Monday, November 16, 2020

What IS Primitive Style, and New Holiday Tags Up in Shoppe!

I spent a lot of time this past week prepping my new holiday tags for my Etsy shoppe, TheMerryOldeDame. I love making digital images to print, and I lean towards the primitive style. But I love almost any kind of illustration style. Back when I worked for Hallmark, I would spend literally hours just staring at the incredible array of design styles. 

themerryoldedame etsy shop printable digital tags

My husband can't stand Hallmark. He condemns their designs as cheesy, intrusive, silly, and unattractive. If I buy a card for him, he flips it over and scowls in case it's Hallmark. So, it's American Greetings for him. I like some of the Leanin' Tree designs, but most of them (pseudo-country folk style) I find appalling and coarse. I do not find the trope of the skinny, pot-bellied, whiskered old broken-down cowpoke in his red long-johns very amusing, nor his female counterpart, the square-dance skirted old fat gal squeezing the life out of him with a big toothy grin and red cheeks. I am glad Hallmark has so far avoided the "Cowpoke/Country Bumpkin" motif.

Now, this is something I go round and round with, with my prim friends: Primitive does not mean dirty and broken. At least to me, it doesn't. Aged, a bit grungy, like a mirror that has an aged and flaked backing, yes. People find very old, uncared-for "primitive" items and mistake those items as representing prim style. Originally, those items were not broken. They were not dirty. They worked. They held water. They opened and shut. They were NEW. The primitive STYLE, in my very humble opinion, is one done simply, in a naive way, with the materials of the day, AND the better-quality mass-produced items of the times, such as crocks, churns, "Hoosiers," etc. Project your mind back in time: Originally, these things were new. The colors were even, and they weren't all drab, by any means. It's not my business, but sometimes my eyes almost pop when I see people with some rusted out, broken, dry-rotted THING dragged into their nice clean house.

One area where extremely grungy and unpleasant-looking items might be true to the original primitives is in the area of dolls and stuffed animals. I recall that Laura Ingalls Wilder had only a little corncob "baby doll" to love for quite some time, before getting a rag doll she loved intensely. And my aunt had a very aggressive-looking rag doll, as well, with its teeth bared and beady eyes, that she had doted on. 

That isn't to say I don't treasure a lot of old items just for their age and history! I do! I guess that Tasha Tudor and Colonial Williamsburg are more in line with what I think of as primitive style. But to each their own! If it brings joy, embrace it!


  1. Just like life, it is the dings, scratches, bumps and bruises which give us our character. New and shiny are ok for some things, but there is also a place for the lovely prim, oozing with character and charm.

  2. I agree, Prim Friends! I love things from the past, and shiny-new perfection is not for me, either!


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