You may recall that at one time I rented out my McKinley House to one Hiram Rabbit, a cousin of the famous large rabbit, Harvey, of the movies - you remember, the one whom only James Stewart could see?
Well, the fact that the house was being shared not only by a multitude of rabbits but a passel of bears as well doomed that endeavor from the start. I HATED being a landlord and getting all those calls because the two groups were always at loggerheads, so when the bears finally left, it was an enormous relief. Frankly, I was having second thoughts about renting my house out at all, and when Hiram commented one day that he really thought he needed a smaller venue for his shop, I leaped at the chance to agree. Thank goodness my McKinley is my own again, and I am thinking seriously about redoing it myself.
I have been wondering where all the bears went, but that's another story ....
Not long ago I had a call from Hiram, who invited me for lunch. He is a vegetarian, you know, but I didn't realize he was one of those who don't even heat them up! As we ate our cauliflower and raw onions, he told me about everything he'd done since leaving my McKinley. I listened politely, of course, but that's all another story, too. What I want to talk about today is my later visit to his completed little shop in a small downtown building wedged in between two larger ones.
Hare It Is, The Rabbit Shop, has three floors. Harvey proudly took me on a tour and we began on the top floor.
I was surprised to see that the Elvis-Wannabe Ronnie Rabbit was there, too! Turns out he now lives in the old Gardner Hotel just a few blocks away, and when he isn't serenading the backpackers from Germany and Norway and all over the world who come for the rock climbing out at Hueco Tanks, he gives free concerts in the Plaza.
"Hey, Miz Wanna," Elvis, er, Ronnie, drawled. "Mighty pleased to see you again," and strummed a few chords. "Sorry to be runnin' off, but I just wanted to say Howdy."
"Good to see you, too, Ronnie. So you're leaving us?"
"Yes, ma'am. I'm headin' on over to the Plaza where them big shots are planning how they're goin' to rejuvenate Downtown."
After he left us, Hiram took a seat on a nearby bench, and said, "Take your time, Wanna; just look around all you want."
Well, that Welcome sign sets a nice tone.
Oh, and look at those toys.
"Well, I like to think this place is for the kids and the kids at heart."
"And frankly, I get more money from the latter," Hiram said, smiling. (Although it is a bit hard to tell it here.)
There are names on the back of those cups. He personalizes them for his customers, Hiram said.
"Sure see a lot of carrots lying around. I wonder why," I said, smiling,
"Yeah, I wonder that, too. Yuk, yuk!"
"I don't know whether it's true of all rabbits, but I have a voracious appetite. I like to keep fresh veggies around for a snack. And, of course, I sell them, too."
"Inside the bottom of that cupboard you will find filled canning jars of vegetables that my Aunt Flossie Rabbit likes to 'put up' in season, as she calls it.
And since I don't care for them cooked, they make a nice addition to the fresh stuff that is available for sale. It pleases my customers, and supplements her Social Security."
And of course, besides all kinds of decorative eggs, he sells edible ones as well, ranging from hardboiled to marzipan to jelly beans.
Those guys are nodding off, about ready for a nap, I think.
Hiram didn't have as many flower arrangements or filled Easter baskets as normal on the day I visited, but he did have a couple of wreaths. I liked this one.
This stitched rabbit works as a firm pillow, or even a foot stool, Hiram tells me.
"Kids like to lie on them and watch tv," he said.
There are more pillows in a basket in the next room.
"I sold the little female that this fellow was giving the flowers to; forgot they were a pair," Hiram commented.
"But I am sure the little fabric bunny will appreciate them, as well," I said.
Those bunnies almost look like they could hop away.
I have always liked skirted tables, I told Hiram, and have several in my own house.
"Well, the nice thing about these," he said, "is that I can store stuff underneath!"
"You don't say!" I commented. "Well, believe it or not, I do the same thing!"
Oh, look at the little guy with the buck teeth!
I thought it was neat that the little flocked goose sort of matched the gift bags.
And it was in the bottom floor room that I met up with Hiram's nephew, Homer, again.
Looks like he's taking another carrot break in the egg cart, instead of unpacking boxes.
More people should wear sun hats in our area, dermatologists tell us. Why not purchase one of these broad-brimmed ones from Hiram?
The wheels on this cart actually roll, I realized, when Homer got out of the other cart and pushed this one aside to empty some more boxes. Hey, there's another variety of carrot, too.
Wow! Big fat ones!
This little bisque guy, almost hidden, is holding a carrot almost as big as he is, I think.
Hiram also apparently feels his customers will like chicks, too, since he has several around.
I wonder which of these little guys wins the tug of war over the worm!
Another Welcome sign.
Hiram has lots of white wicker in his shop. It adds to the springtime feel, he tells me.
He's adding more non-rabbity things, as in these little houses, I notice,
... and the painted metal can.
I thank Hiram for the tour and wish him the best of luck.
"Well, we're always getting in new stock," he tells me. "Stop in again soon, Wanna. Why, if my nephew Homer would ever get all the boxes unpacked, we would have twice as much stuff in here. I wonder where that rascal is now!"
This rather rough-hewn bunny bids me goodbye, swinging his legs back and forth as he sits on his little stool. And as I turn to wave at Hiram, I see Homer sneaking toward an outside doorway, one of the marzipan eggs in his hand.
Well, I always heard it was not a good idea to hire relatives to work for you.
I found this cupboard at either Marshall's or Ross two or three years ago.
It has been hanging all this time in the hallway outside our bathroom doorway. It became a way station of sorts for various small settings, including at one point the Chocolate Covered Chair E's and The First Man To Have a Nice Day, in the Miscellany pages; as well as Christmas mice, etc.
However, I had so much fun doing Armah Dilla's Texas Tourist Trap that I looked at this cupboard with new eyes. Aha! Perfect for all that rabbit stuff in my stash, and since I am anxious to get something done with all my collections, I decided to fill it up. Thus was born Hare It Is, The Rabbit Shop, which had been relegated to boxes after I took it all out of my McKinley wallhanger house.
It has been surprising how much stuff fit into these three small box rooms, although I didn't use many of the furniture pieces that I had planned to originally. Most of the gift items in this little shop are buttons, earrings, charms, mail order catalog cutous glued to matboard (which was how I did many minis before my computer days) and very inexpensive pieces and tiny baskets that I have accumulated for many years. In addition, I seem to have bought at least an eighth of a yard of every rabbit or bunny print I ever came across!
I don't know where I got this originally open-back hutch, but it was no doubt very inexpensive. The paint was so bright that I added a wash to tone it down and age the finish. The back is a piece of cardboard covered with one of the rabbit prints. I removed the original knobs and replaced them with ball-headed pins that I painted orange. Carrot stickers are used behind the knobs and more stickers are on each door.
Top Shelf: The bunny plate is a button. I used stickers to decorate the two mugs, and the carrot seed sign was another catalog cutout glued to matboard. The carrot on the right end shelf came from a string of pretend carrot lights; I think I made those in the basket on the left from Fimo. More stickers trim the china plates and little pitcher on the second shelf.
The rabbits throughout the shop are flocked, china, plastic, resin, bisque, paper, fabric, wood. Many I worked over to clean up a messy paint job or to make the same rabbits look different. The baskets are woven straw, resin, plastic; others were formed from fabric or needlepoint canvas. The eggs are glass and plastic beads, Fimo, flower pips, etc.
Top Floor: The metal egg on the wall shelf came on a long metal wire, intended to be poked into flower arrangements, I suppose. I cut away the wire and used my needle-nosed pliers to bend the tails of the metal bow to form supports for the microscope slide glass shelf.
I showed how to make the compote and candleholders from findings in Cheap Thrills several years ago.
I bought every piece of wire wicker furniture I could find years ago. When I decided to use several pieces for my rabbit stuff, I decided to vary some of the plainer pieces. Here I have used some carrots as trim.
The repainted bunnies look better in real life than they do in the photos.
I added the resin Carrot Patch sign to the back of another corner unit. The yellow bird on the top shelf and the pink one on the middle shelf are made of wood.
To vary this wire shelf unit, I added an open wooden carrot frame to the back. I used a large white button for the clock and added a face to it. All the bunnies came in a package.
I made cushions for the back and seats of the chairs from index card and a bit of cotton and covered them with one of my many rabbit prints. Their cushions are edged with pulled bunka.
This basket is resin. The pillows are made from index card, cotton and another print.
This table is a wooden egg, with plastic rings from my stash that I glued on to make it flat on top and bottom. The round mirror was from an old compact; I used a black felt marker around the edge. The rabbit is one of a pair of earrings dating back to the 70s. I think I purchased them at a craft show. My daughter was embarrassed when I wore them before Easter to the high school where I was a teacher and she was a student. Fortunately, she outgrew that, and now brings me outlandish earrings that she thinks I might use, if not wear.
Many of these little pieces had a hanging loop, and were found among Easter items. I made the paper boxes using a technique that was in a NAME Miniature Gazette back in the 80s. The rabbit atop the box and another on one of the wreaths are confetti.
The "stitched" rabbit footstool says Hallmark on the back; don't remember when I got it.
One wreath has a base of reindeer moss. It is trimmed with tiny dyed dry flowers and eggs made from flower pips.
This one is made of ribbon wrapped around a plastic ring and decorated with a fancy fabric trim; the bunny is confetti, and the pink jewel was added as a what-the-heck.
The egg on the left wall is lightweight balsa and had a loop for hanging, which I removed. I added the little wood pieces that I had picked up at one time or another.
All three of these rabbits are show purchases. I just love them, although the smallest one looks shinier here than he does in real life. He is so tiny that I have always lived in fear of losing him.
This basket I made, but the Fimo rabbit was a show purchase.
I had several of these little rabbits, which I repainted to make look different.
That's a tiny little plastic rabbit next to some larger eggs that I think I painted a long, long time ago.
Because the edges of this shelf unit were so crooked, I added these little trim pieces, which don't look too good here because the camera catches every little flaw. They actually look better in real life.
And by the way, I cut off the feet of the shelves that I hung on the walls; just looked better that way, I thought.
The butterfly mirror at the back was originally a dangly earring; I added a tiny mirror from my stash. The candleholder is Chrysnbon.
And here's another of my ubiquitous skirted tables. The underskirt has tiny red flowers that match the red flowers of the rabbit print.
I trimmed not only the rabbits, but inexpensive little hats from my stash with ribbon and bunka and paper flowers.
I added the green flower petal "dress" and silk ribbon trims to the little flocked girl bunny. I repainted the chocolate bunny in the green canvas basket. The tall Easter basket is made of woven straw; I purchased its bunny - which is made of crushed and molded pecan shells - in Tennessee. I added grass and eggs to most of the baskets in the shop.
Recognize the famous lampshade made from a toothpaste cap? The kissing rabbits that form the lamp base are wood, glued to a painted woodsie. The foil egg was a gift from my friend Nora years ago.
I hope you enjoyed your visit to Hare It Is, The Rabbit Shop. I feel so much better now that I have done something with more of my collections, although I probably still have enough odds and ends to fill another shop!
LATER NOTE: Not too long after I added this shop to my website, I had an email from my friend Lindsie Tucker in Atlanta, telling me she had "a little something" for my shop.
A week or so later, I received a wonderful handmade rabbit couple, who now reside on the top floor of Hare It Is:
Everything is made of clay, including the basket and the seed packet! Aren't they great?
And then in November, 2008, along with a Texas plate for Armah Dillah's Texas Tourist Trap, here came another "little something" from Lindsie - a delightful handcrafted rabbit in a devil costume!
(And that big pumpkin he's standing on isn't bad, either! lol)
This little rabbit adds a nice little diabolical look to all those pastel Easter-y rabbits, doesn't he? (Sorry for the quality of the photos; took them in a rather dark hallway.)
Thank you, Lindsie. I love them!