When spring comes, my pals and I head to Southern Exposure for our creative workshops and to ease our wniter-weary spirits. At no time in the year is it more welcome to visit this Michigan herb farm, enjoy a lovely walk in the beautiful gardens and one of Chef Elsie's dinners than in the spring. It's so welcoming to see tulips and bleeding hearts, daffodils and forsythia blooming up our winter white world at long last.
The photo above was taken last year. Our first visit this year coincided with cold and snow (which arrived after we safely returned home) and nary a bloom, apart from those on the beautiful dinner table.
For those who are relatively new here, Southern Exposure is what I call a destination experience. A working farm, the owners host creative sessions which include dinner and then a project. It may be a wreath, a floral arrangement or a decorative project. Tonight's project was called Huge Sun Face! More on that in a minute.
Jan, Kate and I arrived and after checking in headed to the gift shop, which is always filled with fabulous "forever flowers" (I can't remember which of you named them that but I love that name!), beautiful pillows, vessels, urns and decorative elements.
I am SO making these herb markers -- and soon! It's not like I don't have a few wine corks hanging around!
Then onto the Milking Parlor, the original cow barn, for dinner. Milking Parlor, you have come a long way!
Here sixty of us enjoyed Chef Elsie's Peruvian dinner and fabulous dessert. It would tie in with our project, an Incan-inspired sun face.
As usual, the room is beautifully lit and decorated.
I loved the idea of the wreath-in-a-frame look. (I need bigger and more walls.)
And I also loved the forsythia-draped chandeliers.
Then it was on to the Craft Tent where our 50-pound sun faces were laid out on bales of hay. We had a container of clear coat poly, gloves and a brush and it was off to work.
Our teacher, Micah, explained the process. The Southern Exposure staff had prepped these for us, aging them with a mixture made by letting steel wool sit in vinegar for at least a week and applying that to the surface of our sun faces.
They all rusted or picked up color in different ways, so each was different in coloring.
We brushed the rust down a bit and applied the clear coat, which gave it some shine and would also protect it from the elements. In Michigan, you have to protect from the elements!
I'd lift this up to show you but -- well, I can't! It's wide and heavy, definitely a two person job. Fortunately, they loaded them into our cars for us and that's where mine is till I figure out where it's going and Rick can help me unload it!
I'm scheduled for two more workshops this spring -- Log Planter and one making tin kitchen planter we'll fill with herbs. And next time, I should be able to share some beautiful blooms for real!
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