Frutta V

Frutta V
Maria's Best Selling Giclee Print to Date

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Poetry Night Live!, Delaware's Poet Laureate & Delaware Made - Nov 30, 2010

Poetry Night Live!:  An artful event that signifies that Delaware Has Poets.
The Organization, Holly Branch of National Pen Women and Delaware's - Kent County Public Library sponsored a poetry event.   I, as the president, worked with our county Library since June to produce this literary event.  I was happy to introduce Jo Ann Balingit, Delaware's Poet Laureate, and Linda Blaskey, Delaware's great award winning poet, with achievements from the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation. Jo Ann was appointed by our previous Governor.  It was interesting to learn about her job and why poetry is important to all of us.  It was a delightful evening with all poets bringing forth a story behind each poem, which makes the reading so personal.  Many participants signed up in advance to read their poetry.  It was a wonderful evening that we shall repeat. 

Maria Bessette, N Taylor Collins, K M Hammond, Linda Blaskey & Jo Ann Balingit
Poetry Night Live, Nov 16

I really appreciate the creativity of the writers who sometimes bare their soul to read their special compositions.  It is a wonderful way of expressing one's self.  Thank you to all writers and our community library in allowing us to focus on a very special creativity experience.

Jo Ann Balingit, Delaware's Poet Laureate
Poetry Night Live!
Dover, DE


The Pen Women are sponsoring more programs with Kent County Public Library in 2011. Stay tuned for great literary events for writers and the public. 

The Floorcloth Production Continues:  You might be aware of 2 demonstrations I have given regarding " Creating Floorcloths."  In keeping with a path that has been opened to me, I  will be showing and demonstrating this traditional craft several more times in the local area of Dover, DE.  Downtown Dover promotes artists and its mainstreet the first Friday of each month.  This Friday, December 3rd, I will fbe the featured artist and demonstrate this craft at Dover's "Delaware Made" Gift Shop".  A great place to purchase gifts and items made by Delaware Artisans and gifts with a Delaware theme.  Tom Smith is the shop owner and has a great business which has withstood the test of time. The quality of the items are great and Tom is a very personable business owner.  Hats off to this great Small Business.  See you there on Friday, December 3.  I will be working on a Delaware theme floorcloth complete with Blue Hens, Peach Blossoms, Lady Bugs and Holly Trees. There will be festive fair there and all over town. 

Maria Holding Her Original Stencil
Floorcloth Demonstration, Dover Art League


I have also committed to  demonstrate this craft at the Annual Farmers Christmas held at the Delaware Agricultural Museum on Saturday, December 4th, 2 - 6 pm.  It will be a great day with lots of activities for the family.  At night the Village will be lit and the buildings open to tour and see what the Christmas Village Life was all about.  Many crafts for kids, demonstrations for adults and light refreshments.  It was an annual event my sons, now in their late thirties loved to partake in "back in the day."

 If you are curious, yes we have a floorcloth production center at our home.  I love challenges and designing floorcloths gives me the chance to do just that.  I focus on traditional historical colors and adapt patterns that I like.  The sky is the limit and my basement studio is a testament to all that is possible in the creative life of an artist.  


Love to all & welcome December!

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Maria L B


Monday, November 22, 2010

18th Century Market Fair, Life in the Colonies, Tea and Women - Nov 23, 2010

Sorry for my delay in writing but I went back in time to the
18th Century Life in the Colonies: Conclusion -  The working middle class and merchants of the 18th century lead very challenging lives.  Maria, a 21st century lady, born in the 20th century also loves a challenge.  Why not portray a 18th century merchant, selling my wares of handmade laundry soaps, perfumed soaps and my sturdy and decorative oiled floorcloths?  Since I could only volunteer to play the part with the help of my husband, he agreed to play the  part of my 18th century merchant partner.  He will sell the soap wares with historical facts while I demonstrated how floorcloths were made along with educating the public with the history --- All in 18th century costumes.  This event, 18th Century Market Fair,  took place at the historical Green across from the Old State House, coordinated by the First State Historical Park and Director, Elaine Brenchly.  A cool crisp day with lots of sun, a merry and heavy crowd ascended upon The Green.  All persons attending  had great interest and asked many questions.  A non-stop day with not a single commercial display or entity, a relief to my 18th century soul.  The French Lacemaker, Monsieur LeFarceur de Villeverte,  put on quite a show.  Of course he was dressed and acted as a wealthy merchant, paying his lacemakers a mere pittance.  Many more merchants such as vintage hand tools made on a spring-pole lathe by Rick Schuman, Deborah Peterson's Pantry offered sweetmeats, spices, sugars & chocolates.  There were silhouette artists, weavers, spinners, quilters, blacksmiths and more.  What a grand day.


Maria With Her Mariners Floorcloth at the Market Fair


My Market Fair Merchant/Husband Selling Our Soap Products

Another great event, "Leaves, Beans & Lemons", presented at the John Dickinson Plantation, Dover, DE  on November 13 by Nancy Gardner.  Nancy is a member of the Historic Foodways Society of the Delaware Valley.  It was a "tea"lightful discussion of 18th century teas, coffee, and punches; and a demonstration of proper 18th century serving etiquette. Such interesting information regarding the tea service, serving tea, the history of tea, coffee and chocolate.  A great presentation that included how important women were to the food, beverage and industry of merchants.  A highly disregarded role of women at the time.  She provided a wealth of bibliography data and many references to good reading.
The Dickinson Mansion tours will feature a display of an eighteenth century tea setting with decorative foods prepared according to colonial recipes.

Also at the plantation were the preparation of tarts, cookies, roasted duck and other items cooked and baked in the open  hearth of the 17th century log home.  Dressed as 17th century kitchen help the guides were discussing meals of the time and preparing them at the same time.  All foods on display in the mansion are prepared in the log home.  What an interesting and hearth warming day.  My bonnet is off to the staff at "The Dickinson".   

Tea at the John Dickinson Plantation

There is more great heartwarming stories concerning my artful and historic research.

Stay Tuned!

Maria L B

Thursday, November 4, 2010

18th Century Floorcloths & Lye Soap - November 4, 2010

The Artful Life of Maria can be a little overwhelming even for Maria.  After a great trip to North Carolina to see my son and his family I was back on the artful track.  The next two days were spent at the Pen Women exhibit dismantling and awaiting artists who were to pick up their entries.  It was great talking with them and updating them on our future events.  I know I will see many of these great artists again.  Late yesterday I did squeeze in some time to create a batch of Heritage Market Lye Soap Bars.  Today I grated soap for my natural laundry soap and of course there is packaging and labeling yet to be done.

Delaware's 18th Century Market Fair, 1st State Heritage Park:  We are going  back to the 18th century this Saturday, Nov 6, to demonstrate creating floorcloths and peddling handmade soaps.  My husband and I will be dressed in period costumes of the working class mercantile folk.  Our town, Dover Delaware, has a central green area that forms a square with 17th & 18th century buildings, including the Old State House.  On one corner of the green is the Golden Fleece Tavern where it is said the Constitution was first ratified. This scene is also one of the Fall Market Fair that occurred in the 18th century.  Goods were sold and exchanged and entertainments of all sorts were offered on "The Green". 


Market Fair at The First State Heritage Park


Painted Floorcloths:  I was called on to participate in this event to demonstrate the 18th century art of making floorcloths.  That I will do using my own handmade stencil patterns and other various implements to show how these rugs were created using paints and methods of that time.  Basically the canvas cloths were stretched on a verticle frame, stiffened with starch and then ground smoother with pumice stone.  They were  painted to the edge of the fabric with many layers of oil based paints sometimes applied with a trowel.  The wealthy could import ground colors. Maple wood printing blocks were sometimes used with multiple colors. The final product was then varnished and would last at least 100 years.

Of course I will have a selection of my hand created floorcloths on display and one showing the steps I use to produce this work of art using current methods and paints.



Heritage Market Soaps:  Another 18th century product I will offer at the Market Fair is the natural lye soap, Heritage Market Lye Bar Soap (Anderson's Lye Bar Soap)  and Market Fair Laundry Soap.   The same natural lye soap is grated finely, washing soda and borax are added to make a low sudsing laundry soap.  Lye soap is still used and requested by many people today.  Said to be good for skin problems and poison ivy, it is all natural and unscented.


Soap making:  The basic differences in making today is the accurate scale to measure the fat (either vegetable shortening or lard)  and lye also called sodium hydroxide.  Until recent times a batch of ingredientes could result in soupy to hard soap because of pour calculations and the strength of the lye.  Lye was produced by steeping wood ashes and water, later straining out the ash.  Of course pigs and cows were slaughtered and their fat rendered and kept until there was  enough to use to make a large supply of soap.  The French and Italians conceived the idea of using olive oil to replace the rendered animal fat. 

4 Pence For Soap Bar:  That is what I will be selling my the 3 oz bars of Heritage Market Soap.  I thought it would be great to have all products in 18th century English prices.
I have also found that in the 18th century England a pound of perfumed soap cost 1 shilling.  Today 1 shilling would be equal to 6.7 pounds or $10.18 US dollars.  Consider the price of an average 3 oz bar of natural soap today cost at least  $5.00 without shipping. 

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Well I have lots more to do in my artful life before I go nighty, night.

Love to all!

Maria L B