Welcome to My Red Cape. Long ago in another time my husband Jack and I lived in a little old red house. It was the stuff of dreams to us for the few years that we were there. I live there still a number of hours every day in imagination, with old dolls and paintings and fabrics and feather trees. I draw inspiration and happiness from the memories of that space in time and share some of it here with friends who remember how to step with Alice through the looking glass and take delight in whimsies and antiquities. ~Edyth O’Neill

Friday, February 3, 2023

My 92nd birthday came in like a bear.

My birthday month, January, was full of challenges, among them the end of my old computer system.  I am working now to set up one a little differently and have found my way back to my blog today.  Texas is emerging from a dramatic three-day ice storm which has left many without power or heat still. My own home was touched only lightly because I had only light rain to freeze, but most of central Texas looked like this: 


Heavy ice will take a while to melt, but as for my yard, today I am thawed and have stepped outside a few minutes in shining sunlight.

Dolls are a happy counterpoint to challenges, and I have lately added to the doll family here, two late 19th century cloth dolls with oil painted faces.  Homemade dolls like this have a charm and personality from being one of a kind, made one at a time.   

This doll came to me from the collection of Kathy Turner, noted collector and dealer, who had kept the doll about 10 years.
It is unusual to find one in this original condition and so though her clothing is fragile I will guard every thread of it.

She has no bonnet of her own so has borrowed one I made from pieces of an old quilt.





Another doll, "Angel", has come to me from the collection of Dixie Redmond.
Angel badly wants clothing, there will be other pictures when she is dressed.

Angel has her name from the circle on the top of her head, the unusual seaming reminds me of a halo.

Her head and hands are oil painted, nicely done.  

   Thoughts and prayers for those friends in northern states facing an onslaught of deep cold.  e 


Wednesday, December 28, 2022

looking back at where we were years ago, and on into that new year.

 Fall 2005 Remembered 

After fire took our beloved red cape these were two of my posts to readers here. I will be 92 in January and my sweetheart Jackie has been gone ten years today. Life changes for us all, but I am fortunate to have a different but good living situation at present and much to look forward to still in 23. 


 2005   Starting over in a new house. After several months of searching for a house that felt warm and cozy and welcoming to us, we compromised mightily and purchased a new one in a pretty subdivision of Fredericksburg. After living with 240 year old New England pine floors and wide chestnut beams overhead in the farmhouse, white tile and white carpet along with arches and coffered ceilings seemed hard to accept. At the same time we knew we were lucky to have a good safe house, again comparing ourselves to the people who lost all in Katrina. Our situation is lovely compared to theirs.


Jack and our daughter Beth and son in law Gary worked six weeks to simplify the new house, sheet rocking to level the arches. taking out extreme green countertops in favor of slate gray, removing Italian grape wallpaper, and replacing ceiling fans in the major rooms with candle style chandeliers from Moses Willard. A flying saucer or something like one covered two large florescent fixtures in the kitchen. It was removed and neat can lighting went in. Gary put dimmers on most of the lighting, including the over counter lights in the kitchen, saying "Mom now you have candle light". Changing nearly all of the light fixtures made an unimaginable difference through out.


We moved no walls, nor made any major changes which might compromise the integrity of the house. Rather we are warming the interior with our collection of earth colored stoneware and red ware, the pewter and delft and newly upholstered furniture, crewel over some of the windows, and the beginnings of a library of books again. It is a comfortable house, with large spaces and ample seating for people and activities. There are guitars and a banjo standing in a corner, and big speakers to sound our favorite records.


Here is a note to my brother during those weeks: Never become involved with wall paper if it can be at all avoided! We are doing the small bathroom this weekend and just suffering death in there. Beth and Gary will return for another shift of it soon and we should be done by tonight. Gary does the plumbing and unplumbing and Jack and Beth hang and cry and I cut paper and match and measure and ring my hands when it all goes wrong and won't stick to the wall which is the worst of it. Someday we will laugh about all this, just not yet!!! Have a great day. Love, Sis

The first thing our friend Helen said when she saw our new house was "Of course you will replace the front door!!!" It was leaded glass and very fancy and we replaced it with a paneled door painted the green of the house trim color.


Jack has made a space for his woodworking tools and is beginning to do woodwork again. I have set up an easel by a north window so I can start back to painting, and have a space for sewing and for rug wool. The early furniture is shocked by its new surroundings, but the crewel swags help over the windows. The new house is surprised at us too, it never expected hooked rugs and baskets of wool and a large spinning wheel, but now has them.

Greatly missed are the twenty oriental rugs lost. We are thrilled to have a large one now for the living room and three small ones to scatter about and cover some of the white floor.


December 2005 Our Christmas Letter

Dear Friends, Now that this year is ending, I look back on many changes for Jack and myself. Among the most heart warming of this year’s events was the tremendous response from friends and family after fire struck our home. Your loving support made the difference. Jack says he does not know how we would have made it through the worst days without the people who came to help us. Thank you also, who wrote to us after the fire with your messages of comfort. At two times this year we suffered serious computer glitches and lost all email and addresses and each time some of your warm letters went into space and were never answered. Many of the letters in snail mail were read and enjoyed but some also went without the full response I would like to have given them. Please forgive me when the correspondence is more that I can manage, I love to get them and do read over each several times. Email is always the easiest for me. The new address is joneill816@austin.rr.com
Life has many storms, and Jack and I have endured our personal one this year. We think of the thousands of hurricane victims and their suffering and continuing displacement, and give thanks that we were not taken out of our very community. Now that we have moved into a clean new house in town, we are unpacking and sorting papers and books and trying to put our lives in order again. The heartbreak of loosing our old house is still fresh but we will hold dear the memory of those years in the little red cape for all of our lives. We are grateful to have a house again, and plan to fill it with grandchildren and friends and music and books and paintings and pumpkin pies and happy memories so that soon the new one will be home to us. This week there is a Christmas wreath on the front door and sleigh bells on the inside so that they sound each time the door is opened. Let us all open the door of our hearts to the ringing of bells and the possibility of joy in the new year.

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

September's doll

 Two nice Izannah Walker dolls in worn but original condition are the favorites of my doll collection. I will add another if I have the means and the opportunity. Meanwhile a very rough little waif showed up on Ebay and then came to me. I set about to try to bring the much patched and poorly overpainted doll to a better state, here is her story.  A huge box arrived! The packing would have befitted a princess! Layers and layers under was the doll, in what I believe to be her original dress and three pieces of unders. The perfectly fitted red dress is entirely hand sewn, the unders some and some.  Beyond mending, the dress is melting as is the petticoat, both will be kept in a protected plastic sleeve.  Pictures tell the story. I am lucky enough to have an old dress that fits Evangeline,  also completely hand sewn.  I am happy to have a third old Izannah Walker doll, patches and paint not withstanding.   She danced away her original feet long ago.  Even the replacements have given way, showing she had a long life as a play doll.  Her dark little hands show a life of much work.  What stories she could tell!







New lower legs to make and paint.  



picture before and after  from Dixie Redmond










She has borrowed a dress from one of her sisters, I need to sew more.  Dress below from Robin's Egg Blue.  

Orange buggy ex collection Merritt Museum. 




Welcome, worn little doll, you are still loved.     e

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Phone keeps

There are hundreds of ways to carry a cell phone, I have not been good about keeping mine with me in the past. Now I have an IPhone I enjoy.  Looking on line at the dozens of hard leather bags there, both for over the neck or over the shoulder,  I did not see one that seemed to be for me.   Having studied ladies' antique pockets and sewing  rolls and little bags to keep embroidery scissors at hand, a variety of pretty little keeps filled my head right away!  A pretty phone bag could be made of crewel embroiderd upholstery fabric.  Or one of the little oriental rug copies that used to be given with tobacco products. How about one for rug hookers or a bag trimmed in wool applique?  As a lover of old quilts, I started with quilt fragments.




I have finished two patchwork phone bags. I wear them around my neck, not cross body. The pink one is snug enough that the phone does not jump out of it, the slightly larger log cabin one has a brown button and a loop at the top.

For my next one I have turned to southwestern inspiration.

Denim and silver are almost a uniform for me. I enjoy the southwestern jewelry I grew up with and have loved all my life. So I naturaly turn to the American Indian's medicine pouch or the mountain man's possibles bag. The medicine pouches are mostly smaller than I need and the possibles bag is slightly larger. Many people wear the leather possibles bag cross body as a purse, or for shooting supplies which it carried in earlier times. A hunter might hold it over his head when crossing a creek, Keep your powder dry! (and patches and dried food stuff.)

A pretty medicine bag made by a Taos craftsman is typical of newer ones.


One with a painted pony was made by my daughter Cheryl and me, and one with a claw on it by contemporary Espanola  craftsman Lynn Canterbury.


On this velveteen bag the ornament is an Apache prayer stone, mounted in leather by a contemporary Indian artist.  Among early trading goods prized by Indians, fabrics ranked high in exchange for beaver pelts.   Velvet was worn with deer skin and broadcloth and soon, calico.  



My brother says "An ancient-styled medicine bag with 21st-century technology. 

Wonderful!"  e



Sunday, July 3, 2022

Blue Corn, just dreaming of it so far.

Fall decorating will be with us before I can blink,  a painting takes me a while to work out and execute and dry and make little changes .. so I have wanted to do some fall still lifes for years and never manage it!  Christmas overtakes me while I am still just thinking about pumpkins.  So yesterday I began to imagine what I might paint,  I love the blue corn of Taos, actually have some seeds from Robert Mirabal but never planted them. The fun of corn husks is unbounded, it can be whatever one imagines!  I have a Taos flute, and a wonderful small drum made about 40 years ago by Red Shirt, a Taos  Pueblo drum maker of note.   Tonight I have sketched a possible arrangement.

 I need a huge cardboard box, or some hinged cardboard pieces like the side of a box,   to contain the light and make nice shadows and set up a clip-on light. Then I will have to work in a slightly dark room with a light above my easel and my chair and paints and on and on, setting this up in a front bedroom, have to move in a long white work table and shove the sofa over,   keeping paint off the bed coverlet and little sofa with plastic covers, and so forth.  This is how I have done my big still life paintings in the past, and why there have not been many for years  now.     



Appologies for dull coloring on these images, the paintings are more vivid and colorful in reality.






My tiny and crowded library where I normally paint from pictures on a screen is intact and ready to use at all times, wonder what I can do to bypass the difficult set up described above.  Photos never catch all the precious reflected colors in the shadows, and reflected light off nearby objects, nor allow one to slightly move this or that over without messing up the shadows.   Still I may end up setting the box up at night on my back porch and taking pictures of it.  Then paint off my monitor instead of much preferred  life.  




 My usual painting area is so small there is no room to back up and see the painting as a whole as I work on it.   Jack thought I would clear out his bedroom with its marvelous north light and make it my painting space when he was gone.   Instead I have kept his room very much as he left it.  All the pewter and pottery in the cupboards throughout the house are where he placed them. I just dust them and keep them in place.  He has been gone 10 years this coming Christmas.    Jack told me he wanted me to continue to write and paint and keep on doing things. That seems to have worked well till lately, I am getting lazy. The extreme heat and higher than usual humidity are a factor I think. So let’s think about fall.  e

Friday, June 17, 2022

 

A rug hooking friend, Barb Carroll passed away last week, she is the one to whom I sold my rug designs. She had long since sold them on to Katie Hartner,  A Nimble Thimble in Tyler Texas.   Barb Carroll was a pillar of the rug hooking community. Her enthsiastic use of color was unbounded by convention and her work was marked by exuberant color.  She was also a warm wonderful human being beloved by so many of us.

  I remember the day we met, my friend  Virginia Munroe told me of a class she was taking, and said I must drive to San Antonio to meet that teacher. I went, and at the lunch break Barb came out in the hall to sit down and share her sandwich with me,  and we were good friends for all the years after that.  She is the one who gave Old Spoon the blue checked dress of what I believe is real home woven fabric. The word ‘homespun” is tossed about freely, but this is the  real article, as evidenced by the uneven checks. Sometimes the weaver would put a little more of one color or the other before changing her weft.

  Old Spoon was made, signed, and dated in June of 1983.  She was one of more than 75 cloth dolls I made in the early 1980’s.   Only three were  of this pattern, the rest had faces with a center seam making a nose. I love Spoon the best, as her features rely on paint alone for her features.   At Thirty inches tall and firmly stuffed, she is a substantial doll with an interesting three part head..

 This doll was sold to a local friend who wanted an old fashioned rag doll for her grandchildren to play with.  Spoon played enthusiastically with all the children and has many stories to share now if she could speak to me.  Around 2010, the grandchildren were all grown and scattered and Spoon came home to me, soiled and disheveled but undaunted. There is a tire track from someone’s tricycle across her throat and stains of unknown origin on her stockings and her once sweet antique real child’s frock was torn and needed replacing.  Her white unders were also unusable.  Rug hooking friend Barb Carroll loved Spoon on sight, and sent her a fine blue  checked dress from Pennsylvania, made of homespun fabric.  The doll enjoys clothing for small children of long ago and has several frocks but her favorite is the blue check from her Aunt Barbara.  Spoon has retired now from rough play and gives new meaning to “Hanging out with friends” as she hangs on a wall in my bedroom among other cloth dolls and old samplers and sewing rollups. 
A painting came  to life last week when my sister and brother in law visited and brought their beautiful Sheltie, LanSir, along. He is just an armfull of love! And he accepted me in a friendly way immediately , after Judy coaxed him to jump up on the couch to get at my level. At first I said I will get down on the floor to have a picture made with him and they all said at once "No! We could not get you up!"  I laughed and said true. LanSir has been to school and has beautiful manners in every way and is a much loved member of the family.  I have painted LanSir twice from Photos. I would love to have such a dog in my life!  I could not care for one at present. But I can love this one.



Part of a painting of a bison shows above me, that is one my artist daughter Cheryl painted some years back.





Here is a different gorgeous Sheltie I painted for a friend lately. They seem such intelligent wonderful companion dogs.   In years past I have had several great German Shepherds, and loved them much. I could not handle and train or bathe such big  bears now.
  e



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