Once upon a time, I was a little ski bunny.
I spent every blustery, wintery Saturday at a small ski club in Colden, NY; the small resort, Tamarack, was a great place to learn to ski. The classes were small, the season passes affordable, the terrain, manageable, and the nachos in the dining hall, the best that I’ve had to date (truth be told, my first ever job at a lake side hot dog stand also served the same amazing liquid-cheese nachos, and my body would probably thank me if i never ate another nacho chip again since between Tamarack and long rainy days at the hot dog stand I’ve easily consumed 4x my body weight.. but I digress).
I lucked out by learning to ski alongside my childhood best bud, who I’m sure will recognize this project and reflect back on those times with much happiness. Between the ages of 12-18, we spent a lot of time there, from fall open house to unseasonably warm spring days skiing through a substance comparable to a slurpie, and we loved ever minute of it.
Pretty with autumnal foliage too, right?
And then something sad happened when I was away at college; Tamarack closed.
I remember the disappointment I felt upon learning of that; after all, it was the kind of place that I wanted to bring my kids to learn to ski someday. Not long after shutting down, perhaps even in a previously-arranged transaction, it was acquired by the neighboring private Buffalo Ski Club, which I have nothing against but always wanted to infiltrate, since it was only separated by a thin row of trees. I imagined that the members were hoity-toity snobs, but considered that paid memberships might also come with larger orders of nachos and more black diamonds; plus, anything exclusive seemed oh-so-desirable to a 16-year-old kid, especially the idea of exclusive ski clubs with rich little 16-year-old boys on snowboards.
OK, onto the real project.
I have this mammoth glass-less picture frame that Pete moved in a few months ago. You saw it photographed in this post, and since then it’s been sitting to the side, yearning for some new art. Pete says he won it at a golfing event years ago, which seems like a pretty fun prize to me but meaningless to him. Time to make it something special.
I’ve been relishing the idea of commemorating Tamarack in some way, deciding in the end to craft an abstract piece that would be meaningful to me (and almost only me). In this case, the abstract vision began to take on a multimedia approach. While I considered using a piece of brown craft paper as my starting point, I instead decided to use a large piece of old burlap that I actually had saved away at some point.
Rather than relying too much on my memory, I went straight to the Buffalo Ski Club’s website to view its trail map. While the whole left side of the trail map correlates to the club’s original ski trails, the right side is still clearly Tamarack. I wanted to make an easy-to-use template for my project, which I had decided would also employ some crafty-yet-totally-inexpensive-at-35-cents-a-pop embroidery thread.
For the template, I cut pieces of white printer paper to size to represent where the trees forming each trail were; as those clusters of trees were assembled on the pre-cut burlap, the trails started to take form. And you may not see anything yet with this photo, but believe me, this is pretty darn close to what Tamarack looked like:
I worked my way through the project cluster by cluster, slowing embroidering the clusters of trees into place and mapping out the trails. There are some square buildings in the original plan, but I opted to leave them out of the equation in the end.
Note: I haven’t embroidered anything since 7th grade Home & Careers class wherein I was challenged to make a kick-ass US flag out of felt and cotton fabric. Thank you, middle school.
Once the trails and trees were mapped, I added my own chairlift, installed the burlap within the envisioned frame, and stepped back to view the piece:
Love. I’m fully aware this has no meaning to anyone but me and a few of my friends and family members, but seeing this trail map again is pure happiness. Plus, I’m liking how the old burlap had some wear and tear and discolored areas; adds a nice added dimension.
The original vision in my mind included having the trails white. I was all for making this a full-on embroidery bonanza and hand-stitching the trails, but decided that adding paint to highlight the trails would look a little cleaner than my haphazard embroidery abilities.
As I started painting the trails with plain out-of-the-can white paint and stepped back, I knew it was going to look even better than I expected. In the end, I was elated:
I left painting the edge trails and around the chairlift until the end, deciding to fade the color and leave the area beneath the chair lift a little less saturated.
Of course, I had wanted to use this frame in the entryway of the house, but it won’t fit displayed horizontally and I’ll have to come up with a new place; maybe my bedroom. Time and testing of various locations will tell.
P.S. Just a quick reminder: Today’s the LAST DAY to enter the Sugru giveaway; go leave a message on this post to be included in the drawing at 10PM.