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Ireland – Scotland Part 1

Exhausted from Hurricane Florence I guiltily decided to go on the trip I had signed up for last fall. I’m glad I did. We set off on a two day train trip from Dublin with Railtours Ireland. We traveled south west through the countryside of Co. Kildare.

We visited the Cliffs of Moher, among the highest sea cliffs in Europe. We were there for about an hour and by the time we left the fog had swept in and you couldn’t see any of the cliffs. This part of the country is breathtaking.

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We drove along “The Burren“. The word Burren means ‘rocky place’. It looks like a a lunar landscape of limestone. We were told that though it seems like there is no soil it’s noted for its diverse flora and fauna, more diverse than anywhere in Europe. Migrating birds from the North Pole and from theMediterranean and points further south bring the seeds that grow in the crevices in the rocks. This area also has many times more rainfall that Eastern Ireland.

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We stopped at Bunratty Castle and Folk Park in Co. Clare.   The castle was built in the 15th Century and is furnished with period furniture and artifacts. I found the grounds most interesting – a 19th century Irish village with buildings from around the region.

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We eventually arrived in Galway, where we had time to explore on our own. One of the highlights was hearing a group of young Irish musicians performing on the street.

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Galway has a lot of young people and lots of tech jobs, It’s history began with a fort built in 1142. Through the Middle Ages it was a thriving port, it was involved in many wars through the ages, the potato famine of the mid 19th century and never regained strong economic growth until the late 20th century.

On day two we went to the Connemara region. When thinking about the area these are the things that come to my mind – few trees – thousands of miles of stone fences – narrow roads – windswept landscapes – mountains – fuschia hedges – sheep – lots of lakes and the Atlantic Ocean.

We stopped at the Kylemore Abbey & Walled Victorian Gardens – which was built in the late 1800s by Mitchell Henry, a successful businessman and liberal politician. It changed hands several times and in 1920 it was taken over by Benedictine Nuns whose Abbey in Belgium had been destroyed in World War II. They opened a world renowned boarding school for girls and restored the Abbey and Garden. The Walled Garden covers 6 acres and had fallen into ruin. In 1995 the Nuns began restoring it and it was opened to the public in 2000. The garden had 21 heated glass houses and a work force of 40 gardeners when it was first established and was compared in magnificence to Kew Gardens.

We continued on the Connemara Loop which was hauntingly beautiful.

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There are only a few towns in the area and my favorite is Clifden.

We heard that if the sheep are on top of the mountain (in this case cows) the weather is going to be good….

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There are a lot of sheep in the area, and they are free range, so you have to be very careful driving on the narrow winding roads because you never know what’s around the corner.
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I loved this area – it’s kind of other worldly.
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We went back to Galway and caught the train to Dublin.

I realize that I know little about the history of Ireland, as part of my blogging after a trip I go back and research the places I’ve been. It was interesting that  looking around Dublin looks like a pretty new city, I made a stupid comment about maybe because it was bombed during WWII. I was corrected – Ireland was neutral during the war so was never bombed. I wondered what else I didn’t know! So have been reading up on their history.

Here is a great timeline.

My mom was a genealogist and I read in some of her papers that our ancestors came from Ireland way back during the time of tribes and clans around 200 A.D. in present-day Ireland. At that time the area a tribe or clan occupied was called a Lyne or Lynne. When the leader of the clan wanted to gather the people they blew a horn, our clan was near the sea and made use of conch shells for their horns, thus “Conchlynne.”  This tribe – Conchlynne – was located where the city of Belfast now stands. for some reason members of the tribe migrated across to Scotland and then south to Nottinghamshire, England where the name is found in the 1600’s. The name turned into Conklin somewhere along the line in the US. When first coming to the US they were glassmakers.

We aren’t going to make it to Belfast on this trip – that will have to wait until next time.

I wasn’t in love with Dublin but did find a few areas I liked. Here are few photos from around town.

Two things that have made a huge impact on this city – Heineken and the musical group U2.
Signs and decorations on buildings…

Learning about the book of Kells at Trinity College (founded in 1592) was really more interesting than seeing it to me, since you can only see two pages, but the lengths the monks went through to make it were extraordinary.  They made it on the isle of Iona, where we are headed when we meet up with others from New Bern.

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The best part about the visit to Trinity College was seeing the long room, the library in the same building (which houses 200,000 of the Universities oldest books). You would recognize it from the Harry Potter movies, They weren’t allowed to use the library in their filming but they based the one they created on it.

Next post….. traveling north to the Giants Causeway, Northern Ireland, and then Scotland. We really didn’t see a lot of either country but what we did see we really like.

 

 

 

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Florence

This is not how I wanted the corner I live on to make the front page of the New York Times. My house is just to the right of these folks.ny times
This is for my folks and friends that don’t live near.  We are always reluctant to evacuate because it can be hard to return. When a hurricane strikes and you are by the water, first the water is pushed in (if you are in the NE quadrant like we were for Florence – the absolute worse position to be in in a hurricane), causing flooding from wind – which is what affects my particular location, then when it goes by then the water goes down but the rain inland causes the rivers to flood away from us cutting New Bern off. We may be high and dry by then but we can’t get back home.   That did happen from Florence but we threaded the needle and got home before we were cut off. Then by the end of the week even Hwy 70 was back open. However it was another week before you could travel south on 17 because the bridge in Pollocksviille was severely damaged.

Anyway I got home and for the first time I almost cried, I could not get my key in the front door. No locksmith answered their phones. I didn’t have a key to the other doors, the electricity was out so I could not get in through the garage door. Spraying air into the lock did not help.

My neighbors Kim and Steven Wynn came to the rescue, Steven came with a spray bottle of water and finally got the key in the door. It took some strength but the door finally opened and we went in. What a mess.

 

You can see where the waterline was. Lucky or good planning that the electric recepticales are higher than the 4′ of water. Everything was covered with muddy slime. Unfortunately only one of my work tables was high enough, The things I put on top of all but one of them got wet – 85% of the stuff below the water line was ruined. Tools rust within a day or two of being submerged, I didn’t know that.

The real heart breaker was the kiln room.

IMG_0475.jpgSomewhere is this mess is 3 kilns blown apart. Usually when we have a hurricane the water rises slowly. I expected that to happen this time, instead we were hit with that storm surge they always talk about, that we haven’t had, or at least this much, in the 29 years I’ve lived here. This time the 4 feet of water that came into my house all came at once, like a wall, with waves on top of it. And the fact that it moved so slowly allowed it to pile up much more water than it would have if it was a fast mover, like Michael that just hit Florida.

This was all within a block of my house, areas like Fairfield Harbor and River Bend had a lot of flooding as well, more than has been seen in decades.

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We are now a few weeks past Florence, and if you drive around New Bern you’ll still see some piles of peoples belongings along some roads, you’ll see some broken trees and some blue tarps on some roofs, but most of town looks normal. We are so grateful that we didn’t get hit like a 4 like hit Mexico Beach, and completely wiped them off the map.

 

 

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Evacuation

I’ve never been told to evacuate before. It was odd (after trying to move stuff out of the way of flooding) that as I looked around as to what I needed to take with me, I thought, it’s all just stuff. An interesting feeling. I didn’t want to leave but didn’t know what else to do. So headed north.

I-95 was busy but traffic moving well to Richmond. Stopped for a break at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden (which is on my list for a potty break every time I pass through). Was just going to peek out the window, check out the gift shop, and then be on my way. Noticed there was an interesting looking garden sculpture, looked like origami, metal sculptures by Kevin Box, my friend stopped at the desk and asked about them. She also mentioned that we were evacuees and one of them gave us free passes and said, “go in an take a look” – wow!

These gardens are in my top 5 favorite Botanical Gardens in the country.

The show “Origami in the Garden” was fabulous, as were the flowers. Here’s a link and here are some of my photos.

We continued on our trek north and stopped for gas. I searched for my wallet, fortunately I had a credit card and some cash stuffed in my pockets (a bad habit I have but as my friend IB says, it is what it is), I was glad this time! I realized I left it at a Wendy’s in Stony Creek, I called and of course they did not find it. So spent the next hour calling cc companies and cancelling cards. As the afternoon went on I realized I had other cards I needed to replace. Ugh.

We arrived exhausted at our destination near Columbia, MD, took a sleeping aide, and slept all night not thinking about Florence at all (or trying not to).

Of course the next morning we obsessed about Florence all day, not being able to take our eyes off the tv. Started working on a painting for my 2019 calendar. The painting I’m working on is the new “The Jarvis at 220” which is in my block, and the Pollock Street Pub & Oyster Bar also on my block. It turns out the Jarvis had water in the basement, the Pollock Street Pub & Oyster Bar, like my house, had water inside their first floor.

Since I was so close to Philadelphia (120 miles) I decided to go to pick up my sculpture, the rabbit I made this summer. This is the first I’ve seen it since it was fired.

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On our way to Philadelphia we stopped to eat. I was on the phone with my sister telling her about the flooding, after I hung up this little old lady spoke up and said “You can come to my house – I live alone and I have lots of room!” People can be so kind.

We stopped at the best Ceramic supply store I’ve ever been in at Norristown to pick up stuff. Even though I knew my pottery studio was flooded I knew I had work to make for people. If my electric is compromised I’ll see if I can have someone fire for me. It’s the ceramic shop, http://www.theceramicshop.com.

Of course I can’t go to Philadelphia with out going to the Reading Terminal and eating at The Dutch Eating Place. It was a tradition for Michael and I every time we went to Philadelphia, wish he was there with me.
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We cruised South Street to look at Isiah’s mosiacs.
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Then started shopping for cleaning supplies to take home.

We spent the weekend glued to the tv watching the aftermath of Florence and seeing horrible photos of what she had done to our town. I knew I had a lot of water in my house so at this point my biggest concern was that the house was secure, were my doors caved in? Were there walls caved in?  I was able to connect with some people via Facebook and asked them to let me know. They did and the house was secure. This is one of the photos I was sent.
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I could see the high water mark on the wall, 4′ up. And that bench in the foreground weighs over 100 pounds, amazing how much power water has to move things.

One of the things we hate when they talk about evacuation is that often you can’t get back, in your town the water might have receded but inland the water is just rising flooding the roads we need to take back in.

We drove home on Monday and it was pretty spooky seeing the signs saying I-95 closed.

We got off on 64 headed east, by the time we got to Washington we started seeing signs of hurricane damage. But we were able to drive right in.

Next post – what I found when I got home……

 

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Colorado in August

I returned from Michigan with a few days to spare before going to see my friend Deb in Colorado. We made our base in Breckenridge. I can tell I’m getting old! There is a huge difference in 8000 and 10,500 feet. We lived in Aspen for 6 years at 8000 feet and after a couple days I got used to the altitude. 10,500 feet and 30 years later is an entirely different animal.

I huffed and puffed the entire week that we were in Breckenridge and when we went to Glenwood Springs and Aspen I really noticed the difference, I could breathe.

We arrived in Breckenridge at the end of their International Festival of Arts but were able to take in a few of the events.

Tree-O was pretty neat. We hiked part of the Illinois Creek Trail and found 3 musicians hanging from the trees playing music.
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We loved the troll created by Thomas Dambo who is an artist from Copenhagen, Denmark. He made this huge troll out of wood on the spot. Again to see it we had to hike up one of the trails for about a quarter of a mile, it was worth the walk. We climbed over the big pile of stones to get to it, once over the top I slid and sat down. Since I’ve gotten older I haven’t been afraid to ask for help. I stuck my hand out and a young man helped me down the rest of the way.

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In the first photo you can get an idea how huge he was! probably 14 or 15 feet tall.

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Another musical performance by Chirp! was up yet another trail. I didn’t know we were going to be hiking or I would have brought shoes other than my Birkenstocks. They sang a cappella and one of their songs really spoke to me. Here are part of the lyrics –
you gotta get up – break away – I won’t know peace til I find my place – guess that’s part of  the reason I’m traveling so much this year. Trying to figure out what is normal for me now without Michael and CC.

For two entire days we soaked in hot springs, both in Glenwood Springs.

  • Glenwood Canyon.

First the one Michael and I always used to go to when we lived in Aspen…..
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He always used to say, can you image what it would have been like to ride the train from New York in 1888 and get off here to soak? Glenwood Hot Spring the worlds largest hot spring pool.

The second hot springs day was spent at a new one called Iron Mountain Hot Springs,  which is a totally different experience. There is a small pool but there are also a dozen or so hot tubs, each with a different temperature.  It was very nice and was built only about 5 years ago.
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Both days were glorious!

Frisco was a real surprise for me, I’ve probably driven by it dozens of times but never stopped, always in a hurry to get home or get to Denver. It’s a beautiful little town just outside of Breckenridge, with some really nice shops.

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I’ve always been interested in railroads, especially steam, something about the travel, the lore, the intricacy of the locomotives, the architecture of the depots, so was happy when Deb agreed to drive up Boreas Pass. Michael and I drove all of these old railroad beds we could but never made it up this one.

IMG_0434This one over Boreas Pass was part of the Denver South Park and Pacific Railroad, which was built in 1882. The pass is at 11,481 feet, we made it to the top in a regular car. There were a few scary spots where you were driving on a cliff but all in all it was a pretty easy drive. We were surprised that people were camping along the way, some on a ledge. Usually camping isn’t allowed right along a road.

The nice thing about driving on these old railroad beds is that they are never steep, just a gentle grade. The railroad shut down service over the Pass in 1937 and began taking up the rails.

Another day we drove to Aspen, it continues to be one of my favorite places on earth.

This is the road out of the back of the entrance to Buttermilk Mountain. The house we lived in was on the top of this ridge.

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Every day when we lived there we drove pass the road to the Maroon Bells. Not a bad sight!
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My old workplace the Aspen Times.
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After our week in the mountains we returned to Arvada, make several trips to Boulder then one to Longmont to the Benson Sculpture Park . I’d heard about this park and the sculpture Show held there every year but really had no idea of the extent of their collection. Very impressive!

One of the sculptures is by Susan Pascal Beran – she did the Spider Lily Sculpture that sits in front of the Convention Center in our downtown.
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It was a great trip but now looking forward to some time at home……  little did I know Florence was on the horizon.

 

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Michigan visit in July

I’m trying to catch up on my writing about trips earlier this year. After my clay workshop in Doylestown I drove to Michigan to join my sisters at the church we grew up in for their 150th anniversary. I was glad I made the effort to get there. I saw lots of art, birds, family, and friends.
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I spent a few days with my niece at the U of M Biological Station where she works on the Piping Plover Project. This bird is on the federal endangered species list. In the mid 1980s there were only 16 nesting pairs in the Great Lakes Region. This year that number is at 76 pairs, due in no small part to the efforts of this project.

My niece is one of many zoo keepers, students, and other volunteers from around the country that go to the Station each summer to assist in the hatching and raising Plover chicks that for one reason or the other have lost their parents. I was taken with the care that was given to these chicks! Their own outdoor area at the beach, at the lab, indoor and outdoor facilities, heat lamps if necessary and they are fed a varied diet several time a day.
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The people working with the birds do try to limit their exposure to humans so when it’s time for them to be released they want to go with the other birds. The three chicks that were there when I was were small for that late in the season. I asked what if they’re not ready to fly south when the others go, the answer was someone may fly them to the gulf coast.

My niece said University of Minnesota Professor and Principle Investigator of the recovery effort Francie Cuthbert says the the Piping Plover is an umbrella species for beach ecosystems, protecting the plover also protects other species of fauna and flora that might otherwise be overlooked.

You could almost see these chick change each day.

I made a quick trip to the bridge, I haven’t seen it in many years. When sorting through my Mom’s papers I read that my grandfather, her dad, was one of the first people to drive over the Mackinaw Bridge when it opened. I can remember before it was built waiting for the ferry to take us to the UP.

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Then I was lucky to be at Little Twin Lake near Mancelona to observe the first Loon chicks on that lake in 15 years.
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It was fun watching the family and how fast they could cross the lake. Sometimes the 4 would be together and other times one parent and one chick. You probably know this but the loons claim a territory, usually 60-200 acres and will chase off any loon that tries to intrude upon their area. The loon call is haunting.

It was a wonderful week of kayaking, bird watching and sailing.

Even though I’ve been to Charlevoix dozens of times I had never taken time to see the Mushroom Houses –
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The builder was Earl Young. He studied architecture for only one year before deciding the regular way to build things was not for him. So over  51 years he built 30 structures in Charlevoix. Each is totally unique, mostly built of stone, and he designed each to fit into the unique landscape upon which it sits. “Earl Young’s houses feature his signature designs, along with wide, wavy eaves, exposed rafter tails; cedar-shake roofs; and a horizontal emphasis in design.”

Of course the flowers were beautiful.

I can’t go to northern lower Michigan without driving around the Lelanau Penninsula and visiting all the little towns and art galleries along the way.

Had to get this new piece from one of my favorite Michigan artist.
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If you don’t live in Michigan you may not know that the west coast of the lower peninsula of Michigan is pretty much all sand dunes from Empire south. The largest and best known are the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes.

And Michigan has about 124 working lighthouses, at one time there were 247! Here are just a few of them.

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I made a quick trip to Saugatuck to see my friend Sandra, visiting art galleries and the Federik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. Here the emphasis isn’t on flowers, although there are some beautiful ones, it’s on sculpture set in natural surroundings.


We went to a Paula Poundstone performance at the Saugatuck Center for the Arts, she was so quick and so funny. They also had this amazing show of work by Michelle Stitzlein. She creates art with recycles materials. Garden hoses make up a large portion of her work.
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My sisters, nieces, and I went to tea – something I’m not used to doing – and it was really neat. The name of the tea house is Sweet Shalom Tea Room and it’s in Sylvania, Ohio, a suburb of Toledo. They do formal teas on Fridays and Sundays, each month has a different theme with a menu reflecting the theme. When I think of going to a tea I think of tiny bites of something and one type of tea. Not at these teas, we got pots of 8 different teas and when we were finished with the food we were full! Everything is served on vintage dishes, vintage tea pots and they do a short program about the theme of the month. It was really nice.

I got home from this trip just in time to visit Colorado for a week…..  I kind of overbooked this year! But looking back I’m glad I did, not knowing what would come up later in September … Florence.

 

 

 

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Clay Workshop Part 2

The clay workshop with Lisa Naples was very inspiring.

I choose a rabbit as my piece for the week. I also learned as much from watching others as I did from working on my own piece.

I hadn’t realized how tall and big  it was reasonable to build with coils, I always tried, and struggled, with slabs. I hadn’t done any coil building or pinch pots since college in the 70s, until the past two week. So now I’m excited to try big totem bases with coils.

Here is the rabbit piece as it went together.

 

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Made the body out of a lump of clay rolled out with a dowel.
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Reaching inside we pushed our pieces into shape.
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I added the haunches.
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Feet
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A collar will become the neck.
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Front legs added. They look a little like arms but that’s ok.
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Face made out of a pinch pot.
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Work on the eyes.

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I went downtown after class and saw old suitcases in a store window. That’s it! I’ll make one of those.

Using a dry brush method for glazing, I glazed the rabbit before adding the ears, otherwise it would be difficult to get her covered.

 

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One day we went to a flea market to find found objects to use with our sculptures, I found some things for future pieces and found this neat compass.

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The rabbit is ready to be fired! I hope it will turn out but won’t know for a few weeks. We worked on the sculpture all week and kept adding wet clay to leather hard, then covering the whole thing up tightly to distribute the moisture. Lisa said she has worked on a piece then let it sit for months before finishing by keeping it wrapped tightly.

 

At the beginning of the workshop we did do 2 minute sculptures, like gesture drawings. The inspiration for my big rabbit came from this one on the left!

With her method of glazing using colored slips, you work on leather hard clay.

I can’t wait to see the finished piece.

 

 

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Pennsylvania & Clay Workshop Part 1

On my way to my clay workshop with Lisa Naples I took at a couple extra days to do some sightseeing. I had been to the Brandywine River Museum, YEARS ago. So long ago that you could still see all the front of the mill building. Now it’s so grown up you can just see bits of it through the trees.

It was interesting to see the artwork of so many of the Wyeth family members. And the detail of Andrew Wyeth’s egg tempera paintings, as you can see in the painting of the hair above was remarkable.

Then we had the chance to go visit his studio.

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As I looked around the building I could see my photos translated into his style of painting.

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Winterthur was interesting too, I had never been there before, DuPont collected over 90,000 American made objects that dated between the years of 1630 and 1860. As he added onto the house (now it has 175 rooms) he knew it was going to be a museum someday so built it accordingly. They have a great collection of soup tureens that gave me some ideas for sculpture!

And you can’t be in that area without visiting Longwood Gardens.

During the week of the workshop we were in session from 10-4:30 each day so didn’t have much time for sight seeing. But did get a few shots of architecture around Doylestown.


One day at lunch I ran over to Fonthill and the Moravian Tileworks, both very interesting!


They were built by Henry Chapman Mercer, who was an archeologist and tile-maker among other things. He built Fonthill and the Tileworks out of poured concrete. I had toured Fonthill years ago so this time took the tour of the tile works.


I did get up at 5:30 one day to take one of my favorite drives in the country, along the Delaware north of New Hope.


I can see a couple of these photos becoming paintings, if I ever sit still long enough to do any.

Speaking of favorite drives. Here are a few that are on my list in addition to River Road
– the Tunnel of Trees in Northern Michigan
– driving down the Florida Keys
– Independence Pass Colorado
– Front Street to the stand of live oaks, Beaufort, NC
– Frankfort Pike west from Midway, KY
– around Devils and Round Lakes in Lenawee County, Michigan

The week I studied with Lisa Naples in Doylestown was pretty transformative for me. Instead of thinking of my pieces of sculpture as just pieces of sculpture she encouraged us to think about them as telling a story. That changes everything!

This is some of her work.

In the next post I will post my sculpture as I constructed it. In contrast to the sculptures I did a couple weeks ago with Barry Gregg,  which were pretty fast to do (we did at least 2 each day – plus they were small) – this weeks sculpture took all week, was quite detailed, and 14″ tall. The techniques we learned allow us to built as big as we want. Look for photos in my next post along with work by others at the workshop.

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A Week of Clay and Mountain Cool

A Week of Clay and Mountain Cool – I just returned from a week of making clay sculpture for totems at The Bascom in Highlands, NC. It was a great week! Learned a lot and enjoyed the 15 degrees cooler temperature (than New Bern) during the day. The teacher was clay artist Barry Gregg .
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I’ve been working on some big – non-figurative totems but am anxious to do some with animals – I couldn’t think of a better way to get started down that path than to take a couple workshops. This was the first of two I’m doing this summer.

Barry’s work is very colorful and whimsical, he has quite a wit and was a great teacher.

Some photos of his demonstrations.

Here are some of MY pieces. Of course they need to be dried, the burrs cleaned off, fired, glazed and fired again before they are finished. I’ll post them again when all that is done!

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I didn’t get out much to see the scenery due to a kidney stone I had just before going and it wasn’t comfortable to walk but I have a feeling this isn’t the last workshop I’ll be taking at The Bascom. It was a very low key and friendly atmosphere.

IMG_9213In addition to learning sculpture techniques from Barry I also observed a few other things. It would be great to spend the summers in the mountains but I would not want to be there in the winter (been there done that). The next town Cashiers is pronounced CASH-ers, not CASH-ears! There are a LOT of bears up there!
My motto is spelled out pretty well with this bumper sticker.
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I don’t have time to glaze and fire the pieces right now but will post the photos when I do! Thanks for reading.

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Road Trip The Cotswolds part 2 plus the Chelsea Flower Show

Road Trip – The Cotswolds part 2 plus Chelsea Flower Show – click the link to see LOTS more photos. The fabulous trip continued…. we stopped at Bourton-on-the-Water to take a quick stroll through town, then went on to Bibury.

 

One of Bibury’s main tourist spots and overlooking a water meadow and the river is Arlington Row, a group of ancient cottages with steeply pitched roofs dating back to the 16th century.

Henry Ford thought Arlington Row was an icon of England. On a trip to the Cotswolds he tried to buy the entire row of houses to ship back to Michigan so that he could include them in Greenfield Village.

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IMG_8271Rolling Hills of the countryside. Some of the hills are quite steep because of the Cotswolds escarpment, a pie shaped area of limestone from the Jurassic period tipped on its edge. Some of the hills rise 1000.

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Throughout the countryside are stone monuments to those who fought and died in the First and Second World Wars. And everywhere are beautiful stone fences, laid up with no mortar.

A comment our guide said I thought was worth repeating. “We owe so much to the US, we could not survive without you, although I’m sure, your country feels it could survive without us.”

The very best garden in my opinion was Highgrove, The home of Prince Charles, and unfortunately we were not allowed to take photos. After hearing a taped presentation by him about the garden and his interest in organic I changed my mind about how I perceive him.

We had champagne High Tea, the gift shop was beautiful, the outdoor part was so well done I could do a dozen paintings just of it. The house was built in the 1790s and when prince Charles purchased it there was just a small kitchen garden. It is stunning and he and his gardeners have made it so it is beautiful in every season.

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Of course I always need to post signs…..

 

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And my two favorites…

Bourton House Gardens followed… an award-winning three acre jewel… winner of the prestigious Historic Houses Association / Christie’s “Garden of the Year” Award. The garden is surrounded by a stately 18th century manor house.

Another stunner followed that one –

Sudeley Castle… has nine individual gardens… all unique and beautiful. Elizabeth, Lady Ashcomb, is the current owner and lives on the estate.

It has played a roll in the history of England for over 1000 years. Can you imagine living in a castle where a queen is buried, you have your very own ruins and a large chapel too?

The castle was once home to Queen Katherine Parr, the last and surviving wife of King Henry VIII. Henry himself, Anne Boleyn, Lady Jane Grey, Queen Elizabeth I and Richard III have all played a part in Sudeley’s story. King Charles I (1600s) found refuge here during the Civil War, when his nephew Prince Rupert established headquarters at the Castle. Following its ‘slighting’ on Cromwell’s orders at the end of the Civil War, Sudeley lay neglected and derelict for nearly 200 years.

King George III was amongst those sightseers who came to admire its romantic ruins. Then in 1837 Sudeley was rescued by the wealthy Worcester glove-makers, brothers John and William Dent, who began an ambitious restoration programme which was continued by their nephew, John Coucher Dent, when he inherited the castle in 1855. His wife, Emma Brocklehurst, threw herself enthusiastically into Sudeley’s restoration, at the same time forging strong links with the nearby town of Winchcombe. It is the results of Emma’s dedication that are so evident in the gardens and exhibitions at Sudeley today. If you are interested in more history.

 

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I see a painting here!

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And on to the next town!
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We spoke to the owner – he said this wisteria is at least 180 years old.
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Red chestnut

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Loved traveling in a small group, we went on many one track roads that most tours would never have been able to go on.

While in the Cotswolds we stayed at Moreton-in-Marsh a market town granted its market charter in 1227.

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Curfew tower.
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Our hotel

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There were lots of topiary and garden decorations made from willow. I love all the plant supports made from tying twigs together. It would be fun to take a workshop on making them, if one exists in the US. They are everywhere in England.

Our last garden to visit in the Cotswolds before going on to Windsor Castle was Barnsley House… built in 1697 of Cotswold stone, is a perfect example of the English country house and garden. The acclaimed garden, with remarkable beauty, was designed by Rosemary Verey, recognized as the “Grand Dame” of Cotswold garden designers.
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I loved the way the kitchen garden was laid out, it was as beautiful as the rest of the gardens, combining vegetables and flowers. She helped Prince Charles with some of his gardens.

These snails are huge “Roman Snails”, brought by the Romans between AD 43–410 and they are protected. This one measured about 4″ long.

 

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We then visited Windsor Castle – the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world – we were scheduled to stay just across the street when that pesky wedding bumped us. People were still going nuts about the wedding which took place on Saturday and we got there on Thursday. We stood where they took their vows and right beside where the queen sat. Again no photos inside but the church is divided by a wall so most of the celebrities sat in the back on folding chairs and had to watch the wedding on a screen, so you at home had the same view as they did!!

I had been in London years ago and been to all the major attractions so this time I was interested in seeing the pubs and buildings whose outside are decorated with flowers.
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We did have a pint here!

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Our last day was visiting the Chelsea Flower Show.

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Of the sculptures my favorites were the Alice in Wonderland and Wind in the Willows. My VERY favorite was the Red Queen.

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IMG_8972I decided to walk back to the hotel, it was a couple miles through the city, I din’t realize that the commercial district around Sloane Square was having a competition – Chelsea in Bloom – so many store fronts were decorated with flowers.

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I failed to mention the last two nights in London we went to two private clubs – The Oxford-Cambridge Club, and then The National Liberal Club. Both were lovely but I bet you can guess which one didn’t have as many rules and was more laid back.

On the way back to our hotel I walked past Buckingham Palace.

And I executed my plan perfectly, as I got to Picadilly Street, exactly as I came out off of the “Long Walk” I was at the door of The Ritz.

It was quite lovely!
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A nice way to end an amazing trip.

When I got home I took my friends advice and stayed in bed all the next day and watched “The Crown”. It was a good plan!

What’s next? A couple sculpture workshops, then Michigan. Oh yes, in-between lots of artwork! I’ll post that too.

 

 

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Road Trip The Cotswolds a garden tour part 1

What a treat to join 7 others on a tour of some of the gardens and private homes of the Cotswolds. They have a charity program called the National Garden Scheme where gardens all over the country are open, with all income donated to charity.

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Generally these are private gardens and this is the only time they are open. After arriving in London we took off for the countryside. I had been in a little bit of that area about 35 years ago but had forgotten how beautiful and rural it is. Most of the area is protected from too much development and most buildings are built from Cotswold stone. It’s a honey colored limestone that gets a rich color as it is exposed to the weather.

The first garden we visited was in the town of Blockley, where Father Brown Series is filmed. In fact his church was visible from the garden – Mill Dene – as it was just down the hill from the church. This garden is built on a very steep slope and includes a waterfall and a millpond. One of the larger Cotswold villages and largely unspoilt, midway between Moreton-in-Marsh and Chipping Campden, Blockley was a main centre of the silk industry in the 18th and 19th centuries.

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IMG_8058IMG_8049Of course none of my photos do ANY of the gardens justice.

Chipping Campden is a small market town with a beautiful High Street dating from the 14th to 17th century.  A High Street is the primary business street in an English town.
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Market Hall circa 1627

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Banqueting Hall

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St James, one of the finest “Wool” churches in the Cotswolds. A wool church is one that was built in mediaeval times with money made from the wool trade.

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This was an amazing trip, sometimes visiting 3 gardens a day!

Hidcote Manor was owned by Bradenstoke Priory in Wiltshire until the Priory was disbanded by Henry VIII in around 1539. The manor house, was built in the 17th century as a farmhouse.

It is considered to be one of the masterpiece gardens in England. It was started in 1907 by Lawrence Johnston. Johnston’s garden design with themed “outdoor rooms” revolutionized garden design throughout England,.. and still influences designers today. Over the years many plants have been named after Johnston or Hidcote in recognition of his extraordinary talent and plantsmanship.

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