I wish I had taken along a camera on Saturday when I visited Lizzie's Cabin Primitives shop in West Alexandria, Ohio - about 30 minutes from my town. I hadn't wanted to be intrusive by taking pictures of the inside of her cabin. If I'd asked permission, she might not have minded, but some people mind very much. Next time, I'll take the chance and grab my camera.
The cabin is small and cozy and it's a bit dark inside, but I like that it's very primitive. When I walked in, I first saw a small room directly ahead, from the door, in which there were lots of wooden antique items - a desk, wooden bowls, and a dry sink type cupboard. The handmades in that room were mostly fabric rabbits, geese, and pheasants with real feathers added - some were hanging as if they'd been hunted and brought home for dinner. I understand pioneers needed to hunt for food for their families, but those handmade rabbits and birds hanging from the ceiling beams were just a little much for me - especially the ones with feathers. But, Lizzie and her mom do beautiful work - great quality. Lizzie's is one of the few shops where I saw mostly handcrafted items as opposed to imports. That was refreshing.
To the right of the door was the bigger room and the main counter - all wonderfully primitive with dark wood and lots of ambiance. There was a post office letter sorter I guess you'd call it - one of those tall things with lots of slots - filled to the brim with primitive jar candles in lots of country scents.
Off the main cabin was a small kitchen room with a faux fire burning in the stone fireplace. I could have stayed in that little primitive kitchen all afternoon. A pair of worn looking longjohns and an old apron were draped over a rope stretched from either side of the fireplace, along with a long handled wooden ladle. It was such a cozy room with some very primitive wooden tables and bowls, fabric fruits and veggies, and more fabric rabbits and geese hanging from the rustic beams.
As I walked around the main part of the shop, I saw a basket full of handmade pioneer dolls holding hearts handcrafted from timeworn antique quilts. Up against one wall there were stacks of back issues of Country Home and Early American Life, tied with homespun. All sorts of small hand-made items, antiques, and vintage quilts were also displayed.
When some customers left the shop, I asked Lizzie's hubby about antique shows in which they participated and learned they were exhibitors at the Back Creek Cabin show in Jonesboro, Indiana last June. He offered to let me see the living space inside the house, and after I asked if he was sure it was ok with Lizzie, we went inside the home, built around 1825. He seemed really proud of the work they'd done in the kitchen, as well he should be. I learned he's an architect and did the work himself - most of it within a four-week span of time! He said they gutted the whole kitchen first and took up seven layers off the floor alone. The ceilings are really tall, I'd imagine at least 12 feet, with exposed brick and rustic beams. Lizzie had what looked like cheesecloth curtains at the windows and they really set off the place - very authentic looking for their period home.
The kitchen has two old pumps that actually work. There's a double sink for one and the other is on a separate wall and has a huge set-in galvanized tub where Lizzie does all her fabric dying. That tub was full of faux geese (complete with feathers), as if they were ready to be plucked - very realistic to the period of the house.
There's a huge tree stump in the center of the kitchen I was told came from Nevada. It looked to be naturally weathered, was very primitive, and used for a center island. It was awesome!
All the applicances are covered with rustic planking which hide them perfectly. Lizzie's hubby said they'd torn out the old cabinets and cupboards and now have some that were made by David T. Smith, a well-known woodworker in southeast Ohio. David was going to tear them apart, throw them away, and make new ones for his shops (the Workshops of David T. Smith). Lizzie's hubby said David took the old ones from their house and put them in some of his woodshops, then gave Lizzie and her hubby (maybe they just traded, I don't know) the red ones he was going to discard. I was stunned when I heard that. The cupboards are absolutely wonderful.
Walking into the kitchen was like stepping back in time. I would have been happy with just the kitchen tour. But off the kitchen is the livingroom - or maybe it's called the great room. It was another room with very high ceilings and it looked like a photo from one of the Early American Life magazines. The focal point was a high-backed love seat with an old woven sampler draped over it. At the front windows, Lizzie had the same type of curtains as in the kitchen. They looked like cheesecloth and were very primitive. Each was pulled to one side to allow a view of the main street through town. I was impressed with a very tall entertainment center which, when closed, was a black primitive floor-to-ceiling cupboard. One would never know it hid a TV and DVD player. Lizzie's hubby said it came with the house.
I enjoyed being in that room too. The ambiance was amazing. In describing what I saw, I don't think I've been able to do justice to the home and cabin, as it's truly a must-see. It's indeed very primitive and some of it is a bit too much for me personally (like the realistic game birds hanging from many of the beams and the real fur pelts hanging in the doorways). But I was struck by the fact there was a place like this so close to my town - 30 minutes away - that I'd never visited. I guess I'm not as adventurous as I used to be.
I haven't even metioned the yard - lots of primitive yard goods to see and if the weather hadn't been so cold, I would have explored them more thoroughly. If you ever have the chance to go to Lizzie's Cabin, don't pass up the opportunity to visit her two darling goats - Porgy and Bessie. They're cute and very friendly. I enjoyed petting them and when I walked away from their pen, they bleated after me. When they saw their "daddy", they really started making noise. I could tell they'd been well cared for and nurtured.
I hope that gave you some idea about Lizzie's Cabin Primitives shop. If some of you might be coming from quite a distance, plan to make the trip to Waynesville too, and be sure to seek out Jailhouse Primitives. Those places are not all in a straight line as far as travel, but they're worth seeing. I always like to make a day trip as worthwhile as possible.