We LOVE primitive folk art!
© 1998 - Stephen G. Kent / Homespun Peddler

You know, there just aren't many primitive folkart pages on the web! Well, Homespun Peddler wants to remedy that. We LOVE primitive folkart pieces; we make 'em, we buy 'em and we sell'em.

We're dedicating this entire section of the web site to our "Primitive Pals". There are many pages for you to surf so get ready to spend some time. If you find something that you like or that we're missing, please send us an e-mail and we'll get right back to you.
Hickety Pickety

So what, exactly, is "PRIMITIVE" folkart?

Well, people who like "primitive" know it when they see it, but they all have a hard time describing it to others. The dictionary has a number of definitions. Here's what Webster's said concerning primitive arts and crafts:
Adj: Characteristic or imitative of the earliest ages; crude; simple; rough; uncivilized; underived; primary; basic;

Noun: An artist or work of art that belongs to or is suggestive of an earlier period.
Those are pretty good definitions (except "crude"), but "an earlier period" covers a LOT of art. Let me try to narrow the focus a bit with some characteristics and illustrations that illustrate primitive art as we like it.

American rural: It seems that everything we see has a distinct American look and a rustic flavor. We don't see obvious European or Eastern influences. The period is generally at least post-revolutinary. Everything is obviously hand made and usually has a very distinct rural flavor.

Simple materials: We say that primitive art has a certain "country simplicity." It reminds you of something made at the old homestead in a time when the only "craft supplies" were found in the sewing room or out in the barn: old wood, scraps of tin, buttons, left over cloth.

Antique look: Most primitive art has an old or antique look. Modern artists may make their crafts from new material but they'll use various techniques to give it that antique patina. Wood is often painted then rubbed with a light brown stain or even brown shoe polish. Cloth items are often made from muslin then aged by spraying, dipping or rubbing with coffee or tea.
Hickety Pickety UGLY!: Yep, ugly. There are some pieces that we love but can only describe with that adjective. But we don't mean really "UGLY" ugly. We probably mean "strange", or worn, or old, or made of unusual materials

Consider Sonja Sandell's Hickety Pickety pattern #56 "WICKED!". Now she's UGLY but you gotta love her. And people do. As a finished doll she's one of MOST POPULAR Halloween pieces.
Obviously hand made: We're sure that some primitive looking art is factory made or at least done in a production line fashion. But the pieces that we all love and want are obviously hand made and the same pattern never turns out exactly the same from piece to piece.
Child-like art: Simple faces, scrawled handwriting and stick figures often characterize primitive pieces. A child's handwriting is the most obvious of these features. Cloth samplers have simple sayings, frequently attributed to children, and usually look like a child's hand made greeting card or picture drawn in school.

PattyePoo's "My Calico Cat" sampler shown at right illustrates many of these features. Click on the image to see a larger view then click BACK to return. (Sampler & text © 1999 - Pattye Kent)
My Calico Cat
Anyman's art: Most pieces look like something that a mother made for her child in a time when that was often the only way to afford a doll or toy. There's an untrained style but an obvious sense of pride and care. There's often the feeling that anyone should be able to make primitive art.

Skillful construction: There was a time when a marriageable young woman was judged by the quality of her needlecraft. We are well past such attitudes now, but we still appreciate quality. True to the spirit of homemade crafts, primitive art is characterized by fine workmanship. The artist's care is obvious in tiny stitches, extra knots, careful painting, and general attention to details.
PattyePoo's Mother Liberty Subtle sophistication: Primitive pieces have that homemade and untrained look but they also exhibit a subtle sophistication. The mix of buttons, bows, cloth, lace, string and other materials can be extensive and impressive. Colors are carefully selected and blended and paint is applied like fine makeup.

Pattye Kent's (aka "PattyePoo") Mother Liberty shown at left illustrates this idea. "PattyePoo" blended painted muslin, print material, wire, paper mache', and hand stitched wording to create a simple but intricate piece with the primitive feel. (Mother Liberty doll © 1999 - Pattye Kent)
Lots of love: Of all the definitions and illustrations and examples we can give, primitive art may be best described as "works of love". It's a teddy bear or simple doll or stuffed pillow or favorite quilt that a child has loved and held and slept with until it was almost worn out. We think of our own children when they were young and gave us a crayon picture with the caption "I love you". And we remember our own cherished toys. We long for our lost doll and wish that, just once more, we could hold her and be comforted by her softness and hug her until there was nothing left but the memory. Primitive art revives the memory, gives us comfort, and takes us back to a simple time when gifts came from the heart and one toy was a friend forever.

The Seedpod Archive
The Seedpod is a newsletter circulated within a group of crafters known as the "Primitive Pals." Homespun Peddler is pleased to present an archive of back issues of this newsletter. This is a great resource not only for primitie crafters, but for ALL crafters. There are several good discussions of the term "primitive".

PattyePoo's Pattern Page
As our web site grows and is found by people like you, we get requests for patterns and information. Homespun Peddler is considered by many to be the web's Primitive Art Resource Center. We specialize in primitive craft patterns because that's where much of today's of primitive art starts.

Visit our CONTENTS page to see the list of all our pattern sections. You can order patterns directly from The Peddler.

If YOU are a primitive art lover, drop us an e-mail. We want to learn who's looking and what they want.

If you're a pattern designer we DEFINITELY want to talk to you. We're always looking for new lines to show in our web-catalog. Send us an e-mail asking for information. Or send a brochure or sample pattern to:
Homespun Peddler
600 W. Midland St.
Bay City, MI 48706


peddlers wagonHOME PAGE       contentsCONTENTS
Site designed at OJ Advertising, Inc.
Site developed and maintained by Mid-Michigan Computer Consultants
Report problems or suggestions to