Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Rockin' Rock Art

I made this found-object nest with rock "eggs".

I purchased this rock owl in Sutton's Bay.

These rocks don't need any artistic enhancement; one has a natural face and the other looks as though it is inscribed with a Chinese character.
Although I haven't written much this week (or month) I have actually been quite busy artistically. I took a lot of photos in Michigan while on vacation and found some time to do some sketching. I purchased a 1920s doll in a resale shop in Northport and have been restoring her to her former flapper glory. I also brought home two large bags of rocks from the Lake Michigan shore and am letting them inspire me.

For those of you who have never visited Lake Michigan, finding rocks, throwing rocks, and making things from rocks is a huge activity. Lake Michigan is the only place in the world where you can find a certain stone with a fossilized pattern called "Petosky" stones. These are tricky to find, as the fossil pattern shows only when the stone is wet or if you polish the stone. So you have to scan the beach for a plain gray stone that might show a pattern if you wet it. We always spend a large part of our trip looking for Petosky stones. This is such a rite of passage that when I was a girl there was a whole shop in the lower level of the Willowbrook in Northport that had nothing but rows of rock polishers. You paid to take your stones there and polish them!

The thing about the shore at Lake Michigan is that certain beaches are lined with such a huge assortment of beautiful smooth stones in various colors you just can't resist taking them home. We always go to Peterson Park, where the beach is entirely stone, armed with our grocery bags from Tom's of Northport. When I was a child we only had paper bags, so they would get wet and start to split as you climbed the long, long staircase back up from the beach!

Northport, along with most towns around the lake, is full of what I call "Michigan" houses: cottages with a round lake stone foundation and chimney or even built entirely from lake stones. Most also have gardens terraced with lake stone walls, lake stone birdbaths and sculptures, lake stone fountains, etc. Obviously, I am not the only person whose creativity is inflamed by a beach full of free, smooth, multi-colored rocks! My long-suffering husband points out these are not free rocks, as we have to cart bags of them back to North Carolina, hurting our gas mileage! I take them with me from house to house as I move, too!

This year, I noticed how much many of the stones resemble eggs. I instructed the children to find "egg" stones and brought back a whole bag. I was planning to put them in a bowl but couldn't find one that looked right. So I made a "nest" for them out of lamp wire and aluminum fence wire. It turned out to be quite pretty, and since neither wire will rust, it can be used as an outdoor sculpture!

I also picked up some larger rocks whose shapes resemble birds or other animals, inspired by the owl sculpture I purchased in Sutton's Bay a few years ago. I thought I might try some rock carving! We also found a few rocks that are already "sculpted" by Nature. One has a funny face and the other has a marbled pattern that makes it look like someone wrote on it a Chinese character. Here's to inspiration! Two whole grocery bags full!

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