Papercutting Classes coming up…

Hi folks! I spent most of the morning getting invitations in the mail for this winter’s papercutting classes! More will go out tomorrow, since I’ve not quite bonded with our new printer yet and the printing process is taking a little longer than I expected. But… just in case I don’t have you on my local mailing list, and you’re able to come for a class…

We’re going to be making a Haus Segen! (That’s Pennsylvania German for “house blessing!”) Class participants can choose from several designs, cut them out using scissors and craft knives, and paint them with watercolor. If you prefer, you can leave them with us to be framed in a handmade grain-painted frame, or take them home to put in your own standard-size frame. Sizes will range from 4″ x 6″ to 8″ x 10″… and you can make more than one if you work quickly!


We had such a great time with the classes last year, and are really looking forward to this year’s projects! See you soon!

Oh! And a proud daughter moment… my Mom & Dad’s house was chosen to be in Judy Condon’s latest book!

Happy Memorial Day!


O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life! 

Remember to take a moment sometime today to remember those who gave their all for our freedoms, and for the freedom of others around the world. 

We’ve been quite busy the past few weeks, and it was good to be home in our own bed last night! (And to not have to wake up and get to work A.S.A.P. this morning!) Kate has been blogging about our somewhat soggy adventure last weekend… We were at Endview Plantation near our favorite place in the whole wide world, for the Colonial Craftsman’s Faire! Somehow we managed to take absolutely no pictures other than set-up, so please browse the links above! We had a great time despite the drippy weather, laughing with the other crafter/reenactors about buckets of water dumping off the canvas flies and floating firewood. Thank goodness for our straw hats, which acted at colonial umbrellas, for our hubby’s that don’t mind getting soaked to the bone to pack us up, and for the die-hard history & folk art lovers that braved the elements. A very wet Huzzah! to you all!

Speaking of liberty, this weekend we were at the Chestertown Tea Party, and on Saturday, we witnessed the reenactment of Chestertown’s reaction to the tax on tea…


Lots of fifes & drums, and lots of people! Sunday was a bit more laid back, and the highlight of the day’s events was the raft race…


Yep, that’s a floating RV, folks. Complete with a Redneck. I think it was my favorite. Nobody sank or fell apart this year, and I’m told that fact made this year’s race a memorable event! We also had “front row seats” for a great Bluegrass & Jug band! They were really good, and even took time to ask the kids to join in… here is a young fellow jumping in for a washtub bass solo…


We have one more adventure planned for next weekend, and then we’ll hopefully have an “adventure-less” summer! I’m looking forward to some home-making time, because things are looking very neglected around here!

And a little child shall lead them…


Good morning folks! Just wanted to let you know that American Folk Art is highlighting Lions & Lambs in folk art! The theme will be updated today at noon… be sure to check it out! The Peaceable Kingdom is one of my favorite folk themes. No, it IS my favorite. And Edward Hicks is one of my very favorite artists of all time. For a little bit of history on him, check out this old post! I often yearn for a peaceable kingdom… don’t you?

Oh… and Kate created a very gaudy, really cool, pretty/ugly (or pretty ugly?) messenger bag sort of thing yesterday afternoon. You’ve got to go take a peek. I’ll bet you dollars to donuts, that if she wears it today, somebody will ask where she got it!

Hope you all have a great Monday! 


Well, Kate managed to venture into the world of CSS and gave her blog a personal touch, so I got brave enough yesterday to attempt it as well! I managed to upload a background I found at Citrus Moon, and then spent the rest of the day playing in Photoshop Elements and snipping paper to make a new header. Thank heavens Kate came home in time to rescue me (or the computer?) because I was having serious issues with “layers.” She was able to put my parts together to make this:


Now… how on earth do I get it from here to up there? And will it fit? Hmmm…

Any ideas on making the blog look a little more interesting? I love all the eclectic blogs I’m seeing out there, but I would say I lean toward simplicity and minimalism. I’d like to just soften things up a bit, visually. A little on the primitive side, but not too grungy. A little more colorful? Hmmmm again…

In other news, I had a quiet day, and spent most of it attempting to keep the woodstove going (we’re into greener wood now… used up all the well-seasoned stuff), though I did manage to finish a papercutting that’s been sitting on my desk since early January. It was a bit of a home-maky day… caught up on laundry, cleaned a bit, did some sorting and organizing, and cooked a turkey breast in the crock pot. 

And here’s a bit of fun… I saw an article in Hallmark magazine about using Shrinky Dink plastic to make Valentines, and got quite inspired. And ordered some. With grand ideas of making wonderful intricate cut-outs and shrinking them. Well. The plastic is a bit harder than I expected, and cutting it out wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. But I did play with it for the better part of Sunday afternoon, and with the help of watercolor pencils, ended up with this one sweet little piece. I only cut the outside edge, but I haven’t given up on the idea of interior cutting yet! And it was just as fun as it was when I was a kid. Here it is in reference to my 3 1/2″ scissors…


And a close-up… 


Just plain fun.


The Aftermath… and Freebie!

We had a grand time this afternoon! It was a wonderfully messy, full-house sort of afternoon! A whole bunch of homeschoolers came over and we folded paper, twisted paper, and snipped paper to make pretty stars and snowflakes! It’s been a while since we’ve done a homeschool class, and I forgot how much I missed being around homeschooled kids. We talked about everything from raising chickens to Civil War dancing. Somehow we forgot to take pictures during the actual event, but I did pick up the camera before I picked up the broom, so here’s what was left…


Snowflakes cut from coffee filters! These are actually very good to use for younger children, since you can skip the steps of cutting a perfect square and rounding off the “tails” to get your pie shape. Coffee filters are also thinner than regular paper, so cutting through multiple layers of paper is easier. And… coffee filters are CHEAP. You can get a hundred or so for $1, and keep your little ones busy for hours! We ironed some of them between waxed paper, and some were just taken home “as is.” Snowflakes are pretty when taped to windows, and small ones can be put between lamination sheets, cut around, and used as ornaments! You can also use them as cake stencils… lay the snowflake on top of an unfrosted cake and sprinkle on fine powdered sugar or dust with cocoa. Remove the snowflake, and you have a pretty cake!



And Twirly Snowflakes! Chris and I first saw these at the Guild of American Papercutters’ Collection back in May… don’t they look pretty decorating the Yellow Barn at Landis Valley Museum?


I was excited when I saw my friend Michele was making these at Christmas… and she gave us the link for this tutorial she found! (Thanks Michele!!!) These twirly things were definitely a hit with the teens! They’re fun to make, not too difficult, and the sizes are variations are endless! Kate taught this project and really enjoyed working with the kids & Moms!



And Chris taught a group of brave souls to fold Moravian Stars! These are the smaller, folded paper version, (there’s also a paper folded large Moravian Star… very complex and lots of math involved! Maybe we’ll get Hubby to teach a class on that some day!) and are sometimes called Pennsylvania German Folded Stars. Chris is our star folding expert, and has probably made a thousand or so of these things! Our Freebie Friday Giveaway is the pattern… if you scroll down and click on the link, there’s a Word Document to download! Have fun!




A Quiet Day…

I ended up with a Quiet Day today. Ran a few errands, made scrapple sandwiches for Hubby and me. Now he’s off to the shop to make frames and I’m heading to the art room to snip paper! I think I’ll put on some tea water and some relaxing music. And find some chocolate to take with me.


In the busy-ness of the Christmas season, I didn’t get a chance to let everyone know that our artwork can now be found at American Folk Art! Along with some other VERY talented craftspeople! If you get a chance, stop over there and check out all the incredible folk crafts represented there!



…From two weeks of work/vacation/playing dress-up! We spent the first weekend in September at Hay Creek Festival, where we set up on the hill with the Early American crafters and Kate got to do open fire cooking all weekend! Hay Creek is always a fun event, with lots of children hanging around Mr. Frey to try their hand at scherenschnitte! I get to sit still and do what I love… papercut! All dressed up in colonial garb. And by Sunday evening, the scent of yummy things and woodsmoke follows Kate wherever she goes. We really don’t like washing those outfits on Monday… it seems we’re washing away memories. However, the Mom in me knows it must be done.

We came home with four days to replenish our stock a little, and then headed out to Mount Vernon’s 18th Century Crafts Fair. As reenactors and history buffs, it escapes me to explain how we’ve never visited our dear Washington’s home before, but I can tell you without a doubt that we will visit again! The weekend was bustling with activity and we rarely got away from our booth, but we stayed over Monday to enjoy the grounds and museum. What a beautiful estate… and we’re very impressed at how the Mount Vernon Ladies Society has preserved the home and the memory of the Father of Our Country. 

We didn’t get a lot of pictures, but we’ll share a few… here’s Kate and me in the booth…

And the Rat Destroyer… this gentleman was wonderfully fun, and not too scary to children. They flocked to him like the Pied Piper! It must have been the cute furry creature in his cage…

And a view of the mansion…

And a view of the view… Kate and Dad are enjoying it!

And the gardens…

And the mill…

And the distillery… I love how the light was coming in the window!

We met some wonderful people this past couple of weekends, and are really enjoying being able to participate in period craft shows. And we’re definitely going to find time to head back to Mt. V.! But for now, it’s back to the cutting board!

A little something new!

Hello all! Hope your weekend is going well!

I’ve got a little something new getting ready to go on the website! And just in time for wedding season… a Wedding Silhouette package! the background is a print of a watercolor original. Anyway, for the country bride and groom…

We had a visitor in our yard the other morning… we threatened to sting this little guy with our BB gun, but Kate and I had, um, technical difficulties with said gun, and he just continued to wander around the yard, oblivious to any danger. We’re not usually opposed to wildlife, but you see we have chickens, and foxes and chickens do not mix well. This particular fox is still pretty young, and has no fear of people yet. Or any interest in chickens… he was more interested in a bug in the grass than the plump hens that were having a fit just 20 feet away!

And the mail yesterday brought a surprise… it’s official! We’re in!

Behind the scenes… Adventures in Papercutting, Part 4

To continue from the last post…

My all-time-favorite-most exciting-inspiring part of our days in Lancaster was getting to see the Pennsylvania German papercuts and fraktur in the collections of both Landis Valley Museum and the Lancaster Cultural History Museum. In two areas, we were allowed to bring our cameras, and in another our sketchbooks were okay, but the camera wasn’t allowed. Either way was fine for me… I was just thrilled to see the stuff up close! Landis also mounted a special exhibit in their Visitor Center because the Guild was coming, but I think it’s going to be up for a while, so if anyone has a chance to visit, make sure you go in and see the papercuts. You won’t believe how intricate they are! We also had special presentations by Sukey Harris, focussing on the heart in papercutting, and by Dr. Robert Kline on fraktur, giving special attention to the tulip. (He also pointed out quite a few “Tree of Life” depictions, Penn-German style!) My only wish was that I could have stayed longer, just me and my sketchbook, and maybe some watercolor pencils and a brush. (However, I think the curators would have gotten rather nervous, had any of us whipped out watercolors!)

The information about the fraktur and papercuts was very interesting. It was neat to see the copying the artists did… the printed copies mirrored the early hand-drawn fraktur, and then later on, folk artists imitated the printed fraktur while making home-made versions again. The artists also drew what they saw… from thistle finches (the “distelfink”) and the now extinct Carolina Parrot, to etchings they saw in the family Bible and designs on various other items… textiles, quilts, butter prints, pottery, etc. Inspiration was all around them, in every day life. One artist even used the English coat-of-arms as a design, but replaced the official English shield with a parrot. After all, the fraktur was made just after the Revolutionary War, so a parrot just seemed more appropriate. (Okay, wow.)

I did have to respectfully disagree with something said concerning the symbolism of Pennsylvania German folk art. The copying of a great variety of artworks and designs was pointed out, as mentioned above. The fact that nobody ever wrote down that they were using a specific symbol to signify a specific meaning was pointed out. It was pointed out that the current meanings of the symbols may have been construed by 20th century scholars. Okay, I understand all that about the symbolism… or the lack thereof. However, the main comment I disagreed with was this…

…it’s highly unlikely that a housewife with children tugging at her knee would have taken the time to think about the meaning of the things she was drawing or the decorations she was creating for her home in her spare time…

Not an exact quote, but more of a paraphrase, and I honestly don’t think it was meant with evil intentions or a demeaning attitude toward housewives. However, when I started papercutting, I was a housewife with children tugging at my knee. And when I got a few minutes to draw, paint, or papercut, I DID put a lot of thought into what I wanted my artwork to portray… what I wanted it to say. Yes, sometimes I did just doodle or copy a pretty design, but I was also thrilled to think my art might have multiple layers of meaning. Not that I was a terribly deep thinker or that I was into superstitious beliefs, but I did know what I was thinking when I designed my papercuttings. I thought about how much joy I hoped they would bring to the home they ended up in, and I really enjoyed adding Christian symbolism to them. Having a place to express my thoughts meant a lot to me as a young mom with children tugging at my knee. And I’ll bet those housewives (and schoolmasters, and schoolchildren, and itinerant artists) thought about their artwork too.

One thing I do know about folk art, is that a lot of skills and meaning weren’t written down, but were passed down by word of mouth, or by working alongside an older artisan. Artists themselves tend to express themselves visually rather than verbally, and it’s very unlikely that they would pick up a pen to write down why they drew a heart or a tulip on something, especially if it was generally understood by everyone around them. As a homeschool family, we once studied the meanings of the symbols and colors in coats-of-arms, and the girls designed their own personal coats-of-arms, using symbols that were important to them. Last summer, I met a older gentleman who was a Schwenkfelder, and he told me about all their fraktur, and that it was filled with their beliefs. When Ester Shilo gave me a Jewish papercut at Collection, she pointed out to me several symbolic elements in it, and told me what they meant. When our Chinese visitors gave their presentation, it was full of symbolism. And when we came back from the last museum visit, I went to Trudy Kauffman’s workshop on making a Haus Segan (a Pennsylvania-German House Blessing… thanks Trudy for helping me learn how to pronouce that word!!!), and right there in the packet was a list of symbolic meanings! See, somebody DID write it down!

And besides… symbolism in art is just plain fun.

Okay… I’ll step off my folk art soapbox now, and show you a few pictures!

Here’s how close we were to the real thing…

My favorite…

And we had a wonderful Pennsylvania German picnic dinner in the Yellow Barn…

And couple of things that resulted from sketchbook sketches… not quite finished, but they seemed to fit with this post!

Let’s see… for future scholarly reference, the heart symbolizes God’s love and protection on those inscribed therein, the doves symbolize peace, but also love and union between two, the berries symbolize fruitfulness, and the vine symbolizes that we’re grafted into God’s family!

Papercuttings from around the world… Part 3!

To continue our papercutting adventure…

The second day of Collection was FULL! Right after breakfast, Dena Levie introduced us to Judaic papercutting. Jewish papercuts go back for many centuries, but the art was nearly lost due to the Holocaust. Since then, however, papercut artists have worked very hard to pass on their skills to younger generations. The pieces they create are very beautiful and full of Biblical symbolism. I especially loved the ketubot… marriage certificates were also very important to the Pennsylvania Germans, and they’re a mainstay of our business. It was neat to see how Dena incorporated each couples’ interests in their special papercuttings!

After that we went to our first official workshop! I had a very hard time choosing which ones to go to when signing up for Collection… but the ones I got in were great. And so were the ones I didn’t get in. We all stuck our heads in the other classes whenever possible! My first workshop was on the Polish Tree of Life, taught by Susan Throckmorton. We were given some very bright, shiny, colored paper, and Susan showed us how to cut out a rough design, and then embellish it with little snips around the edges. Here’s my first attempt… I did it with very little pencil sketching, and ended up cutting a weird-shaped hole out of the center. It was supposed to be a heart blooming from a vine, but something happened.

Beside it is the pack of paper we were given. Papercutting is so popular in Poland, these pads of paper are sold in grocery stores, much like construction paper here in the USA. This type of papercut is called a “leluje”… it’s pronounced just like “alelujah,” except without the beginning syllable. Although there are many variations possible, each one has a tree shape, and usually roosters under the tree and birds in the tree. Artists take great liberties with these, though, and you can find all sorts of critters or people under and in the tree!

I’m going to stop there… our day was only half way through, but the second half was right up my alley! To be continued!