field trip! Lavender Fleece Farm

Last weekend I took a field trip with the Isabella Fiber Arts Guild to Lavender Fleece Farm, which is located just outside Midland, MI (about an hour from home).

It was a gorgeous day – the first really lovely weekend day we’ve had in April this year. Lavender Fleece Farm‘s proprietor showed us around despite the fact that she was also helping a ewe through a difficult birth that morning! We saw lots of adorbs sheep and lambs, perused the farm shop, and learned a lot about both sheep and lavender. We also went down the road to the Heritage Flock Fiber Mill and learned about the services available there. I also happened to run into one of Midwest Boston Terrier Rescue’s amazing volunteers (who was there as a customer of the Fiber Mill) and we had a lovely chat about our pooches. More pics on flickr!

Ewes and lambs at Lavender Fleece Farm

Fleece at Lavender Fleece Farm

In addition to some yarn (which I justified by making plans to use it for knitting gifts) I also picked up a lovely lavender bowl (she also makes pottery!):

Lavender Fleece Farm bowl

Such a lovely, fun day!

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WIP Wednesday: Fall Frolic begins

My next art quilt project is officially underway! This piece is for the themed competition at the Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival quilt show, and this year’s theme is Fall Frolic.

I started picking out fabrics last week. The competition requires the use of one particular fabric which must be incorporated in some way.

Working on my next art quilt - themed Fall Frolic, for the Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival Quilt Show competition

You can see that required fabric on top of the stack on the right side of that photo – it’s a leaf print which has a lot of red, yellow, and green in it.

My concept for this image is a scene featuring a witch (gotta go with inspiration from one of my favorite parts of fall: Halloween!) in the woods, frolicking in some way as the sun sets. I’m still figuring out what I want to do for the figure and trees, but I have started working on the background.

Looking at some photos for reference, I tried to get a sense for what sunset usually looks like in Michigan, if you’re in a place where you can really see it. Sunset tends to be orange at the horizon, then move into gold and yellow and then as you get toward the ‘top’ of the sky, fades into blues. There are often clouds in Michigan in fall, so I’ll use those as well but they’ll go on top of the background layer.

Art quilt WIP: Fall Frolic

I cut strips and started lining up the fabrics for the orange/gold/yellow section of the sky.

Art quilt WIP: Fall Frolic

I’m sewing these strips together unevenly – meaning that each strip will not necessarily be the same height as the strips above and below it, and wont’ necessarily be the same width all the way across, either.

Art quilt WIP: Fall Frolic

I’m once again trying to use fabrics from my stash almost if not completely exclusively, so I haven’t purchased anything for this project – just shopping my stash to find what I want. So far so good! Next I will work on the upper/blue portion of the sky, and then the land at the horizon and foreground. I’m so excited to be working on a new project!

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snow, snow, and more snow

Winter is super here. We have lucked out so far and had an extremely mild winter up until it turned to 2016, but now we have had two good, solid snows. The second one started this weekend and is continuing into the week.

Our home, looking adorbs af in the fresh snow #FireflyCottage

I don’t mind the snow as long as I don’t have to drive very far or do too many things outside the house. If I could just work from home 100% of the time, I’d be completely fine with it! Our home is so darn cozy and it looks really cute with a bit of snow on the roof. (I am also happy that the snow on the roof is even and we don’t have any hot spots appearing – hopefully we will avoid any ice dams or other winter-caused woes!) Pretty soon it will be time for me to prune the two apple trees we planted last fall. I’m a little nervous but excited to be on the path to having fresh fruit!

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Walk over for some art

This is your periodic reminder to get on over to Gray’s Furniture to check out my entry in Art Walk Central!

Check it out! My piece, “Figure and Flock” is in #artwalkcentral15 at Gray’s Furniture! Vote AWC24!

A photo posted by Anne H. (@annethelibrarian) on

It will be on display through August 22! If you feel so inclined, vote for me (AWC24)!

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Return from Up North

Last week we took a family vacation in the Upper Peninsula. We spent most of the week at a beach house on Lake Michigan near Manistique and then finished up with a night in Newberry.

On our way up north, K and I stopped in Clare for some of the famed Cops and Doughnuts sweet treats, which did not disappoint.

Vacation doughnuts! At Cops and Doughnuts

I wouldn’t have remembered them, but their highway billboards worked to give us the idea. ADVERTISING WORKS.

Our "cabin"

This beach house was lovely! It had plenty of room for all of us (me and K, my sister and her husband, my folks, and my uncle) and a beautiful view as well as access to a private area of beach.

Our view this week. Not too shabby!

Most of the fam took advantage of the opportunity to play in the water, and I happily spent time admiring the water from the deck and the family room.

I'm melting - gif

The first full day we were up, we went to Pictured Rocks and did some hiking.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

We had beautiful weather and I managed to get a minimum of bug bites despite it being a little more intense outdoorsyness than I was expecting.

We also took advantage of having a captive audience in the house to play some tabletop games, including Dixit, Ticket to Ride, Quiddler, Settlers of Catan, and Boggle.

Who's adorbs?  Coraline!

Coraline helped.

Later in the week we went to Tahquamenon Falls, where at the Lower Falls the majority of our group took a rowboat to the island, but K and I opted to walk the trail alongside the falls on the mainland (see again: melting).

Tahquamenon Falls

At the Upper Falls, we noted the majesty and then ate dinner at the Brewery (all state parks should have a brew pub on site).

Tahquamenon Falls

It was a tiring but fun vacation! I have to admit to being very happy to be home again, though – after a little bit of travel I always remember that I’m just more of a homebody.

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Earth Stories: SAQA art quilt exhibit

I recently drove down to Lansing to see an art exhibit called Earth Stories, which features art created by members of the Studio Art Quilt Association. Artists were asked to pick a project that was important to them and then create an art quilt that would embody the goals of the project. The pieces in this show were then selected by Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi, an artist, writer, and curator known for her work with African American quilts.

SAQA art quilt exhibit :earth stories
One of my favorites was this piece, Alternative vs Fossil Fuels, by Cynthia St. Charles.

SAQA art quilt exhibit :earth stories
There is a fairly large installation of wind turbines in the county south of where we live and they are something to behold. This quilt effectively conveys the enormity of these machines, and the quilting pattern she used very much feels like wind. This piece is also very detailed and there is a lot to notice the longer you look at it.

SAQA art quilt exhibit :earth stories
One of the coolest (for me) features of this exhibit is that each artist provided a notebook detailing the creative process that went into making their piece. Both as a quilter and a person interested in art, it is fascinating to look into someone else’s process and see how they came to create the work on display.

There are a bunch of other quilts from this show that drew my eye and you can check out more photos on my flickr. I made it to see this exhibit just before it left to go to its next location. I had just a couple of hours to spend here but I could have spent weeks! If you have a chance to see it, I recommend it!

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Ben Folds with the Grand Rapids Symphony

Last weekend was my birthday (I am now 40, woo) and as a treat my folks took us to see Ben Folds play with the Grand Rapids Symphony. It was a great show!

Ben Folds with the Grand Rapids Symphony

Ben Folds brought a selection of his Ben Folds Five songs that have been orchestrated, in addition to a movement from the piano concerto he recently composed. I haven’t listened to all of the recent BFF albums but I knew almost all the songs they played, which was nice.

They only played one movement of the piano concerto – this seemed to have been Folds’ choice, I’m guessing maybe because they only had a few hours to rehearse together? Or maybe he is concerned that his pop audience won’t make it through an entire three movements? (I think they would have – the audience was super receptive and appreciative throughout the show.) The movement they played, the third, was fun, bright, and energetic. There were a few nods to Elfman (I thought, anyway) and a general feeling of homage to the Beatles’ A Day in the Life (though slightly less cacophonous). He gave a brief introduction to what a piano concerto is, for the benefit of audience members who may not have had much in the way of classical music knowledge, and kept a great sense of humor going despite some stern/fun-refusing faces among members of the orchestra (maybe they just felt that it would have been unprofessional otherwise, but a number of the musicians seemed pretty stone-faced).

One of the highlights of the show happened when someone in the audience loudly shouted out, “Rock this bitch!” Folds started out by explaining the background and then asked the contrabassoon player to replicate a lick Folds played on the piano. The contrabassoonist gamely figured it out in just a couple of tries and then Folds added in other instruments with different, complementary licks, adding up to a pretty neat little eight-bar (I think) bit. He added in the chorus so that there were some lyrics (“Rockin’ this bitch in G-Rap with an orchestra”) and then after the symphony got it down, Folds improvised some on the piano and encouraged a few of the orchestra members to jump in with improv as well. It was really fun to watch and hear and I feel like it loosened up some of the players as I could see smiles during and after that piece.

Folds returned to the stage for an encore with the orchestra and then returned again for a few songs on his own. It was a really fun show and I’m so glad we got to go!

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Art Walk Central

We took some time this weekend to walk around and look at some of the art happening and on display for Art Walk Central 2014. There is some NEAT stuff to be experienced.

Let’s start with the Art Walk Central competition. There are a whole bunch of pieces of all different kinds of art on display around town. Most of them are inside businesses on Broadway and Main Streets, but there are also some in the art gallery on campus and in the university library, and a few outdoor pieces downtown as well. Anyone can sign up to vote online or via smartphone!

Art Walk Central 2014 entries

This piece, untitled by Velvet Underwood, is a raw edge fabric collage (on display at Art Reach).

Art Walk Central 2014 entries

I love the detail in the tone-on-tone fabric she used.

Art Walk Central 2014 entries

I would 100% love to hang this piece, untitled by Laura Coffee (also at Art Reach), in our home. Who doesn’t want to see a giant robot stalking downtown Mount Pleasant?

Emiko Screams by Corby Blem

This collage, Emiko Screams by Corby Blem (on display at the University Art Gallery), caught my eye right away, and THEN I realized that (EVEN BETTER!) it’s inspired by the scene of a woman seeing Godzilla for the first time.

August 6, 1945 Revisited (Hiroshima) by Sally Rose

One of my favorite pieces is this one, August 6, 1945 Revisited (Hiroshima) by Sally Rose (also at the UAG). After looking at it for a few moments, I realized that I took a weaving class from this artist my sophomore year in college. I loved that class! I would love to take another class or a workshop from her sometime.

Summer Reading: A Study in Greens by Ann Kowaleski

I was delighted to see a piece by one of my favorite local artists, Ann Kowaleski. Entitled Summer Reading: A Study in Greens, this piece is also at the CMU art gallery. The vibrant colors are so striking, and of course I’m also drawn to the subject matter.

Filed by Kim Kleinhardt

Finally, this is Filed by Kim Kleinhardt (also at UAG). Each section is a file folder, collaged and containing papers from each of her thirty years as an art teacher. You can open each folder (there’s a note encouraging this) to see the contents and read about that year of her life as an art instructor. SO NEAT.

Members of the community were also out and about downtown painting the crosswalks at the intersection of Broadway and Main.

painting the intersection crosswalks

You can see the Mondrian-inspired design in the middle of the intersection, which was completed earlier this month. This weekend, they were painting the crosswalks. The one above will look like a piano keyboard, I think!

There were also artists creating chalk paintings on the sidewalks on Saturday.

chalk art on Broadway

So fun! I feel so lucky to be in a community that places a high value on art – and even more, on art that anyone can participate in. I hope to enter an art quilt in the competition next year.

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