Hopalong Hollow....

Hopalong Hollow, where the Blueberries grow sweet, and the moss feels soft beneath your feet.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

In the toy shop....I mean Studio

 It was recently requested of me to supply pictures of my Studio for a publication..
So I cleaned it.
 and took a few pictures.
It looks pretty nice here.
 It won't stay tidy  for long however, so I may as well save the pics for posterity.
The above picture was taken  last week.
 and the one below is what the same desk looks like today
Oh well...sigh.
When I'm in the studio, I feel like I am working in a toy shop , and in a way, I am...
 because this is a really fun place to be!

Above the supplies are so many goodies!

Everywhere you look, are the reflections of the past, seen through the objects owned by children a century ago. (The stuffed bunnies and bird were made by me though)

 I have collected antique games, toys and storybooks for over 25 years
I love the simplicity and charm of old toys
You would think that all this stuff would be distracting, and to many people this would amount to a lot of unnecessary clutter, but I am inspired to be surrounded by such utter happiness..

All other  supplies are put out of sight in cupboards and drawers.

Until i need them.

 I was so excited recently, to find this jolly little  Gypsy wagon!
Look at those cute railings and the cunning little door

I can fit a whole lotta Hopalong Hollowfolk into this little vehicle.
It  fits right into the "toy shop" studio, and what a fabulous prop this will make for art shows.

Is it any wonder, with all these delightful items around me that I can't stop creating art in many forms?

i Am sure that you fellow artists, needle-workers and craftsmen surround yourselves with the things you love in your studio space as well. 
Inspiration can be found in many places.
 In my case, I only need to walk into my Studio.
 Even when it is a mess.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Chickens, birds and More birds

Chickens are a funny lot.

This morning I heard a loud hullabaloo emanating from the barn and went up to investigate. Two roosters stood on the railings above  the nesting box, crowing their little heads off, one cackling red hen was standing on the ladder leading up to the box and another perched on the edge of the nesting box, soothingly clucking and cooing.
 With all the commotion, you would have thought a marauding fox was sniffing about in the barn, but no, all of this racket, in unison, was directed at a very young hen, sitting inside said nesting box.  The little white hen, "Tess of the Du'bervilles", (TESS for short) was the object of much attention.

 The deafening cacophony continued for at least 45 minutes after I left the barn. A few hours later, observing all the chicken folk in the garden, I decided the way was clear to see what they had been so upset about this morning and trudged back up to the barn, peeked into the nesting box and found the object of all the morning's ballyhoo... this... tiny, tiny egg.

  It is so small... and cute.. and, more importantly, this young hen's first egg ever!
Now I know what the chickens were clamoring about this morning, and I also know what the expression "egging her on" means. They weren't upset. they were cheering the little hen on... That's right, "PUSH! PUSH! "You can do it!" C'mon little gal! Lay that egg!" HURRAH! YOUR FIRST EGG! GOOd job!
 Isn't that funny? I love those chickens.

more birds...
Every day, I gather the fallen pears from the grass neath the pear tree. They are not for our consumption because they've already been partially consumed, as you can see below.
I've been placing the blame for all this plunder, squarely on the shoulders of the countless bees, wasps and butterflies that gather by the hundreds on the pears. Like this guy below.
I assumed we had inebriated bees flying into one another, having wild parties and acting foolishly from devouring SO MUCH fermentation. Then I discovered the truth,
When James called me outside to listen to the song of a bird....this bird.

There he was, a Downy Woodpecker, sitting in the pear tree, joyfully singing and pecking away at the pears. As he pecked, the pear fell, and he flew to another pear, enjoyed it for a few moments until it too, fell to the ground and he moved on to the next.
Mystery solved,
 and the grateful bees and donkeys reap the benefits.
                                                             "We loves pears!"
The woodpecker is forgiven, for he is my FAVORITE bird, along with Chickadees. 
At the moment, the studio is filled with little fuzzy birdfolk.
They are awaiting their wings and tails
 I am going to make some of those extremities from hand-made felt, a method called Wet Felting.
On the recommendation from a friend, (thank you Penny!), I learned this easy process of felt-making and it was quite fun. I love the texture!
I made these five pieces in less than 2 hours. They can be cut and sewn into anything from purses to hats and hand-warmers. But mine are to be wings and tails.
I thought the above piece would make a charming little dress for a rabbit.
There are countless tutorials on you-tube for wet felting and I just combined a few of the lessons to create my own "recipe".
You know, with a little effort and time, one can learn how to do almost anything!

Fondly from the Hollow, Jeri

Monday, August 3, 2015

The wonderful walls of Shaker Village and the Making of Mice

We have arrived home from exhibiting at an art show held at wonderful Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, Ky.
 Oh, how I love this peaceful place!
 The art show was held along an avenue of trees in remarkably perfect weather. I had posted extensively about the Shaker Village in the past, so, today, I only concentrate on one of the most marvelous structural elements that surround this lovely piece of American History,
  Stone walls
 As a great lover of stone walls, I am always mesmerized by these stalwart and meandering masterpieces 
built between 1805 and 1910, not by the Shakers, but by the Irish.
 These walls continue for miles and miles, surrounding dwellings, ponds and running along roadsides and meadows. Shaker Village sits on 3000 heavenly acres of Kentucky land.
I don't know how many miles the stone walls cover, but I do know that the Irish were paid only $1000 per mile..
What I would give to have stone walls like these! Some have been standing firmly for over 200 years.

The Village is home to much heritage stock, as well.
 These horses were HUGE!
They are called English Shire horses and were of such great beauty and strength as to be truly awesome.
and now, from very large to very small.....

A study in MICE.
I had the chance, (because of my huntress cat, Claudette), to observe a rat, up close and personal. 
 This big guy was in the wrong place at the wrong time; the barn.
Claudette deposited the "expired" rat on our back step. I donned gloves
and took the opportunity to study his little paws, feet and face. 
 It is surprising how strong those little thighs appear, the better for climbing the barn poles.
Studying his toes really helped me out in properly fashioning my mousie and ratty
feet out of wire and wool.
My materials are sheeps wool, wire,and mohair...the sum of parts in the making of a rat.
And here she is, MY soft and fuzzy rat.
 Claudette the huntress cat, pays her no mind.

Below are footsies from more little mice.

 I've become increasingly fond of making mice and have made more than 20 thus far.
 One of my motives for making the mice, is a new book character, who is part of the 3 piece book set I've been working on. You can see her in the drawing above which I created months ago.
Now, I am ready to get serious and finish those illustrations.

The mice also represent all the little rodents in my previous books as well..
all part and parcel of Hopalong Hollow

So what am I going to do with all these little  
Hopalong Hollowfolk?
They will be living in my shop and selected mice will come to the next 3 shows with me:
The Country Living Fair 
in Columbus, Ohio
Madison Chautauqua, 
in  Madison, Indianna
  Saint James Court 
in Louisville, Ky.
I must admit, my rodents are a bit more lovable than 
 the rat
 the cat
 brought in.
(But he did get a proper burial. )