Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Capturing the Immensity

We continued west after visiting Grand Marais, heading to the Grand Sable Dunes.

The dunes are located at the easternmost part of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, which stretches between Grand Marais and Munising. The dunes are a perched dune formation. Sand washed ashore by wave action was then blown upslope by northerly prevailing winds until it came to rest atop a glacial moraine. The Grand Sable Dunes today form a sand slope that rises from Lake Superior at a 35° angle, as high as 275 feet above lake level.

The views, both to the east and west, are completely immense, impossible to capture in a photograph - not that it stopped me from trying!

If you look closely at the image above, you can just barely see the Au Sable Lighthouse, a short hike away, well actually 2.5 miles away and our next destination.

The fog had started to drift in as we hiked, limiting the photo opportunities.

It really is a small world, one of my coworkers grandfather was a lightkeeper at this lighthouse and his mother spent many summers "out on the point".

Near the lighthouse, it's a fairly easily scramble down to the beach. Beaches in this area are a mix of stone and sand - and here's the source of the sand:

...the sandstone which forms the cliffs and lakebed.

The various types of stone are due to the glaciers of the past.

This is my part of the world - rock hard, but with a certain desolate beauty. It's not the type of beauty that's easy to appreciate, it takes a particular mindset and point of view,as well as the willingness to get dirty, brave the bugs, and stretch the body. But the rewards and the inspiration are immense for those willing to dig deep, both physically and mentally.

I was dipped in Superior as a week old infant - good thing I was born in August! It apparently made a deep imprint on me, travelling to Superior is always going home.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Garden Tour

It was definitely time for a weekend away, maybe past time!

We spent the weekend in the eastern UP; our first stop was Grand Marais. We enjoyed an afternoon touring their 5th annual garden tour, a fund raiser to preserve green space.

Our first stop was a formal tea, complete with savory sandwiches and sweets - even fresh picked strawberries and clotted cream.

Being properly fortified, we started our tour. The first garden included many subtle ornaments, including this oversized bird nest - very Andy Goldsworthy and something I may need emulate.

There was heavy rain the night before, so the plants are all still dressed in water drops:

But the afternoon was sunny, giving all the blooms a subtle glow:

Look at this color combo!

And talk about texture -

What a creative boost! - the colors, the textures, the combination of form and placement - I'm quite sure it will provide inspiration and find it's way into my work to come.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


We don't have smooth sandy beaches here on Mackinac: we have rocks!

But that doesn't mean that a walk on the shore can't include some beachcombing, here's a few finds from a recent evening stroll:

I loved the water bleached reed with all the little holes and I've no idea what type of creature the bone belongs to, but I actually find the rusty bits the most intriguing. I've been including a steadily increasing amount of "natural beads" or natural items with integral holes in my mixed media embroidery projects and while these iron bits are not precisely "natural", Nature has certainly had her way with them!

I added to my beach glass collection with several great finds, larger in size and an interesting lavender color - I can see some of these ending up with beaded bezels and being included in either jewelry of embroidery.

But this guy is my favorite find of the evening:

He just MUST become a pendant and become a piece of jewelry - quack, quack!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Inspired by Lilacs

It's Lilac Festival time here on Mackinac, unfortunately, the lilacs appear to have not read the memo - they bloomed early this year.

Lilacs offer incredible inspiration to the artist, but are an equally incredibly hard image to capture, but these Etsy artists have succeeded; I hope you enjoy these works of creativity.

This is an original watercolor from lemonaday , which captures a deep purple variety.

Petalessence also used watercolors, but with a more dainty, delicate approach, resulting in a mixed color bouquet.

This is also a watercolor, but with an interesting minimalist look. It's from SallyMaraArt.

Here's an up close and personal viewpoint, from weaselle.

amynelson created this vibrant interpretation using oil pastels.

And to end, Seesoul focused on the details in this wonderful illustration.

So many interpretations and they all manage to capture the beauty of the lilac, gone for this year but they'll return in time, to delight us with their scent and form.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Dinner with a View

The Tea Room at the Fort is normally only open for lunch, but we were recently invited to enjoy a special dinner - great food, great company, but a truly incredible view complete with the entertainment of watching the boats and freighters traveling back and forth. Yet another unique experience in the place we love!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Calling Spring

I really enjoy creating these little mixed media pieces; they allow me to combine my original photographs with beads and the result is wearable art - what could be better?

Grand Hotel is well known for their incredible gardens, and in the spring, it's all about the tulips.

Here, red and yellow tulips sparkle against a background of trees with newly sprouting leaves and the bright punctuation of an old fashioned red phone booth - and, yes, it still functions.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Greenfield Favorites

We've been attending Greenfield Village's Civil War Remembrance weekend for quite a few years now; the Memorial Day ceremony is especially moving. But we have favorites at the village that have nothing to do with the Civil War, one being Firestone Farm:

It's an actual working farm, complete with crops,

and animals, such as these cows resting in the shade, as well as chickens, sheep with their lambs and, of course, a barn cat.

Cotswald Cottage is another favorite, the gardens were especially lush this year AND they serve afternoon tea al fresco.

I'm always surprised by the amount of wildlife we see, here's a group of turtles sunning themselves in the pond.

We also enjoyed the mama mallard moving her ducklings each morning and evening, but the highlight this year was this little thief:

We watched him going back and forth all morning and we finally had to see what he was collecting - he had discovered a bowl of treasure left out by someone and he made a difficult climb up to this table, shoved an entire peanut in his mouth, climbed down to stow it away somewhere and repeated the entire trip over and over - we didn't have the heart to stop him, he earned those peanuts!

There were so many more images I would have liked to capture, but alas digital cameras did not exist during the War and these were all I was able to discreetly shoot - maybe I'll have to play spectator for a few hours next year and shoot to my hearts content.

Friday, June 4, 2010

AND, It's All Handstitched!

I FINALLY finished this dress, just in time for the Civil War Remembrance weekend at
Greenfield Village - it's only been several years in progress!

Period sewing techniques require a fair bit of hand sewing, with machine work being largely confined to long seams, such as in the skirt. But I've also examined original garments that have been completely hand sewn, as well as references to hand sewing dresses in as little as a day - not a feat within my capabilities!
I choose the Peachtree Mercantile Dress pattern from Fig Leaf Patterns:

This pattern was drafted from an original dress in the collection of the Atlanta History Center.

This day dress from the Archibald Smith family in Roswell, Georgia is believed to have been made and worn by the lady of the house, Anne Margaret Magill Smith (1807-1887).
Anne Margaret Magill Smith was, by all accounts, an educated lady and a devoted mother. In war-time letters to her sons William, serving with the Confederate Signal Corps, and Archibald, serving with the Georgia Battalion of Cadets, she asks after their health and needs, offers advice, and sends clothing, shoes, honey, and even chickens, along with news from home. With the approach of Sherman's army in July 1864 the family fled Roswell to the south Georgia town of Valdosta.

My fabric is a sheer wool/cotton blend, with woven stripes.

The skirt is gauged, a great way to compress a large amount of fabric into a relatively small area, in my case, 180" skirt circumference gauged down to a 29" waist.

The dress also features a lovely spade shaped cuff, with just a bit of trim.

The same trim is also applied around the neckline:

I would highly recommend this pattern, the instructions are meticulous, suggestions for alternate sleeve options are included, and I'm very pleased with the final results.

One downside to a black dress: everyone assumed I was in mourning. But it proved to be a good opportunity to interact with spectators and hopefully provide a bit of education.

So, why did this take several years?

I didn't really need another dress as for a few years, we were not able to attend events - it just seemed silly to spend time on a dress I wouldn't be wearing.

But it's finally finished - every stitch by hand - and I couldn't be happier!