Saturday, August 8, 2009

Treasures from Michigan...

Last week was a vacation week for the family. For me too, I guess, but I can take my work anywhere and so I ended up crocheting maple leaf clumps during the 8-hour drive to Michigan. The trip was more peaceful than normal, which let me focus on crocheting while the HoA (Husband of Artist) drove. This was because the crew went to the library and picked up some books on CD prior to the trip. We heard some great stories (Matilda by Roald Dahl and the first two Araminta Spooky books), but we also had to listen to many repetitions of tracks from ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks’ and ‘Run DMC’ that became, shall we say, distracting. Everyone arrived safe, happy and ready for fun at Grandma and Grandpa’s house.

The two highlights of the trip were adventures with my father-in-law (aka Grandpa). One trip, along with the HoA and elder son, was on a fishing charter out of Ludington. We met the captain of the Hattrick at 5 a.m. at the dock, which is before any sane artist without an art fair deadline would crawl out of bed. It was a stunning trip to glide out of the harbor and leave the port lights behind and head to the pinpricks that reveal the secret fishing spots of the fishing fleet. After a while the harbor lights faded and the other fishing boats came into view. As we cruised across calm seas we watched the full moon sink slowly into the lake as the sun came up over the horizon. The gathering light brought the deep blues up from the lake. Later the dunes along Lake Michigan came into focus, as did the ferry arriving from Wisconsin and the lighthouse north of the harbor. Who needs fish? The answer, it turns out, is the rest of the crew. I caught the first fish, a big Chinook salmon, to show them how it was done. My father-in-law landed a nice steelhead later in the day, but overall it was a slow day. The captain and first mate unpacked and washed every lure they had but nothing seemed to appeal to the fish. The fish made for a wonderful meal with the family, with plenty left over for a few dinners in Bloomington.

For the second adventure I traveled alone with Grandpa. He knows the location of two top-secret supply stores. I’m sworn to secrecy on location so other artists don’t figure it out and take all the good stuff. They don’t even call themselves ‘art’ supply stores but I know it’s all a front operation. They’re so secret that we had to drive for hours through rolling Michigan landscape, through endless stands of birches, aspens and pines. Much of the land was covered with fern monocultures, which got me thinking more about a new fern piece. At one store I found the essential ingredient for stiff fern leaflets—copper flashing! I just love working with copper sheets. They’re strong and flexible, they hold their shape, and they yield to the mighty power of my Fiskars, courtesy of Big Lots. I’ve been cutting leaflets and wrapping with the beautiful green yarns I dyed a few weeks ago. The 15 shades of green come in handy all the time! I’m picturing a piece for Jaime Sweany at the Wandering Turtle that has ferns growing in front of a rock wall with a turtle resting in the shade.

Harvesting treasures in Michigan does have its down side. When you travel in a small car with lots of luggage it fills up fast. It was full coming up but I needed to pack in my treasures, including many pounds of fish, cheese from Wilson’s in Pinconning, and Kluski noodles from Kryziak’s in Bay City. Mmmmm. Luckily necessity is a playground for the creative mind, so I ended up packing stuff around and under the spare tire and other secret places. The HoA drove like crazy to make it back for the Gallery Walk, since I needed to be present at the reception held at the By Hand Gallery that was showing my work. We made it to the square at 5:01 and I ‘tucked and rolled’ with my gallery outfit and leapt into action. I’m grateful to Ruth Conway for hanging the show while I was traveling—the work stands out well at the front of the store. As usual, I had a wonderful time chatting with people about my work. I met one kindred spirit who hates the taste of beets but likes most everything else about them. I’ve discovered that the greens work well in soups and the beets themselves are good for dyeing. Everything has its place, and today I’m back in my art studio.

Until next week…

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