I wasn't quite sure yet! But as I got ready to leave, I saw Nancy, our host, sitting on the deck. Since we hadn't met, I introduced myself to her and we began to chat. And it turned out there was a lot to talk about!
Nancy is Nancy M. Clarke, a wonderful artist whose work has appeared often in "Just Steampunk" and has her jewelry in some of Martha's Vineyard's shops (as well as on her website HERE).
Here are a few pages from some of the "Just Steampunk" items featured. I was able to see some of these in person and they are exquisite. As those of you who do assemblage know, if you don't have the right knack for putting things together, it can just look like a pile of junk glued together. Nancy's work is anything but that. I saw the hairbrush in this photo (or one like it) in person, along with some of her rat traps, whimsically titled "The Beheading, I and II." They are beautifully done. (Click on the photos to see them larger -- or better still, check out her website!)
John had mentioned I might want to go to the campground and I had politely nodded but thought "Campground? Well, I'm not exactly a camping kind of girl." I had visions of the state park grounds or something and while I like the nature, there is much of it everywhere on Martha's Vineyard. But when Nancy brought it up, she explained more fully and together we went to Oak Bluffs to visit the Martha's Vineyard Camp Meeting Association (aka, the Campground and originally known as Wesleyan Grove).
This is no state park, lovely as they are. This spot is on the National Register of Historic Places and ranked a National Historic Landmark -- and with good reason. It is also known for its...
It is one Victorian-era gingerbread house after another, built in concentric circles close together around a large open-air tabernacle and green space.
Think Walt Disney's "Pollyanna" or other films set in towns of the late 1800s. They look too charming to be true.
This one is. Really, truly, true.
The area began in 1835 as a summer campground for Methodists who pitched their tents in an oak grove around the central church tabernacle. In the 1860s and '70s, charming wooden cottages replaced the tents. (There are now 318 of them.)
The area was established by Methodists but today is an interdenominational area, with services held in the Tabernacle on Sundays. It also serves as the home for special events. Nancy told me that her daughter's high school graduation was held there and they rented one of the buildings for her open house.
The homes are now privately owned, some for generations and they are maintained beautifully. Each one is unique, a cotton candy collection that looks like a walking color sample card for Sherwin-Williams! And they are all perfect.
As we walked through the area, people were sitting on their porches, reading. We'd smile or say hello -- or walk on. They are used to being on display!
There was a definite trend toward white wicker, which I love! Rick would later comment it looked like they all got their furniture at the same store.
Maybe, but I suspect much of it has been in the family for years, carefully repaired and kept away from cats like Lizzie who could take out a wicker bench in no short order!
One place even had a mini-version of their house on the porch!
Another thing we noticed was the charming way that home owners kept eager tourists off the porches! When you have that many people in love with your house, everyone wants a look but you may not want them peeking through the windows! So graceful "porch blockade swags" both looked appropriate and served a fine purpose!
The owner of the Pink House, quite a famous one and on a number of postcards, talked with us about his home. It was period down to the hardware.
(Later in the day I found an antique postcard of this house which showed it prior to the porch being added. A day or two later when I returned, I asked when they put the porch on and I believe he said in the 1980s. It looked as though it had been there from the beginning.)
And, if you peeked through the window, you saw the cake his wife made. Not real. Just really perfect!
This was Nancy's favorite house and it's not on the "main drag." I'm glad we found it! It was one of my favorites, too!
I knew I would have to return to this little slice of heaven. Maybe today, definitely tomorrow.
Nancy left me at Featherstone, an arts center, that was having a flea market that day. Good finds included a Coronation plate for Queen Elizabeth II to add to my Royal Family collection of china (and books, tea towels, stamps...) and a French postcard book picturing WWI sites at Verdun. I wouldn't have expected to find either. During this time, I shopped to folk music provided by a live band.
And, I admired the large kiln and some of the outdoor sculpture.
After lunch, I returned to Oak Bluffs for some sketching time by the water. I'll share that later.
Then it was dinner time and back to Edgartown for...
Yes, I'd been eager for lobster. At lunch I had my first lobster roll of the trip. This was the real deal. Both Rick and I indulged.
After, we walked around the town, enjoying the evening and each other, pinching ourselves to be sure it was real.
We weren't in Michigan anymore, and maybe not Oz.
But we were definitely someplace special.
Like a dream.
This post will be linked with Thoughts of Home on Thursday and Pink Saturday. Click on either of these fun blogs for plenty of other links to things creative and decorative!