Hopalong Hollow....

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

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. )


  1. Oh my goodness dear Jeri ~ These are wonderful little creations. You have a real talent for creating almost living, dear creatures.

    May they all go to good homes through your shows.

    Happy Creating and Happy summer ~ FlowerLady

  2. AH! That last line is of great importance says Tea Rat...that he had a proper burial. We don't want the demise of this fellow to be in vain! teeehheheheee

    MISS JERI, you are details, details, details. You are a farm woman true and true and there is no short cut in your approach! No wonder you get it right, you study from toe to head, each fold and eye socket. These are terrific creatures (that one day one of them will be mine!) and what a great trip you took! I remember seeing the wonderful stone walls in New England, made by generations and generations of immigrants from Ireland, France and England.

    Lovely to see you my friend. Anita

  3. Your talent is amazing. I love your book illustrations, but have to admit that the rats and mice kind of gross me out. ha

  4. i wish that's what my stone walls cost me! your talent is breathtaking! and it was so nice of your kitty to bring you a proper model. so one rat was killed in the making of your claudette! a good kitty sacrifice indeed. i am going to a shaker woods fair next weekend.

  5. We still have a few stone walls out in our Maryland countryside. I always try to photograph them just because I, too, love them so much! Your menagerie is coming along stunningly beautifully.

    1. Yes, I have seen stone walls in Maryland. They are like historical sentinels, silently standing still in time.

  6. I live in a mountainous area and yet my fifty acre wood doesn't have a rock on it. Those feet are perfection as are the little beauties. Love the blue flowers in the mousy basket.

    1. Those are vintage millinery flowers. We used to have them on our Easter bonnets and purses when we little girls, do you remember those? They made them in the 40's and 50's and I tracked down a few bunches.

  7. Well, I never thought I'd be saying this but that "real" rat is a cutie. I love his big ears and all of those wonderful whiskers. Your little ones are adorable and they look so real------nothing like having an obliging model who stays so still for you.

    I've been to Pleasant Hill and it does have a wonderful peaceful feeling. The stone walls are amazing-----surely they have to be repaired here and there every once in awhile. If even a small section broke they would just unravel bit by bit like knitting raveling away.

    Somewhere down in Kentucky there is a group that offers workshops on building dry stone walls. You can take a class where they take you out to places where the walls are coming down and you learn to do the repairs. I can't remember the name but I got a flyer a number of years ago about the group and classes they have.

  8. I would enjoy a class like that, although I have put up many stone walls, mine occasionally take a tumble.

  9. Jeri, there is so much upon which to comment here.

    The miles of dry stone walls are remarkable. I've seen quite a few of these in the UK and just marvel at the skill involved in their creation. I've also seen some in suburban New York and Connecticut. It's good to know that the tradition is ongoing.

    Now...on to that feline huntress who brought you her trophy rat. I admit to being rather squeamish about rats (having once had to capture one that got loose in a workplace...don't ask.) Somehow, mousies have more appeal for me, even after my recent reading of The Wind in the Willows.

    Having laid those cards on the table, I do admire your doing the careful study of the captured rat, and how you've used that knowledge gained in creating your amazing little animals. I am very, very impressed by your using wool from your own sheep. Also the way in which you are able to translate your beautiful drawings into these tiny, perfectly detailed sculptural creatures. Not to mention the costuming.

    Truly Jeri, what you create is beyond compare. I wish you a great reception at all those upcoming events.


    1. Frances, You are too kind, thank you. I also prefer the wee mice to the huge rat-folk, yes, even despite Ratty. I give a lot more leeway to a mouse scuttling across the barn floor, than a rat. Maybe it is because rats never stop growing AND they steal chicken eggs!

  10. JERI LANDERS - hey babe...how are ya?

    Thanks a bunch for coming over to my post. And for the appreciation of the craft of poetry. Like your art stitched with great detail, I so appreciate it. I simply cannot ENVISION let alone try to add as much detail that you do with the paintbrush, and then these animals! You should have seen some of the stuffed creatures I've attempted through the years. My love for them encouraged me to try, but many a horse, bear and rabbit came out so lopsided..teehehehee

    But words and music are my background. OH YES, do I remember the record players! GOOD GRACIOUS, it doesn't seem that long ago....but my daddy not only had a record player and HI-FI (remember that?) but he played the piano and many of Chopin's hits. I remember sitting at the piano with him while he tried to teach me to play. I always wondered what "CHOPIN" meant and how to pronounce it. I was less interested in learning the piano, but greatly interested in letters and sounds. But my feet were interested in the rhythms of my father's fingers dancing on the 88s.....

    Well dear friend, let's do this day right; enjoy, soak in the sun and create something FABULOUS! Anita

    1. We never had a piano when I was growing up, although my mother played,our house was too tiny to hold such an instrument.But everyone in the house grew up with a vast array of music, thanks to those HI FI's... yeah, that must have been what we had because it really blasted out the sound. You are a poet, it comes naturally to you, as art does to me.

  11. Well, I must say, you made him seem so harmless and almost nice....but the Rats I've seen have given me such a shiver.....I do like the ones you've fashioned from wool and mohair though, such tiny feet.
    Mama Bear

  12. Amazing work with your wee little woolly critters! I love them all...more than the real-to-life ones, but they have their place, too. I must go find your older posts at Shaker Village...

  13. I, too, love stone walls and would give anything to have some meandering through our farm. As for the mice and rat.........spectacular as usual. You have a knack for creating realistic, yet whimsical creatures whose personalities are quite evident. I just love them, Jeri...and cannot wait to meet them in person in Ohio in September!! Thanks for sharing!!

  14. I grew up in Berea so I have visited Shaker Village many times. I too love all of the stone fences.

  15. Hi Jeri,
    I just love the meandering stone walls...I was surprised to know that some of them have been standing for over 200 years.. Now that is something...
    I simply adore your mice, Jeri... Each with their own special personality... Talk about an enormous about of work... Especially the perfectly crafted tiny feet! This is the way I make my wee mice feet, so I know what work goes into them. You have done such a superb job.
    I wish I had your sewing talent.. I always look forward to seeing how you have dressed each one.
    Wishing you the best on your upcoming events... I know it will be successful.
    Thanks so much for visiting and kind words.

  16. Dear Jeri what a great place to see. The stone walls are so amazing. We have friends who just purchased two Shire horses. They are certainly gorgeous animals. So glad you were able to get up close and personal with Mr. Rat. I must say though I prefer seeing them alive outdoors! Your mice are truly adorable. Hope you have a wonderful weekend. Hugs

  17. I loooooooooooove those stone walls. Gosh, was that ever a ton of back breaking work! Poor little rat. At least he turned out to be the perfect model and you didn't have to worry about getting bitten. You remind me of Tasha Tudor. ;) Sure wish I could attend one of those shows. I know people must flock to your gorgeous booth. I can't wait to move into my new house so I can unpack my "Jeri" treasures. I can't wait to show you how I got one of your prints framed! It had it professionally framed as a housewarming gift to myself. My framers wanted to keep it! :) Hugs to you dear friend.

  18. Thanks for taking me to the Shaker Village again, Jeri. The stone wall reminds me so much of the stone walls in England. I can not imagine how long it took to build the miles and miles of stone wall we saw there. Your mice are made to such precision ---your talents know no end, dear one. ♥

  19. Hi Jeri,
    There is just something about stone walls that are so intriguing and desirable! So historical, and so English looking! I really enjoyed your photos :-)
    Oh what a joy Jeri to see these critters come to life!! Each one unique and delightful with personality oozing from their sweet little eyes to their detailed tootsies!! It always lifts the spirit to come and visit here!!
    Wishing you great abundance and success at your shows!! I shall visit in spirit :-)
    Sending warmth many blessings and love, Linnie


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