One of the many treasures we inherited at Spring Bird is this old school bell from 1886.
The Bartholomews installed it to use for retreats and gatherings. A leader will ring it to signal to all of the wandering retreat goers to come back, to regroup.
I will use it to call to Pat to come from the upper meadow nuttery, or to call the kids from the tree house. .
And occasionally wasps like to make their home inside of it.
The Bartholomews left a lot of other bells for us. Some ceramic hanging outside the house, and some small and meant for Swiss cows.
Martha Bartholomew would place a basket of bells outside the front door of the house, which does not have a doorbell. .
She would wait and see which visitor chose which bell to ring.
The night before we signed for the house, I dreamt that I gave Martha a bell - the kind a teacher would have on her desk. And this bell had no clacker. It was a silent bell.
I felt like buying Spring Bird was in a way taking away Martha's voice. I told her of my dream, and she, in all her wisdom, said you are my voice now.
I think we are part of this special club that gets to inhabit this patch of land, care for it, tend to it, love it, receive its love for us and share it with our communities.
I am so grateful and honored to be part of its story.
And you know, sometimes I ring the bells just to hear them.
This quilt is just my favorite thing. Here’s why. I fell in love with Spring Bird even before I lived here. This place, this piece of land has made me more like me. If that makes sense, and having made all sorts of art throughout my life and loving all the media, making appliqued, story quilts feels more like me than anything else that I have made. So, heart place plus heart medium equals my heart ready to explode with love and delight for this life. Don’t worry, I am not going to float away just yet, because keeping me anchored to this place is the critical nature of our environment.
We are at a crossroads, and we at Spring Bird are here to do what we can to make sure there is a place for future inhabitants be them human, creature, or plant. So, this quilt is also my prayer, a textile document, to the future.
Anyway, the foundational fabrics are dyed linen, altar cloth. They are dyed with zinnias and goldenrod. The story elements were made with various fabric scraps and embroidery thread. I chose to do rough edge applique. Finally, the hand quilting is done with cotton thread and bamboo thread.
This is the story of the 14 acres that I call home. It begins with glaciers that long ago receded leaving their melted waters, which supply the spring water that I drink. Then the mastodon and other mammals stomped on the earth making the soil rich and nutritious. Eventually modern humans, the Potawatomi People, transformed this natural space into a place, a home. The old oaks that still stand would have been young trees then. Their acorns would have been food for the Potawatomi people who may have washed the tannins away in the cool, creek water. Unfortunately white European settlers pushed the Potawatomi People from their land and cleared forests for farms. This 14 acres, too hilly to cultivate, became grazing land for the cattle, their cans of milk kept cool in the creek. Then in 1947, an artist, Torkel Korling, envisioned a forest on these muddy slopes. His love of the natural world led him to cultivate an arboretum, to restore the native plants and animals to this place. When he left, the Bartholomews took on his mantel. Mimicking the generosity of the woods, they invited guests to learn, to retreat, and to just be in nature. Now here I am, in a place we call Spring Bird, to tell your story, to help others recognize themselves in you so that they may make the choice to save you - to save themselves - to save future inhabitants and potential woodlands. I am here with you now and love you dearly.
With all my heart,
For a very long time, I’ve been wanting to host an Artist Residency at Spring Bird for artists, writers, and makers who are longing to have the time and space to make! I know how critical this cottage and woodland was to me in the years of having young kids. I rarely had any time to create alone. My spirit would be continually renewed with each visit --- enough to feed me for months.
I want to pay forward what has been so generously been given to us by offering Spring Bird’s annual Artist Residency Program!
Spring Bird’s Artist Residency is one week or 6 nights spent over 3 weekends for an artist, writer, or a maker and their friend to finish a project that they have been aching to finish. The Artist/Writer/Maker will be able to stay at the cottage at no cost for the allotted time and be free to make whatever is proposed in the application. The point of the residency is to reconnect with your project, finish it, and connect with nature and with your creative self.
To learn more about the residency and to apply, see the Artist Residency Application.
More From Spring Bird
These Stuffed Animal Pillows are my attempt to create huggable wildlife! I love have always loved stuffed animals and dolls --especially homemade ones. They are also huggable paintings since they are made from fabric printed with the image of my watercolor paintings.
I also really enjoy observing the woodland animals that visit occasionally, and they, along with my cats, inspired these Stuffed Animal Pillows!
If you are interested in making your own Stuffed Animal Pillows, I describe the process of making them below.
If you are interested in purchasing a Stuffed Animal Pillow:
They are $25 in my Etsy Shop with Free Shipping!
or buy in person when you visit the Cottage for $20!
To further spread the love for animals, $5 from each purchase of a Stuffed Animal PIllow will be donated to African Parks.
Step One: Watercolor Painting to Fabric Design
I began this process by making ink and watercolor paintings on watercolor paper. Note: I painted the animals with limbs contained into the body. It is much easier to sew a lumpy shape later without a bunch of tricky bits sticking out.
Then, I scanned them to create digital files.
I combined the individual animals into a singular digital file, wich I uploaded to my Spoonflower Shop.
Spoonflower prints your own designs onto fabric, wallpaper, and wrapping paper. You can make your designs available for others to purchase, or you can just use them as your personal printer.
Finally, I ordered a yard of Kona Cotton fabric with my new animal design tiled with animals measuring approximately 5" x 8".
Who is Spring Bird?
I realized that I usually share about the things we are creating and doing at Spring Bird and about the natural happenings, but I haven't written about the "who's" of Spring Bird!
We are so privileged to live on this piece of land that is so magical and sacred. Living here has enriched our lives as a family so much, and to literally grow in numbers by adding some furry friends to our group. I recent added these illustrations and bios to the About Page but decdided to also fashion this into a blog for ease of sharing.
I hope you enjoy getting to know us a little better and learn a bit more about what we do at Spring Bird!
More From Spring Bird!
How do we make our homes? Our culture impresses upon us the value of disposable trends and knicknacks sourced at Target end caps, but I remember growing up with elaborately embroidered dish towels and pillow cases and braided rag rugs constructed from work clothes. Traditional women's work meant that quilts were made for warmth but also served as creative expression for their makers. These homemade items not only make a home but can also be satisfying for the maker. Furthermore, they become enduring and beloved because of their homemade-ness.
So, with the recent rennovations at the cottage, I knew I wanted some new throw pillows. I could have easily picked something up inexpensively from Ikea or Traget, but I saw the need as an opportunity to use up t-shirt yarn (yarn made from cutting up t-shirts) and to practice my own creativity . . . to make something more special and unique for the cottage.
Because I often get asked about how my loom works and the difference between warp and weft, I've included a very basic tutorial of how I made these. This is mostly meant for non-weavers to understand the process. So, if you are a weaver looking for specifics on reeds and yarn, you won't find that here, but you probably can figure this one out on your own.
Hope you enjoy the photos and explanation. If you are coming to the cottage soon, I hope you enjoy the pillow in your restful time at the cottage!
The warp runs length-wise through the loom. It's the part that actually gets physically tied onto the loom. Every weaving project begins by determing how wide you want to make the piece, how long it is going to be, and how many ends (or strings) per inch is required for the fabric you are weaving. The more ends per inch, the finer the thread and therefore the finer the fabric that you are weaving.
For weaving rag rugs, you use a fairly thick thread for durability. I used a cotton rug warp thread for this project in a variety of colors that I think matched my weft nicely.
To measure and wind your warp, you need a warping board like this!
The warping board makes it easy to measure out your yarn, but it also helps to structure an "x" shape that will help to keep the ends from tangling before you thread them onto the loom.
This is what a bunch of ends look like on the warping board. It looks like pulling fabric taffy! While I am winding, I am counting bundles of ten to make sure I wind the exact amount of threads.
Picture your favorite destination - your happy place - that place where you feel more whole and more like yourself.
Have you ever wondered what would happen if you lived in that place? I am fortuante to live in my place, Spring Bird.
I first stayed in Spring Bird's Cottage (Then, Siloam's Cottage) in July of 2009 for an overnight with my Mom and sisters. I immediately took to this place feeling deeply connected and transformed by it. I visited every year after until we moved in 2015! In the in between times, my soul would ache for this patch of land, and after every visit, I would be completely renewed. It felt like being transported to not only a different place in time and space but a different mindset. The woods were healing and magical. The cottage was welcoming and nurturing, and it allowed me to just be. On that first visit in 2009, I was struck by the humerous but poignant sign, made by David, that reminded each visitor: You Are Here. I love how the sign is a statement and a question. You are here, and now what? What are you going to do here? What do you think and say? What do you see?
Now that we live here, we have been so lucky to be able to continue to share the Cottage as a place for guests to leave their mundane worlds behind - to be transported to the woods - to nature - to themselves. We understand our role as hosts to curate a space for our guests to be comfortable and safe.
So, recently we initiated some updates that will hopefully make the space feel more comfortable for individuals and groups to gather in the Cottage in the woods.
See some photos of the Cottag renovations below, and the full slideshow here.
In addition to some new interior changes, we've added new on-line booking feature to our website. While you can still book the cottage via email, text, or phone, you can also book direct from our website or just check to see the cottage availability.
Check out the new on-line booking feature here.
We hope that the cottage can continue be an alternative place to the busy, noisy chaos that seems to inundate our every day. The Cottage is a place to be in quiet retreat, to reconnect with nature, and to work creatively. What's more, Spring Bird Cottage is great for visiting alone for personal developpment and retreat or in groups for community building and supportive circles.
We are so excited aobut these chages and hope they make your stay at the Cottage even better!
Know you are always welcome at Spring Bird! Can't wait to have you here!
Photos by Carol De Anda
Anna Lentz, artist, writer, and creativity coach who blogs about making a creative life connected with nature at Spring Bird.