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Creativity blooms among group of creative women


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Janet Mann, Debbie Schumacher and Bonny Kunik huddle around the fire at a Winter Gala celebration at Country Blooms in Almont Township. Business owner Teemie Eschenburg hosts monthly gatherings at the Kidder Road location, in celebration of the creative ventures of local artists and artisans. photo by Tom Wearing.

February 13, 2008
So what does an enclave of creative, crafty and imaginative women do on a cold, blustery day in mid-winter?

Some of them meet at Teemie Eschenburg's Country Blooms studio on Kidder Road in Almont Township

There, they sit in front of a warm fire, drinking spiced tea, feasting on a veritable potpourri of homemade soups, breads and pastries, and talking.

Earlier this month, Eschenburg hosted yet another of her monthly gatherings in her studio on the family farm, where she and husband, Randy, are raising their four children.

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While banter among the ladies takes as many twists and turns as the road leading to Country Blooms, the discourse eventually leads directly to their respective ventures and adventures.

From Debbie Schumacher, owner of The Mill and Brew House to Jill Hough, co-organizer of the Almont Farmers Market to artist/retired art teacher Kathy Eschenburg; each of the ladies who filter in and out of the studio have a common bond: Creativity.

Fair Haven artist Connie Gutenkunst says the gatherings are a welcome respite from the winter blahs and a chance to meet new friends and fellow artisans. But "it's more than that," she says.

"For me it's like going on a retreat," says Gutenkunst. "I feel like I'm away from it all, in a little cottage with all the sights, sounds and smells that go along with it."

Gutenkunst says there is an overriding spirit of goodwill shared among visitors to Country Blooms, and a "closeness to God."

"It's almost spiritual," she says. "We do a lot of talking, but there is no gossiping. We relax and create and feed our souls."

Gutenkunst credits Eschenburg's creative flair and inherent connection with nature as the reason why she and so many others flock to Country Blooms.

"Teemie is an inspiration to all of us," she says. "She is very talented and has a great spirit—and she's a fabulous cook."

Also in attendance last Friday was Jenny Depa-Karl, a fiber artist who owns "Sheepy Hollow Herbs," a shop located in the backyard of her Armada home.

"A lot of us are mixed-media artists and Country Blooms is a creative outlet for us," says Depa-Karl. "It's about living earth-friendly lifestyles—like getting back to our roots and connecting with the past.

"We get to celebrate wholesome living and making things with our hands," she says. "It's really an escape from the day-to-day, hectic lives we tend to lead."

While uncomfortable with the accolades, Eschenburg is nevertheless proud of having the opportunity to celebrate and preserve the rural lifestyle.

"It's a great group of ladies who come in here," says Eschenburg of her clientele. "A lot of my customers are creative women who have shops or businesses of their own. We try to learn from and inspire one another."

The founder of Almont's annual Country Heritage and Color Tour, a self-guided tour of local farms, nurseries and creative businesses, Eschenburg also has been a driving force for the Almont Farmers Market.

The Saturday market features farm-fresh flowers, produce, art and crafts created by local artisans.

A devotee of fiber art, Eschenburg's work is currently featured on the cover and pages of Altered Art Projects, a book published by Tweety Jill Publications.

On page 92 of Altered Art Projects, Eschenburg describes an idyllic past that naturally lent itself to her present life as an artist, farmer and teacher.

"Needle in hand at three years old, I learned how to allow my creative energies to flow at a young age," says Eschenburg in Altered Art Projects. "Loved by two talented grandmothers, one taught the disciplined way of needle arts; machine and hand sewing, the other taught the freedom of ribbon and fancy fiber arts.

"Both grandmothers had a love for nature," she continues. "Cabbage roses, real and fabric, along with flower and herb gardens have always been a part of my life, inspiring my creativity to lean towards the celebrations of God's earthly blessings."

Eschenburg wants to ensure that today's youngsters are able to share the unique experiences of her childhood.

With that in mind, Country Blooms is now offering after-school craft classes for children ages 9 and over. The classes are $10 and include a snack and lessons in progressive sewing and craftmaking.

Eschenburg says winter hours at Country Blooms are "by chance" on Mondays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

She recommends calling ahead at 810-614-2104 or e-mailing to: teemie@teemisblooms.com. She also has a Blog site at: www.teemiesblooms.com.

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