Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Cherry Hill and Hill Top

My Cherry Hill cross-stitch is done! I love its total PINKNESS! This cheerful piece is now hung above the coat rack in my front hall. It provides a cheerful welcome home.

After seeing the movie, Miss Potter, I've become obsessed with Beatrix. From the film I could tell that she was a kindred spirit, so I wanted to find out more about her. In my local library I found the book, Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature, *the* definitive bio about her. What a great story--filled with all kind of interesting bits of information about her. Did you know that before she started drawing Peter Rabbit, she was an amateur nature scientist? She was an expert in animal and botanical illustration, with a special interest in wild mushrooms. It was a no-no for women to be anything of consequence in those days--let alone a scientist--but Beatrix fought tooth and nail to get a hearing regarding some discoveries she made about mushrooms. The men poo-pooed her findings, but in later years had no trouble stealing her discoveries and claiming them as their own. Men!

She was also a landscape painter and she loved to paint interiors of houses, both her parents' and vacation homes she stayed in. These later inspired the furnishings in her own first home, Hill Top. To see some marvelous pictures and read narrative behind her very artistic rooms, check out the book At Home with Beatrix Potter. It's marvelous! It's out of print but I wanted my very own copy. I was able to get a paperback version from Abrams.

Beatrix loved animals and kept pets of all sorts: rabbits (natch!), birds, reptiles, mice and hedgehogs. Later, these all came to "people" her precious stories. One of my favorites is Miss Tiggy-winkle, a hedgehog laundress. While Beatrix dressed her animals in clothes, they were still very animal-like in their behavior. This set her apart from many other children's illustrators whose dressed animals definitely behaved like people more than wild things. (Miss Tiggy-winkle illustration from Frederick Warne and Co.)

In her later years, Beatrix became an environmentalist of sorts and a staunch supporter of conserving the farming community she lived in. She raised sheep and bought up neighboring farms to protect them from developers. She tried to preserve the arts and crafts of the region by furnishing her home with handmade furniture and antiques. I find Beatrix Potter so inspiring. She was a consummate nature-lover, artist, environmentalist and decorator.

Amy Gaines, designer of my hedgie amigurumi, has a new book out! I was able to get a copy from Amazon. It is full of ami cuteness. Her patterns are clever, fun and easy to make and her characters are sweet. Check it out!

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