Friday, January 4, 2013

All Things Tasha

Tasha Tudor's Heirloom Crafts
Have you met Tasha Tutor? My elderly friend, Mary, introduced us a few years ago, although by that time Tasha had passed away, and now Mary herself has departed this life. Tasha and Mary were in many ways very much alike, both of the same generation, and both from the east coast, both clinging to the "old ways". Fortunately for me, Tasha authored, or caused to be authored, several books, so even though she is no longer with us, I have gotten to know her and learn "all things Tasha Tudor"!

Tasha would most certainly be known today as a "prepper". She lived a very simple life at Corgi Cottage in Vermont, "surrounded by authentic American antiques and collectibles and using original tools and almost forgotten techniques . . . spins flax, dyes wool, and weaves on one of her seven looms . . . dips candles, makes soap, and concocts herbal creams and lotions . . harvests wood, for making baskets and fruit for canning, presses cider and dries herbs and flowers. Her Nubian goats supply her with milk for cheese and butter . . .hens offer eggs for cooking and decorating." This quote is from the jacket of one of the books written about her, Tasha Tudor's Heirloom Crafts, copyright 1995. Other books about Tasha include The Private World of Tasha Tudor, 1992, Tasha Tudor's Garden, 1994, and Forever Christmas, 2000.
Tasha Tudor's Garden

The following is an abridgement of the article published in The New York Times book section June 20, 2008 following her death:

Tasha Tudor, Children’s Book Illustrator, Dies at 92
Tasha Tudor, a children’s illustrator whose pastel watercolors and delicately penciled lines depicted an idyllic, old-fashioned vision of the 19th-century way of life she famously pursued — including weaving, spinning, gathering eggs and milking goats — died on Wednesday at her home in Marlboro, Vermont.

She was 92, if one counts only the life that began on Aug. 28, 1915. Ms. Tudor frequently said that she was the reincarnation of a sea captain’s wife who lived from 1800 to 1840 or 1842, and that it was this earlier life she was replicating by living so ardently in the past.



A cottage industry grew out of Ms. Tudor’s art, which has illustrated nearly 100 books. The family sells greeting cards, prints, plates, aprons, dolls, quilts and more, all in a sentimental, rustic, but still refined style resembling that of Beatrix Potter.

In her promotion of such a definitive lifestyle, Ms. Tudor has been called a 19th-century Martha Stewart. Books, videotapes, magazine articles and television shows illuminated her gardening and housekeeping ideas.


Tasha Tudor First Book - Pumpkin Moonshine
For 70 years her illustrations elicited wide admiration: The New York Times in 1941 said her pictures “have the same fragile beauty of early spring evenings.”

She was repeatedly turned down before her first published book, “Pumpkin Moonshine” (1938), was accepted by Oxford University Press. It was the start of a flood, many still in print. Two of Ms. Tudor’s books were named Caldecott Honor Books: “Mother Goose” (1944) and “1 Is One” (1956). Ms. Tudor was just awarded the Regina Medal by the Catholic Library Association.

But it was her uncompromising immersion in another, less comfortable century that most fascinated people. She wore kerchiefs, hand-knitted sweaters, fitted bodices and flowing skirts, and often went barefoot. She reared her four children in a home without electricity or running water until her youngest turned 5. She raised her own farm animals; turned flax she had grown into clothing; and lived by homespun wisdom: sow root crops on a waning moon, above-ground plants on a waxing one.

“It is healthful to sleep in a featherbed with your nose pointing north,” she said in an interview with The Times in 1977.

Partly to protect her from Jazz Age Greenwich Village, where her mother had moved, Ms. Tudor was sent to live with a couple in Connecticut, drama enthusiasts who included children in the plays they put on. She soon developed a love of times past and things rural, going to auctions to buy antique clothing before she was 10. At 15 she used money she had made teaching nursery school to buy her first cow.
The Private World of Tasha Tudor

In 1938 she married Thomas Leighton McCready Jr., who was in the real estate business. A fiddler played the wedding march. She and her husband moved to a 19th-century farmhouse in New Hampshire that lacked electricity and running water, but did have 17 rooms and 450 acres. Ms. Tudor painted in the kitchen, in between baking bread and washing dishes. She created a dollhouse with a cast of characters, two of whom were married in a ceremony covered by Life magazine. In 

1972 she sold the New Hampshire farm and moved onto her property near her son Seth in Marlboro.

Ms. Tudor, who could play the dulcimer and handle a gun, once promised a reporter for The Times that she could find a four-leaf clover within five minutes and came back with a five-leaf one in four minutes. She kept a seven-leaf clover framed in her room.


She told The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk in 1996 that it was her intention to go straight back to the 1830s after her death.

(The complete article written by Douglas Martin can be found at the New York Times site.)

Now you, too, have been formally introduced to Tasha Tudor. Her life and wisdom has much to offer us, especially today, as many of us are seeking a simpler life, one that she found so enriching and satisfying. Her books, those she wrote and/or illustrated, as well as those written about her, can still be purchased. I hope this encourages you to look her up and partake of all things Tasha!




Shared with Creative HomeAcre Hop

4 comments:

  1. Loved her stories as a young girl but had NO IDEA just what a character she was herself!

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  2. Love her! Thanks for sharing this on The Creative HomeAcre Hop! Hope to see you this Sunday at:
    http://www.theselfsufficienthomeacre.com/2013/03/the-creative-homeacre-hop-7.html

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  3. Wonderful post. Tasha lived life on her terms and I suppose that is the big reason we all love her. Clarice

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    Replies
    1. Clarice, Thanks for stopping and commenting! I visited your page and see you are encouraging those of us who enjoy Tasha Tudor, and desire to promote her legacy, to spread the word of her birthday on Aug. 28th! I, too, will post the banner and hopefully many will join in the celebration of "All Things Tasha" on that day!

      http://storybookwoods.typepad.com/storybook_woods/tasha-tudor-day/

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Comments are welcomed, but will be moderated. Thanks in advance for keeping them helpful and constructive.

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