In my previous post I introduced you to the first half of my two-week sojourn in the land of all-things-cheese, Wisconsin. After a wonderful week at Woodland Ridge Retreat in Downsville, it was time for a second week at the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts in Cedarburg. So I hopped in my silver Ford rental, Sonic the Hedgehog, and struck out east across the state. I had a couple days off between classes and had been invited by a friend and former student to spend those days with her. So I landed outside of Milwaukee in Wales, WI, to visit with Nora Rader and her husband Casey.
In addition to being a dressmaker and a quilter (who I met during my first stint at Woodland Ridge Retreat in 2015), Nora is also a jewelry artist, who is currently deep into copper enameling. I jumped at the chance to try my hand at it, and for a whole day I got to play with hammers, anvils, fire, water, and acid. I even learned what annealing means. Fun, fun! (Plus I got three new pairs of earrings. Thanks again, Nora and Casey).
Then it was up the road to Cedarburg, just an hour north of Milwaukee. Cedarburg is home to The Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts, a location I was introduced to when my quilt Crocodylus Smylus premiered there in October of 2015 in the quilt exhibit, “From Insects to Elephants.” I looked forward to getting back to that cute little town.
While there, I stayed at the very comfortable and quaint Washington House Inn, which is smack dab in the middle of historic main street Cedarburg, one of those places with boutiques and galleries and garden shops. Fortunately for Tom, I was for the most part relegated to window-shopping. The next six days I had class from 9:30 to 4:30 and the shops were basically open 10 to 5:00.
I did, however, get out for walks early morning and evenings, so I saw some local sights and took a lot of “window-shopping” photos. Literally. I started looking for interesting window displays and reflections to take photos of. Some turned out kinda fun and funky, the above two were Instagram posts (you can find me under pink_rhino_quilt). More sights and reflections in the following slide show.
Sightseeing in Cedarburg, WI Slideshow
The quilt museum, WMQFA, which is only a couple miles from downtown Cedarburg, is housed in a repurposed 1850s farmstead. They proudly say they are the “third and final owners of the property”—rightfully so due to the beautiful job they’ve done restoring the buildings, including the dairy barn with silo, farmhouse, ice house and summer kitchen/smokehouse/blacksmithery. The refurbished barn has been turned into a gallery and education center with a full schedule of exhibits. This time the show featured a varied collection of colorful, and historical hexagon quilts, and next month opens an exhibit from Quilt National ’15. The lower level of the barn contains a library and large well-lit classroom—plenty of space for my numerous students to work.
I kicked off my teaching with a two-day class of Fish, Bugs, and Butterflies. Because of the short duration and the mountain of information I sometimes feel like I’m trying to stuff into their brains, I encourage people to stay with more looser, more whimsical versions of their subjects, though a couple did more realistic interpretations, as you will see in the slideshow below. For just two days of learning the process, I think they did a fantastic job!
2-Day Cutting Loose (Fish, Bugs, and Butterflies) Class Projects
The Fish, Bugs, and Butterflies class was followed up by a four-day class in which students could choose any subject. Their choices ran the gamut, but were mostly animals and people. As usual, I found these ladies bonded well. Sometimes I think people bond in class the same way soldiers bond in wartime—over a shared stressful experience—known in my classes as the “messy-scary-stage,” hitting somewhere around day two. The longer the class, the longer the shared struggle (and accomplishments!), the stronger the bond develops. Often there is the subsequent exchange of email addresses to keep in touch afterward, sharing encouragement and photos of their ongoing and completed work.
4-Day Fabric Images Class Projects
(thank you to Mary for the photos of students with their projects!)
One thing you can be sure of in Springtime, is unpredictable weather. In the course of six days, the forecast went from the threat of 5 inches of wet snow to sunny and warm, and the Washington House Inn switched over from heat to air conditioning. There was a drizzle of rain though we never did see a speck of snow, and a couple days it got warm enough to eat lunch on the Museum’s front patio.
Meanwhile, home in Maine, Tom was sending me updates on the expected arrival of the “peepers”—tiny tree frogs that make an amazing racket on Spring evenings. We note their arrival on the calendar every year. However, this year, I heard them before he did. The peepers were already out on both sides of Wisconsin that I had travelled to—Downsville and Wales, where I returned for my final night before flying home. As always, I opened the windows and fell asleep to the chorus.
Spring Peepers—April 2017: recorded at Woodland Ridge Retreat, Downsville, WI
And the first evening after arriving home, I walked out at dusk and there they were, the peepers had arrived as well. They had waited to welcome me back to Maine—or so I’ll believe. My bedroom window has been open ever since.