Monday, July 12, 2010

Check out these Beautiful Birdhouses!

A Cornucopia of Hand Painted, Artisan Made Birdhouses, and Whimsical Folk Home Décor

Written by Donald T. MacKinnon

As I strolled down the virtual path I noticed what appeared to be a quaint little shop not that far ahead. Soon the sign over the doorway came into view I read “Rachael’s Garden beautifully hand painted crafts”. The door was ajar and the “open” sign was out. It looked very inviting inside this virtual shop so I opened the door a little wider and entered. A voice said “Hello”, “hello”. Having been distracted by the amazing array of craft creations on display, I finally responded to the third hello. “Rachael?” I asked. “Oh no, my name is Karen. The store is named after my daughter” she said and welcomed me to look around. I had already started; after all it did take three “hello’s” to get my attention away from the floor to ceiling assortment of the most colorful array of birdhouses.

Birdhouses were on hooks, perched on tall poles, short poles, hung from the ceiling, and set on tables for display. Round ones, and square ones, pointed roofs, slanted roofs, flat roofs, one door, two doors, three doors, and much, much more; was the unbelievable assortment. “There are so many beautiful bird homes” I said. “What?” came the voice from the back of the shop. There sat Karen in a chair carefully putting the finishing touches on the sides of her latest birdhouse creation. My gaze turned to the back wall and a large sign “Artisan Made Birdhouses and Whimsical Folk Home Décor”. “I know you paint the birdhouses, but who builds all of the unique designs”? “I do”, Karen said, “in a small woodworking shop out back.” I continued to take a closer look; so many different styles. The materials seem so varied and of high quality. I quickly realized the materials are recycled, that explains the dry aged wood; there is nothing better to build things with. She used metal, wood scraps, old hardware, even tree bark, and various kinds of high quality materials all clean and safe for our little friends. “I’m curious, how do you know these designs will work?”, I asked. “Look out the window” was her answer. And there, set up against a small wetlands area and all across the backyard, was every type of bird house displayed in her store and then some. “The guests seemed so happy” I said. “You are all too right”, she went on to explain “as more and more areas are developed, brush cleared and old trees cut down a substitute for their old habitat is needed; the birdhouse. If you build it, they will come”. “Ah, thank you now I see”. I continued to work my way around hand-painted tissue box covers, lattice letter holder/bill organizers, wall hangings, and signs. Yes signs, hand-painted of course, indoor/outdoor for a cabin, cottage, shed, house, or summer home. “Custom orders welcome” a small card set in the open started me thinking, “now where could I use one of these great looking signs”. I had been so caught up in the birdhouse bounty that I failed to notice this incredible selection of folk home décor items. My gaze fell on a large selection of folk art prints, all made from original painted works by this artist.

Since having been a volunteer fireman in an all volunteer department, my eyes were drawn to a beautiful print of an original painting by Karen, “My Little Red Fire Truck”. As fire trucks go this was a real beauty. Soon my vision became unglazed and I returned to the present as more prints of original paintings appeared. “Jack’s Little Green Tractor”, “Mickey’s Old Yellow Dump Truck”, “Owen’s Blue Quad Four Wheeler”, “Little Mixer”, and everyone of them a beauty. There was a chair by the counter I needed to sit down, so many memories brought back by these beautiful creations. As I sat something out of my past came into my view of the store wall; up high in the corner another print made from an original painting by Karen, a folk rendition of Nubble lighthouse, a place known well to me above and below the water.

I had completed many dives in the clear cold waters adjacent to the lighthouse. Print after print of beautiful folk art, and all reflected a similar theme; faith, family, community, honesty and an appreciation for the simple things in life. I looked at my watch, hours had past for me, but such glorious hours they were. “Karen, thank you for an afternoon well spent, and I will be back.” “I know you will” she said with that wonderful warm smile that greeted me earlier. I encourage all who read this article to visit “Rachael’s Garden”, look around for gift ideas, maybe even buy a birdhouse for our little friends and yours. Remember these little feathered creatures eat their weight plus more of bugs each day and do it with a song.

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