Posts Tagged ‘tradition’

This has been a long time coming. Thanks onto Eric and Ros for getting things rolling. There are a few little birds, many more to come!


Click here to visit.

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I love this show and the fine women that run it, but it didn’t look like I was going to be able to participate this year.

Good news–Circumstances have shifted a bit and 50 Little Birds will be on hand.  We are a late entry so please do what you can to let the folks of Bloomington know the birds will be on hand!

Bloomington Handmade Market

Bloomington Convention Center

Saturday, April 7, 2012

10:00 – 5:00

Thanks to Sally, Nicole, Mia and Jessica!

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The Perfect Christmas Tree

Most of my readers know that I’m all about Indiana traditions.  Heck, these traditions form the foundation of my work at Blue Stone Folk School.

Greg Adams and I spent the last two days at a primitives show in Troy, Ohio.  In our planning I mentioned to him that I wanted to pick up a skinny six foot artificial Christmas tree to display new line of holiday ornaments.  He protested that he did not want an artificial tree in our display.  I agree.  I’ve never even entertained the thought of having a fake tree until now.  I assumed (One should never do that) that the show wouldn’t allow a fresh tree.

Greg emailed me a few days later to let me know that he had our tree.  As a willow furniture maker he spends m ore time harvesting buidling material that he does building.  He has relationships with landowner, within in a huge territory, where he is allowed to harvest natural materials.  One one of these properties he cut — Indiana’s only native evergreen — a small eastern red cedar.

The tree was unusual (as a Christmas tree) in that the branches are very upright and the trunk was very thin — broomstick size at the base .  It was also a very light and bright green

The tree was perfect in so many ways.  It was tall, thin and spindly (in a good way).  It was fresh and very flexible.  It had loads of room to allow ornaments to hang.

This tree was the hit of the show.  I wish we had brought a dozen.  We spent more time talking about the tree than we did our artwork.  Many folks couldn’t believe that it was real.  It seemed too delicate and flexible.

One women knew immediately what it was and explained that as a child they cut roadside cedars as Christmas trees.  She added that they often grow in pairs and have a flat side.  This allows the tree to be displayed very close to the wall.

As Greg predicted we didn’t have to take the tree home.  As we were loading out a woman bought it for a show she is doing next weekend.

I may very well ask Greg to cut another when we are looking to decorate a tree in a few weeks. Inexpensive, renewable (They grow fast!) and traditional — what more could you want in a holiday tree?

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I teach 5th and 6th grade.  I’ve spent this weekend in meetings and preparing for my students.  I’ve been working hard to  make the most of my few days of summer.  When I had an opportunity to head home an hour earlier than expected I detoured to Lapel to make a long overdue visit to the shop of Greg Adams.

I made a brief entry last week when Greg presented me with my recent Indianapolis Monthly feature nicely framed in his trademark rustic picture frame.

I’ve been  aware of Greg’s work for years but we didn’t connect until we were both named Indiana Artisans late last year.  We later spent a weekend together at Marsh Madness in Linton.  He surprised me last week by dropping in for a few moments at the Gathering at Garst in Greenville, Ohio.

(I didn’t realize until I was doing some Googlin’ for this piece that Greg and I both participated in a Traditional Arts Indiana initiative several years ago.  I’m surprised we didn’t meet then.)

I sat and talked with Greg for just a few moments before John Bundy pulled up in front of the shop.  John spent the weekend with us in Linton.  Bundy Decoys are beautifully carved and finished and can be found in shops and galleries across the country.  John is a character and once he arrived we sat back and listened to his stories.  They are colorful and sometimes not fit to print.


I realized that we were experiencing something akin to the gentlemen that once hung around the Corner Drug Store in Noblesville, or the Liar’s Bench in Nashville or one of a million general stores, barbershops and taverns across this country.

It wasn’t long before we all parted ways to head home to family, a little better for some quality time shooting the breeze.

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The Wonders of Johnson’s Paste Wax

Last week I polished off my first can of Johnson’s Paste Wax.  I bought the can, over 20 years ago, before marriage and kids (barely).

At that time I was building shaker style furniture.  I was all about creating an authentic finish.  I began by dying the wood and following the dye with milk paint or oil rubbing varnish.  The piece was then distressed and painted pieces received a topcoat of rubbing varnish.  After the finish had hardened all was waxed and buffed to a nice, soft polish.

I love the stuff the moment I opened the can.  It smells of Mom’s and Grandma’s kitchens.  It smells of childhood playmate, Peter Anderson’s basement.  Peter moved to England before second grade.  With a little linseed oil it smells of the antique shops my mother haunted hen I was little.  These weren’t antique malls, but small shops in houses and barns across central Indiana, and mid-coast Maine.  These smells bring back intense emotional responses.

It feels good.  When applied by hand it softens and soaks into your hands an it covers the surfaces of floors, table and chairs.  When it drys it looks like wax.  It’s pasty and yellow and even a bit mealy.  With a spit (or spritz from a water bottle) and a buff it develops a soft, mellow, shiny protective surface.  If the surface wears or dulls, you simply apply more and buff again.  Finished surfaces develop a wonderful silky feeling that begs to be touched and stroked.

It brings colors live.  Milk paint is dull and flat when applied.  Under a coat of wax it POPS and glows under the shiny surface.

It protects surfaces from water.  It revives old dull surfaces.  It softens and renews leather.  It is a completely renewable surface that develops character as it is finished and refinished.

That first can has waxed dozens of chairs, tables, cabinets and picture frames.  It’s waxed shoes and countless ukuleles and guitars.  I can say with some authority that it has finished nearly 115 little carved birds.

Twenty years is a long time and my wax is gone.  Tonight I’ll pick up another can for my next twenty years’ work!

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Blue Stone Folk School is proud to present the old-time jug band stylings of Indianapolis folk music impresarios The Last Drop Jug Band Friday, June 11 at Noble Coffee & Tea Company in charming downtown Noblesville. With one foot in the the mountains and the other in the the big, muddy Mississippi, Last Drop Jug Band plays old-time jug band, blues, and hillbilly music, with banjo, guitar, harmonica, stand-up bass and talented folks singing in harmony. They describe their live shows as “energetic and rousing, soulful and fun.”

You can get an mp3 sample of their fine music, their version of Gus Cannon & the Jug Stomper’s “Walk Right In” at http://apps.bebo.com/my-band/artist/lastdropjugband.The show will be from 7 to 9 p.m. with a $5 cover.

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