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.

Revision To My "The History Of Faceless Dolls" Article

This morning I got a comment notification from that Gloria Larocque had left a new comment on my 6/2006 post The History of Faceless Dolls!

Here's Gloria's comment:

Hello Linda,

For some time, I have been wanting to respond to your article, and then for a while, I couldn't find it. But I've come across it again, and I'm glad. My name is Gloria Larocque, and I'm glad you wrote about the doll project I created a few years ago, and your summary was very descript and accurate. I just wanted you to know I acknowledged your acknowledgement and thank you for bringing together the issue behind the project in light of your collecting information on something you value. All the best - Gloria

I had included the following paragraph in my original 6/2006 post The History of Faceless Dolls post and in my The History of Faceless Dolls - REVISED 5/19/09 post.

Another article about "faceless" dolls concerned the dolls of Gloria Larocque. She has created 100 or more "faceless" dolls based upon the Iroquois legend that warns young girls about the dangers of vanity. According to the article her purpose, however, is different. Her dolls represent Canada's murdered aboriginal women, a group made faceless not by vanity but by neglect. Her project has helped draw attention to the plight of the murdered aboriginal women.

I can remember how moved I was reading about "The Angel Doll Project" back in 2006 and have to tell you that I was as equally moved re-reading about it once again.

Gloria Larocque is the founder of the Aboriginal Angel Doll Project and the KETA Society which teaches traditional awareness through cultural acceptance.

According to the Keta Society websites - The Kookum Educating Traditional Acceptance Society was incorporated on August 24, 2005 to acknowledge and raise awareness of the issue of the missing and murdered Aboriginal women of Canada and to promote a variety of educational initiatives in order to instill stronger awareness that Aboriginal people have a strong, rich, diverse culture.

Kookum is the Cree word for 'Grandmother, and the Society name was chosen in order to express the need for grassroots education of native culture and traditions.

Gloria gave a speech at the "Art Against Brutality" event at the Oppenheimer Park in 2005 which was entitled: Lest We Forget The Aboriginal Angel Doll Project and the KETA Society - By Gloria Larocque.

I wanted to thank Gloria for posting her comment and wanted to let her know that I have modified my The History of Faceless Dolls - REVISED 5/19/09 post to include the picture above and the following revised paragraphs about "The Aboriginal Angel Doll Project:"

Another article about "faceless" dolls concerned the dolls of Gloria Larocque. She has created 100 or more "faceless" dolls based upon the Iroquois legend that warns young girls about the dangers of vanity. According to the article her purpose, however, is different. Her dolls represent Canada's murdered aboriginal women, a group made faceless not by vanity but by neglect. Her project has helped draw attention to the plight of the murdered aboriginal women.

According to Gloria:"The dolls will act as a centre-piece for educating children about traditional Aboriginal culture, maintaining cultural integrity through a contemporary setting. As a teaching tool kit, the idea will be to plant seeds of survival skills concepts such as choice, strength, education, cultural connection and knowledge of self.

The kit will contain a doll in the same fashion as an Aboriginal Angel Doll, and will be presented as an “elder”. The doll will be known as Kookum RETA (grandmother rejuvenate, educate, traditional, acceptance) of the Aboriginal people from Turtle Island. The power of the elder teaching the young is a traditional aboriginal teaching method."