Beginning in late April, Long Branch Plantation will host an exhibition of works by local artist Doug Pifer. Over the last 30 years, Pifer’s illustrations have been featured in numerous books, with pieces currently residing at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, PA and the Ned Smith Center for Nature and Art in Millersburg, PA.
Pifer’s subjects for this exhibit will be life sized portraits of various farm animals. He says this about his works: “I show these animals up close and life-sized, just as an early 1900s farmer might have seen them.” Pifer also emphasizes that historically, animals were well known by all, including those who lived in cities, as a result of the way humans and animals interacted. Horses were the main form of transport and were used by everyone.
Pifer’s works present general purpose livestock, as these were the kinds of animals used by most Virginia farmers. For example, chickens were kept for their ability to produce eggs, but also served as a source of meat for many who raised them. However, breeds gradually became more specialized, with cattle being separated into dairy and beef, chickens into meat or egg-laying, and sheep into mutton or wool producers.
The works will be on display for the majority of our open season through August 2015, with a preview night to be held on April 17 from 6:30 – 8pm.
– Frances Monroe, Long Branch Plantation Intern
Decorating trees at Christmas is a time-honored tradition for many families. During the Second World War, limited travel and rationing meant that many things that are today synonymous with the season, like big dinners, decorated cookies, and families gathered together, were not a feature of wartime Christmases. While everyone made due with less during the war, people still got in a festive mood by decorating their trees, often using natural items such as pinecones to decorate their homes and recycling old newspapers to create paper chains. Many magazines of the period carried Christmas themed images, such as Santa or a snowman, which could be cut out and attached to string to hang from a tree. In addition to these different ways of decorating, glass ornaments were still produced during the war and adorned many a tree.
The first man-made Christmas ornaments were produced in Germany in the 19th century by glassblowers who created pieces in imitation of the fruits that were commonly seen at Christmas. At first, these creations hung in windows but soon came to decorate trees. Glass ornaments were first sold in the US in the 1880s by Woolworth’s department store. Germany continued to dominate in making Christmas ornaments at the beginning of the 20th century, with other countries, such as Japan and Czechoslovakia, also manufacturing pieces. However, the beginning of the Second World War meant an end to ornament production in Germany. Additionally, negative feelings towards both Germany and Japan caused many Americans to destroy or get rid of their existing ornaments, which created a demand for new ornaments.
In 1940, Corning Glass Works modified their Ribbon Machine, originally used to make light bulbs, so that it could be used to create ornaments. Once modified, the machine was able to produce about 300,000 ornaments per day. Corning began mass producing ornaments at the request of Max Eckhardt, a German immigrant who had previously imported ornaments from his native country to sell in the US. Eckhardt’s company, Shiny Brite, decorated the glass balls made by Corning and sold them to department stores.
Shiny Brite’s ornaments were originally silvered on both the inside and outside, but war shortages left the materials needed to do this in short supply due to rationing. The company then began to paint stripes and other decorations on the exterior of their ornaments in pastel colors, as the materials required to do this were not in such short supply. War shortages also forced the company to stop using metal for ornament caps. Instead, caps were made from cardboard, with users often tying on yarn to hang the ornaments on trees.
Using these stories as inspiration, Long Branch will host a 1940s Historic Ornament Workshop where attendees will participate in creating their own WWII inspired pieces. The workshop will take place from1-4PM on Saturday, November 13th. Reservations are required as places and materials are limited. Please call or e-mail to find out more.
– Frances Monroe, Long Branch Plantation Intern
Join us Monday afternoons from November 10 until December 15 as we participate in the “Knit Your Bit” Program to provide scarves to American veterans. This program is an initiative of the National WWII Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana, and it has collected and distributed nearly 30,000 scarves since its launch in 2006.
Originally begun during the First World War as the “Knit for Victory” campaign, “Knit Your Bit” was revived during WWII as a way for those on the home front to support the war effort. The program was coordinated by the Red Cross, who supplied patterns for pieces such as socks, sweaters, and fingerless mitts, among others. Both local and national publications promoted the “Knit Your Bit” campaign, including a 1941 cover story in the popular Life magazine. The piece included instructions and a pattern for knitting, along with an article explaining the virtues of knitting as helpful to the war effort: “To the great American question ‘What can I do to help the war effort?’ the commonest answer yet found is ‘Knit.’”
Newspapers encouraged knitting with lines like, “The Navy needs men, but it also needs knitters,” and by publishing photographs of important figures, such as First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, knitting. Local groups met to knit and shared patterns with one another. These patterns would be memorized so that knitters could quickly and easily reproduce them, and many versions of the same piece were made.
Pieces collected and distributed by the Red Cross complimented military uniforms and were made in colors such as khaki and navy blue. One company that produced uniforms during WWII was the textile manufacturer I.C. Isaacs & Co, led by Harry Z. Isaacs, owner of Long Branch between 1986 and 1990.
The first “Knit Your Bit” meeting will take place from 3:30 to 6:30pm on November 10 and participants may drop in any time. Finished scarves should be donated to the museum office by December 21. Long Branch will then send all of the scarves to the National WWII Museum. All ages and skill levels are welcome, and guidance and patterns will be provided as needed. Admission is free of charge, but participants will need to provide their own supplies such as needles and yarn.
– Frances Monroe, Long Branch Plantation Intern
In honor of National Book Month, Long Branch will host an ongoing book swap here at the plantation throughout the month of October. We invite you to come by between 10am and 4pm any day next month to donate your books, movies, and video games and look for new additions for your own library.
So if your bookshelves are filled with books that you haven’t read in years, donate them to the book swap so that someone else can have the opportunity to read them. When you come to drop off your books, maybe you’ll find your next favorite among the donations! At the end of October, we will donate any remaining books to local organizations.
When you come to drop off your donation and peruse the selection, don’t forget to pick up our 2014-15 Long Branch Book Club Reading List – there’s something on the list for everyone! Our first Book Club meeting is November 4th @ 7 pm, and we will be discussing The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Please feel free to bring a snack or your dinner to the meeting!
Katie Williams, Long Branch Plantation Intern
2014 – 2015 Reading List
Nov. 4, 2014
The Help (2009)
by Kathryn Stockett
Dec. 2, 2014
A Christmas Carol (1843)
by Charles Dickens
Jan. 6, 2015
The Shadow of the Wind (2001)
by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Feb. 3, 2015
The Professor and the Madman (1998)
by Simon Winchester
March 3, 2015
Brave New World (1932)
by Aldous Huxley
April 7, 2015
Wind Done Gone (2001)
by Alice Randall
May 5, 2015
The Secret Life of Bees (2002)
by Sue Monk Kidd
June 2, 2015
July 7, 2015
Pride and Prejudice (1813)
by Jane Austen
Aug. 4, 2015
by Valerie Martin
Sept. 1, 2015
A Voyage Long and Strange (2008)
by Tony Horwitz
Oct. 6, 2015
The Big Book of Virginia Ghost Stories (2010)
by L.B. Taylor, Jr.
Nov. 3, 2015
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885)
by Mark Twain
Dec. 1, 2015
Cold Mountain (1997)
by Charles Frazier
Beginning today through October 31st Long Branch will host an exhibition of fine art paintings by local artist Leanne Fink. Fink was granted the “Staff Choice” award in Long Branch’s first annual Viewer’s Choice Art Competition last October. To honor this distinction, her collection will be displayed as part of the home for the coming months.
The collection, entitled “Pets, People, Places,” showcases familiar images— pets, family members, & outdoor views— enlivened by Fink’s application of color and shadow. Each painting elicits a simultaneous feeling of comfort at the subject and awe at the presentation.
Among the collection is Fink’s stunning portrayal of the home at Long Branch itself. The striking first view of the home as one approaches from the south is captured in the painting that the artist has generously donated to the museum. We are delighted to share Fink’s work with our patrons for the coming months and honored to preserve the painting of Long Branch in our own permanent collection.
The exhibit will open on August 30th in the Hunt Room. Admission to the exhibit is included in the general admission ticket.
For more information about the exhibit and Leanne Fink, please click here.
– Katie Williams, Long Branch Plantation Intern