Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Wildflower Discovery

Well, a new discovery for me anyways!

I encountered this little beauty on a walk along Scott's Trail; one I had never seen before:

After a bit of research, I could identify it - Polygala paucifolia or the common name, Gay-wings.

It is one of the more curious-looking local wildflowers. It emerges from the forest floor in the month of May. This low growing plant of dry, rich woods, has unusual orchid-like flowers, and is known by several common names including Flowering Wintergreen and Fringed Polygala. The blossoms are pink to rose-purple in color, about 1-1.7 cm long, and usually found growing singly in the axils of the upper leaves. When in full bloom, two prominent sepals flare out from the corolla, framing a whimsically fringed petal at the center.

Gay-wings is not an orchid but is actually one of over 60 members of the genus Polygala that occur in the US. Polygalas make up a large part of the Milkwort family (Polygalaceae), the name stemming from the Greek for ‘much’ (poly) and ‘milk’ (gala). This is because eating milkworts was believed to increase lactation in mammals such as cows and even humans.

Gay-wings is an endangered species in Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio, but it is secure throughout the rest of its range from central and eastern Canada down the east coast to Georgia and is thriving here on Mackinac.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Queen of the Spring: Trillium

Trillium graceful, Trillium white, Star of the woodland, lady of light .....Milena Mateska

The trillium is truly the Queen of the Spring, with triple petals, sepals and leaves, startling white on the woodland floor.

Trillium have served as inspiration for the following Etsy artists, enjoy!

This is an incredible linocut from
GwenOttingerArtworks, many of her pieces are botanically inspired.

This tile, from northfirestudio is a very graphic representation of the triple petals and leaves.

Here's a whimsical representation from GentleSuds- as soap!

And finally, a magnificent serigraph from HarmstonArts.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Where the Wild Things Bloom

"You must not know too much or be too precise or scientific about birds and trees and flowers and watercraft; a certain free-margin, and even vagueness - ignorance, credulity - helps your enjoyment of these things. " Walt Whitman

It's spring wildflower time on Mackinac, a fleeting and ephemeral season, accessible only to those willing to walk the muddy trails - but deeply rewarding , despite the resulting need to scrape boots!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Just a Little Sole - Part Four: Let the Experiments Begin!

In part three, I summarized the three types of cork soles found in my research:

1.) Sheet cork soles covered in fabric.

2.) Soles formed of ground cork and a variety of binding agents.

3.) Loose ground cork in fabric.

I decided to start with the least probable, #3. The loose cork just seemed too prone to shifting around and causing uncomfortable lumps.

I started by creating a template by tracing my foot and using the patterns in Every Lady her own Shoemaker to refine the shape. I traced this pattern onto some tightly woven wool.

I then sewed them together, leaving the toes open. Next, I trimmed, turned and pressed.

It was time to add the cork; in this case, granulated cork approximately 1-2 mm in size.

I formed a paper funnel, filled the fabric soles until plump and then whip stitched the toes closed.

I placed these in my modern slippers, as insoles, and wore them around the house for three days. I was quite surprised at the results - they were very comfortable and quickly compressed and conformed to the contours of my feet. In addition, they were toasty warm!

The cork is not permanently shaped, the insole can be easily "fluffed".
Conclusions from experiment #1:
1.) Soles of this type are easily custom made inexpensively.
2.) They are comfortable, providing good instep support and cushioning, and are also warm.
3.) These are best suited as insoles for boots or shoes, but not as the sole for slippers, as they do not maintain their shape without additional support.
Coming soon - experiment #2!

Friday, May 15, 2009

"Moonlit Garden"

Moonlight can play tricks, are we seeing reality or fantasy?

Are those flowers really black and white?

"Moonlit Garden" is my submission in the weekly Thursday Sweet Treat challenge. This week was Participant's choice from any of the previous seventeen weeks challenges.

I've missed a few and I would like to eventually create a piece for each theme; I chose to go back to week one, "Enchanted Night".

This necklace is a gift for my mother, in black and white at her request. The base is a right angle weave trellis, embellished with vintage flower beads. It's rather simple for my personal taste, but it suits my mother's style very well.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I'm a Real Published Author!

We were approached last year with a request to write an article for Mackinac Living, an annual magazine that focuses on the Island.

The article is about Bill Murcko, an incredible portrait artist, check out some of his work:

Here's Bill's artist statement, from his website:

"For the past 40 years I have focused my creative energy on making money for clients. Being the Creative Leader for my own advertising agency provided invaluable experience on delivering breakthrough ideas that sell.It would have been easy to find a comfortable chair and sleep my way into a long and uneventful retirement. That wasn't for me. I've seen too many people live life without pursuing their dreams. My dream is to become one of the greatest portrait painters ever.I believe great art comes from deep inside the artist. Similar to my favorite artist, John Singer Sargent, I work to capture both the uniqueness and personality of the subject. For me it starts with the eyes. Thoreau said, "the eye is the jewel of the body." I couldn't agree more. The eyes express emotion, experience and individuality of the subject and set the tone for the entire painting.After studying with some phenomenal portraits artists including John Howard Sanden, Nelson Shank and Tony Rider, it's my time to develop my craft and join the ranks of today's premier portrait painters."

Writing the article was an interesting experience, I've done much research and writing on historic subjects and people, but this was the first time I had the opportunity to interview a living person; it was a little nerve wracking knowing he would be reading my interpretation of our conversation! We also had the chance to tour his lovely cottage and studio on the East Bluff.

Bill shows and sells his Island related work, both portraits and landscapes at Victorian Summer, here on Mackinac Island.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Motherhood Instincts

Walking along one of the remote trails, I was attacked by a robin, seemingly for no apparent reason! Flapping about my head and wildly vocalizing, she was making it clear that I needed to vacate the area or else.

I moved away a bit and looked about, and quickly realized why she was so agitated:

Her nest was a mere foot away from the trail and I had (inadvertently) come too close. I just had to quickly snap a couple photos, then kept moving, so as to allow momma bird to return to her eggs. Pure instinct on her part....and mine.
Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Boats Come In

I recently participated in an interesting creative exercise, which involved writing a love story in a maximum of twenty words.

Reading the other participants efforts was truly amazing, you'd be surprised how much can be expressed with twenty carefully chosen words.

Here's my attempt:

The Boats Come In: A Non-traditional Love Story

The boats come in, carrying seekers of myth, beauty, tradition, history; I am aboard. The boats go out; I remain.

You can read more at the Thursday Sweet Treat, maybe you'll be tempted to write your own twenty word story.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Island Time

Island time is a concept almost impossible to describe, it's an attitude, a lifestyle, a mindset and frustrating to those who don't understand it!

Horses don't wear watches, hills are sometimes more difficult to climb and you just never know who you might encounter along the way. Don't count on the ferry leaving late though (but sometimes it does)

My Round Island lighthouse beaded bag was recently included in an Etsy treasury by Norma of beachcomberscove titled "Island Time".

Thanks Norma!