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,
So, I have an inner boyscout who fantasizes about making hand carved birds or small figurines, and a few years ago, I bought myself a carving knife and some balsa wood for my birthday. I fiddled with it trying to carve some fish. They were a bit clumsy, and I never got very far with it.
Then, while living at Spring Bird, Pat passed along a pocket knife (that I had given him while we were dating) to Abe who seems most at home at the fire pit, stripping long pieces of bark off of a stick with his foot propped up on a stone. I am jealous of his presence, his ability to pass the time guilt-free- languidly - to fall into a calm rhythm. While I am busily tackling projects of all sorts and stripes, I ache to just stop and sit and be with a stick.
Sticks are all around us at Spring Bird. Someone once asked me what I collect, and I think she didn’t believe me when I answered, “sticks”. Certain ones call to me, and I pick them up to display.
Well, I made some time recently to perch myself on top of my picnic table with knife in hand to peel back the bark on some sticks. If I couldn’t carve an intricate fish or bird figurine, maybe I could carve a snake. The idea of carving a snake from a stick makes me laugh. Can it even be called carving? In addition to crudely shaping a head and a tail, I wood burned geometric patterns. I loved all of it, and love my slithering snakes. They remind me of playing with a wooden snake as a child. Then, I found snakes to be slightly frightening, but I have grown to really appreciate their symbolism as a sign of rebirth, feminine power, and creativity. I want to reclaim snakes as a symbol of the goddess and not as evil.
BREAKING NEWS! I wrote this blog a couple of days ago. Then, tonight, my cats caught a snake! They were whipping it around. It showed its pink mouth at them. My Mom, who has been eager to see a snake at Spring Bird captured it all with her phone. It was very exciting! We think it is a young snake. I am guessing it is a type of garter snake, but it definitely looks different than the other greener ones that I have seen here. We kept the cats away from it, and eventually it slithered back into the brush. Can anyone identify it? Check out the slideshow below:
Check out the “carving” process below. Maybe this will inspire your inner boyscout?
Snakes For Sale!
And snakes are currently for sale at Spring Bird Cottage! $5 each!!!
Carving Snake Sticks!
Clean the bark off of sticks.
I am so pleased and excited to announce this year's Spring Bird Artist Residency Recipient, Dawn Bertuca!
Dawn's application spoke so well to the spirit of this residency, which supports artists, writers, and makers needing to find time away from busy lives.
Furthermore her work as a nature photographer connects so well to the mission of Spring Bird which seeks to connect humans with nature, to notice the patterns and changes in the seasons, and to use our creativity to build the world that we imagine.
During her residency, Dawn hopes to begin a new series of macro photography that will look at the patterns in nature. The residency will allow her to have time and space to capture just the right image!
I am so excited to see what develops (pun intended), and I think our founder, Torkel Korling, would be pleased that our first recipient is a photographer like him.
I posted some of Dawn's photographs's below, but follow her work and see more here:
Instagram: @dawnbertuca and @everybeautifuldayDB
Thank you to all who applied, your projects were inspiring!
Pat began the Forest Garden by defining its perimeter. It’s important to have strong defenses against hungry deer. He built a thick wall from the cutting down of honeysuckles, an invasive weed shrub. If the deer can’t see where they can land, they won’t jump. So far, it’s been pretty effective at keeping away our dear, deer friends.
In his first round of planting which included pawpaws, strawberries, raspberries, perennial onions, herbs and flowers, he planted a couple of rows of willow. The intention for the willow was to develop living hedges. Now after a couple of years getting established, our little shoots have grown into beautiful, long branches.
And after getting inspired from the likes of Mary Reynolds and Monty Don, we really want our gardens to embody a sense of magic and wonder. Our gardens have the potential to give us so much more than their fruits. We want our forest garden, in particular, to be a place for Spring Bird guests to experience and connect with the cultivation of food and beauty.
So, getting back to the willow, springtime is the best season to work with willow because the plants are still dormant and cuttings will have the whole growing season to become established. Over Spring Break, as a family, we decided to harvest some of the willow to make living willow arches.
It’s my intention that these two arches will be a focal point and add a level of sacredness to the garden. I hope the birds will enjoy them, as well. Now all I need is a bird bath to complement them!
As you know, I write Woolgathering, a nature magazine about our connection to the seasons. Part of the mission of this magazine is to inspire awareness of the patterns and cycles in nature, which requires observation and a practice of noticing.
My process of doing this has been most consistently to write notes on the list making app on my phone. Last Summer, the kids and I kept nature journals that would capture the place and its happenings of a particular moment in time. It also made note of the moon cycle and weather. It was involved, but I wanted to get better and keeping a log of the natural occurrences - the “firsts” and “lasts” of any season. I tried a couple of written methods that I incorporated into my Annalog Planners, but they didn’t endure. I really want to create a visual representation of these seasonal changes - so that I can grasp the feeling of the season instantly.
Another practice that I have let go of is keeping a sketchbook. At some point last year, I decided that my drawing and painting had to be “for” something, that I could eventually sell. In other words, if I was making something, it had to directly lead to making money. And, I have come to realize that I really miss having this place to play with ideas. I miss the experimental nature of a sketchbook and having a place to just make something for its own sake.
Finally, one lovely practice that I started last year was to send a monthly emailed Almanac to subscribers that recounted all natural and creative milestones of that month. I really enjoy taking time to reflect on all that happened during a month and sharing this with readers who may not be able to visit Spring Bird. They can get a taste of what’s going on and stay updated, etc. AND although I try to take pictures of nature, they do not always capture the feeling of the season.
SO, it occurred to me that I could revisit my sketchbook by visually portraying the monthly natural happenings, and share the illustrations within the context of the monthly Almanac! Duh!
Anyway, I had the most fun making this illustration of March, which saw our first duck egg getting laid on the 2nd, the great melt happening on the 13th, snowdrops, jonquils, and chipmunks poking up on the 14th, skunk cabbage sprouting on the 17th, and we planted milkweed seeds also on the 17th in the upper meadow. Also, throughout the month, we saw flocks of robins return, and the bucks shed their antlers. The grasses are still brown, and the leaves exist in paper thin layers, devoid of color, and oh yes, there is the mud!
If you would like to be receiving monthly updates about Spring Bird, please subscribe here. And if you have signed up for monthly updates but haven’t been receiving them? Check your spam folder. Sometimes we get pushed there. You have to mark us as “not spam”. We are working on trying to prevent this from happening with our next Almanac.
Speaking of, the March Almanac will be mailed at the end of this month, which is REALLY soon. So, look for that in your inbox.
Thank you for going through this lengthy process of discernment. I encourage you to notice seasonal changes. You don’t have to write them down or draw them, unless you want to, of course. Just notice the things happening around you. It’s amazing what surrounds us!
So last week, I led the workshop for a small group, and was delighted to find that Joyce was right! She and the participants taught me much more about the process of wrapping yarn around sticks. The workshop was an opportunity to practice creativity without having too much pressure on technique and outcome. Even better, it was an opportunity to share stories while our hands were busy winding.
We also talked about life’s stages, works, passions, jobs, and passions and how we choose to spend our time here on earth. As we talked about our experiences, we slowed our minds and hearts as our hands kept busy. There was opportunity to listen while we wound, to admire the color combinations of each other’s branches - to notice that the color choices and patterns resemble ourselves. We found joy in this simple experience.
And by the end of the evening, I realized that this Sweater For Sticks Workshop was much more than I had thought it could be. The participants encouraged me to develop it further.
So, I decided to formalize this workshop and make it available to groups of all shapes and sizes. I'm excited to see how it takes shape!
I believe we all possess unique purpose for this life, and we all have something important to share with the world. Our creativity is an important engine for revealing ourselves to the world in fulfilling ways.
The Sweaters for Sticks Workshop allows participants to visualize our branching sticks as a metaphor for our true purpose and reason for being, which flows or branches into each area of our life - family, school, work, friends, spirituality, and hobbies.
The bits of colorful yarn represent the choices and intentions we all make as we express our true purpose within each area of our life. When choosing colors to wrap around the sticks we can think about how we spend our time how we want to make our lives. We can ask ourselves, how is our life taking shape and how would we like it take shape.
Meanwhile, during the process of choosing and wrapping, participants can share stories and practice listening and being heard.
When we put thoughts and intentions behind our choices - we can create beautiful and interesting lives. We manifest these beautiful lives that are unique to us - that reflect our beauty.
I even planted some old oat seeds in an empty tea tin to witness sprouting. (This is great to do with kids, by the way. I poked some holes in the bottom with a nail for drainage). It’s sort of your own DIY chia pet. You could even turn your container into a head and the oats would become the hair.
Also, I filled an Ikea greenhouse with favorite collections of stones, sticks, seeds, and shells with some potted succulents, a couple treasured kidmade ceramics, and a stack of cherished books to create a sacred green space.
It feels intentional and devotional and a place to focus my restless energy as the seasons are changing!
Try making a shrine to green at home! It could be a small terrarium or a potted plant. Hopefully, the real deal will be budding soon!
This project is great for bringing the outdoors indoors, and during this achromatic season, it can be fun to excite our senses with bright, warm colors.
This project is also great for involving kids. I would recommend using shorter, stubbier sticks with no branching to minimize frustration.
-small amounts of yarn in a variety of colors
-sticks or branches
Begin at one end of your stick and tie the yarn onto the stick.
You can wrap as densely or loosely as you prefer. It's up to you how much stick is visible.
Choose another color of yarn , cut it, and tie it onto the stick at the end of your first color.
If you are wrapping branches, you can continue onto an offshoot very easily.
Not pictured, you could also wrap continuously over one area to create bumps for a bulbous effect - might be interesting.
Hey Artist, Writers, and Makers
The Artist Residency Application
Is Now Open!
Who Said Print Media Is Dead?
I often get asked how I make my magazine. So, I created a short tutorial to help you get started on making your own! Making your magazine is a fantastic and intimate way to get your big ideas out into the world. It can be a great way to develop readers, and by working through an iterative process, you can help to accelerate your own growth as a writer!
Download the pdf below to learn how to make your own magazine!
Making Your Own Magazine
- You have big ideas that you’d like to share with the world in an intimate way. This format works well for literary content, comic books, recipes, almanacs, and so much more. This is also a good way to tackle a big project, like a book, in small chunks.
- You respond well to deadlines.
- You want to foster a community of dedicated readers.
- Don’t get lost in the scroll! You would like to present an alternative to digital content. Who said print media is dead?
- You would like to be paid via subscriptions for your content.
After you’ve determine what your magazine is about, who it is for, and what you hope it will accomplish, it’s time to start writing your content. I like to write first drafts in an actual notebook. Content creation may also mean collecting from other contributors. I sometimes include essays by outside contributors in my magazine, but most of the content comes from me. Don’t overlook kids, too. They are creation machines and can offer wonderful comics, pictures, and poems!
I like to illustrate my images - usually by working in ink and watercolors; but you could make your images in anyway you would like. Taking your own photos is probably the easiest but just make sure the quality is high enough for print, or you might want to invest in stock images. Or perhaps no images!
Digitizing Your Content:
If you haven’t already typed your written content, now is the time to do that. For your images, you can scan or photograph original artworks to turn them into ones and zeros. Just make sure you are scanning and photographing your art at a high enough quality for print. I usually scan my pieces at a 600 dpi. Save your images as a .jpg or a .png .
Editing Your Content:
This is where your best efforts should be made. Read and reread any written content to polish and eliminate errors. I find it helpful to do this tedious and sometimes painful task over days. I also have help to catch grammar and spelling mistakes. Also, you can use editing software to touch up photos and/or scanned images.
Draft Your Layout:
I like to draft with real paper. It helps me to visualize all of the parts. For this process sticky notes are very helpful. I begin by folding paper to my desired amount of pages. I even number them. Then I write on sticky notes the titles of the pieces and the amount of pages they will require. The sticky notes allow me to easily maneuver and swap content around my pages until I have achieved a balanced layout with good flow.
Formalize Your Layout:
Draft your finalized layout using editing software, or you can finalize your layout using the design tool on your printing service. I use Printing Center USA (www.printingcenterusa.com), and while they provide design templates, borders, backgrounds, and clipart, I choose the “design your own” option, which allows me to freestyle my magazine.
Mailing Your Magazine:
Once your printed magazines arrive at your door, It’s time to slip them into addressed envelopes (I use catalog envelopes) and hit the post office. Shipping usually costs about $1.30 - $1.40 to ship within the United States. If you have 200 or more subscribers, you can qualify for bulk shipping, at which the price per unit goes down.
If you are looking to build your subscribers, I suggest mailing out a free issues to give potential subscribers a free sample of your publication.
What else can you send with your publication? I like to send extras along with my magazine like free postcards, coloring sheets, stickers, greeting cards, original art, etc. Think of extra bonuses that may delight your reader, build trust, and provide extra value. This is also an opportunity for cross-marketing with another business or product that your readers might be interested in knowing about.
Click the Link to Download "Making Your Own Magazine" Tutorial:
Subscribe to Woolgathering!
Anna Lentz, artist, writer, and creativity coach who blogs about making a creative life connected with nature at Spring Bird.
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A Season To Make
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