Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Roadtrip 2011 - Shelburne Museum

We spent a couple weeks on the road and saw some amazing places - but we didn't carry quite this much luggage!!!

We've wanted to visit the Shelburne Museum, in Vermont for a very long time and it was quite worth the wait.

The Shelburne is renowned for its collection of American folk art and quilts. The Museum is also home to holdings of decorative arts, design, decoys, and carriages. The paintings collection includes French Impressionists as well as over 400 18th - 20th century American works.

There was one very special exhibit that just blew us away: The Ticonderoga.

She's the last walking beam side-wheel passenger steamer in existence and a National Historic landmark. Built in Shelburne in 1906, it operated as a day boat on Lake Champlain serving ports along the New York and Vermont shores until 1953. In 1955, she was moved two miles overland from the lake to the museum.

Nearly the entire ship is open to explore and it's like stepping back to the 1920's.

The purser's office:

The dining room:

and the kitchen:

The main stairway:

A guest stateroom:

and the crews:

I can so visualize this steamer "in the day", full of ladies and gentlemen with the means to travel, the clothes, the food, the music - I truly felt transported in time.

Plan to spend a least a full day at the Shelburne, here's just a handful of what you'll see and experience.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Around the Bend

"Around the Bend" is my submission for the September Art Bead Scene monthly challenge.

I love this months inspiration piece, a quilt entitled "Housetop", created by Lillie Mae Pettway, a Gee's Bend quilter.

Gee’s Bend is a small rural community nestled into a curve in the Alabama River southwest of Selma, Alabama. Founded in antebellum times, it was the site of cotton plantations, primarily the lands of Joseph Gee and his relative Mark Pettway, who bought the Gee estate in 1850.

After the Civil War, the freed slaves took the name Pettway, became tenant farmers for the Pettway family, and founded an all-black community nearly isolated from the surrounding world. During the Great Depression, the federal government stepped in to purchase land and homes for the community, bringing strange renown — as an "Alabama Africa" — to this sleepy hamlet.

The town’s women developed a distinctive, bold, and sophisticated quilting style based on traditional American (and African American) quilts, but with a geometric simplicity reminiscent of Amish quilts and modern art. The women of Gee’s Bend passed their skills and aesthetic down through at least six generations to the present. In 2002, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, in partnership with the nonprofit Tinwood Alliance, of Atlanta, presented an exhibition of seventy quilt masterpieces from the Bend. The exhibition, entitled "The Quilts of Gee’s Bend," is accompanied by two companion books, The Quilts of Gee’s Bend, and the larger Gee’s Bend: The Women and Their Quilts, both published by Tinwood Media, as well as a documentary video on the Gee’s Bend quilters and a double-CD of Gee’s Bend gospel music from 1941 and 2002.

For my piece, I drafted several rectangles and squares using the colors and proportions from the quilt.

I formed the "banners" using square stitch and size 11/0 seed beads. The spacers are formed of peyote stitch bands and it's all strung together on a freeform base.

I'm especially pleased with my clasp, a art bead created by Etsy artist, blueseraphim. It's design mimics the shape of a log cabin quilt block and in addition, red is the color of the center block of a traditional log cabin block.

I'm currently working on a bracelet to accompany this necklace and have an idea for an additional necklace utilizing the "banners" in a completely different way - more to come!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Medieval Twist

"Medieval Twist" was intended to be my submission for the July Art Bead Scene monthly challenge - obviously, I'm a bit late!

The inspiration piece was this beautiful painting, Morning in the Garden at Vaucresson, by Edouard Vuillard.

I choose to emphasize the cool blue/grey and the brilliant chartreuse present in the painting.

The pendent bead is from my stash and pulls in the blue sky just barely visible amongst the garden abundance.

I tried a new technique - twisted tubular herringbone - and it was a great choice, the tube is completely self supporting and quite strong.

The bangle bracelet is form I've not tried before, not my favorite style to wear personally, but works nicely as a part of this pair.

Finally finished - yeah!!!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Touring Michigan: The Chippewa County Fair

I can't remember the last time we went to a county fair, certainly not in the ten years we've been on Mackinac, but this past Saturday we were looking for something fun to do nearby (but definitely OFF Island) - so we went to the Chippewa County Fair.

First on the agenda was looking at all the animals; while we see plenty of horses on a daily basis, there's no longer any other livestock on Mackinac.

I had to laugh at these guys, one of our local poets just published a new anthology entitled "Low Down and Coming On: A Feast of Delicious and Dangerous Poems About Pigs" - I wonder what they would think about being thus immortalized?

The sheep in spandex were pretty funny too!

I loved this sign, it's right to the point!

I really enjoyed walking the midway; it was exactly as I remembered with the rides and games, all the colors and activity.

This was a bit different, I sure don't remember ATM's at the fair before! But I bet it gets a lot of use.

Going to the fair and eating food with no nutritional redeeming value is just a must...

Does the ice cream count as a serving of dairy?

Last we toured all the 4-H exhibits, it's just not a fair without giant vegetables.

As well as intricate needlework projects:

And preserves:

My husband showed at the fair years ago,as we walked about he kept saying "I was sooo tired by Saturday night, but it was sooo much fun!"

We had a great time and it's a great place to remember where all our food really comes from: The Farm - not the grocery store.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Soak Up the Sun, Summer's Almost Done!

It just occurred to me that I've not been sharing any Island images lately, and that's a shame as it's been just beautiful!

We walked through the Annex and along the West Bluff this afternoon and I couldn't help but stop and enjoy all the blooms:

There was a great concert at Grand a couple weeks ago, all WWII era music and speakers; I took the opportunity to stroll the porch:

Signs that the season is changing are starting to be seen and felt - these guys are off to pasture for the winter:

I'm not sure what this guy's up to, trying to jump the porch maybe?

And this one's just enjoying a day off - it just feels so good!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

From Inauspicious Beginnings..

It doesn't look like much...

but just wait....

you won't believe what you can do with it!

I was especially fortunate this week; I had the pleasure of taking a "Silver Evenings" class with Rosemary Gould.

Rosemary is an incredible artist and teacher - we had a great time learning to work with PMC or Precious Metal Clay.

PMC looks like clay and is formed of very small particles of silver suspended in an organic binder, it's easily rolled:

Or cut into shapes:

Or formed into shapes or given texture.

On our first night, we made a charm. This taught us a lot about handling the clay, adding textures and "appliqueing" to pieces together. When we had the charm formed, it went on a mug warmer to dry.

Next comes the exciting part - transforming clay to silver - it made me feel like quite the alchemist!

We used a small butane torch, first the binder burns off, with a blue glow:

When it glows bright pink, the countdown begins - two minutes:

Then a quick cold water bath, a bit of work with a wire brush and voila! A charm!

Not perfect, but not bad for a first attempt and I'm really looking forward to night #2.

I even did my homework, rough sketching some possible designs for a pendant. I actually ended up with a couple dozen sketches, but this is the one I decided to attempt to create - very freeform and a definite emphasis on texture.

Anyone who knows me will not be surprised that my final result has little resemblance to my sketch - but there's still a lot of emphasis on texture, here it is before torching:

And after:

I see so many possibilities with this technique, so many ways it can enhance my bead work, giving me the ability to form just the exact focal or accent piece for whatever I'm trying to create - more to come I'm sure - thanks Rosemary!