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Freda 'Dickie' Weaver - Cachet Maker Biography
by John Weaver
Freda Dickie was born on April 6, 1944 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Her father, David Dickie, was a talented amateur artist who encouraged both Freda and her older brother Walter to draw and paint from the time they were old enough to hold a pencil or brush. Freda spent the nine and a half months of each school year in Montreal, but summers were spent at her grandparents home in Port Hope, Ontario. Freda says those Port Hope visits were the best memories of her youth. Wherever they were, though, evenings and weekends were spent studying, reading, or working on art. Indeed, art consumed all of the young artist's spare time.
As a child, Freda had always wanted to be a fashion designer, but that dream was never to be realized. Around 1950, David Dickie's health deteriorated, and thus began a long series of illnesses, which would eventually keep him hospitalized for months at a time. The illnesses devastated the family financially, and the Dickie's ended up living in various one-room apartments in and around the Montreal metroplex. Freda and her brother slept on a foldout couch. They did their homework and practiced their painting at the kitchen table. And, of course, there was no money for any education beyond high school. Freda was unable to attend college, and beyond a couple of classes she took in high school, received no formal art training whatsoever.
Following high school graduation Freda took a job with the IBM Corporation as a graphic artist to help support her family. She worked there for five years. But her life was soon to change. In 1964, Freda took a 'working vacation' at a ranch in north central Colorado where she fell in love with 'life in the west.' So it was, that a year later she emigrated to the United States, and went to work on the same ranch (the Two-Bar Seven) for room and board.
Life as a ranch hand was hard work, but Freda truly loved it. On the ranch, there was no 'typical' day. There were, of course, routine chores like cooking, cleaning, and care of horses. But odd jobs that came up fairly regularly included such varying duties as helping with cattle and buffalo roundups, riding as a cowhand and cook on long trail rides and cattle drives, branding cattle, and butchering meat for the ranch. While at the Two-Bar Seven, she also met a man who taught her the intricate art of detailed tooled-leather carving. Freda perfected a technique for painting the finished products as well, and her belts, wallets, and tooled-leather paintings were soon a treasured prize to many ranch guests.
After Freda's boss died in 1967, she went to work for the University of Wyoming. There she met her first husband, a professor of entomology. She provided him with many illustrations for articles and books on insects -- her penchant for detail being just what the exacting field called for. However, insects turned out to be about the only area of common interest, and the marriage didn't last long. Shortly thereafter, Freda met and married her second husband, John Weaver. They remain married to this day.
John is a research meteorologist, specializing in severe thunderstorms (tornadoes, hail, floods, etc). Fortunately (for the FDC collectors of the world), he was also an avid stamp collector. John got Freda interested, and after moving to Norman, Oklahoma in 1976, the couple spent many Saturday mornings at the Southwest Coin and Stamp shop, owned by an energetic and imaginative man named Delmer Cox. John and Delmer eventually began to speculate how wonderful it would be if Freda would apply some of her talent for 'dry brush' miniature watercolor painting to modern First Day Covers. The rest, as they say, is history. To learn what happened with the trio's excellent adventure, check out 'The Origins of Modern Handpainted FDCs'. In addition to producing her intricate and beautiful FDC line, Freda also manages to paint a few larger paintings from time to time. Since these are produced with the same excruciating detail that appears on her covers, the larger works are few and far between. A typical 11' X 14' painting usually takes her roughly 800 - 900 hours to complete. Because she gets many requests for 'large-sized' art, Freda also produces artist signed and numbered prints for each painting. The edition size for each issue is usually around 300 - 350. Here are a couple of examples of full-sized paintings.
The following few illustrations of other Freda Dickie Weaver covers provide further examples of just how much attention is paid to detail and accuracy of subject matter by this preeminent cachet artist. Click on any example for a bigger version of the photo.