Peter Rabbit Collection
My interest in Peter Rabbit and his creator Beatrix Potter started with a Beatrix Potter Baby Book. I received the book as a gift in April 1978 from Dale French, a family friend and colleague, at my baby shower just before our son Michael was born. Peter Rabbit had just enjoyed his seventy-fifth publication anniversary in 1977, and Potter merchandise was becoming available in the United States.
When Michael celebrated his first birthday in 1979, he received an outfit that featured Peter Rabbit Running on front of it.
One on my hobbies is knitting, which I used to craft several Peter Rabbit sweaters for Michael when he was young.
Sweater Featuring Potter Characters
Our daughter Denise had a Peter Rabbit cake made as a surprise for one of my birthdays. The design of the cake was based upon Peter Rabbit from the Golden Books.
Peter Rabbit Birthday Cake
Linda, Keith, Michael, Denise
In August 1986 I met Delores Bowles from Newport Beach, California, who was a guest speaker at the Delta Kappa Gamma International Conference held in Indianapolis, Indiana. She was a wonderful story-teller and authority on Peter Rabbit and Beatrix Potter. For Christmas I knitted her a shawl which featured Mrs. Rabbit and the words “Peter Rabbit’s Mama” worked in duplicate stitch.
In 1988 Delores introduced me to Kara Sewall from Andover, Massachusetts, who is also a leading authority on Peter Rabbit. Kara and I had corresponded through letters and phone calls but had not actually met one another in person. In 1992 we were all together for the first time at the Peter Rabbit Conference held at the Philadelphia Free Library in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Dale French and I painted sweatshirts that depicted Peter Rabbit Running to be worn at the opening program held at the library. A few weeks after the conference, a person who had attended the event sent a note to Kara asking how her mother and sisters were doing. The woman remarked about how much she had enjoyed meeting them at the conference. Kara was quite perplexed as she does not have any sisters and wonder what had prompted the lady to have asked about her family. Then Kara realized that the lady must have assumed that we were family members since we were wearing matching sweatshirts. I told Kara: “It must have been the “sweatshirt family resemblance” and the fact that we were all so happy to be together finally.”
Front Row: Kara Sewall
Back Row: Michael Long, Dale French, Linda Long, Delores Bowles
At the Philadelphia Conference, I meet Judy Taylor from London, England. She is the well-known author who has written numerous outstanding books about Beatrix Potter. She kindly autographed a couple of her books that I had purchased at the conference.
Judy Taylor and Linda Long
For Christmas in 1995, I created three handcrafted porcelain dolls to resemble Beatrix Potter and referred to the creations “Miss Bea.” One doll was sent to Kara, while the second one went to Delores; the third doll became part of my Potter collection. I designed Miss Bea’s clothing based upon pictures of Beatrix Potter found in various books. The shoes were handmade from leather with the heels being made of polymer clay. In her right hand Miss Bea holds a miniature Peter Rabbit book, which was a gift from Kara. The book was handmade and contained the complete tale about Peter Rabbit.
Through the years I have given several talks about Peter Rabbit, using the rabbits that I have handcrafted. One program was given at a Delta Kappa Gamma meeting held at the Good Times Restaurant in Bloomfield, Indiana.
Delta Kappa Gamma Program
Linda Long, Carolyn Robertson, Bev Krieg
Betty Patterson, and Elsie Hill
At the Delta Kappa Gamma State Conference held at the Marriott Hotel in Merrillville, Indiana, I had a Peter Rabbit display that featured some of the items from my collection.
Peter Rabbit Display
Mrs. Myra Cassady, who owned Mrs. Cassady’s Children Shoppe in Nashville, Indiana, and I became friends through our interest in Peter Rabbit. Mrs. Cassady had a variety of Beatrix Potter items available in her store, and I always stopped at her shop when visiting Nashville.
Linda Long and Myra Cassady
When she retired and closed her shop, Mrs. Cassady generously gave me the 32-inch Peter Rabbit and 28-inch Mrs. Rabbit, which had been store displays made by Eden.
Peter Rabbit and Mrs. Rabbit
In 1996 I was featured in the monthly magazine Electric Consumer as the “Storybook Baker.” The article contained information about how I became interested in cooking as well as Peter Rabbit. Several recipes were included in addition to pictures of food that I had prepared.
In April 1997 the Indiana members, known as the Potter-Philes, of the International Beatrix Potter Society hosted an Indiana Mimi-Conference at the Science Central Museum in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Judy Taylor was a guest speaker at the conference. During the evening session I gave a presentation that featured my hand knitted Peter Rabbit sweaters and several other handcrafted items.
Fort Wayne Conference
After seventeen years of collecting, I finally had a Christmas tree that was entirely decorated with Beatrix Potter ornaments. The tree skirt is decorated with counted cross stitch Potter characters. Some of the handcrafted rabbits are selected and arranged around the tree. As Christmas approaches, the rabbits are moved (at the request of our son when he was younger) and presents are placed under the tree.
Seven-Foot Christmas Tree
In 2006, I was greatly honored when some of my creations were included in the book entitled Beatrix Potter Collectibles: The Peter Rabbit Story Characters, which was based upon Kara Sewall’s Potter collection.
On pages 150-151, seven of my handcrafted rabbits that I had made especially for Kara were pictured in the book.
Searching for information and items to add to the Potter Collection has been fun and exciting. Using a variety of handcrafts, I also enjoy the challenge of creating the characters based upon the Potter books. However, the greatest part of the hobby has been the friends that I have made along the way. Peter Rabbit has been the steppingstone to creating many wonderful friendships that will last a lifetime.