Sunday, June 10, 2012

Whimsical felted animals debut at Andersen Art & Garden Festival

by Janet I. Martineau
Sauer's giraffe....
A mother and daughter team up Wednesday, June 13, to sell felted animals at the Andersen Enrichment Center’s 8th Annual Art & Garden Festival.
“I make giraffes, lions, bears, horses, whales,” says Elizabeth M. Sauer, “and my mom, Robin,  makes birds. It’s the first time either of us has sold them at an art  festival or fair.”
The Art & Garden Festival runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Andersen, 120 Ezra Rust. Nearly 25 vendors will sell plants, paintings, garden art, clothing, pottery, candles. Other activities include gardening lectures, a silent auction, and a Koegel hot dogs/chips/ pasta salad lunch with strawberry shortcake for dessert. Admission and parking is free.
Sauer is serious about art,  despite the colorful and whimsical animals she has been making for the past year and a half.  The Saginaw native just graduated with a BFA in ceramics from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo and is headed this fall to the University of Florida to  pursue her MFA.
And for the past two years, she was accepted into the prestigious ArtPrize  exhibition in Grand Rapids. In 2010, she displayed a 16-foot-in-diameter bird’s nest and last year a life-size clay sculpture of a Haitian woman.

Ceramics, welding and mixed media are her preferred art media, says the Nouvel Catholic High School alum who for the past several years also has been a drummer and dancer with Saginaw’s Celtic band Equinox.
“I make the felted animals for fun,” says Sauer, “although right now I am stressing to get enough made to sell Wednesday. I love color, so they are not the normal colors of the animals. I hunt down woolen material in crazy colors and then just mix and match them into something whimsical.”
... and a horse
The critters range in size from 4 inches high to a foot (the giraffe) and sell for between $20 and $50. 

“People have no idea how time-consuming the craft of felting is -- taking raw wool, stabbing away at it to shape it into the form of the animal and then adding the colored wool over top.”
One of those giraffes she favors takes eight hours to create, she says.
As for her two ArtPrize winners, the giant bird’s best was constructed out of apple tree branches. “And there was nothing (no birds or eggs) in it because I liked the idea of ambiguity -- letting the people looking at it come up with different ideas.”
The 5-foot ceramic/mixed media/welded Haitian woman “was my response to when I went to Haiti a year and a half ago.” She also dressed the woman, in blue and green retro garb with big pockets, typical of many of the clothes Americans donate to Haiti.
Elizabeth Sauer
Sauer hopes to eventually teach at the collegiate level and maintain an art studio on the side, working in ceramics or sculpture.

Other vendors at the Art & Garden Festival include native Michigan perennials, ferns and trees from Better Finds LLC; vintage and new pottery, china and glass assembled into tiered garden art and stands by Janet Hahn; cement lawn art from Mother Earth Ceramics; paintings by the Saginaw Area Watermedia Artists;  garden stones, glass, potting tables from recycled items by Judy Rich; cider slush, baked goods and donuts from Leaman’s Green Apple Barn, and honey-beeswax candles, lip balms and soaps by Jeanette Waibel.

The gardening lectures are: 
-- 10:30am, Vegetable Gardening, presented by Anne Birkam, a member of the Saginaw Valley Master Gardeners Association.
-- 11:15pm, Shade Gardening, presented by Sally Suttle of Abele’s Greenhouse and Garden Center.
--  Noon, Flower Arranging, presented by Shelley McGeathy,  director of the Downtown Saginaw Farmers’ Market.
-- 12:45pm, Rose Care, presented by Jackie Steinert and Clint Bremer of the Saginaw Valley Rose Society).

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