.

Meet the editors of the FaveCrafts Blog here!

Prime Publishing LLC was established in 1995 as a traditional niche book publishing company. The company created their first web site in 1996. By 1998, the company had over 500,000 opt-in e-mail subscribers to various women focused niche content newsletters and web sites.
A shift to a proprietary lead generation response technology fueled continued growth and a spin-off of the technology into a new company. Some awards and recognition include:
- Recipient of the 2004 Technology Fast 50 Rising Star program for Chicagoland by Deloitte & Touche.
- The Direct Marketing Association, Marketing & Technology Internet Council, awarded the first annual “Award of Excellence” for its lead generation technology in December 2003.
- Named a finalist in the first annual by Click Z/Message Media for “Best E-Mail Driven Community” in 2001.
Today, we are an Internet Media Company that operates web site communities, e-mail newsletters and e-commerce stores in niche areas such as crafting, home d├ęcor, wellness, diet and cooking. With a flexible and scalable platform, Prime Publishing operates a rapidly growing network of websites that offer consumers the ability to share information through extensive online communities and make informed purchasing decisions.
Check out our ever changing Google Profile.

I haven't had a chance to thoroughly review everything on their website and blog but from what I can tell there seems to be a LOT to offer on and the blog. They have a TON of categories and a TON of free crafting patterns, projects, tips, how-to's and more. You won't be disappointed by your visit.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Some Recognition For The Victorian "Ladies" Dolls

A few weeks ago I got an email from Elizabeth de Almeida who is the NY Doll Collecting freelance writer for the .

Elizabeth is a doll artist who creates OOAK handmade dolls that have been featured in Contemporary Doll Collector and who has won numerous awards. She is also the owner of Lizjul Doll Designings and has written a book entitled: Sounds Like A Doll: We Can Find Inspiration Behind The Soul of Imagination. If you'd like to buy her book just click on the link image below:

If you'd like to read more about Elizabeth her bio is here and her About Us page is here.

Well, Elizabeth wanted to know if I would be willing to do an interview for her as she was writing a few articles pertaining to dolls that depict historic times, like that of the Victorian period and thought my Victorian faceless "Ladies" would fit right in.

I, of course, was flattered and happy my Victorian "Ladies" were going to be written about. So, I told Elizabeth I would be happy to do the interview.

Elizabeth has already written two wonderful articles about historic dolls that I think you will like and they are as follows:
Dolls back in time: dolls of historic design
Dolls back in time: dolls of historic design - part II

To our delight we were mentioned in Dolls back in time: dolls of historic design - part II . Here's short except of what Elizabeth said: Doll creations costumed in the designs of historic times such as that of the 15Th and 16Th century, (the Elizabethan and Shakespearean era) and the Victorian age, have been embraced by doll artists who have a great love for a time where one’s clothing represented status, way of life, romance, royalty and ....... And doll artists of this particular genre, capture that story through their work, technique and their artistry gifts; Doll artists such as Sara Dunlup of Ladye Fayre Dolls and Puppets, Linda Walsh of Linda Walsh Originals and Paula Wagner of Victorian Designed Dolls.

Linda Walsh creates wooden Victorian dolls, standing from 12 inches to 16 inches tall. Layers of lace, cotton, handmade bouquets and baskets of flowers, lined jackets, ribbons, laced parasols that create an essence that brings the era of the design to come to the forefront of history and time. The dolls are very unique; for the dolls bare no features on their countenances. It may offer doll collectors a chance to look beyond and through their imagination.

I hope you get a chance to read Elizabeth's two articles and will let you know when my interview is posted. I am so honored to be included in Elizabeth's "Dolls back in time: dolls of historic design" articles.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

New Fan Box and Live Stream Widgets

If you are a reader of my Linda's Blog then you know I just LOVE to experiment with new widgets and gadgets for my blogs.

Well, I have been experimenting with and I have to tell you that I LOVE it.

Not for the reasons that anyone at probably intended, but because it allows me to do something really COOL as a small business owner who is also a multi-blogger.

If you are not familiar with I should tell you that it is the LATEST thing in FREE social networking services (i.e. Internet communities). Twitter allows you to post instant text-based messages up to 140 characters per post to the Twitter website and your profile page. The instant messages are sent via Instant Message services, email, via RSS feed, or to your mobile phone to other users who have signed up to receive them and/or that you have approved to get them.

They also have a widget that you can add to your blogs or websites that looks like the widget above. It can be color customized for your particular taste and your profile page on can be customized as well.

In thinking about the Twitter widget I thought that it would be great to add it to all my blogs so that if I have fabulous news that I want to tell everyone I can just send an IM to my profile and update all my blogs at once. That way I wouldn't have to post the LATEST NEWS from Linda Walsh Originals to every blog. COOL, huh!

The Twitter widget has up and down arrows so you can view all my instant messages or connect to my profile page at

Since I have AIM as my instant message service I set TwitterIM as a buddy on my AOL buddy list and connected it to my profile. So, now I just go to my buddy list and send TwitterIM an instant message like the one shown above. That updates my profile and all the blogs that have the Twitter widget. How COOL is that?

Besides the latest NEWS I can let everyone know if there are any problems with any of my blogs or websites, if I'm on vacation, craft shows I'm currently in, etc.

Of course, I can also use it as a social networking gadget for all my friends if I want to. For now, I'm going to use it for my "Linda's Latest NEWS" flashes and see how all my blog readers like it.

So, what do you all think? COOL, huh!

Monday, August 31, 2009

What A Terrific Quote!

I have my own personalized Google page set-up as the home page on my computer and use some of their modules for items I want to see. One of the modules that I like is "Quotes of the Day" and check it every morning to see what the new quote is.

I've been a fan of quotes ever since I can remember. Maybe it's because my Mother used to buy me some of those little tiny books you find in the bookstores like"The Love Between Mothers and Daughters" edited by Helen Exley or "Dreams For My Daughter" illustrated by Becky Kelly.

In fact the very first tiny little book she gave me was no bigger than 1 1/2" wide by 2" tall. It was "The Little Bible" by David C. Cook. I still have it - albeit the cover has become a bit worn.

The second book she gave me was "Prayers For Girls" by Elisabeth Robinson Scovil published in 1935. Copyright, 1924 by Howard E. Altemus. I think my great, great Aunt Flossie gave it to my grandmother, who in turn gave it to my Mother, who in turn gave it to me. It's still in pretty good shape - albeit the binding is a little loose.

In any event, I have received many, many little books over the years from family members and friends and have to attribute this to my love of quotes. So, back to the quotes. Well, the other day I I read the quote of the day and it really struck me as being so true. So much so that I thought I would share it with all of you.

Here's the quote:

The first question I ask myself when something doesn't seem to be beautiful is why do I think it's not beautiful. And very shortly you discover that there is no reason.
John Cage US composer of avant-garde music (1912 - 1992)

Every so often I really enjoy the quote of the day and have been meaning to share some of them with you with quite some time. I'm going to try and share more of the quotes that I like with you going forward. I hope you like the quote.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

What Is Wrong With Her? You Can't Move In A Fancy Dress!

Patience was pacing back and forth, back and forth. Wringing her hands and muttering, "What is wrong with her? Doesn't she know you can't move in a fancy dress? She can't do that. It'll get all dirty. And, then what would she wear for her date? Doesn't she know you can't move in a fancy dress? What is wrong with her?"

"Calm down Patience. Just calm down and tell me what the matter is," Doris Marie said.

"Oh, Doris Marie. This time Linda has really gone too far. Too far indeed!"

"What, Patience. What are you talking about?" Doris responded.

"It's Linda, Doris Marie." She's making YoVille Linda move into her new house today. She can't do that. She's still wearing her fancy dress. She can't move all her stuff while wearing her fancy dress. It'll get ruined. Then, what will she wear for her date?" Patience replied.

"Well, Patience," Doris Marie responded. "I'm sure Linda will have her change into her jeans so she doesn't get her fancy dress ruined. Either that or Linda has hired movers to move YoVille Linda into her new house. I'm sure that's it. She's hired movers."

Doris Marie really didn't think Linda would let YoVille Linda move all her stuff in her beautiful new dress. Or, would she? Hmmmm......

"Come on Patience. Just calm down." Doris Marie said. "Let's go congratulate YoVille Linda on the purchase of her new home. After all, she worked double shifts at the factory in order to save enough money to buy her new home. Let's go congratulate her. Okay, Patience?"

"Alright, Doris Marie. Let's go congratulate her. You're probably right. Linda probably did hire movers to help YoVille Linda." Patience replied. "Let's go congratulate her. Should we bring a house warming gift?"

"Well, you're right about that, Patience. I guess we should bring her a house warming gift. What do you think YoVille Linda would like?" Doris asked.

So, off they went - hand in paw - to the gift store to buy YoVille Linda something nice for her new home.

Friday, August 28, 2009

YoVille Linda Bought A House! I Just Love It!

YoVille Linda was so happy she could hardly contain her enthusiasm. She had been working double shifts at the factory to save enough money to buy a house. And, she had finally done just that. She had bought her first house. A ranch style home just like the type Linda herself had lived in when she was growing up.

She was so excited and as proud as a peacock. She could hardly wait to show everyone her new home. She had decorated her living room, bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen in her favorite "girly girl" style and "retro kitchen" style.

She had a garage that she was using for now as a craft/hobby and den. After all she didn't have a driver's license - let alone a car. And, she always wanted a craft and hobby room. Why not use the garage?

And, best of all, she had a yard. Well, a front yard anyway. She was sure there was a backyard, but, she wasn't at a high enough level in the YoVille game to see that just yet. In time - she'd get there in time. For now she could sit on her front lawn. And, she could have her flower garden. Her fingers were just itching to do some gardening.

But, for now she was happy that she had finally moved in and could show off her new abode. So, what do you think? How do you like YoVille Linda's new house?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Well, Have You Seen Her? Have You Seen YoVille Linda's New Outfit?

Well, Have You Seen Her? Have You Seen YoVille Linda's New Outfit?

"Oh, My!" "Doesn't she look lovely, Doris?" Patience asked Doris.

"Well, yes she does, Patience," Doris Marie replied. "She looks lovely indeed! What is she all dressed up for?"

"Well, I'm not sure, Doris Marie, but I think she's got a date."

"A date?" Doris Marie responded. "Hmmmmm..... But, she doesn't have any male friends in YoVille. Where would she meet someone?"

"Well, I'm not sure," Patience said. "Maybe, one of her YoVille friends set her up on a blind date."

"Well, that's possible, Patience. Maybe she did."

Well, what Doris Marie and Patience didn't know was that YoVille Linda had been secretly been using Linda's computer late at night and had become a member of one of the more popular website dating services. She had taped her video and had given them her profile information and was waiting to see who they would hook her up with. In the meantime she had bought a few new outfits and was trying each of them on to see which one she liked best as she was anticipating that she'd have a match soon.

She was hoping that she'd be matched with someone nice. Well mannered, intelligent, and with a good sense of humor. And, secretly she was hoping that he would be good looking. Not that looks were all that important, but, they certainly would sweeten the pot.

YoVille Linda just didn't want Linda to know that she was hoping for a good looking guy. Linda would tell her that looks were not important. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What counts is what's on the inside and whether or not he was a good person. Looks were secondary. Yada, yada, yada....

YoVille Linda knew that. It was just that she was going to have to look at this person from a flat dimension forever so she might as well enjoy the view. What's so wrong with that? After all his image on the computer screen had no dimension. Just a flat front and flat back image. If that's what she had to look at all day, she'd at least like it to be attractive. So, she secretly had her fingers crossed that he'd be good looking. Just don't tell anyone that - especially Linda.

In the meantime she was trying out her teal blue dress and shoes. So, what do you think - do you like her new outfit?

Monday, August 10, 2009

I Was In Crafting Heaven - Versus Sewing Heaven!

Two weeks ago I was in crafting heaven - versus sewing heaven. You see, I had previously been in sewing heaven when I was crafting my Santa for the Cloth Doll Artistry Santa Challenge.

Two weeks ago I was in crafting heaven for the Halloween Challenge of the Cloth Doll Artistry Crafts Studio.

If you'd like to know what the Halloween Challenge involved I'd previously posted about it in a post entitled "Having Some Halloween Fun!"

Now, of course, I can't show you my entry. I will when the winners are announced sometime after Halloween. Suffice to say I had a delightful time crafting away and was able to combine several different crafts - that I love to do. 

I can't tell you what those are, but I can tell you since it was for the CRAFTS Studio it wasn't a doll. 

Now, that's a surprise all by itself! 

What it is will have to remain a secret - for now!

Just know that I was in crafting heaven and couldn't be happier!

Sunday, August 02, 2009

A Generous Soul and Gifted Artist

Sometimes you run across people who you instantly take a liking too and who you seem to easily connect with. And, sometimes these individuals share your interests or are around your age and, therefore, share the same generational experiences as you.

Sometimes you meet such individuals in person and sometimes you meet them over the Internet.

Well, I have to consider myself truly blessed in this regard as I have met many, many such individuals over the Internet during the last four years. One such individual is Sue McFadden who is an ASTONISHING doll maker and who I had the wonderful opportunity to interview on my "I Love Crafts and Crafts Blogs" blog.

You need look no further than Sue's bio to see what an accomplished artist she is:

Sue is a published doll artist, doll maker, doll instructor, doll illustrator, fine arts artist, painter, sculptor, and art teacher. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art Education, has studied under portrait artist Chuck Hall, and has taught elementary art for five years while pursuing portrait and fine art classes at Penn State University. In 1981 she started making cloth dolls and in 1986 began to work independently creating felt dolls. She has taught at various doll conferences and doll clubs around the country. Her dolls have been published in "Cloth Dolls from Ancient to Modern, A Collector’s Guide - c. 1997 Linda Edwards" and "Crafting Cloth Dolls - c. 2002 Miriam Gourley." She has also been published in many national doll magazines including: Dolls, Contemporary Doll Collector, Fiber Arts, Dulce. In 1993 her doll from Spectrum series (Africaner) was purchased for the Musee de Decoratif, Louvre, Paris through the Toy Shoppe in Richmond, VA and in 1998 she was one of fifty doll artists selected to exhibit at Masterpieces at Spiegelhof, Brussels, Belgium.

Even if you didn't read Sue's bio all you would have to do is look at some of her amazing felt art doll creations to know how talented she is. Her creations just take my breath away and I would LOVE to be able to make sure beautiful felt art dolls.

If you've been following my Linda's Blog you know that one of my many objectives this year is to try and learn how to make clay dolls. It started with wanting to make " Goddess Dolls."

Well, two weeks ago I got an unbelievable surprise in the mail from Sue that may help with that objective and may just postpone that objective as well.

For several months Sue and I had been communicating back and forth about her "I Love Crafts and Craft Blogs" blog interview, her free 2 Piece Plaster Mold Tutorial/Pictorial" that I had posted on my "The Best Free Crafts Articles" blog, and posted about in the Cloth Doll Artistry group we both belong to, and communicating about some things she wanted to do with her patterns, website, and blog.

So, back to the surprise. I opened the package and inside was Sue's complete Vasilissa's Doll kit which is the picture to the right. It included her pattern, felt, paper clay mask, and paper clay. Also included were her Peace Fawn kit, Two Peas In A Pod kit, and Petite Sonja kit.

I was totally speechless - which I'm sure you find hard to believe. And, unbelievably grateful for her thoughtful and generous package. I immediately wanted to drop everything I was doing and make all of the kits right then and there.

Of course, I have to learn how to create paper clay dolls first and in doing so this will help with my goddess dolls adventure as some of them will have clay faces.

But, first I have to learn and experiment a little. And, Sue's paper clay masks and kits were just what I needed to get me started. I can't thank Sue enough for her very thoughtful and generous gift and hope that, maybe, in some way I can repay her somehow.

I hope you get a chance to visit Sue's "Sue McFadden - Original Felt Dolls" website at and her Sues Daily Blog at . If you'd like to see more of her astonishing creations she has a PictureTrail website at . I hope her doll creations take your breath away as much as they did mine.

Thanks, again, Sue for your very generous gifts. I hope I have the time this year to learn how to create with paper clay and to make all of the kits you sent me.

I want to do it right this very minute. The ideas are just swirling in my head.

Just think of the Victorian doll creations I could make if I knew how to create paper clay masks.

Oh, the possibilities.

I could .......

Okay muse - calm down!

Friday, July 10, 2009

They Made Her Bald!

I can't believe they did that to my Facebook YoVille avatar. I signed on last week and looked at my YoVille avatar and she was completely BALD.

Not only did they make her BALD, but when I went to restore her hair I found they had completely removed it from the selection. Geez..... HOW RUDE! LOL LOL

So, I changed her hair to the one seen above. She's still cute! Wouldn't you agree?

Saturday, July 04, 2009

My Favorite Time Of The Year - Fall

I know that it will come as no surprise to all of you, but I just LOVE decorating - especially if it's for the Fall season.

Well, maybe add the Christmas season to that.

Maybe even add the Spring season to that.

Go ahead add the Summer season to that as well.

Maybe I should say I just LOVE decorating for every season.

Ya think!

However, if I had to choose a favorite season it would have to be Fall.

Maybe it has to do with the beautiful and vibrant colors of the season and the cool crispness of the Fall air.

Maybe it's the amazing array of vibrant colors of the Fall silk florals.

Maybe it's  the vibrant colors of fall fabrics.

Whatever it is -  I'm drawn to them.  I just LOVE them and LOVE decorating with all of them.  They invigorate me.

But it isn't just decorating with vibrant Fall colors.  Something happens in the Fall that seems to trigger my inner design creativity - my muse.

Maybe it's the vibrant colors and the multitudes of design possibilities for Fall doll designs. I'm not sure.

I just find that at this time of the year more than any other I get the urge to design, create, and sew.  Like an urge waiting at the door all year for the signal that it's time.  And, when it is - look out.  Creativity is at an all time high.  It doesn't necessarily mean it's creativity at it's best.  It just means it's an urge that can't be ignored.  At least - not for me. 

For the last few weeks I could feel the urge starting.  I've been looking at some of my works in progress, some of my to-do's, and some of the kits I've bought from time to time.  I've even caught myself just looking at some of my fabric stashes.

There are dolls waiting to be sewn.  Kits waiting to be put together and designs on napkins and little pieces of paper waiting for me to do something with them.

It's like a hoard of designs all waiting for the signal.  Waiting to pounce.  It's time, it's time - come on - it's time!  Time to unleash the muse.....  

But, I can't - not yet.  Down muse - down!

I have too much else to do right now.  There is no time for my muse.

I'm sorry to say that muse, but it's true.  I have no time for you right now.  You will have to wait just a little longer. 

So, I've decided that maybe I can calm my muse down by doing a little decorating - a little Fall decorating.

Maybe this just may put my muse in abeyance for just a little longer.

Now, that might be a solution for me, but don't tell my husband that.

You see, while he loves the look of all the Fall decorations he doesn't necessarily enjoy the work involved in getting it that way.

It means we will be going up and down and up and down the basement stairs bringing all my Fall floral decorations up and bringing all my Summer decorations down.  The new ones come out and the old ones get put away.  It's a lot of work and something that drives my husband crazy.

Up and down we go.

And, each and every time I go by my fabric stashes, my dolls waiting to be put together, and my designs waiting to be finalized.

I almost have to swerve to avoid them as I feel if I get too close they'll grab me and pull me into their web - never to be seen again for months on end. My muse will get me and it will win.

So, I don't get too close.

I have so much to do right now.  I can't give in to my inner creativity.

Down MUSE!  Down I say!

Please stay away - MAYBE for just a little while longer. 

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

A Little Pumpkin History!

For some reason I got to thinking about pumpkins the other day.

And, as you probably know - when I get to thinking - well, watch out! There may just be a history lesson coming.

Pumpkins are a big part of the Fall line-up. Whether they are used as food or used as decorations or carved for celebrations they have a big role. So, I got to thinking about pumpkins and the history of pumpkins. How long have they been around and what started the jack-o-lantern craze?

Artists and crafters have long had a fascination with pumpkins. The reason has to be because they are so versatile and no matter what type of arts & crafts you like to create - there is a pumpkin that can be made. They can be cute, delightful, and whimsical. Or, they can be downright scary and frightening. They can be wholesome or a little bit naughty. Kids love to draw them and carve them. I, of course, love to create pumpkin dolls and especially love to create custom pumpkin fabric.

My research tells me that pumpkins originated somewhere in Central America between 5,500 and 7,000 B.C. and have been used as a food staple ever since.

So, what exactly is a "pumpkin?"

Well, according to"Pumpkin is the name of a plant that refers to certain cultivars of squash, most commonly those of Cucurbita pepo, that are round, with smooth, slightly ribbed skin and deep yellow to orange coloration. The thick shell contains the seeds and pulp. Some exceptionally large cultivars of squash with similar appearance have also been derived from Cucurbita maxima. Specific cultivars of winter squash derived from other species, including C. argyrosperma, and C. moschata, are also sometimes called "pumpkin". In New Zealand and Australian English, the term "pumpkin" generally refers to the broader category called winter squash elsewhere.

Pumpkins, like other squash, are native to North America. Pumpkins are widely grown for commercial use, and are used both in food and recreation. Pumpkin pie, for instance, is a traditional part of Thanksgiving meals in the United States, although commercially canned pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie fillings are usually made from different kinds of winter squash than the pumpkins frequently carved as jack o'lanterns for decoration around Halloween.

Pumpkins, like other squash, are thought to have originated in North America. The oldest evidence, pumpkin-related seeds dating between 7000 and 5500 BC, were found in Mexico.

Since some squash share the same botanical classifications as pumpkins, the names are frequently used interchangeably. One often used botanical classification relies on the characteristics of the stems: pumpkin stems are more rigid, prickly, and angular (with an approximate five-degree angle) than squash stems, which are generally softer, more rounded, and more flared where joined to the fruit.

The color of pumpkins is derived from the orange pigments abundant in them. The main nutrients are lutein and both alpha and beta carotene, the latter of which generates vitamin A in the body.

In America the pilgrims learned about pumpkins from the Native American Indians who would cut the pumpkins into strips and then cook them over the fire. They called pumpkins "isquotersquash." Very quickly pumpkins were added to the diets of the pilgrims.

However, the pilgrims decided to cut the top of the pumpkin off and scoop out the seeds and then fill the pumpkin with honey, milk, and other spices and then baked it in hot coals. This concoction eventually became pumpkin pie as we know it today.

The pilgrims, in turn, brought pumpkin seeds back to their European countries where it became a popular part of the European diet.

In addition to use as a food staple, pumpkin shells were dried and cut into strips. Then the strips were weaved into mats.

For the Iroquois the pumpkin was grown together with corn and beans and the three became known as the "three sisters." As with many things there is a legend surrounding the "three sisters."

According to Iroquois legend, a pregnant woman who was living in the sky world wanted to have some bark of the root of the great tree that grew in the sky world. Her husband scraped the dirt away from the base of the tree to expose the roots and while doing so created a hole. After her husband had obtained the bark the woman leaned over and peered into the hole that had been created. She lost her balance and fell through the hole to the earth below and subsequently become the first human on earth.

She eventually gave birth to a daughter who grew up and and became pregnant herself with twins by the West Wind. Just before the twins were to be born they got into a fight in the womb about how they were going to be born. The left handed twin did not want to be born in the usual way and, instead, forced himself out through his mother's left armpit which subsequently killed her. The twins buried their mother and after doing so noticed that corn, beans and pumpkins sprouted from the spot where she was buried. The three later became the main food staple of the Iroquois.

Every Spring the Iroquois women would plant corn, bean, and pumpkin seeds together. They would dig holes and into each hole would put one corn seed, one bean seed, and one pumpkin seed along with a dead fish. The dead fish fertilized the ground while the corn stalk provided support for the bean vine to climb. The pumpkin plant provided ground cover to keep the weeds out and the roots of the bean added nutrients to the soil.

Eventually with the arrival of the Irish in the 19Th century the use of pumpkins for "jack-o-lanterns" was born. The Irish already had an ancient tradition of hollowing out the inside of turnips and placing lighted candles inside to scare off the evil spirits. When the Irish came to America, they discovered that the pumpkin was a much larger substitute for the turnip. If it's larger, it's scarier. If it's scarier it will ward off evil spirits.

So now we know about the history of the pumpkin. But, why are they called jack-o-lanterns? Well, it all started with a stingy Irishman (of course) named Jack who was a miserable old drunk. He like to play tricks on everyone including the Devil himself - which, of course, was very foolish. Well, he tricked the Devil into climbing up an apple tree and then placed crosses all around the base of the tree. The Devil couldn't get down from the tree due to the crosses so Jack made the Devil promise not to take his soul when he died. Jack removed the crosses and the Devil climbed down from the tree.

Years later, when Jack died he was told by St. Peter at the gates of heaven that he would not be let into heaven due to the life he had led on earth. Since the Devil had promised Jack he wouldn't take his soul Jack wasn't able to enter hell, either. So he was forced to roam the earth between heaven and hell in darkness with just a burning coal inside his turnip ( i.e. "Jack O'Lantern) to light the way for him.

I, personally, have made many pumpkin dolls and and various decorative crafts using my custom pumpkin fabric for my Linda Walsh Originals website.   All of my pumpkin designs and  handmade decorations made using my custom fabric designs are shown in the picture at the top of this post.