Photos of the Wagon Wheel Rugs

Post by Virginia Allan
My mom and dad tried out a lot of crafts after retirement. One that they revived was the almost-lost art of the wagon wheel rug. The metal rim of an old wagon wheel serves as the base for tying the strips of cotton cloth before you start weaving.

They used old sheets torn into strips and turned out many colorful rag rugs woven on the wagon wheel. Although these are intended as throw rugs for the floor, I’ve seen people use them on a round table or to drape across the back of a sofa or chair.

They even demonstrated this technique at various pioneer days and at local history museums. Mom and Dad would be thrilled that a growing number of people are taking up the weaving of wagon wheel rugs.

There’s now a Facebook group where those making these round rag rugs are helping others to learn the craft. The folks would be so pleased that the skill is being shared with new people. Almost 200 people have joined the Facebook group and are sharing tips on making the rugs.

Photos of Gail and Clyde Martin’s Wagon Wheel Rugs

I asked my family to send me photos of their rugs made by Gail and Clyde Martin. My sisters and nieces shared the pictures below. Thank goodness for email and digital cameras which made it easier for them to send these along to me.

It seems that family cats are also liking the wagon wheel rugs. They are just right to curl up on for a cat nap, it seems.

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Nikki’s cat and blue rug

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A wider view of the blue rug

Here are some more rugs from the family.

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orange and white wagon wheel rug made by Gail and Clyde Martin

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Close-up of the weaving

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Spokes of the wheel

I’m leaving the photos full-size so anyone trying to make these kinds of rugs can see the details.

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Wagon wheel rug made by Gail and Clyde Martin

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Detail of the center of the rug

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Detail of the spokes of the wagon wheel rug

Even more wagon wheel rugs –

 

I Love Cemeteries

I’ve always found old cemeteries fascinating. You never know what you’ll find there. Perhaps I inherited this interest from my mother. Gail Lee Martin spent many hours in graveyards while tracking down ancestors and looking for birth and death dates to add to the family tree.

Pause for a minute to scan the moss-covered stones and trace a finger over the engraved lettering.

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I visited this cemetery in Longmeadow, Massachusetts some years ago.

Who was this person that lies beneath this gravestone? What was his life like and why did he die? Sometimes you find family groupings and can piece together the family’s story. Perhaps the father died in the war, leaving a young widow. Nearby is a stone for their child who died too young. Was it an accident, an epidemic or other misfortune?

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A child’s grave in Frankfort, KY.

I’m always intrigued by the long-lived ones, octogenarians and even ones who lived into their nineties. It’s particularly striking when the stone is for someone who lived in the 1700s or the 1800s. In those days, the life span was much shorter, but you find some who were remarkably long-lived.

As a genealogist, I’m usually looking for specific ancestors as I wander through a cemetery. Still, I can’t resist checking out other people’s dead relatives while I’m there.

There’s something timeless and soothing about a sunny day of wending ones way among the marble markers that represent lives of those long gone. Here’s an old graveyard that I discovered in New Hampshire called the Perkins Hill Cemetery. You can read about the interesting graves I found there.

I’ve even stopped by a cemetery on a snowy day. This photo is from Ohio where I lived in the 1970s. The sky was threatening more snow and I couldn’t resist stopping to capture it with my camera. I wish I’d had a better camera back then.

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A cemetery in winter near Chardon, Ohio.

Do you find graveyards scenic and interesting?

 

(all photos by Virginia Allain)

Mom And Tiny Houses

On a rainy day last week, I got out my miniature birdhouses and decorated them with paint. It’s the sort of project that Mom would have had a lot of fun with. Gail Martin was an excellent crafter and there are many memories of her sharing her talent by teaching her children and later the grandchildren.

Last year, I’d picked up some miniature unpainted birdhouses from Michael’s for $1 each. What a bargain. This seemed the perfect time to pretty them up. I already had a stash of leftover oil paints from a paint-by-number kit. Remember those? That gave me a variety of colors to use on the tiny houses.

 

 

Here’s my first attempt, using some red fabric to cover the roof and adding some heart-shaped flowers. I’ll spray this with a sealant and hope it holds up for a summer outside if I put it in a sheltered area.

The second one ended up with a birch bark theme. It was a sheet of bark that I found in the woods last year. I’m such a packrat, but now I had a use for it.

 

I was surprised at how easy it was to cut the bark with ordinary scissors. My glue gun worked fine for securing the bark to the walls of the faux birdhouse. Do you think it looks OK with a white roof or should I paint that?

These are going into my planting areas to add a little color in a few spots too shady for most plants. I’ll tuck in some moss and a little fern for a fairy garden. That’s a huge gardening trend the last few years. I haven’t seen any fairies but maybe the availability of houses will attract some.

Fairy Garden with plants and little house

The plants are mouse-ear hawkweed, red crest lichen (also called British Soldiers), and a cutting from another plant with purple flowers.

I’m sure that if fairy gardening had been thought of in the 1950s and 1960s, Gail would have loved the concept and set her children to collecting pebbles and moss to make our own miniature gardens somewhere in the yard.

You can read more about fairy gardening online. Perhaps your grandchildren would like to create one the next time they visit. They could make little houses out of bark, collect stones for a path, make a little fence out of twigs. It’s great fun for kids or even grown-ups. Don’t wait for a rainy day.

Tiny fairy house

The round fairy house needs a few more plants and some moss to go with the fern.

Dad Loved to Fish

I remember tagging along with Dad a few times when he went fishing. To me, it was hours of boredom sitting on the river bank while bugs tried to bite me. The leaves made me itchy and the ground felt increasingly hard as I tried not to squirm which would frighten away the fish.

His fishing time was limited to times when the oil rig shut down and there was no work. Probably he hoped to catch enough fish to feed the family while there was no paycheck.

Later when he retired, he fished for fun at Sugar Valley Lakes in Eastern Kansas. Gail and Clyde became a frequent sight at the lake as they fished from the dock or went out in their boat. They caught bass, catfish, and grass carp.

Clyde Martin loved fishing

Catfish, grass carp, and bass caught by Clyde Martin

They took pride in their catch and took photos of the fish. Gail noted in a small notebook the length and weight of the catch each day.

They ended up catching so many that they couldn’t eat them all, so they held a fish fry for the small community of Prescott, Kansas. They wanted to show their appreciation to all the people who made them welcome at their getaway home there.

It was about a 3-hour drive from their home in El Dorado, so at first, it was a weekend retreat while Dad was still working. It was beyond the reach of a demanding job. Later, they spent weeks at a time there. They found it comfortably like the small towns they were familiar with growing up in the 1930s.

 

Updated 1940s Photo of Gail

Gail Lee Martin loved researching family history and she’s passed that passion on to several of her daughters, including me. She tracked her McGhee line laboriously through letters and visits to courthouses, libraries, and cemeteries in those pre-Internet times. I’ve been retracing her steps, but using online resources, to see what further can be discovered.

In doing so, I joined a Perry County history group on Facebook for Arkansas. While asking about the McGhees there and sharing some photos, I’ve met some distant cousins who shared their ancestors with me. This photo shows Florence McGhee who married William J. Marshall in 1910. Florence McGhee Marshall (2)

My thanks to Dana Mattingly Craft‎ who provided this picture. Information from the back: Florence McGhee Marshall with children: Robert Marshall (in her arms), Willie “Dane” Marshall, Doyle Marshall (retired from the navy around 1950), Kenneth Marshall (killed in service on December 16, 1941 around Honolulu, Hawaii while piloting an airplane off a carrier for the Navy).

This photo had to have been taken prior to or in 1918 as Florence and Dane died at the end of 1918 as did her one-month-old infant.

In looking at this photo of Florence, it reminded me of a 1940s photo of my mother, when she worked at Boeing. Do you see the resemblance?
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This sharing of information led to another connection who surprised me by colorizing Gail’s picture. I think Jenny S. Henry did a marvelous job and I greatly appreciate her skill and willingness to share her talent.

 

color boeing photo by Jenny

Make a Santa Ornament from a Light Bulb

Gail Lee Martin wrote this article for the eHow site telling how to make old light bulbs into Santa decorations. If you have some dead light bulbs, don’t toss them out. 

How to Make a Santa Ornament from a Light Bulb

Here is a craft my daughter, Shannon, and I started making back in 1993. We took them to the Wesley employee’s craft fair. They were so cute and were very popular.
It’s a fun way to recycle burned out light bulbs. Here’s how to make them.

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Things You’ll Need:

  • light bulbs
  • white spray paint
  • various paint and a brush
  • or colored markers
  • glue gun
  • gold string
  • canned snow (the kind sprayed on windows)
  1. We took burned out light bulbs and turned them into Christmas tree ornaments. Start saving up bulbs now and ask your friends and family to save theirs for you too. You can also buy new ones if you can’t wait for them to burn out.
  2. I spray painted the bulb white like Santa’s beard. Even though the bulb is whitish already, the spray paint gives a more even surface and color. It also hides the dark spot that burned out bulbs sometimes have.
  3. Then I used a brush to hand-paint the screw top with red paint for his hat.
  4. I hot-glued a gold string to the top to hang it with. Heavy gold thread or gold wire is fine for this or you can use red yarn.
  5. Using canned snow, I put a rim around the red cap and some on the top for a ball.
  6. Shannon painted and sketched on the expressive faces and added a realistic mustache with a swipe of white paint. Leftover paint-by-number paint or a kid’s paint kit works for this. You can draw on the eyes and details with permanent markers also.

Tips & Warnings

  •  This makes recycling fun.
  •  Check the Santa clip art site listed below in resources for ideas for Santa’s face. You can make jolly Santas, roly-poly Santas, stylized Santas, classic Santas, etc.

Resources

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Use those old light bulbs for crafts

Make a Star Ornament from a Paper Bag

Post by Virginia Allain – This was an idea that I wanted to show Mom. I was sure she would be making these by the dozens in no time. These can go on a tree, decorate a package, or hang on the door handle.

Brown Paper Star Ornaments

Using a printable star pattern, trace two same-sized stars on a brown paper bag. Cut these out using pinking shears or craft scissors. Don’t worry, the pencil lines will be inside the star.

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Glue the two stars together except for one tip. Leave an opening to put in the filling.

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Pull apart a cotton ball so it’s loose and stuff it into the opening of the star. Use a pencil to distribute the stuffing the way you want. I like most of mine in the center. You could also use a bit of quilt batting or some used dryer sheets bunched up.

Cut a piece of raffia to loop at the top for hanging. Put the cut ends inside the opening of the star and glue it shut, securing the hanging loop.

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Add that homespun, country-look with faux stitches around the edge. Use a black marker for these. Space them evenly.

Tie another piece of raffia into a bow and glue it to the front of the star. Glue some buttons to finish the theme.

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Always save buttons for future use. (photo by Virginia Allain)

Anytime you discard a piece of clothing because of wear or stains, cut off the buttons and save them. A stash of buttons comes in handy to have for clothing repairs or for a craft like this.