13 October 2016

A Country Pick'ns Thanksgiving

More years ago than I can remember, we have been going to the Yellow Daisy Festival, and one of my favorite vendors there are a couple named Tom and Jan Messenger out of Kansas who run a craft business called Country Pick'ns. They make little shadow boxes and then the tiny things that go in them, all with a country theme, and sell them at craft shows all around the country. They have several themes: Christmas/winter, camping/cabins, autumn/Hallowe'en, summer/beach, patriotic, sewing, gardening, kitchen/cooking, farm, and homespun/housekeeping. The "shadow boxes" themselves are vertical or horizontal, and some look like bookshelves, but all are in miniature. Over the years, I've bought several sets from them:

Previous Purchases

The "Me" Shelf Completed

In addition, when my friends Mike and Jen got married, they went camping in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for their honeymoon, and I did a Country Pick'ns shadowbox as their wedding present, with a deer, a canoe, a campfire, a lantern, and a few other appropriate items.

The one shadowbox I've always wanted to make, however, was a Thanksgiving-themed one, but they didn't have one. I've been thinking and thinking about this for several years now, and when we went to Yellow Daisy this year I went through all the items, bit by bit, to see what I could work with. Below is what I came home with.


As you can see, most of the items have a general fall theme. The closest shadow box background that I could find that would work with Thanksgiving, however, was actually a Hallowe'en-themed item and originally had a goofy-looking cat behind the pumpkins. I took the back off and painted it out before I took this photo. Then I went online and found a cartoon turkey (at left) that was the closest I could find that would approximate the Country Pick'ns style. I cut a slit along the top of the pumpkins in the background image and slid the turkey in.

The bread on the breadboard, the pumpkin and "bittersweet" in the pail, the second pumpkin, the corn in the basket with the leaf on it, the pie, and the "harvest blessings" sign I could use "as is," since they all related to harvest and feasting, but the rest would need a little fixing.

The witch hat I sawed the top off, and also the little curl on each side, and painted the whole black with a brown band and a gold buckle to be a "Pilgrim hat." Yeah, I know Pilgrims didn't wear hats like that, despite the pictures, but it's part of the iconography. Even the Mass Pike has the stereotypical Pilgrim hat as a symbol.

The chicken I took and painted its body brown like a turkey and gave it a big wattle. It still looks chicken-y; I guess we can call it a ticken? :-) Or a churky? Whatever.

I took the autumn lady, clipped the brims off her hat, and then painted what was left of her hat white, giving it some bonnet lines with a drawing pen, and gave her a big white collar as in the paintings of 17th century woman, along with black shoes with buckles, plus I darkened her skirt to a darker autumn color.

The "jump in the leaves" plaque I popped the leaves off with an X-acto knife (losing one in the process) and completely repainted, then glued the leaves back on. (I had to buy extra leaves through an online craft store since Michaels quit carrying them. I peppered a few more on the shadow box frame itself.)

If I had it to do over again I would not have used such a wide drawing pen. It doesn't quite look like Jan Messenger's work, although I tried to duplicate her style as much as possible. I think I'm also going to borrow some matte-finish from James so the repainted areas—I only had gloss paint—won't shine so much.

But...here's the result. I have my Thanksgiving shelf at last.

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