If you don’t understand the giant metal chicken reference, go read this. I’ll wait.
A scant part of the road trip I took Monday with two friends was work related; my monthly supply run to Florida Clay Art down near Orlando. When I had posted last month about seeing the Pioneer Art Settlement and musing aloud that Sharon might be interested in seeing it, well, I was not wrong. So we decided to make a day of it; she would drive in her spiffy new car, we would hit Florida Clay, swing up to the Pioneer Art Settlement, and then go back across and down a bit to meet our friend Lynn and go to Ramshackles. Well. That was the plan, anyway. Oh, and at the last minute, we kidnapped our friend Marie and made her come play with us.
While we were getting my ceramic supplies, Sharon discovered that there was a yarn store about half an hour away. WELL NOW. You’re not getting three yarnies in a car and then passing up a perfectly good yarn store, are you!? So away we went, with a brief stop at Sweet Tomatoes on the way for an all-you-can-eat salad lunch. Why, we moaned, is there not a place like this in Gainesville?!? I don’t think I’ve eaten at one since the last time I went to NecronomiCon, and that was before we had the yarn store. Ugh! OH! And Sharon and Marie had quite the experience in the Sweet Tomatoes bathroom but since I was still out at the table when that happened, I’ll let one of them tell it.
So after lunch we found the yarn store, and while we were initially…. well, how can I say this…. we like a particular type of yarn, and that’s just the way we are. Both as knitters and as yarn store owners, Sharon and I do sort of roll our eyes at the novelty yarns. For the most part, we like a soft semi-luxury yarn with good stitch definition, natural fibers preferred, and if it’s blingy then it best have a good reason for it (silk, beads, stellina – not shiny nylon and/or multicolored bits of string hanging off in all directions). Is that snobbish? Because the yarns we don’t like are “upscale,” meaning they have a pretty hefty price tag for what you’re getting, so… OK, I’m rambling, aren’t I? Anyway, the first half of the store was filled with these yarns, which makes total sense for the area. It’s not what our customers wanted, but it was definitely what the customers of the woman from whom we bought stock from wanted, and clearly what this woman’s customers wanted. But she was warm and friendly, talked a lot about her husband who had built most of the fixtures in the shop (so you know, I couldn’t relate to that, AT ALL), and the back half of the store was all Madeline Tosh and Malabrigo and luxury camel/alpaca blends. So, in other words, HEAVEN. I may have fallen down and bought some yarn, so you know it must have been calling to me because I don’t think I’ve bought yarn that wasn’t mine since we closed the shop. (Other than my friend Lucy’s sock club, and that’s not yarn, THAT’S A NECESSITY.)
So we left and headed up to the Pioneer Settlement, and part of me wonders why I’d never noticed it until last time because I have driven that road a lot going to visit my mom, as I prefer back roads to highways if I’m the driver. But perhaps I’d just never noticed it because I’m always blinded by this fabulously tacky and bright roadside stand across the corner. You can tell it’s the kind of place that started off like a fruit stand, and then brought in a little pottery, and then more, and then some garden statues, and then some tacky garden statues, and then some REALLY BIG AWESOME SHIT. But I’ve never been able to stop there — either I’m trying to get to my mom’s by a certain time, or they’re closed, or for some reason Tim is all “what are you talking about, I don’t see a place like that” as he runs the red light to get away from it. (Hahahah, kidding, sweetie!)
So as we’re driving past it to get to the Pioneer place, I see Sharon glance at it out of the corner of her eye. I’m all, “Oh, yeah, and then there’s that place” and she’s all “don’t you dare just say ‘then there’s that place,’ tell me the story!” and I had to admit I didn’t know the whole story since I’d never stopped there.
We pulled into the Pioneer Settlement, which had a $6 fee per person to get in, and they closed in 45 minutes. If it had been $6 per car, we might have done it, but $18 for less than an hour….? We sat there in the drive for a minute, and then we all just kind of … looked at each other, and pulled a u-turn and went to the roadside stand.
TELL ME THAT ISN’T BRILLIANT.
I just – I can’t – it was so – I almost don’t even have words. It’s about two acres, and it’s FULL OF THINGS. I wanted to buy everything, and so I couldn’t let myself buy anything, because I would have bought ALL THE THINGS. Especially the Talavera, which I’d seen before but for some reason that day it just hit me upside the head with an inspiration board. I wanted ALL THE LIZARDS, and most of the suns, and about half the planters. But I also couldn’t decide, couldn’t narrow it down to coming home with just one, because I loved them ALL. I took a lot of photos, sneakily at first because after all they are a STORE and not an ART GALLERY, but finally just owned up to it and took picture after picture. Here they are below in an album, which you won’t see if you’re reading this from an RSS feed. If you at all like kitsch, you should come over to the site and look at the album. Trust me, it’ll be worth your time.
Overall, I don’t think I’ve ever felt so inspired leaving a place full of art. My brain was full, I have so many ideas of things I want to try, a bit of a confirmation that some things I thought I wasn’t doing right I actually was (like those Virgins Mary) and should do more of, and just – ideas – swimming – head – full.
We never did get over to Lynn’s and Ramshackles, but she had emailed me earlier in the day that it might not work out for her, so we have a tentative promise of January for that. And for the Pioneer center. And I may have to stop by that roadside attraction again because My.GOD.