Easter 1924 Thu, Apr 17, 1924 – 2 ·(This is the year that Gail Lee McGhee was born. ) The Eureka Herald and Greenwood County Republican (Eureka, Kansas) · Newspapers.com –
Gail Lee Martin’s book gets a mention now and then, which shows the staying power of old-fashioned ways from the Great Depression era. It seems that when times get hard, people look back to the 1930s for how families survived.
“Purchasing dye tablets, powders and craft paints can become expensive. Making your own with natural products can be a matter of using leftover juices from preparing foods, saving your household budget some money in the process, as detailed by the author of “My Flint Hills Childhood,” whose mother managed her home of five on a Great Depression budget.” (article on eHow called Natural Plant Dyes & Activities for Children By Holly Huntington)
Since it’s almost Easter time and people are still in the “stay home” mode, there’s likely to be an interest in coloring your eggs without store-bought dyes.
You won’t want to sacrifice eggs for some Easter fun with the current difficulty in getting those. I recommend blowing out the contents of the egg and saving those in the fridge for scrambled eggs or for baking. What you have left is a rather fragile eggshell that’s just waiting to be decorated.
Gail’s Memories of Easter in the 1930s
I remember as a child out in the Flint Hills of Kansas during the thirties we colored eggs for Easter. We had to think ahead to that special day because we didn’t have commercial egg coloring back then. My folks raised chickens and kept a few laying hens just for our own eggs. So we would save eggs for Mother to hard-boil and then we would color them in rainbow hues to be hidden on the prairie on Easter morning. Mother’s White Rock hens laid white eggs that were best for coloring.
Mother relied on Mother Nature a lot to obtain colors for our eggs by saving juice from cooked beets to make various shades of pink and red eggs. Yellow onion skins were steeped in hot water to produce a gorgeous yellow shade and the longer the egg remained in the colored water the darker it would get. Wild elderberries provided a juice that was a deep purple and a wet green leaf wrapped around an egg would leave a beautiful imprint on the egg. Mother used commercial blueing in her rinse water to whiten the laundry and we used some of it to make lovely blue-tinted eggs.
We also used wax from candles to make designs on the eggs before immersion in the liquid dye. I believe Mother also added vinegar to the natural juices but that might have been later when the little dye tablets came out in stores. We hid and hunted the eggs as a game, with no mention of the Easter Rabbit that is so talked about today. Anyone who has raised rabbits knows they don’t lay eggs of any type. To the children of mid-thirties, the art of coloring eggs was just another sign of Spring in our community.
We also just hid them one time and then made egg salad sandwiches, deviled eggs and put them into potato salad and had a picnic.
To hear this memory in Gail’s own voice, go to the story at Our Echo, then click on the audio link.
Happy Birthday, to my sister, Shannon. It’s hard to imagine that she would be 61 if she were still here today. In my mind, she is forever that young, vibrant person loved by all who knew her.
My album of photos of Shannon.
Little sister, Shannon Martin, with her insect display at the Butler County 4-H fair.
Shannon and the kittens, 1963.
My sister, Shannon Martin, with her cat, TC.
Her creativity shone through the humdrum lives that we all live. It came out in performing in plays in high school, in writing, and in her scrapbooking and card-making.
A card made by Shannon Hyle with her favorite ladybugs on it.
Here are some more samples of her cards. Nature was a recurring theme of hers. She liked to experiment with color combinations, lettering, and other effects. Often her designs include birds or butterflies or ladybugs.
I’ve taken up tea drinking in the last year, so this card of Shannon’s inspires me to make a cup of tea. Then I’ll pull out a favorite author of hers to read a little. Maybe an Elsie Lee or a Georgette Heyer would hit the spot.
Thinking of you, Shannon. I hope in heaven there’s plenty of creative activities for you to indulge in and a huge library of books for you to read.
“You warm my heart” – card made by Shannon Hyle.
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.
One of the finished rugs made by Gail and Clyde Martin – blue/white/yellow
Finished rug, still on the loom
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.
Nikki’s cat and blue rug
A wider view of the blue rug
Here are some more rugs from the family.
orange and white wagon wheel rug made by Gail and Clyde Martin
Close-up of the weaving
Spokes of the wheel
I’m leaving the photos full-size so anyone trying to make these kinds of rugs can see the details.
Wagon wheel rug made by Gail and Clyde Martin
Detail of the center of the rug
Detail of the spokes of the wagon wheel rug
Even more wagon wheel rugs –
Pinks and peachy colors in a wagon wheel rug.
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.
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.
The round fairy house needs a few more plants and some moss to go with the fern.
Now and then, I meet someone in real life or online who has much in common with my mom, Gail Lee Martin. I find myself wishing that they could meet each other. Recently, I met one such lady, Edna Melcher. Too bad that Edna is way out west in Idaho, while I’m on the east coast in Orlando.
We could have a cozy chat about all her interesting activities. Like Mom and Dad, she makes wagon wheel rugs. Thanks to the magic of the Internet, she shared photos of her rug making and the finished projects. I’ll share her tips in another post as she is anxious to pass along the rug making techniques.
Edna’s Facebook page is sprinkled with pictures of her crafts, recipes for yummy foods like chicken and dumplings, and other nostalgic activities. She makes jelly, plum applesauce, and chocolate caramel cookies. She’s quite a gardener too, growing colorful ears of Indian corn, some rhubarb, and tomatoes.
Edna Melcher’s pretty jars of jam.
Although Edna is more my generation than Mom’s, I’m sure they would have hit it off and spent an afternoon sharing tips for making the wagon wheel rugs and swapping favorite jam recipes. Although she can’t meet Mom in person, I sent her links for this blog so she could enjoy Mom’s recipes and crafts.
Back in 2008, Gail Lee Martin put this craft article together for the eHow website. Her daughter recently recovered it using the Wayback Machine which finds defunct web content.
How to Make an Ornamental Birdhouse from Seed Packets
Make an Ornamental Birdhouse from Seed Packets
Don’t toss the colorful seed packages after planting time. Save them to make this easy and decorative birdhouse. Here’s how to do it.
Things You’ll Need:
decorative touches (spagham moss, ivy leaves, birds)
Collect seed packets with colorful flower pictures on them. Sometimes discount stores have leftover seeds at bargain basement prices when the planting season ends.
Choose one seed packet for the front of the birdhouse. Draw a circle with a pencil in the upper half of the packet front. This represents the hole for the bird to enter. Fill in the circle with a black marker.
Cut the front packet and the back packet with a matching peak for the roof.
Shorten two packets to serve as the side walls.
Start by gluing a front and a side seed packet together along the long side. Continue gluing additional seed packets (the other side and the back) until it forms a square. Allow those to dry between each stage.
Attach two packages with glue to serve as the roof.
Glue on some accessories (spagham moss, fabric leaves, and tiny birds) to complete the birdhouse theme. You can find these in the craft or floral section at discount stores like WalMart or click on this picture to order from Amazon.
prism said on 11/25/2008 “What a great way to reuse seed packets! Would make a unique gift for wild bird lovers like my Mom. Thanks!”
mactraks said on 9/28/2008 “I never fail to be awestruck at the “recycling” projects my big sister comes up with! This is truly spectacular and easy enough for even me to do.”
(Article first published on Squidoo by Gail Martin about using yarn and rags for crafts)
My husband and I tackled a variety of crafts over the years. Many of these crafts linked back to our Kansas pioneer heritage. Examples of those include rag dolls and the wagon wheel rag rugs.
Until Clyde retired, I was always the crafty one, but once he had some free time, he joined in with many of the crafts. I’ll share with you photos of many our crafts and the instructions so you can try them out for yourself.
This photo is my husband, Clyde Martin, working on a round rag rug using a wagon wheel metal rim for the base.
I tried all sorts of crafts over the years, from stenciling on pillowcases in the 1950s to macrame plant hangers in the 1970s. After retirement, we worked on some crafts together like the wagon wheel rugs based on a vintage craft from our Kansas pioneer background.
We made large Christmas decorations from pom-poms which looked great on a wall or door. One design was a yarn wreath and another was a giant candy cane. We also made Santa faces with yarn, felt, and a bleach bottle base. People loved those and also the fluffy cats made from pom-poms.
Sometimes we get the supplies very cheaply at yard sales. The old sheets and skeins of yarn can be good buys. You don’t always find the exact colors you want though. Let your friends and family know what your needs are and they can rummage around in their excess stuff to share with you.
Here’s Clyde making a pom-pom cat.
Making useful things out of worn-out clothes or linens was a necessity back in our grandmother’s day and the “how-to” of it all was passed down from one woman to the next.
The Finished Pom-Pom Cat
After you admire the real cat in the basket, move your eyes to the base of the basket to see the yarn cat that Gail and Clyde made.