Park Exploration

We were slow getting started yesterday morning. Dick and Karin kept us busy sight-seeing while we were with them, and so we moved around like slugs our first morning in Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park. I finished up the first dress block for the Sundress quilt. This block took me only about five hours to stitch from start to finish.

Next up, I'll be working on the next block for the Wine Country quilt.

It's hooped up and ready to go.

Once we got our bodies moving, we drove the short distance from the campground to the main part of the park. There, we saw the carillon tower. It's an enormous structure, and I had to move way back to fit it into my image.

This park was the idea of Josiah K. Lilly, son of Indiana pharmaceutical manufacturer Eli K. Lilly. In 1931, Josiah suggested a memorial to composer Stephen Foster, whose song, "Old Folks at Home" made the Suwanee River world famous. The Florida Federation of Music Clubs adopted his idea and obtained contributions of the land in White Springs, Florida. Park development was administered by the Stephen Foster Memorial Commission and the park opened in 1950. The tower was added beginning in 1955. Here is some information about it.

Although the carillon is out of commission, we were able to visit inside the lower part of the structure. There, we saw various exhibits and memorabilia including these images of the tower under constructions.

The carillon was installed in 1958 and it is the largest in the world.

There was a model of the carillon with some little figures giving some idea of the scale.

All of this was housed in this room at the bottom of the tower. Concerts are held here on weekends.

It's unfortunate that the carillon is out of order, but we've found this park starved for funds and in poor repair. Still, it remains a nice place to spend a few days. After visiting the tower, we crossed the street to see the Gift Shop and Craft Square.

On the side of the gift shop was this quilt block.

Turning in the other direction was a walkway leading to a group of cabins, and this is where the demonstrations take place. There were four cabins, including a jewelry maker and a potter, both closed on this day.

Fortunately the fiber arts cabin was open, and two volunteers were inside to show me what they were working on.

Inside this quilt was hanging on the wall. (I could swear I recognize this pattern.)

Also, this vintage quilt top. The volunteer explained to me that this had been found in a dumpster by someone who recognized its value. It has been mounted on netting so that it can be hung without stretching.

Here's some information about it.

Then I was shown this "inkle loom."

The volunteer showed me how it works. Essentially it's a miniature version of a larger loom, but it's used to make long pieces. On this day, she was making a belt.

You can see how the belt extends from peg to peg (these had a different name, but I can't remember it) taking up its full length.

Another volunteer showed me how to weave on this conventional loom. That was kind of fun, although I think (personally) I would find this type of fiber art tedious. It makes sense that with experience one could get into a rhythm doing this. In any case, it was fun to give it a try and see how it's done.

From there, we headed down to the blacksmith demonstration. Along the way, we passed a gopher tortoise burrow. Karin and Dick had a few of these near their home, but we've yet to see the resident tortoises. I'm told it's too cold for them right now. Here's some information about the burrow.

Recall that a "keystone species" is one that, if removed from an ecosystem, would change the entire ecosystem. The burrow isn't much to look at in a photograph. You can see to the right of the center in the image below there is a hole where the tortoise resides (presumably). He's dug out dirt that encompasses the hole, especially to the left, in a radius of about five feet.

So, that was interesting. A little farther on, we came to the blacksmith. I loved this horseshoe cowboy out front.

Inside were two volunteers (who happened to be the husbands of the fiber arts volunteers). Here, he is explaining that they use raw coal to make "coke" which is what provides the heat in their forge. Under the arm he's using to point was a rotating bellows that blew air into the forge and heated the coke. He inserted his iron or steel piece into the coke to heat it.

Then hammered the red hot piece into the shape he wanted on his anvil.

When he was finished, he'd created a "drive hook," which he gave to Mike. These were made by farmers themselves. They could be driven into a wall and used to hang anything from tools to horse tack.

Here they showed us different ways that these hot pieces can be twisted to make different designs. This is the sort of thing one would do to create a wrought iron fence.

This was a knife being made from a railroad spike.

Mike was happy as a pig in mud here, and so I left to go visit the gift shop, back the way we came. The structures here are named for characters in Stephen Foster's songs.

There were all sorts of things inside...homemade jams, jellies, chutneys, salsas, and the like...Christmas ornaments, wooden bowls, fabric dolls, musical instruments. I knew you'd want to see the quilting related stuff. These quilt blocks were about 2 x 2 feet...small barn quilts, if you will.

In the upstairs portion of the shop there were quilts for sale.

Look at this beauty. It's a bed-sized quilt.

It's hand applique and hand quilted.

On another wall were these quilts.

These were interesting. They were framed paper quilts. They reminded me of the chains I used to make from gum wrappers when I was a teenager. I can't even imagine how this is done so precisely.

There were quite a few of these. They were about greeting card sized. The one below has a sand dollar in the center.

This one was about 10 x 12 inches.

I picked up a few gifty things, which I cannot reveal, as well as some apple butter syrup. My former sister-in-law served us pancakes once with apple syrup. It was delicious, and I've never found any quite like it since. Maybe this will fit the bill...and maybe I'll have to experiment and make some myself at some point in time.

From there, we headed into the little town of White Springs. I needed to find a post office. Along the way, we saw this barn quilt...another on the Florida Quilt Trail.

After that we headed back to the RV, had some lunch, and relaxed for the rest of the afternoon.

Today we'll probably check back at the park's Craft Square to see if there are any other open demonstrations, and then we'll hike the one open hiking trail along the Suwanee River.

9 comments from clever and witty friends:

Angie in SoCal said...

I am so enjoying your posts as you travel! Darling new quilt you are starting.

gpc said...

I used to have one of those belt looms; my uncle jack made it for me, back in the days when I had a waist and could wear a belt. Ah, memories. What a fun gift shop! And a nifty hook souvenir for Mike, to boot. Looks like a very good day.

Kate said...

It is sad that some parks are struggling so much. Glad you found some interesting stuff to check out. The quilt shop was a lot of fun to walk through with you. I'm glad you found your manatee fabric. The forecast is for maybe snow tomorrow, hope you are having much better weather.

WoolenSails said...

Another wonderful place and some wonderful quilts too.


Brown Family said...

The model of the bells give a good perspective. We have a farm museum here in town that demos a lot of the crafts from time gone by. They have school days for the elementary kids. I am not sure they appreciate it as much as the teachers do! I have made a star quilt out of folded fabric like the paper ones! I never thought about doing paper! I may have to give it a go!

piecefulwendy said...

Sounds like a fun place for both of you to visit. I wonder if that quilt you thought you recognized is a Debbie Mumm pattern? That bird in the upper left corner looks familiar, but I can't recall the designer. Can I be nosy and ask what they were charging for the quilts they were selling? By the way, I really like your embroidered dress. It's so cute!

QuiltGranma said...

Good to see you Hoopin' it up out there in embroidery land! What a fun visit to the Smithy as well as the fiver arts and gift shop!

kc said...

Hmmm....maybe we need a side trip up there - makes going to the fabric store that much more worthwhile, I guess. (got my card and note today - thanks!!) We didn't know a thing about the carillon - that looks like someplace we'd really enjoy. I think I'll poke around and try to keep a watch on it to see when the bells go back into service.

Your stitcheries look fabulous! The quilt you questioned sure looks like a Debbie Mumm country quilt, both in style and color, sure make me wonder!

We have finally warmed up here, so much so that we're thinking about taking down the lights already! hahah, crack myself up! Of course, we're due for another cold spell next week, so maybe we should just wait till that passes.

Bailey looooves her new wolfie baby - thank you so very much, from the bottom of our hearts!

quiltzyx said...

An interesting exhibits in the carillon building - awesome model too, so at least we can see what it is like. Glad to see that you got to see a couple of the demos. Lucky Mike! Cool hook! Lovely 'trash' quilt too. That type of foundation pieced quilt is on my list. Nice gift shop too - hopefully at least some of the moneys from the shop will help repair the carillon's electrical problem.