Nursery Rhyme Art Project: Influences

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Hi, friends.

I know it’s been quiet around here….I’ve had my nose to the grindstone working on my latest project.  I want to share it with you in stages, so here is the first installment.

Our local library recently received a grant to fund an early readers’ program for children ages 0-2.  They invited 10 local artists to make an artwork around a nursery rhyme in any medium.  I chose this one:

Sing a song of sixpence,

A pocketful of rye.

Four-and-twenty blackbirds

Baked in a pie.

When the pie was opened,

The birds began to sing.

Wasn’t that a dainty gift

To set before the king?

There are further verses, but these are the ones I am working with.  (Later verses and other versions have naughty boys baked in the pie and people getting their eyes pecked out.  I decided to skip those.)  My inspiration came from a friend’s young son who loves this Amish barn sign (I think that’s what it is called) that I have on our wall.  (If anyone knows more about these kinds of round signs, I’d love to read it in the comments.)

Amish barn sign (Pattern and Branch)

His favorite part is when we spin it (it has a nail through the center).  I liked this circular format, so I traced this shape and a friend cut it out of hardboard/Masonite for me.  Then I went to work researching the objects I visualized for the finished piece.  I also liked the idea of a flat, slightly folk-art feel, so I tried to incorporate that.  I’ll share more with you next time.

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5 responses »

  1. Hex sign is actually the accepted name for your barn sign. The Pennsylvania Dutch (Germans, as you well know), started decorating their barns in the same way they decorated their houses starting around the 1850’s. It’s a related folk art form to Fraktur first created between1740-1860. Fraturs were ink and/or watercolor lettering and highly artistic drawings depicting flora and fauna, used for birth and baptismal certificates, marriages, house blessings, book plates and school achievements. Hex signs include stars, compass roses, hearts tulips and birds known as “distalfinks”. Before 1924 these signs had various names like “Blumme or Schtanne” meaning simply flowers or stars. Then some farmer apparently used the term “Hexefoos” and in 1924 Wallace Nutting wrote a book Pennsylvania Beautiful and the name stuck. Hexefoos means witches foot and some believe the farmers put them up to guard over their livestock and drive away evil spirits but most feel they are purely decorative. The Hex signs did gain popularity when the tourist trade came to Pennsylvania Dutch country during the 1940’s. The Amish and Mennonites have a negative view of the Hex signs and never or rarely are they seen on their barns. Information thanks to my Early American Life magazine- April 2014. How ’bout that for timing!

    ‘Can’t wait to see your finished art work!

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    • That is so interesting! There is a little tag on the back that says it’s a Daddy Hex, but we had no idea what that meant. Thanks for sharing. I’ll have to look at that article the next time I’m at the library.

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  2. Looking forward to seeing the final product. Love that you picked this nursery rhyme and I know it will be very cool when you’re done with it!!

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