Saturday, May 9, 2015

Happy Birthday to Maureen...

                    Happy Birthday to Maureen, and
                                                          Happy Mother's Day to Sarah~~

Well, it is actually a belated birthday wish, as Maureen May Love was born on May 7, 1922 in San Diego, California.  Thinking about her the other day, I was also thinking about other Maybaby model horse collectors I know, like Nancy Falzone.  This brought up memories of one of my happiest model horse gatherings, back in May of 2000, with the theme of collectors born in May.

This Mayfest birthday event was thrown by Nancy Falzone, and sponsored by Laurilyn Burson, Made With Love and Hagen-Renaker at a model horse gathering at Nancy's home.   For those who don't know Nancy Falzone (or Nancy Mongan back then), she has been collecting model horses and Hagen-Renakers since 1953, but it wasn't until the 1970s that collector Ellen Hitchens drew her into the model horse collecting community.  She became active in the hobby and was one of the pioneers along with Marney Walerius ('the' pioneer of model shows and Breyer collecting), Nancy Kelly and Simmie Smiljanic.  Simmie issued one of the first model horse magazines and Nancy Kelly has written several wonderful books by Schiffer on collecting now.

Nancy Falzone attended the first Model Horse Congress, the very first Breyerfest, has kept every scrap of paperwork related to the model collecting community and has allowed pieces of her collection to be photographed for practically every book on Hagen-Renaker and Maureen Love.  She corresponded regularly with Maxine Renaker, Maureen Love, Marney Walerius, Martha Armstrong, Helen Farnlund, William Wiemhoff, and many many others.  Her detailed records of literally all of Hagen-Renaker releases are still consulted by collectors, and her collection of model horse documents is a treasure trove for collectors and historians. She is limited in doing detailed research and reading correspondence over the internet due to her poor eyesight, but still loves the hobby and always enjoys talking to collectors.

As she wrote in an article for the Hagen-Renaker Collectors Club (HRCC) many years ago:

     "Collecting low times in my life, I would immerse myself in my hobby to help keep my mind off my problems.  Accumulating something that made me feel good when I looked at them helped me get through many tough times.  Collecting to me today is quite different from all the other stages in my life.  Yes, it is still finding something to add to what I have, but more than that I enjoy helping others with the hobby, especially the newcomers, to learn more about Hagen-Renakers.

     "Collecting is not how many one has, it's not the monetary value, it is the people you meet along the way, the friends you make, and  the sharing of the hobby with others.  It's the letters and the telephone chats and the sharing of finds with each other.  It's the getting together at live shows and at Breyerfest.  What a good time we have sharing with each other!  Without all of this it would not be near as much fun, maybe no fun at all.  I cannot imagine this fun hobby without the people involved in it.  This is what collecting means to me today."

Nancy Kelly did a wonderful write up of the Mayfest event for the HRCC newsletter, August-September of 2000 issue.  Here are two photos from that event, generously shared by Nancy Kelly. 

This is a group photo, with Nancy Falzone standing on the right side wearing a short sleeve blue denim shirt, and Gayle Roller in green kneeling in front of her.   Sitting next to Gayle is Michelle Oviatt in the royal blue top, who really helped Nancy pull this all together (along with Nancy's dear husband, Don), and Nancy Kelly is unfortunately out of view behind the camera.  This was also a celebration of John and Maxine Renaker's wedding anniversary, and here is the adorable cake:

Laurilyn, Made With Love and Hagen-Renaker contributed special pieces for gifts and prizes.  I believe the Made With Love draft foals were being released at that time, and remember some being there. We'd love to hear from other attendees of that event to hear their memories and help us ID everyone in the photo!

I wanted to also give a shout-out for Maureen's mother, Sarah Aileen (Specht) Love, for Mother's Day.  For those who knew Maureen you can see the resemblance.

This is a photo of Sarah as a young woman, taken around 1900 in Dubuque, Iowa.
Here is Maureen's mother as a young girl with her baby brother John, taken around 1888.

Sarah and her brother John a few years later,   

and a portrait of Sarah by Maureen. 

Maureen's mother had done some china painting, and Maureen also used china painting techniques, although under the glaze, in a few of her own ceramic pieces.

One example of that is this ceramic mug decorated with a familiar scene of a race track as a present for her husband.   Maureen met P. G. 'Whitey' Calvert probably at Santa Anita race track where she sketched the thoroughbreds, draft horses and horses used to guide the race horses to the starting gate. 

 Another example of a china painting technique was a small ceramic tile decorated by Maureen and sold in her estate auction.  This is the original sketch she based it on:

She's used a black and/or brown underglaze decorating pencil to actually draw on the bisque ceramic.  The lighter tan colors of the mane and face and shading in the background were done first, and may be a combination of the brown pencil and other underglazes brushed on, and the eyes may be the yellow pencil or underglaze.  The dark pencil was drawn on top, and a wet brush has blended and widened the lines in some areas before being coated with clear glaze and fired.

The pencils come in a few basic colors and are an often overlooked technique for ceramic decorators.   Amaco makes them, and they are available as pencils or chalks.  They can be used like pastels on the bisque ceramic, and before they are fired can be moistened with water and brushed to blend them.  They are then covered with a clear or lightly tinted glaze and fired in the kiln.   For those who use pastels to customize Breyer horses, this would be a great technique to try if you get into decorating bisque clinkies.

I'm sure Maureen who loved to experiment with mixing her own glazes and clays would be very happy to inspire someone to try new techniques in pottery!