Antarctica: landscapes

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I’m downloading these photos at 5:00 AM, taking advantage of the time. The sun has been up for hours and the internet is wide open because almost all of the boat’s passengers are asleep and not trying to send e-mails and their pictures of this amazing place. Antarctica is a most spectacular environment, which I think my husband Rob has captured in these photos. Enjoy!

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fairy house tour (part 2)

The fairy house tour around the grounds of the Florence Griswold Museum continues with photos of some of my favorite structures. Out of 33 very different styles, I found the naturalistic interpretations more believable as fairy dwellings. These tended to blend in with the landscape and mostly used materials found in nature. Please note: This fairy house exhibit is closed, with the next scheduled for 2014.

A house with a teapot doorway.

This tree had several entrances.

These cottages perched on the roots look like guest houses for sprites.

A cozy picnic spot.

A wee painter’s shack.

Dew Drop Villas and a muscle shell windmill conclude the tour.

fairy house tour (part 1)

Last week,  I drove with my husband and a friend to Old Lyme, Connecticut, to see the eagerly anticipated Wee Faerie Village on the grounds of the Florence Griswold Museum.  It was the last opportunity to see the display, because this year’s exhibit closed yesterday. I’m told that they coordinate the building of a new village every other year, so the next event should be in the fall of 2014.

Even with cloudy skies and cool temperatures, we enjoyed strolling around the property, following the numbered mushroom signs. Over thirty fairy dwellings were created by artists from the area, including my favorite, Nevergreen Caverns, made by the museum’s education director, David D.J. Rau.

Three hollow logs are stacked on a larger stump, with each space furnished with fairy comforts.

I found the burned wood markings charming…

as well as the mushroom roofed balconies.

It was well worth the visit! I will show more pictures of other houses in my next post.

An Irish Sojourn

Rob and I just returned from a magical visit to Ireland. We traveled with a group of Celtic music lovers who were brought together by Boston’s WGBH. The Learning Tour – An Irish Sojourn was led by WGBH radio Celtic music host Brian O’Donovan, who took us from county Cork and up the eastern coast to Dublin.

This is just a sampling of what we saw on our trip–there will be many more pictures to show in the weeks ahead. There’ll be more doorways, windows, storefronts, landscapes and moss!

Tessa’s tiles

Last fall, our new tile mural made by Tessa Morgan of Flying Pig Pottery was installed behind the stove. We had been looking at a piece of greasy plywood in the same location for 20 years, putting off the tile project because I couldn’t decide what I wanted. I was originally going to paint my own tiles, but eventually gave up on that idea. Years ago, I did paint some faux tiles in a different spot in the kitchen. See a post about those here.

We asked Tessa to design a landscape and seascape with animals. I had admired her pottery for years and we gave her the freedom to create her own menagerie.  Before they were installed, we laid out the pieces on our dining room table.

Here’s the mural with spacers, before the grout is applied.

We love living with Tessa’s tiles, which are made with a sgraffito technique, which she describes as “the art of carving through a colored slip to the contrasting clay body underneath”.

Tessa encouraged me to decorate some tiles, too, so I carved the narrow back splash strip under the windows. We spent a few enjoyable afternoons carving together in her Woods Hole studio.

A few years ago, Tessa made tiles for a wonderful mural in the Falmouth Public Library. Donors to the library renovation fund had their names carved into hundreds of tiles that cover the hallway leading to the children’s room.

She also makes beautiful lamps, dishes and mugs, all made with her signature sgraffito style.

Flying Pig Pottery’s studio is open to the public and is located on Woods Hole Rd. , just before you enter the village.

perfect Woods Hole morning

At 8am this morning, the water was calm under sunny skies, the humidity was low and the temperature was perfect for a bike ride into Woods Hole.

There was hardly anyone about on Water St. and Eel Pond was still. I enjoy this time of year, especially on a sleepy Sunday morning, when the weather is superb and the summer people haven’t come yet. In a matter of weeks, the crowds will descend, bringing an exciting, but wearing energy. Having been a year ’rounder since childhood, the change seems natural to me, like a built-in part of the seasonal shift. For more recent “winter folks” it can be an annoying adjustment. 

Skiffs will be jammed up around the pond’s edge. This morning, pollen floated and swirled on top of the water.

Decks and porches will be full of people.

And dinghies will fill every spot along the Yacht Club piers. Here we come summer of ’12!

Inspiration– Molas #2

Last year, in a fit of organizing, I matted and framed a pile of my molas. They are from my mother’s collection and I’ve come to love and admire their meticulous and bold designs. A while ago, I wrote a post about other molas in my collection here. The black framed molas are now crowding the walls of our downstairs powder room. With no windows and damaging sunlight, it’s a good place to hang textiles. There isn’t a tub or shower, so humidity isn’t a problem, either.

Right now, the walls of the “Mola” room are white, but I plan on painting them a richer color to better compliment the frames. I could go wild, with borders and patterns, but right now I don’t have the time. It just feels good to have them all displayed together.

Melissa Sweet wins Golden Kite!

Congratulations to Melissa Sweet for winning the 2012 SCBWI Golden Kite award for picture book! Balloons Over Broadway is the wonderfully told and illustrated story of puppeteer Tony Sarg, the creative force behind Macy’s Thanksgiving parade. I had never heard of Mr. Sarg and haven’t seen the parade in New York, even on TV. The idea of watching TV during a family holiday was unthinkable while I was growing up. But, Melissa’s book has given me a new appreciation for the parade and the artistry behind it.

I love how Melissa combines watercolor paintings with collage and 3 dimensional objects. It’s encouraging to see sculptural illustration recognized this way. Melissa and I met years ago at a conference and I was struck by her unbounded creativity and willingness to experiment with all kinds of materials in her artwork. We’ve been in contact more recently, when I asked if I could use these images in my slide talk about the joys and challenges of 3 dimensional illustration. It turns out that we have the same publisher (Houghton Mifflin) and that both of our books were photographed by Rick Kyle of 5000K.

Reading and looking at the pictures in Balloons Over Broadway is a delightful experience. I’m so excited for you, Melissa!