Courtesy of the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center. What is most evident in these illustrations is that, even at such a young age, Milton had already begun to develop a distinctive style that would continue to set his work apart from that of all others in his time. With what almighty, infinite Force Featuring colorful geometric patterns in combination with early dates, initials, or even full names, these early structures run the gamut of architectural expression—everything from houses built in the late eighteenth century, to early nineteenth- century houses, barns, and mills.26. Instead, they are produced unintentionally by a process called differential solar weathering. A lover of the stars, artist Milton J. Hill began his career painting barn stars at the age of 14 under the mentorship of his father, John M. Hill, who paid him the generous going-rate of ten cents per hour, and asked him only to furnish his own paint.78 This of course required Milton to learn the art of mixing his own colors from linseed oil and commercial pigments, rather than the loathsome ready-mixed “patent” paints that performed unpredictably even in the best of circumstances. Figure 17: An elaborate rosette on the back of a nineteenth-century chip-carved chair from the Palatinate, from the collection of the Mennonite Research Center, Mennonitische Forschungsstelle Weierhof, Germany. The best opinions, comments and analysis from The Telegraph. These first printed hex sign disks were originally credited to “Zook & Ott” and later simply to “Zook,” but he also later partnered with Ott’s successor, Johnny Claypoole of Lenhartsville, to produce a line of “Zook and Claypoole” signs.98. Hausinschriften im Schweitzerland. Others were influenced more directly by barn star patterns, such as Johnny Claypoole’s sixteen-pointed barn star in green and yellow, which was promoted as symbolizing “success,” and an eight-pointed star with rain-drop shapes was called “Sun, Rain, and Fertility.” Although all of these notions were presented as traditional, it is clear that traditional folk art motifs were codified at this time for marketing purposes. Especially among Protestant congregations, celestial images served as focal points of early churches constructed as meetinghouses in the Georgian and Federal styles, where crosses were not used to identify their Christian faith. Scores of barns in southeastern Pennsylvania have been touched by the brushes and the hearts of the Claypooles, and the numbers are increasing each year. 99 These meanings are widely available in the form of advertising sheets, which show little hex signs the size of postage stamps, each with a succinct meaning. The residents of these quiet rural communities regard the stars as something to be cherished, yet perfectly ordinary—an agricultural expression of folk art, and as commonplace as eating pie. All of Claypoole’s children grew up around the art, with many opportunities to work with their father and experiment with the trade. (Highest Lord above us, with your graceful hand protect our house and village from sickness, storm, and fire, Amen.)25. There are a lot of options when it comes to paint brushes. Waken, O Lord! One of the earliest of these Georgian houses, located in Upper Frederick Township, Montgomery County, features two sixteen-pointed stars with split points in contrasting green and white painted on plastered medallions on either of the upper gables. Courtesy of the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center. Framingham, MA: Old America Company Publishers. Pokémon - I Choose You! Although many people have assumed that “ghosts” are carved, they are not. To walk this dangerous road; Courtesy of the Pennsylvania Folklife Society Archive, Myrin Library, Ursinus College. The German Bible in America. It reads: “God can build and destroy. Figure 36: The barn star artist Milton J. Hill (1887-1972) of Virginville, painting his classic star pattern on a barn in Berks County, ca. Baer’s Almanac is still widely distributed today in English only as one of the classic almanacs in the German almanac tradition. District Township, Berks County. For new accounts: Purchase APR is 29.99%. Got a bigger paint job? However, one particular barn painter of the early twentieth century, Milton J. Hill (1887-1972) of Virginville, kept a ledger that outlined his hourly project schedules, his paint pigments, and precisely how long it took him to paint the stars. Barn stars were not expressions of “superstition” as the tourist literature suggested, but abstract images of the heavens, refined by generations of artistic interest in geometry and agricultural interest in the stars. Hex, No! Barn stars are rarely found west of the Susquehanna, except for traditional wooden applique stars found in Bedford, Somerset, and Washington counties. Each barn took a little over one week for the three of them to paint, and the stars took Milton about eight hours to complete with two coats of paint. Who confines the hordes of preying beasts to the wilderness? Although the decorated barns of the region have been photographed and documented in numerous waves over the years, beginning in the first half of the twentieth century,1 the landscape is in a state of constant change. COLOR INSPIRATION FOR YOUR HOME: Sutherlands has a variety of interior and exterior paints and stains. Eric Claypoole carries on this tradition today, painting three crosses above windows and doorways, like this example. While various forms of celestial symbolism are common, and perhaps even expected, in both religious art and sacred objects, the Pennsylvania Dutch applied the same motifs on even the most mundane of objects. Although many people have assumed that “ghosts” are intentionally carved, they are not. Angels and winged busts suggested the messengers of heaven and the passage of the spirit of the deceased to the afterlife. The third perspective that the stars motifs are celestial representations is the primary theory undergirding Hex Signs; Myth and Meaning in Pennsylvania Dutch Barn Stars (2013), see Donmoyer 2013. 28 A plaque at Jerusalem Union Cemetery in Stony Run lists Maria Elizabeth (Ladich) Kistler as Samuel’s first wife, but no other vital statistics are given. Next he applies three coats of the highest quality white acrylic paint in order to create a solid foundation for the star pattern. This symbolism extends beyond the artistry of churchyard gravestones and equally embraces the highly embellished, formal documents celebrating birth and baptism at the very beginning of life. It was once commonly believed that the barn stars first appeared on the landscape with the advent of commercially available ready-mixed paints and the widespread establishment of painting crews in the late nineteenth century.19 We know today that the earliest stars were painted generations prior, when paints were mixed by the artists from old recipes combining oils, pigments, and raw materials that were both locally available and imported for sale. Although the telling of these stories was a highlight of Claypoole’s promotional efforts, he also spoke plainly about his work, saying that any belief in the magical efficacy of his art was a form of “mind over matter.” He would often explain candidly that if customers wanted to believe that his paintings had the ability to affect their lives, that perhaps his art would function in a positive way for those people— because they believe it to be so, but not because his work was magical in any intentional sense. Whether in biblical verses, or in the sacred calendar outlined in the common farmer’s almanac treasured by the Pennsylvania Dutch folk culture, it was not the representations of the stars which governed these aspects of life, but the divine order and forces of nature that the art represented. In fact, the reason that barn stars are largely absent from Lancaster County is because the Amish do not decorate their barns as part of their religious commitment to plain living. The firm, later called Johann Baer & Sons, and eventually Johann Baer’s Sons, issued both English and German almanacs. 96 There are several examples of this in the Kutztown area, most notably, the restoration of the barn at the Isaac Bieber homestead of 1801. 81 Zehner, Olive. It is through this concept of agricultural and religious order that the significance of the stars in Pennsylvania Dutch culture can begin to be understood, not merely as points of light in a distant sky, but as powerful forces which were believed to govern even the most minute aspects of life. Like its peers throughout Lehigh, Northampton, and Montgomery, it was painted on a medallion composed of two wide boards and set into a circular recess in the original masonry. We can even custom mix any color for you. Figure 35: A Milton Hill star re-creation, painted on weathered barn wood at the Kutztown Folk Festival in 2016, modeled after a star from the Leiby Homestead in Virginville, by barn star artist Milton J. Hill (1887-1972) of Virginville, Berks County, ca. 77 The Consumer Price Index Inflation Calculator, U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. Pennsylvania German Tombstones: A Study in Folk Art. Offer cannot be used in conjunction with coupons or any other discounts. No longer visible are three sets of arches over the windows, with three crosses within the arches. For the first time, these unique communities were subject to the curiosity of visitors eager for explanations of the distinctive cultural landscape of the region. Ironically, for previous generations of Pennsylvania Dutch farmers, it was the stars in the sky themselves that were thought to influence the weather and the fertility of the land, and even human affairs such as success and prosperity, love and romance. Heilman Collection of Patrick J. Donmoyer. As months and days increase, However, the system of beliefs was so firmly established that the agricultural almanac was one of the most common works of printed literature found in the Pennsylvania Dutch home, second only to the German family Bible.62 While to modern audiences, these two books may appear to represent opposing systems of thought and belief, on the contrary, it was biblical literature itself that undergirded the belief in the efficacy of the almanac tradition. Beliefs and Superstitions of the Pennsylvania Germans. Just as humans throughout the ages have projected countless interpretations upon the orderly movements of the celestial sphere, so too have the artistic renderings of these celestial bodies on Pennsylvania barns been the subject of a wide variety of interpretations, theories, and organizing principles. His name was Johnny Claypoole (1921-2004), and he eagerly sought out Johnny Ott to establish the apprenticeship. Like early gravestones that carefully record the dates of one’s birth and death, and a reckoning of the age of the deceased person in years, months, and days, the Adam Laux birth and baptismal provides a reflection on the ephemeral duration of a human life, demonstrating the special emphasis of time in sacred material culture. A nineteenth-century wooden canteen inscribed with six-pointed rosettes carved from a single block of wood, with pairs of stars on either end. Who guides the suns at wondrous distance? Thus, the stars in their courses, along with the rising and setting of the sun and the phases of the moon, were not only regarded as the clearest indicators of the passage of time, but were emblematic of the belief in a stable, ordered, sacred universe.59, The progression of the sun, moon, and stars are a central feature in the agricultural almanacs still used in the present day, where celestial activities are charted and interpreted for their influence on the mechanics of earthly life. 49 This inscription is on the reverse side of the gravestone of the child James Old (1773-1777), buried at Emanuel Lutheran Church, Brickerville. The painters were compensated only $7.03 for the painting of the stars, which amounts to an adjusted $182.43 in today’s currency. Glencairn Museum staff photo. Between these two different views, the history of the folk art barn stars has been the subject of debate for nearly a century, and is only now beginning to take shape yet again as Pennsylvanians in the present day not only rediscover the art form, but also strive to preserve their open spaces and agricultural communities. Nutting even provides the caption, “A Witch Foot Barn” for a line drawing of a highly decorated barn that stands in Earl Township, Berks County.90. The barns of the Palatinate are constructed largely of stone, and leave no large expanses of wooden siding upon which to decorate.22 Such barns are often connected structurally to the farmhouse as part of a courted farm complex or Hof, and clustered in small rural towns, rather than scattered throughout the landscape as in Pennsylvania. Looks down, and While Ott certainly profited from his tall-tales and performative, artistic persona, he was not the originator of the widespread misconception that traditional barn star motifs held supernatural significance. 48 These stones are prominently found at cemeteries in the Cocalico Valley, especially Swamp Union Church Cemetery, Reinholds and Muddy Creek Lutheran, Denver. Glencairn and the Heritage Center have also collaborated on a full catalogue for the Hex Signs exhibition. The required minimum monthly payments may or may not pay off the promo purchase by the end of the promo period. Having come from a family of five brothers and two sisters who all grew up around their father’s artistic process, Eric is used to sharing and collaborating, encouraging his family and friends to try their hand at folk art painting. Privacy Policy. Heinrich Hertz, Stone Mason.” Although the barn structure still stands today, the German inscription and symbolic elements are no longer visible. 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