Staying Balanced

Well, it’s the second week of April and a foot of snow fell today…which normally would make me seriously happy but yesterday it was 60 degrees and I prioritized getting my wool sweaters packed in cedar ’cause I was channeling my Martha Stewart and feeling good about it…thank the Gods I kept my snow boots by the door!

The view from my window as I write

We’ve been catching the sun when we can and doing things like tending the bees, repairing broken pipes and taking the plastic off the windows of the Art Studio. The little stream that runs through the campground (between the main side of the park and the walk in tenting area) is roaring, the surf is pounding and the sheep and goats are frolicking and butting heads as though they’ve just come out of a deep slumber. All in all, everything in our little world seems just a bit more extreme (thankfully not Nebraska and Kansas extreme).

With all of the freezing and thawing this year, the drainage pipes took a beating but happily, the bees survived and the hives seem strong.

On Thursday and Friday we attended the Artists and Makers Conference in Lincolnville (when you’re in the campground, ask us about Howe’s Point in Lincolnville…a hidden gem of a beach, but I digress.) We go to this gathering wearing both our Searsport Shores hats and our Makers Guild of Maine hats. We make time to attend because we love being surrounded by small businesses and artists who are inquisitive, fully engaged in their lives and looking for the same sorts of things we are…an authentic and balanced life with time for art, friends, staying healthy and a really good IPA. Of course, there’s a bit of Holy Grail in all of this because we learn from every consultant with a slide show that we could do a better job telling our story if only… tell me, do real people actually check their phones as soon as they wake up and just before they go to sleep? Me…I want a nice latte and a weaving magazine in the morning and a good book in the evening…doesn’t everybody? We saw many dear friends and heard lots of inspiring tales of people following their passion. If you like handmade, fun jewelry, check out our friend Willy Reddick ’cause she’s the real deal! She rows a boat in the winter, hikes and gardens all summer, married an phenomenal furniture maker and is a genuinely kind person. We learned of a younger adventurer and painter who lives just inland from us, Abe Goodale

Maine…home to so many incredible artists!

After all the stimulation of the conference, it felt good to settle in and work on our projects. When we were traveling in Mexico last November, we stayed in a little village that was only accessible by boat and enjoyed the hospitality of a retired restauranteur who had the loveliest outdoor kitchen that he shared with guests. As soon as we enjoyed a lunch in the garden, we knew we needed to recreate a Maine version for ourselves and campers. Fast forward to yesterday…Steve and a crew started clearing the goat pen in the back of the garden and drew pictures for my kitchen. It won’t be as open to the elements as the one we enjoyed in Yelpas but the front doors will slide all the way open and there will be a deep porch where 30-50 people can gather for cooking classes, receptions and music. It’s far more exciting than this computer rendering portrays and if we’re lucky, it will be built in time to enhance our Wednesdays at the Shores in July…I’ll post more pictures as things progress.

In order to make room for the kitchen, the brush pile is absolutely touring!

And to close with a few links you might like to check out:

Fiber College launched on April 1st…we invite you to join 200+ spinners, weavers, woodworkers, painters and other happy sorts September 4-8 here in the campground.

Clean Up Weekend is when we exchange free camping for help with all the Spring Chores we haven’t finished before we open…this year it’s May 17-19.

Meet Bubbles and her momma Beatrix…the newest members of our spinners flock

psst…there’s not a link yet but we’re working on hosting the Quilters of Gee’s Bend September 9-14 in conjunction with the Bluegrass and Old Time Music Gathering…more to follow soon.

“Spring is the Time of Plans and Projects”

Leo Tolstoy said it. Do you feel it too? When the clocks spring ahead, it’s time to start gathering up the winter projects that have filled all the corners of the house, workshop and studio and start accessing them with a critical eye…can I get this done in a few hours? is it worth the stress of a deadline to leave it (knitting, carving, painting project) in full view so that I get it done soon? if I pack it away now, will I ever remember how to start next November? AND my very favorite, is it time to admit defeat and get rid of it all together?

We’re living in a landscape of ice, mud, yuck and more yuck. The beach is hard to walk right now because the sand and the seaweed are starting to thaw but when you try to hike along the shore, your boots get sucked into a goo that is unforgiving. Just trying to get down to the water is a trial and I haven’t successfully arrived there without soaking my boots all the way to my socks. In polite company we say “my, isn’t this a wet beginning to the season?” but what we’re really thinking is “March is a wicked pissah this year”.

The other day we went to Delvino’s in Belfast for lunch…we had gotten our chores done and decided that carbs, cream sauce and red wine were the right way to celebrate one of the last snow storms of the year. The mushroom sacchetti was wonderful…but then I pushed it a bit too far. Feeling heavy from the delicious meal, I suggested to Steve that we drive up to the top of the mountain across from the campground and go for a hike and watch the snow fall. Ever the prince, he agreed…up we went…into the ditch the truck slid. It’s safe to say that any buzz we had over lunch evaporated as Steve got out of the truck, trudged down to the campground for a tow rope and farm truck and then struggled back up the alternately icy and muddy road to haul me out.

In my defense, we needed the fresh air. We’re spending most of our time on computers getting Fiber College ready for its launch on April 1st, meeting with people who will be playing music and doing art this summer at the campground and trying to get ahead of all the paperwork the banks, state and insurance companies keep tossing our way. You know, I always thought that as the years go by, things would get easier simply because we had more practice…but they don’t…the software keeps changing, the paperwork gets more complicated and there are simply more layers to all of the bureaucracy. When it all gets frustrating, I comfort myself with the awareness that at least we enjoy a direct correlation between where we focus our energy and the results that follow. Another truly brilliant part of owning a campground in Searsport Maine is that we feel like part of our community. Saturday was town meeting day and Steve was asking for money to support the HOBBA map (you should ask for a copy…it lists all the businesses and hikes and land trusts right around us. HOBBA is the local business alliance that meets regularly to promote and foster the businesses on the 12 mile stretch between the Passagassawakeag Bridge in Belfast and the Penobscot Narrows Bridge in Bucksport. HOBBA asked for $1000, got it and then we adjourned for fish chowder from Angler’s restaurant…yes, life is good!

And a final note…we’re looking for a few great people to spend the summer immersed in our world. We pay, we teach and we share what we know…would you like to join us from May until October ISH?

Photo Safari 

April melted into a memory quicker than it ever should. May is following along the same path. We haven’t suffered the dramatic weather that we’ve seen in other parts of the country but I think in 45 days, we’ve had 6 without rain. Cold, gloomy and punishing if you want to get outdoor chores accomplished. A perfect excuse to work in front of the computer and play in the studio if that’s your inclination. Yup, I’ve been more happy than I probably should be considering how much work needs to get done before we open.

Rather than list off our chores, here’s a bit of a photo essay of our days:

We met with Shae of Knotty Goat farm and she’s agreed to make her special soaps for our store…we’re going to have Slippery Mermaid and Sultery Neptune…curious?  It’s really fun to work with another shepardess who LOVES her animals and her life!


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I made new cushions for the Frog & Faerie cabin with Steve’s worn out jeans and printed fabric from a shopping trip of 20 years ago.  The quilting style is Gee’s Bend…the ladies will be coming up from Boykin Alabama for Fiber College this fall and I want to honor their style.

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We’ve been propagating like crazy…with 40 acres on one side of the road and 150 acres on the other, we have alot of planting we’d like to do.  We’ve been taking advantage of these weeks of wet weather to root dozens of forysthia, pussie willows, lindens and dogwoods to brighten up the woods for years to come.

We’ve designed a new billboard…but the prep work is a bear!  Working between the raindrops we’ve finally got the background prepped and painted.

This fall we’ll be hosting three events in September: Fiber College, Vacationland Jam Camp and the Old Time Music Campout.  Nancy and Joe Segari of “Eat at Joe’s” Food Truck have agreed to provide the food right here on the campground.  Their menu is local, fresh, organic…and whenever possible kosher and gluten free…I wish they’d move in!

Painting, painting, painting for the billboard!

We have a new favorite place for Pie!  Searsmont is a charming village about 15 minutes from us and the General Store makes the BEST pie…definitely worth the drive and if you’re lucky enough to be here for an early evening of pie and light music…Go!  Did I mention there’s a micro brewery in the same village square?  Fraternity Village General Store

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We’ve got new mugs in the office.  Do I hear you say that’s not much of an accomplishment?  Au contraire my friends!  There are hundreds of styles, endless handles, multitudes of color combinations, manufacturing ethics to consider…and then the graphics.  It took two years of thought and conversation followed by two weeks of actual research and waiting for samples.  But we’ve got them now!  In red, green, blue and orange.

There’s terrific hiking right from the campground…miles of trails with oodles of waterfalls this time of year…just pack an extra pair of boots because you can’t avoid wet feet this time of year.

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Shearing done…wool sent to Aroostick County for processing…just waiting for the yarn.  I’m yearning to get it into the dye pot and on the shelves for a limited sale of “Searsport Shores” yarn…we need a mermaid kind of name 😉  This is a not so great shot of Esther our Leicester…she’s tired and cranky from all of the rain.

Meet Kathleen Gerdes Artist in Residence August 23 – 29

moiBecoming a fiber artist was one of the best things that I’ve ever done in my life!  My circle of friends has grown to include people from across the state of Maine and beyond.  I never dreamed that life could be so good!  When I began walking down this path, I was imbedded in a corporate life, where I knew that if I continued, all I’d ever make in life would be money.  My hands (and heart) were itching to create!  I’d dabbled in alot of art forms, such as stained glass, pottery and the softer handcrafts like embroidery and sewing.  But when I discovered fiber at a great little shop called Portfiber, my world exploded like the Fourth of July fireworks.  Being a discontented city dweller, the road to my country life lead me to brilliant colors (that I had never seen before!) and shapes and designs that I never knew existed.
Today I live deliberately and spend my days immersed in my feltwork.  Felting is a magical process that leads to all kinds of wonderful results.  When people ask what I do, the best explanation that can give them is “I paint with wool”.  And one of the most magical things about it is…….anyone can do it!   When I am teaching, my students begin the class doubting that they can create a “wool painting” or a cute whimsical 3D figure, but by the time we finish our project, they are amazed with the results.
On August 23rd, I will be at the “Shores” for a wonderful fiber filled week of felting fun.  For those families who will be camping that week, we will be making dragons and wizards, frogs, turtles, owls, sheep, hedgehogs and we’ll even make ducks in ponds, just to name a few of the projects that you can choose from!  And all from wool!!  I will teach you the very easy and satisfying art of needle felting or wet felting, whichever appeals more to you. Or perhaps you’d like to learn both. The choice is yours.  Kids will love creating animals that can made in under an hour.  For the adults, you may choose to make a wall hanging to bring home with you.  Or perhaps you’d like to make felted beads to create a necklace or earrings.  Wearable art is unique and can be made by anyone, even children!   It will be a wonderful opportunity for families to spend quality time together while creating fun projects that everyone will enjoy.
One of the best things about felting for me is knowing that the possibilities are simply ENDLESS.  It’s like a mountain with no top!   My list of possible projects grows longer and longer each day and for the first time in my life, that’s a wonderful feeling!  I hope it never ends……….
I can’t wait to meet you at the “Shores”.  I will be there beginning August 23rd, for a week.
In fibery goodness,
Kathleen Gerdes
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Ellen Mason “The Humble Stitch” Artist-in-Residence July 26 – August 1

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When I was about ten years old I busted my Mom’s sewing machine. My Dad gathered it up and left the house almost immediately. Two hours later he came home with a 1940’s Singer sewing machine. It was classic black with painted gold scrolls. It sewed forward and backward. That beautiful machine was a gift for me, just me. (They replaced my Mom’s machine shortly afterward.) This is how my folks supported my stitching habits from the time I was just a girl, keeping me in fabric and yarn, machines and tools. They enrolled me in lessons, provided space, and most of all, example. I was raised as a maker by a family of do-it-yourselfers. And I was never, ever bored.

Today I live in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire, sewing or knitting every day. I make most of my clothing and I write patterns for knitted items such as sweaters and mittens.  While at Searsport Shores, I will sew a complete garment each day.  Come learn about patternmaking and garment construction, both sewn and knitted, and the tiny thing that holds it all together: The Humble Stitch. Campers are invited to sew an accessory, fasten a button, hem too-long pants, embellish with embroidery, all with coaching and the company of friends. Stitching is a handy skill that can be learned at any age!

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297 362eASW saddle shoulder sweater 5

Twin Invasion Camp & Create with Susan & Seasi Ober July 19 – 25

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Seasi Ober

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Susan Ober

You might think you’re seeing double when the Ober sisters come to Camp and Create! Susan Ober is a quilter from West Haven, Connecticut. Her identical twin sister Nancy “Seasi” Ober is a potter from Kansas City, Mo. Susan’s primary art form is quilts, She has made around 100 to date; Seasi has been throwing pottery for over 30 years, and they both enjoy gardening.

Susan makes her living as a Registered Nurse but remembers her first job as a “field girl” on a vegetable farm when she was 16 yeas old. She drove the tractor and helped out at the farm stand but her favorite part of the job was picking strawberries! Susan began sewing at a young age as well, she has been seriously quilting for 15 years. It’s theraputic to play with color and texture, and she loves seeing how pieces fit together like a big fabric puzzle. When she’s not at the sewing machine you can find Susan at her plot in the community garden coaxing beautiful flowers and vegetables from the soil and sharing with her freinds.

Seasi left for the Mid-West in the 1970’s and never looked back. She attended college in Kansas and received a degree in Art then started her own gardening business which she ran for 20 years. Seasi then headed back to college to receive her Master’s in Education. She teaches English as a Second Language (ESL) Her pottery is utilitarian bowls, cups and vases that she sell at area fairs.

As Artists-in-Residence “The Twins” will explore what’s growing in the garden at Searsport Shores and guide campers through a wide variety of activities.