Saturday, February 28, 2009

Isn't It Grand!

"Isn't It Grand" was my entry for this week's Thursday Sweet Treat challenge. This week's theme was "Let Beauty Rain Down Upon".

I've been experimenting with a new technique, a form of mixed media. I transfer my original photos onto silk and then bead embroider over the photo.

This image is of the fountain in the Tea Garden at Grand Hotel. It's a lovely place to sit, cool in the heat of summer and delightful on a moonlit evening with the water streaming up and falling down, both visually and acoustically soothing. Grand holds a very special place in my heart and inspires many of my pieces.
Here's a few more images of the fountain:

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Getting My Hands Dirty

It's a familiar question - "So what do you do on Mackinac in the winter?"

The reality is, there's a lot to do in the winter. In fact, there's some kind of activity going on every night of the week. In the past, I've taken drawing and painting classes, cooking classes taught by a Culinary Institute graduate and more. And most activities are either free or at very low cost.

This year, I'm taking a pottery class. Like most things on the Island, it's pretty unstructured,

"so, what do you want to make, I'll give you some tips", definitely not "tonight you will roll balls for exactly five minutes".

Here's one of my projects, kind of a nature inspired small sculpture. Well, okay it's pretty fungusy looking - but I can't wait to see it with some glaze!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Here Comes the Sun

I finished a new piece, "Follow the Sun"
I had a definite plan when I started and this was NOT at all what I had envisioned. It just took on a life of it's own and I went along with it.
The blues and yellows evoke sunshine and clear skies, the rust represents earth. It makes me envision at hot summer afternoon.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Silence is Broken

Mackinac does not allow cars, so in the winter I walk to work. It's only about a mile and a half, all down hill, through a cedar forest.

It snowed this past Wednesday and as I walked there was total silence, no wind and NO human sounds of any kind. Then I heard it, TAP, TAP, TAP. I knew what I was hearing, but would I be able to spot him?

He's a pileated woodpecker and I'm about four feet away from him. They're large birds, not quite as big as a crow and they carve huge holes in the trees, just look at the chips...
When I lived downstate, my commute was half an hour of driving...I like this better!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Marketing for Beaders - The Crafts Report

There's a great online article on The Crafts Report website:
of course, I'm a little biased - I'm one of the artists being featured!

Seven artists offer their take on marketing of beadwork; who knows some may work for you too.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Just a Dusting

We had just a dusting of snow in the night, which softly coated each branch of this towering white pine. It caught the light and glowed against the blue sky this morning as I walked down the hill to work.

By the time I came home, it had been whisked away by the wind - just a fleeting embellishment to one of natures skyscrapers.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Mary Todd - Traveling Doll

My husband and I have been involved in living history for over a decade now; historic preservation is very important to us. We were pleased to help in a very special fundraising project:

The Kentucky Soldiers Aide Society in support of Camp Nelson Heritage Park, Nicholasville, KY is raffling off an 1855 Jenny Lind Style reproduction China doll. Named Mary Todd Lincoln in honor of the Lincoln Bicentennial, the doll has traveled all over the United States, gathering souvenirs and accessories to her wardrobe as she travels. She has visited The Lincoln Home in Springfield Il. and was the guest of the sites park rangers. She was allowed to be photographed in Mary Lincoln's bedroom!. She has been to the Lincoln birthplace in Hodegenville KY, the Mary Todd House in Lexington, KY along with Whitehall the home of Casious Clay and Ashland, home of Henry Clay. She was a special guest of KY state representative Charles Miller at the state capital in Frankfort. States she has visited have included, Wisconsin, Massachusetts,New York, Texas, Connecticut,Florida and Michigan.

Included with the doll will be her extensive wardrobe, scrapbook of her travels complete with photos, her travel journal including brochures, tickets and other souvenirs of her many visits to historic sites, and all other trinkets and treasures that she has been given as gifts by her hosts along her travels. Join us helping to preserve Camp Nelson, an important supply depot and largest training center of USCT during the Civil War.

If you would like to purchase raffle tickets, please contact Kay Dodge at, please put Mary Todd in the subject box. Tickets are 5 for $6.00 or $1.50 each. The drawing will be held in mid-April at Camp Nelson.

Mary Todd came to visit us on Mackinac Island this past October. I hope you enjoy the following recounting of her stay.

October 6

I have arrived today at Mackinac Island along with my travel companions, Mr. and Mrs. Dorman via steamer from Detroit. It is more usual to visit this locale during the summer months, but as Mr. Dorman has business to conduct (the fishing industry has great need of coopered items), we visit in the autumn. We are staying at Island House, which has a lovely view of the harbor, but it is a bit noisy being so close to all the comings and goings. I have been promised a dinner featuring the local delicacy, whitefish.
October 7

Mrs. Dorman and myself spent a delightful afternoon visiting the officer’s ladies at Fort Mackinac. The ladies are at great pains to keep current, they take Godey’s, but in the winter it arrives via dogsled! After tea, we were escorted about the fort; the view is breathtaking. We also visited the Post Cemetery; the graves are well tended, including those of a number of unknown soldiers, most heartbreaking.

October 10

Today Mr. Dorman escorted us about the town, I was able to purchase some lovely lace items at one shop and an intoxicating smelling balsam pillow offered by a native woman. I also had my image taken; the backdrop is one of the local natural curiosities which I hope to see in person soon.
October 11

Today we toured the woodland and Mrs. Dorman introduced me to a most delightful pastime – botany. We collected many fine specimens as we viewed the interesting rock formations, such as “Sugar Loaf” and “Arch Rock”, which abound on this island. I have the beginnings of my own herbarium - and the memories of a beautiful day.
October 14

Our final day, as tomorrow we must depart. We hired a buggy and driver and drove to the far side of the Island to British Landing, a place of note during the War of 1812. Even in the summer very few are willing to brave the cold and currents to bathe in the waters here, however we did a bit of exploring at Brown’s Brook with its softly murmuring waters as company. It will be difficult to depart this beautiful “fairy isle”, but further travels and adventures await.

Mary Todd received a lace capelet and lace headpiece ornamented with a tiny beaded dragonfly during her stay on Mackinac and her herbarium is in progress.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Becoming a "Botanizing Woman"

It started out so innocently, just a quick bit of research for a living history program. But just as botany in the mid-19th century influenced nearly every aspect of a woman's day to day life, botany has also come to have a deep influence on my life and activities.

One very common activity in the Victorian period ,was that of assembling an herbarium - a collection of plant materials. As well as being a method of showing one's "gentility", herbariums could serve several other purposes:

Scientific -

Decorative -

Sentiment -

I've decided I'd like to combine the creation of an herbarium with another of my major interests - beading. Here is the beginning of an ongoing project: I'll be creating beaded pages based on photos of plants I've taken in all the seasons here on Mackinac. I'm starting with winter and my first subject is a winter worn remnant of Queen Ann's Lace covered with frost, my version of

"Frost Flowers":

And here's the inspiration photo:

I'll keep updating with new herbarium pages as I manage to create them between other projects.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Multitude

The submissions for the "Poetic Sea" challenge at Thursday Sweet Treat are up and I'm delighted to be a part of it. I was a bit apprehensive, a week is not much time for bead work. But I decided to work small, in ATC size, but very three dimensional. I chose to represent coral, as coral reefs are composed of many individual creatures creating a whole and my bead work is formed of many individual beads creating a single piece.

This was a fun process and I will definitely be participating in future challenges!

Monday, February 2, 2009

It's a Snow Globe kind of day

Well, today was one of those picture perfect snowy days that make me feel as if I'm living in a snow globe. The huge flakes fell so slow and gentle, in silence.
But I was hoping for a least a bit of sun, so I could try for some images of my submission for the weekly challenge at Thursday Sweet Treat. This weeks theme is "The Poetic Sea", and I'm really, really pleased with how my piece turned out. Check out for more information and past theme photos.