Hopalong Hollow....

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

Friday, July 21, 2017

New life in the garden, new baby in the family...

There is a line in a poem that goes something like this:
 "You are closer to God in a garden, than anywhere else on earth..."
I think many gardeners would agree.

To observe the growth of a plant up close and personal, from it's humblest and seemingly insignificant beginnings:
a minute,and barely visible seed...

to a mass of  bold and sturdy stems lined with shapely, finely veined leaves and buds waiting to burst into bloom, THIS is a quiet adventure to a gardener.

 We are dazzled by 50 shades of green, pink, blue, yellow, red and white; starting at our feet and sometimes, towering over our heads.
What earthly artist could ever conceive of such colors?

Behold the humor,

 the intricacy,

the lush layers of seeming fragility,
  The surprises

and the delicacy that is found in the garden.

  Not only have we the  boisterous beauty, variety and vibrancy of the petals and leaves and stems, we have the scent. How do you describe the scent of lavender... or the heady, lush sweetness of a rose?


 .Or the faint whiff of spice from an Iris?
 I cannot, I am not a wordsmith or a poet, I only know that when I am surrounded by the LIFE in my garden, I am witness to a loving Creator, who provided ALL of it: for us.

Squeeze a leaf of Basil or Rosemary between your fingers and tell me that the aroma  pleasing your senses  is merely an accident with no rhyme or purpose. I believe there is a purpose.
  The Hollyhocks bloom, the flowers fade, but left behind another marvel begins to form:
shaped like tiny green donuts, seeds dry, and separate into dozens of little uniform pods...full of the promise of new life and a Garden of HOLLYHOCKS for next year,
when the cycle repeats itself.

 I wish everyone had a garden.... it really makes you appreciate the wonders surrounding us.

As further evidence to all that is miraculous,
   I present to you
 This beautiful little rosebud of a baby...
  Meet Ramona, daughter of Matthew and Ashley... and our new Grandbaby.
 She is 6 months old now... and much more incredible than any flower in the garden.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Another finished Illustration, a fox an a garden

The 3 hour drive to Berea didn't leave me with idle 
hands and I managed to needle-felt a  character familiar to any that live on a farm.
I worked on her in the hotel room as well, and by the time we were home again she had a little companion.

  I was tempted to put a chicken or duck in her mouth, as that would have been truer to form, 
but I settled for a little squirrel instead....to keep her on her toes.


Happily, I had no REAL ducks or chickens  missing when we arrived home.
I sent the Vixen into the garden to play, where the Lavender seemed to have grown  a foot in the last 4 days.

 Oh Joy!

Another finished Illustration for Pippity Trimble...
The actual size of the pages in the book will be quite small at 6" square.
 Today I get to paint a favorite insect, a Mantis; he is also a character in the book.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Painting the stories for Trimble Manor and Pincushions for sale...

  "Pippity Trimble lives in a stately old, brick and timber Manor, in the center of a vast and lovely garden. Here, the foxglove grows the tallest and the pink tea roses bloom in abundance."
So begins the first story of our mouse and her house.

  You may remember Trimble Manor... I spent nearly 2 months building it for this little mouse.
Although, in the stories, the house was built in 1680, and PIPP's time is the 1890's.

The Manor is as much a character in this new set of books as is Pippity herself.
It rather defines her life as a quite fastidious and opinionated mouse-person.
 I'm moving quickly along with the paintings and hope you will enjoy seeing glimpses of them as I go.
 Back to the brushes and watercolor.....

 PAGE one is painted...

  I've had some inquiries on Facebook about my Pincushions 
 These are still available at the moment.... but I am taking them to a show next weekend.
 If you are interested in purchasing one, just email me at jeri@hopalonggreetings.com 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Did you build a Bee Haven yet?

If you haven't yet built a Bee Hotel for your garden or orchard... let me refresh your memory. We built one in 2015 here..

 and another last year...
 I just made a 10 minute video with much information about the purpose of a Bee hotel. If you have a chance, please watch it and get busy building yours!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Doll Show

Well, the consensus is in and it says... AHEM... Doll shows are certainly different.
  I didn't know what to expect, and it was an eye opener to see  hoards of women rushing to the section featuring "reborn dolls". No kidding; with strollers and diaper bags in tow, these women were in line to purchase  very REALISTIC infant baby dolls that cost from $1500 to $10,000! I am not exaggerating. I am sorry I did not photograph any of those dolls,  so I found a sample of one on Pinterest to show you.
(This photo courtesy of Pinterest)

 As you can see, they appear to be seriously REAL. I guess what puzzles me is that the women actually treat them as real babies. Okay, I admit I don't get it; but to each his own.
  There were many incredible art dolls such as these dolls by Valerie Zeitler; with an $1800 price tag...  I believe she sold most of them.
  The outfits on these figures were SPECTACULAR!

  The Russian Doll Artists, created  " Kardenchiki" Dolls that were simply Beautiful.
What I really liked about most of the dolls was their clothing....
There were no more than a dozen dolls on this table, and all but 2 were sold. The prices were pretty reasonable, considering the work involved. The most expensive being $900. It was a husband-wife team. He makes the clothes and she makes the dolls.

 Another, rather Steam Punk look in the Booth of Maureen Carrol

What I really liked was that funny little black bear, he was $425.

  My favorite figures were by the Artist Karen Baker.... do you suppose it has something to do with her woodsy atmosphere?

  My work seemed rather primitive compared the the artist dolls at this show and there were only a few Teddy Bear and Plush Toy artists. It was more of a DOLL Market than a toy market.
Although the work was stupendous, I actually prefer OLD dolls, colonial dolls, and vintage style dolls. There were NONE such dolls at this show. There was a wonderful lady with small teddy bears that looked like antiques in the "Raspberry Bears" booth, but I forgot to take a picture.

 Our booth was stuffed to the brim, I had been working all year to get all this together.
  I only sold the two gossiping squirrels on this table... and they were my favorites.

  Several pincushions were sold.

I sold NO mid-size rabbits at all, and they were so cute....
 But several little mice went to new homes and many of my books... so that's good.

I'm pretty sure this particular doll show was NOT my venue at all. 
We're really glad we did the show anyway, I learned much and met some wonderful artists.
  We will try another doll show in the Future, but not this one because most of the customers were only in the market for the Reborn Babies.
  Alas! I have so much inventory, I needn't make another critter for the rest of the year and that makes me VERY HAPPY,
 because now, at last, I can finish Painting my Mouse books!
You do remember Trimble Manor????

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Hollyhocks and Beatrix

Nothing says "country garden" like the old fashioned Hollyhock. Watching these wonderful plants beginning to bloom in my gardens thrills me to bits! I planted seeds last year and watched the little plants slowly taking hold; they actually stayed green over the winter and continued to grow.
  Dwarf Hollies have been blooming all week long.
 And the full size Hollies are just beginning to open.

 I've been thinking about this girl for quite a long time.
I have made small, simple versions of sheep, but this one needed to be distinctive and exceptional to represent  Beatrix, my 12 yr. old Shropshire sheep that I lost last year.

  I could see her in my minds eye with her gentle full face, very wide nose, soft dark eyes and a perpetual smile on her face...

I look at this  face, and I do see Beatrix.

 I wanted her to be on the large size, and chose to use a full body armature that would make her close to 16 inches tall.
 She looks like an alien in this picture...
 I wrapped and wrapped her body and limbs with wool shorn from Sophia,  and then covered that wool with core wool.
  All the while, the wool needed to be needle-felted into place.
It  required SO much wool to get her some bulk, but eventually, she was built up enough that I could begin to use the good wool to create her top coat. I carded White Alpaca with Merino wool together to make a beautiful pearly white
 My real Beatrix was never this clean.

She smiled at me the whole time I was poking her with the needle...my Beatrix was never that good-natured.
It was difficult to felt with the armature underneath, I kept hitting the surface with my needles and had to poke the wool sideways.The next time I make one of these, I will use a different kind of armature.

I worked on her for many days, trying to build her up...

She still looks quite skinny for a sheep, but we had a solution to that problem...
Have you ever seen a sheep AFTER it's been shorn?
They are VERY slender...
Such a special lady needed a fine bonnet, and I am a milliner to little creatures
I love making hats
and frocks for country ladies..

She also needed Hooves; for walking the meadows and villages, one needs good footwear.

I made an extra set, just in case.
 Dried, sanded, polished and applied!
 We tried several baskets before deciding that this soft meshy one would be lightest for travel, and still hold a lot of wool. 

  The red felt bonnet was just the right color to set off her features to best advantage
The antique millinery flowers are of a soft flock-like material.

 Her calico bodice with antique pearl buttons... to match her pearly wool.

Her Shears..... now you know why she is so slender...

I'll take 8 oz of wool please.
I think I love her....