Monday, September 30, 2019

Postcards from the Lake: Autumn Roadtrip

I went north on a Tuesday, expecting Rick on Friday night after riding up. The weather was pretty bad -- a couple of good long walks but they were brisk ones and all had been damp with the rain. So on Thursday, I decided to do a little road trip.

Actually, I had a spot in mind -- Stonehenge Fiber Mill which makes the beautiful 100 percent wool, Shepherd's Wool. Their color palette is unbelievable! Imagine arriving and this is the first thing I see!

The woman who owns the mill tells me that this goose (the tall one) is 32 years old and when his mate for life died, he was so bereft, they found a new friend for him.

These two pal around constantly!

I loved the interesting shape of his head. At first I thought it a tumor but she said no, that was just his species.

For the volume of wool this place turns out, it isn't very big. The whole deal is within two small buildings plus the shop.

The owner invited me to look around so first I went into the spinning area. Machines are staffed by people who feed the fiber to the machine which spins it.

The I went into the carding section! Boy -- what a lot of fleece.

There's a huge sink for cleaning too.

By the time I got there I was reasonably close to another old haunt, also called Stonehedge (but not connected).

When it was previously owned I did a number of photography cards of the gardens that they bought and sold in the store. I had to take a good look at the gardens that day, too.

It's still as picturesque as always, with pretty out-buildings.

There was some lovely lawn ornamentation...

...and a charming pond.

But of course, you know I had to try to capture a photo of the butterflies! I managed one somewhat decent one.

I was in a small shop on the way back to the lake when the phone rang. It was Rick, who had been battling strong headwinds. Although he'd hoped to ride the whole way to the lake over two days, he asked to be picked up. So I bid farewell to gardens and hit the road again. I was sorry he had to cut his ride short, but I was also happy to see him! (And it was a good thing for him, too, because the next day was cold, windy and very wet!)

Fall. It's really here.

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Thursday, September 26, 2019

Big Birds, Part One

I confess -- and you probably know -- I am a sucker for Big Birds. I love water birds with their long legs and patient fishing strategies. You've seen Harry the Heron here often, and you'll see him again. But today, a look at Ellie the Egret.

Pretty flashy, isn't she? When she spreads her wings, I think of an elegant angel -- with a big yellow nose!

I have seen egrets at the Ditch before but not often and rarely early in the summer. Ellie showed up in September and I first spotted her fishing.

She's incredibly patient, like Harry. Waiting, watching.

Then going for it.

And sometimes, she misses; sometimes she gets the big prize!

But Ellie is at her best when she spreads her wings.

At times, the look is a little awkward.

Or maybe it's the view! Certainly the take-off has a tip-toe kind of feel.

And sometimes it seems a bit clumsy, yet it always ends up gracefully.

But when it's good, it's very good.

Very, very good.

I'll miss her when she leaves for good.

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Road Trip: Fashioning Art From Paper -- the Ballet Russes

A few posts back, we visited the Isabelle De Borchgrave "Fashioning Art from Paper" exhibit at Flint Institute of Arts and focused on the gowns and historical interpretations she designed and fashioned out of paper that she had painted.

But the exhibit also includes a large room with her interpretations of costumes from Les Ballet Russes.

Most of the costumes were suspended in mid-air by an almost invisible wire. Consequently, they gently turned with passing movement or the gentle movement of air from the air conditioning. It made for a magical effect.

The Ballets Russes costumes were inspired by the Russian impressario Serge Diaghilev's ballet company that ran from 1909 to 1929.  The company was based in Paris but toured worldwide and was considered by many as the most influential ballet company of the 20th century because of its artistic collaborations which were sometimes controversial and a step beyond the traditional ballets like "Swan Lake." (Although the company did indeed perform classics including "Swan Lake.") Other popular ballets were based on Russian folktales.

The piece below is a costume from "The Blue Gold," after a costume by Leon Baskt in 1912. Baskt had been inspired by Cambodian motifs for the costumes and the ballet was considered a failure.

Composers working with Les Ballets Russes included Debussy, Stravinsky and Prokofiev. The scene and costume designs were "modern" and Diaghliev worked with artists such as Picasso and Matisse, along with Coco Chanel.

Other names of renown that were integral to the company's success over the years include Nijinsky, George Balanchine, Michael Fokine and Anna Pavlova. Productions included "Afternoon of a Fawn" and "The Firebird." The costume below is the Sea Horse from "Sadko" (1911) with music by Rimsky-Korsakov.

Many of you had questions included in your comments from last month's post that featured de Borchgrave's amazing work and I'll answer as best as I can. (I should mention that the photos shown below of Isabelle creating in her studio are from the fabulous show catalogue -- actually a gorgeous coffee table book -- by Dennita Sewell.

Source: Isabelle de Borchgrave: Fashioning Art from Paper by Dennita Sewell

Where Can I see the Show? There is only one more showing of this exhibit in the U.S. on this tour and it is in Atlanta, beginning October 4 and going till early January. For those of you in the south, I am thinking the words "road trip." Even if you have seen earlier exhibits of her work, there are items in this show that haven't toured with others. She has done several collections (the historical collections, the Fortuny gowns of the 20th century, Les Ballets Russes, etc.) and pieces from many of all the collections are part of the current tour.

How do they ship these from site to site? I was curious about that, too. They are packed in crates specially designed for each specific gown and made to fit fairly closely. The gowns are packed on their stands or mannequins, set in the crate and some materials are placed around them that prevent them from damage if they slide a bit in the crate. (Below, one of the paper gowns called "Delphos Dress and Coat" based on designs by Mariano Fortuny.

The museum director said that the Ballets Russes section of the exhibit, about one third the size of the gowns, took at least twice as long to set up as the gowns did because most of the costumes are suspended and not on stands, making them harder to ship, set up or move.

Does Isabelle have assistants? Yes. She has at least 10, according to the show catalogue, which is actually a lovely book. She originally worked with Shaw Theatre Festival designer Rita Brown, who, as a costume historian, knew how to create accurate patterns for the gowns. Isabelle paints the patterns onto each outfit. Assistants help assemble them.

Where is her atelier located? It is located in Brussels. As the of the writing of the catalogue, it is open to the public.

Does Isabelle only do the paper costuming installations? No, she also has done work for Caspari, Villeroy and Boch, and party items for Target. She also has costume installations in museums, including one of Jacqueline Kennedy's wedding gown in the JFK Library.

Were there many people there and what do you do about food and drink? There were quite a few people there on a Sunday afternoon. Busy but not so crowded you couldn't see or get close. As for food and drink, while I didn't see a sign, I suspect they would have snatched food away or asked you to eat at the tables outside the cafe.

Is her work available for sale? The museum gift shop and her online site has some of her jewelry available. I believe the website might have other items as well.

 I have to admit, I was overwhelmed by this exhibit, as you can probably tell. Even if costume isn't your thing, or paper work or painting, one has to admire the dedication to work from an inspiration piece and create something in a completely different media, perhaps matching identically and in other cases, using it as inspiration with some unique changes.

Source: Isabelle de Borchgrave: Fashioning Art from Paper by Dennita Sewell

And, to do it, from top to bottom, jewelry, shoes, hats, purses, all accessories and the garment itself really demonstrates the commitment de Borchgrave has to authenticity and her dedication to her art.

Source: Isabelle de Borchgrave: Fashioning Art from Paper by Dennita Sewell

It is safe to say my head was spinning!

Maybe as much as a spinning ballerina!

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Friday, September 20, 2019

First Southern Exposure Visit of the Season!

After an early autumn at the Ditch, it was time to venture farther afield for a little beauty! That means a visit to my "happy place," Southern Exposure Herb Farm, where several times a year a group of friends and I go to make lovely home decor projects, enjoy a beautiful dinner and walk through their wonderful gardens.

We recently enjoyed our first early autumn visit, making a fall botanical wreath. More on that later but first, a walk through the gardens. Their zinnias were fabulous!

Even the buds have their own exquisite details.

I don't know what these are, but I loved them!

Pretty much everywhere you walk, you'll find statues in unique places.

And sometimes, if the dill is good, the statues, such as this madonna, become completely hidden!

They hydrangeas were enormous.

This one bloom was almost as long as my forearm from the tip of fingertips to almost my elbow!

At Southern Exposure you'll find rock sculptures in front of some of the 1800s farm buildings. I love how they add another sense of texture to the land.

The veggie gardens were looking splendid.

And the herb garden was still providing wonderful fragrances.

Apples anyone?

It was so tempting not to reach right up and grab one!

There were some beautiful color combinations -- the colors of fall.

And this red and white was pretty stunning too.

I don't know what these were -- but I loved them!

 And, hanging in an arbor near the milking parlor where we dine, some beautiful grapes.

This photo is just for Sheri from Red Rose Alley -- roses are her favorite! Maybe they're yours, too!

Angie started us out with a sangria cocktail that was yummy.

We ended up at a table with four other women from our area and laughed all through dinner and our project. We swapped photographer roles to get a photo of us with our travel pals we came with -- in my case, Kate and Jan.

Then it was on to the craft tent where our supplies were laid out before us.

And voila! The finished product -- a beautiful wreath, just perfect for welcoming in the fall season!

I was very sad to leave...

...but will be back soon for my next one!

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