Mrs. Janet Ellis


Thomas Jefferson High School
Richmond Professional Institute
College of William and Mary: A.B. in Fine Arts

Art and Advanced Art

"'Let me help,' says Mrs. Ellis to Kit Thomas ('64)
as he sculpts in art class."
1964 Anchor, p. 62 Friday, December 20, 1963 Issue of the Beacon - p. 2
02/10/07 Courtesy of Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 04/04/08
Thanks, Dave!

..... Your mention of glue-sniffing reminded me of an incident from my junior year of high school.  My art teacher, the
very wonderful and beautiful Mrs. Janet Ellis, had assigned a fall semester project of designing and constructing a miniature
house.  Perhaps you've noticed how I tend to go a bit overboard, and always find the difficult path to anything....

   So I decided my dream home was a Georgian mansion.  Being the obsessive perfectionist that I am, I therefore rabidly
immersed myself in research.  I wanted the brick walls set in English over Flemish bond one foot thick.  I wanted a slate roof. 
I wanted carved pediments above the doorways.  I wanted two dependent outbuildings (the kitchen and the office) connected
by lovely passageways.  I drew blueprints.  I was involved!  My final design was very reminiscent of Col. William Byrd's
Westover on the James, which I so loved.  (Years later I was to learn that he was my 7th great-grandfather, but I digress.)

"Westover", Charles City Co., VA
Built in 1730
Col. William Byrd, II
(28 Mar 1674 - 26 Aug 1744)

   After so much initial preparation, it was time to build.  For the purposes of my project I only built the main house, but I
knew that when the time came I'd have it all.  We bought massive quantities of those lock-together red plastic toy building
bricks (their name escapes me) - and what a toy I built!  We bought a 16" x 20" cork bulletin board as a carrying base, and
painted it green, and added "boxwood" bushes sold in the model train section of hobby shops (where we came to spend
much time).  We bought balsa wood and paneled the walls and carved moldings and constructed "stone" steps.  We bought
and mixed paint in authentic colonial colors.  It took weeks and weeks, and we spent the cost of what would have been my
winter coat that year, but it was a sacrifice willingly made.  It was all in perfect scale and gloriously beautiful!

   And it was all held together with plastic model glue.  And it was winter.  And in our excitement, we somehow must have
missed the instructions about using only with adequate ventilation.  And did we get SICK!!!  In 1963, if anyone was using
glue for a recreational drug, I certainly never heard of it.  But it's a grand wonder my momma and I didn't die from the fumes
in our tiny one-bedroom
Stuart Gardens apartment!

   I did love that Georgian mansion, though.  I kept it for years and years and moved it around the country with me.  Eventually
it fell into ruin.  Sigh.

- Carol Buckley Harty ('65) of NC - 08/16/05

Artist's Supplies clip art courtesy of - 04/21/07

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