Sunday, October 18, 2015

Whiting Mills #Historic Building

Whiting Mills - View from Holabird Ave. Parking Lot
      Winsted, settled in 1750, was formed at the junction of the Mad River and the Still River.  Winsted is part of the town of Winchester and derived it's name from the towns of Winchester and Barkhamsted when the congregational church moved from the hill to the valley forming the the First Congregational Church of Winsted.  The beautiful stone church is still located near the Winsted green.  Winsted is one of the first mill towns in Connecticut. 
      The Winsted Hosiery Company, founded in 1882, was a small manufacturer of men’s hosiery and occupied two red brick industrial buildings and a stone building on Whiting Street. The company later expanded its products and by 1936 became the largest hosiery manufacturer in Connecticut. The company’s red-brick industrial complex exemplifies the Italianate and Renaissance Revival design influences on manufacturing facilities around the turn of the century. The designers of the Winsted Hosiery buildings developed pragmatic solutions to the needs of a large manufacturing facility, maximizing natural lighting through open plans and continuous rows of windows. 
     On a tour of the building my childhood neighbor told me how her grandmother worked at the mill.  She would take home scraps of wool, dye them and braid them into rugs for her home.  
    In June of 2004, Whiting Mills, LLC was established when Jean Paul and Eva Blachere purchased the 135,000 sq ft complex. The historic Whiting Mills building was turned into artist studios. There are now more than fifty studio spaces occupied by herbalists, master artists, photographers, wood workers, cabinet makers, craftspeople and a railroad hobby store.   The majority of which are on the third and fourth floors.
Sign at entrance in back parking lot

    The Mill is set up a little quirky but that is the charm of it as well. The four floor building is built into the side of a hill and has a ground level entrance on each floor.  It can make it a little confusing for first time visitors.  If you enter from the main parking lot behind the building you are on the third floor.  These studios are numbered in the three hundreds.  The old freight elevator is located across from Tina's Baskets & Woven Art. If you take the stairs located next to this you will see a sign that says this way to the second floor.  Don't be confused - you are actually going to the fourth floor.  The studios her are numbered in the four and five hundreds.  That's right, the five hundred series of studios is on the fourth floor.  
Sign directing you to the stairs that lead to the 4th floor

Sign in stairwell pointing to the 4th floor
If you enter the building from the Holabird Avenue side of the building (the parking lot next to the firehouse) you can enter on three different floors.  Entrance 210B towards the bottom of the hill will bring you in at the second floor and the Northeast Farrier Supply.  You can take the stairs from here to the third and fourth floor.  Going up the hill entrance 210A is a small section of the third floor and hosts several artists.  There is no way to get to other parts of the building from here so to continue your tour you must exit the building and enter another way.  At the "top" of the hill you enter the five hundred series on the fourth floor.  The four hundred series of studios is just down the hall.

   I am located in studio 418. My large windows face the west and I receive tons of afternoon sun. I was told that people might have a hard time finding me around the corner in a hallway with two other artists but follow your nose.  The latest soap creation wafts through the halls and will lead the way.  
A view of my windows before moving in

My studio (418) with the windows in the background

Friday, October 9, 2015

Women Healers #Bookreview

     I am an herbalist. I am a bookaholic.  The two seem to go hand in hand.  I love to read.  A few novels here and there, biographies more so and books that I read with a highlighter in one hand the most.  I have a mini library in my house.  The books I save are mostly what I would call reference books.  A shelf filled with poetry and some of my favorite novels on another.  My herbal books are my prized books.  Many of them are signed.  This thrills me to no end.
     I am usually reading multiple books at once.  Put one down and digest the information while I start on another.  I actually do finish most of what I start.  It just may take a while.  This summer I finished multiple books.  Yeah me. One was Women Healers of the World: The Traditions, History, and Geography of Herbal Medicine by Holly Bellebuono.
     The book is beautiful with lots of pictures.  It is an oversize coffee table book that you actually read. She introduces one type of healing modality at a time and then references women in this area of expertise.  Some are contemporary and she was able to interview them for the book.  Others are from the past - recent and ancient - and oh so relevant.  The book includes stories(histories, facts) about Hildegard von Bingen to Rosemary Gladstar, from Western herbal traditions to native nations, folk, shamanism and so much more.  She ends the book with recipes for basic herbal remedies.  I thoroughly loved the book.  I learned about my herbal heroes, I got to know some of my herbal sisters in a new light and I was introduced to women I hadn't heard of before.  There are many sidebars that explain the etymology of words, and go into detail about different herbs and places.  It is chock full of information.
     Holly taught at the New England Women's Herbal Conference this year.  She also had a booth in the emporium with her books and herbal treats.  And..... I was able to have my book signed.  Swoon!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Souper #Workshop

     I have taught soap making classes many times.  I am comfortable there but, it is time to stretch my wings.  Slowly moving towards sharing all I have learned about the plant world.  I continue to learn and grow and sometimes feel stuck in the mire of never knowing enough.  But, this year at the International Herb Symposium I looked around and thought I have arrived (not at a final destination but at a point in time). After ten years of study I feel like I know something, more than a little something and it is time to pass it on to more than just my family.
    I'm starting with my first love - cooking.  I am making a big pot of chicken soup. It is after all the what soothes all ailments, right?  I will have it for my students to enjoy while we talk about the ingredients I use to boost the immune system and add that extra something.  Class is Sunday, October 25, from noon until 2.  Sign up at my facebook  event or message me here.
     I will provide the recipe or the bones of my recipe for everyone to take home.  I can honestly say I have never made my chicken soup exactly the same way twice.  But, the base is the same; a good free range chicken, organic vegetables and lots of herbs.  From there the possibilities are endless.
Chicken Potato Soup

     My chicken potato soup started after my daughter's open house at the high school.  She is taking culinary this year and they were doing a baked potato fund raiser.  I was gifted a pile of baked potatoes.  I scooped out the insides for the soup and make potato skins for an appetizer.  As the week went on the soup morphed as I added the leftover vegetables from dinner to the pot.  A little sauteed squash here, some chopped green beans there  and it just became more delicious as time went on.