- Eric Claypoole
Hex Signs. Barn Stars. Milk Cans. Lectures. Custom Orders
227 Schock Road
Lenhartsville, PA 19534
- Jody and Loren Hulber
7250 Saint Peter’s Road
Macungie, PA 18062
Hul-Bear: A Love Story:
Twenty-five Years of Love Inspires a Creative Celebration
By Diane VanDyke
Jody and Loren Hulber, long-time patrons of the arts, believe that richness in life comes from cultivating and sharing personal expression and creativity.
The décor of their home reflects their appreciation for the arts with their collection of art by local artists. Their admiration for the Boyertown bears of the Bear Fever Community started the first time they drove through the quaint, historic community.
They were familiar with the fiberglass animal forms, since they formerly lived in Chicago—the home of Cowpainters LLC, the company that creates the molds for such projects.
However, it was the enthusiasm and collaboration of artists, sponsors and members of the community of all generations, as well as the leadership of the Stahls, that impressed them the most.
“We celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary last December 21st, and Jody suggested it would be a wonderful way to commemorate our anniversary by sponsoring a bear,” Loren said.
“We’ll be the northern extension of Bear Fever,” Loren said. “Our mailing address is actually Macungie, which is derived from the Lenni Lenape name, ‘maguntsche,’ meaning bear swamp or feeding place of the bears. Macungie’s mascot is a bear. So, having a bear here, on our farm, is apropos.”
Hul-Bear was unveiled for public display on April 18, 2009, at the Hard Bean Café, Boyertown, during the annual Building a Better Boyertown’s Coming Out of Hibernation event.
Since Hul-Bear is the Hulbers’ anniversary gift, they will permanently mount the completed bear at a prominent spot at their home, Fieldstone Farm, located in Upper Milford Township.
The Hulbers are actively involved in many civic organizations, including the United Way, Lehigh Valley Hospital and the Macungie Farmers’ Market, to name a few. They often host community events at their home, where guests can view Hul-Bear. Fieldstone Farm, circa 1740, was originally part of a land grant of the William Penn Walking Treaty, said Jody, who extensively researched the history of the property for her master’s thesis.
The Hulbers consider themselves stewards of this 120-acre property, the largest remaining single tract in southern Lehigh County. They are committed to sustainable agricultural practices and conservation and participate in the Forest Stewardship Program.
Jody, a member of the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, grows organic apples and produce and is an active supporter of the Macungie Farmers’ Market. She is a beekeeper and raises fancy breed chickens. Loren has a lengthy list of career achievements as an entrepreneur and builder of high performance businesses. He is currently a high performance business consultant to technology organizations. He served as the chairperson for CorrectNet, Inc. and USAData, Inc. He was the former chair and CEO of Incurrent Solutions, Inc., and he supervised the development of several other corporations.
This energetic, high-achieving couple admires the comparable industriousness of the early Pennsylvania Dutch who settled the land and made the area prosper. They appreciate the practical application of the farm’s construction and the tools and implements.
“The bank barn, for example,” Loren said. “By using the slope of the land and building the barn into it, they were able to keep the barn warm in the winter and cool in the summer. They used the springs in the wetlands to store their milk and dairy products before refrigeration existed.”
Because of their respect for the history and culture of their property, the Hulbers wanted to have a bear reflect this heritage and asked pre-eminent hex sign and barn start artist, Eric Claypoole, to design and paint Hul-Bear.
The Hulbers met Claypoole at the annual Kutztown Folk Festival last summer and admired his skillful painting. Claypoole of Lenhartsville, has been painting hex signs and barn stars since he was a child when he helped his father, Johnny Claypoole. His father learned the art from Johnny Ott, a well-known Pennsylvania Dutch artist in the Berks-Lehigh County area.
Although Claypoole has painted numerous barns, signs and milk cans, this was the first time he painted a bear. “The Hulbers have a pair of swans on the pond of their property. On the one side of the bear, I painted two swans facing each other,” he said. “The swans’ necks form a heart shape, which is appropriate for their anniversary theme. I also included their initials, date and an infinity sign.”
Other designs include hearts, tulips, roosters, butterflies, cardinals and dragonflies. As Claypoole explains, each design is symbol—hearts represent love, tulips mean faith and the roosters represent the fancy chickens on the farm.
Biographical Profile: Loren J. Hulber
Since his youth, at fourteen years of age, founding a business making Christmas ornaments for major department stores, Loren Hulber has been an extraordinary entrepreneur and builder of high performance organizations. Loren has applied his talents to numerous enterprises with outstanding results as well as to charitable and community service organizations.
Loren is currently a high performance business consultant to technology organizations. He served as Chairman of CorrectNet, Inc., a leading provider in the rapidly growing $3.0 billion market for data consolidation and web reporting services for asset managers and their investors. Prior to CorrectNet, Loren was Chairman of USAData, Inc., a leading provider of sales leads on demand through web-based solutions for customer acquisition and customer relationship management.
Prior to CorrectNet and USAData, Loren was Chairman and CEO of Incurrent Solutions, Inc., acquired by ORCC. Incurrent develops, licenses, operates, and manages advanced customer self-service and electronic billing and collection systems for financial institutions in the global credit card industry. Loren led Incurrent to accelerated growth and profitable operations, Series A and Series B rounds of funding and numerous industry awards.
Prior to Incurrent, Loren was founding CEO, President and Chairman of NCES, an outsourced provider of human resource services to thousands of companies and tens of thousands of employees in 46 states. Loren took the company from start-up to $1.3 billion in revenues, completing numerous acquisitions and an IPO, and ultimately selling the company to Fidelity and AFLAC.
As President & CEO of Day-Timers, Inc., Loren led this direct marketer of time management tools into reseller channels like Office Depot and Staples, generated record results and produced the strongest revenue and profit growth in the history of this 50 year old company with 4.5 million users. He led Day-Timers into software, acquiring and successfully integrating a leading developer of time management solutions for PC’s and hand-helds.
As President of Wilson Jones Company, Loren dramatically re-energized this 100-year-old manufacturer and distributor of office products restoring strong revenue and profit growth. As President and CEO of Durand Corporation, Loren revolutionized this 50-year-old company by successfully introducing the Slant-D ring binder, forever changing ring binder design and usage, and selling the company to Jostens, Inc., subsequently becoming President of Jostens Business Products Group, the fastest growing segment of this NYSE company.
Loren was named to Who’s Who in New Jersey, was twice a Finalist in the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Award Program, was named One of the Most Influential People in the Professional Employer Organization Industry by the ProEmp Journal, was interviewed as One of America’s Hottest Business Leaders in First Job, Great Job by Jason R. Rich, and is a frequent speaker and panelist.
Throughout his career, Loren has demonstrated a deep commitment to entrepreneurial success in business as well as to charitable and community service organizations. He served as Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Lehigh Valley Hospital and Health Network, one of the leading regional teaching hospitals in the USA.
As Campaign Chair of the Lehigh Valley United Way, Loren led the turnaround of the Campaign with a record 12% increase, one of the highest growth achievements in the country. He received the President’s Award for Outstanding Leadership and went on to serve as Vice Chair of the United Way Board of Directors.
Loren has been President and a Director of several trade associations, including the New Jersey Technology Council, and also served on the boards of Lehigh Valley Partnership, Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation, Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Executive Committee of the Minsi Trails Council of the Boy Scouts of America, and the Regional Advisory Board of Wachovia Bank.
Loren received the Boy Scout’s of America Distinguished Citizen Award for his service to the community.
Loren holds 3 U.S. patents, attended the University of Detroit, and served in the U.S. Marine Corps. He and his wife, Jody, live on their historic (circa 1750) Pennsylvania farm of 120 mostly wooded acres, where they are committed to open land preservation and responsible wildlife management. Jody is quite active as a community volunteer, board member, and organic gardener. Loren also maintains a rotating collection of about a dozen collector cars as a hobby.
A Woman of Many Talents: Jody Hulber
Jody has a Masters Degree in Liberal Studies from Lake Forest College in Chicago. She is a beekeeper, raises fancy breed chickens, and grows organic apples and produce in addition to being an active community volunteer and board member. We are both committed to sustainable agricultural practices that do not harm people, animals or the land.
Jody is a member of PASA and we participate in the Forest Stewardship Program. Our farm, Fieldstone Farm, is the largest remaining tract of land in southernmost Lehigh County, and we look upon ourselves as stewards of this property that dates back to a land grant from the William Penn Walking Treaty to the first of nine owners, who were Swiss. We admire and seek to preserve the practical culture of the early 'Pennsylvania Dutch' who settled and made this land and area prosper.
About the Artist:
Eric Claypoole: Visit www.claypoolehexsigns.com for extensive info about this talented artist.
Eric learned his craft from his father Johnny by first cleaning cans and making disks then painting signs and, finally, painting barns.
Johnny Claypoole created booklets explaining the art he loved. The following information was taken from the booklet entitled “Johnny Claypoole—Hexologist—Pennsylvania Dutch Folk Artist.
Nearly all cultures have had counterparts in the Pennsylvania Dutch Hex sign. There have been etchings or paintings on the walls of caves; statues, some of whose meanings eluded us to this day; special types of architecture; even brightly colored jewels or necklaces—all talisman of a sort.
Hex signs are apparently an extension of the old German style of “fractur art.” Beginning in the sixteenth century, special documents such as birth certificates, and favorite possessions such as the family Bible were often decorated with this special calligraphy. Probably such elaboration was originally an outgrowth of fine penmanship. Before the popularity and general accessibility of the printing press, considerably more merit was attached to the artist who could print with special style and distinctiveness. It’s not difficult to imagine one of these artists, with an especially fine hand, deciding with a flourish that his work needed a more dramatic personal touch and adding a few special decorations. Even the earliest examples of “fractur art” show a marked similarity to the general style still used by Pennsylvania Dutch artists, symbols like brightly colored birds and flowers, and that same broad, flat style.
Historically speaking, “fracturing” was a short-lived process in Europe. But the German immigrants who brought it to this country kept it central to their new culture, using it to decorate all sorts of their possessions, from trivets to tombstones, and finally expanding it to hex signs. In fact, so central did it become, that today hex signs and the Pennsylvania Dutch are almost synonymous.
With this popularity came a good deal of legend and mythology. It is commonly believed that early hex signs were used to ward off evil spirits, just as a cross was supposedly the way to neutralize a vampire….Johnny Claypoole—the modern “hexologist” has a couple dozen stories of seemingly intelligent, rational people who unequivocally swear by the effectiveness of his hex signs…
Perhaps it isn’t just the colors that one may respond to, perhaps it’s the symbols themselves. Superficially: the tulip represents the Holy Trinity; hearts, love, marriage and related affections; distlefinks (goldfinches) and shamrocks are good luck symbols. The mighty oak stands for strength. The eagle signifies courage, rosettes, prosperity and general good fortune; the sun and rain, fertility.
All of these symbols represent things most basically and universally sought, today as well as two or twenty centuries ago. Now, just as the symbols themselves were transcribed from the subconscious of artists—as all art must ultimately be. Perhaps we receive them the same way. Perhaps the symbols touch our subconscious as subliminally as the colors do our emotions; not as dramatically as we may respond to an especially glamorous sunrise, but in the same general way.
PENNSYLVANIA DUTCH HEX SIGNS
At the heart of a Folk Art
Lehigh, Berks counties are at epicenter of hex sign culture
By Mariella Savidge | Of The Morning Call
July 15, 2008
The Pennsylvania Dutch influence on the Lehigh Valley shines through in any number of ways: the food, the festivals, the language.
A part of the culture's very soul, however, are hex signs -- the brightly colored circles that are most authentic when painted on barns but also are very popular on decorative wooden discs.
Few people realize that eastern Berks and western Lehigh counties are the epicenter of the indigenous folk art form. Though there are a few in Lancaster County, they are exclusive to the Pennsylvania Dutch even there, and have nothing to do with Amish culture, says Don Yoder, co-author with Thomas E. Graves of ''Hex Signs: Pennsylvania Dutch Barn Symbols & Their Meaning'' (Stackpole Books, second edition 2000).
''Hex signs and Amish don't mix,'' he says.
The Amish and Mennonites are two distinct, smaller groups included in the much larger category of European immigrants called the Pennsylvania Dutch, or Pennsylvania German. The term ''Dutch'' once covered people who were German or Dutch. Because of their somber dress, the Amish and Mennonites are sometimes called the ''plain'' Dutch. The ''fancy'' Dutch are mostly Lutheran and Reformed Church members.
Amish barns typically are white and trimmed with green. They display no ''fancy'' decoration whatsoever, says Patrick J. Donmoyer, a student at Kutztown University majoring in art and minoring in Pennsylvania German Studies. His honors project this summer involves cataloging all the barns with hex signs in Berks County.
Pennsylvania Dutch barns usually are red, owing to the low price and easy availability of the pigment just after the Civil War, says artist Eric Claypoole, who learned to paint hex signs by watching his father in the family's Greenwich Township home.
Each symbol has a meaning, Claypoole explains: Hearts stand for romance and love of mankind, distlefinks -- stylized goldfinches -- signify abundance (but with eyes looking backward toward Germany). Snakes symbolize temptation. The Pennsylvania Dutch decorated everything with these symbols, furniture, birth certificates, even Bibles, he says.
The concept of using the symbols for good luck or to ward off evil was publicly introduced in Wallace Nutting's 1924 book, ''Pennsylvania Beautiful,'' where he called the designs ''hexafoos,' ' or witch's foot. He coined the ''hex sign'' moniker for the images that had previously been known simply as schtanne and blumme, stars and flowers.
Claypoole breaks a sly smile when asked if he attaches any meaning other than decoration to his work, probably the same smile generations of farmers gave before they answered, ''Yuscht fer schee'' -- just for nice, the answer he always gives.
Yoder, whose book is still the go-to source for information on hex signs decades after it was first published, plays down their mystical properties. He does, however, acknowledge the designs were used on the underside of furniture, the backs of mirrors and on paper rolled into scrolls that homeowners inserted into holes drilled into door frames and window lintels (with the hope that they would protect their houses).
On barns, farmers were using hex signs simply to show ''that they cared about the aesthetics of the landscape.'
' ''But use these designs on barns to keep witches away? No!'' Yoder writes. He also writes that the story of hex signs still is being written.
At age 22, Donmoyer is poised to be among the prime champions who continue the story. He lectures on the meaning of ''hexerei'' (hex signs) and continues to dig deep into their rich history.
Some of the symbols, he says, date back to Norse, and even pagan, art. And it is no coincidence that the hub of hex sign activity is here rather than, say, New York or New Jersey.
''There was freedom of religion in Pennsylvania, '' he says. ''People were afraid of so many things. Even 'witches' were protected here.”
Donmoyer notes hex signs might be for more than just decoration and there could be a link to powwowing, a Pennsylvania German practice of healing using a core group of prayers. The practice was driven underground, where it remains today.
Statements by other hex sign experts that the signs couldn't have mystical meanings because they're so public and out there for the world to see are misleading, Donmoyer says.
While many can be seen from main roads, many are painted on the other side of the barn, which only could be seen by the family, he says.
Protecting a barn -- the center of a farmer's life and livelihood -- from witches, even if they were only people who were very attuned to animals or nature, may or may not be whimsical.
''But witches were not the only reason to protect a barn,'' he says, referring to theft, fire and disease as other tragedies that could befall a farm or a home.
Although the exact meaning of hex signs may be known only to the farmers who painted them so many years ago, they are interesting and worth studying, he says.
''So many areas don't have something like this,'' he says, ''It's worth the time to approach them with gratitude.''
WHAT THE SYMBOLS MEAN
The most authentic hex signs are painted onto barns and are said to invite good luck while keeping away evil and tragedy. Some of the most frequently used designs have specific meanings, though there is no verifiable source for any of them:
4-point star: the four seasons, good luck
5-point star: protection against evil, five senses, good luck
Double 5-point star: sun and light
6-point star: prosperity, good luck, protection from lightening, perfect marriage
6-petal rosette: faith, fertility, protection from harm. One of the most common symbols, it is said to be one of the most ancient.
8-point star: fertility, perseverance
12-point star: the months of the year, rationalism, justice
Raindrops: fertility, abundance
Tulips: faith, hope and charity; the holy trinity
Oak leaves: strength
Maple leaves: contentment
Distlefinks: (goldfinches) abundance, good luck, happiness
Scalloped edge (waves): tranquility, smooth sailing
Closed circle edge: eternity
Hex sign colors, as well as shapes, have meanings. In fact, they usually emphasize the meaning of the symbols. Although there are no verifiable sources, these are the meanings that folklore has conveyed to generations of Pennsylvania Dutch families:
Orange: success, career
Yellow: health, sun
Green: growth, good fortune, fertility
Blue: protection, peace, calm, spirituality
Purple: spirituality, intuition, sanctity
Brown: earth, nature
White: purity, free flow of energy