Thursday, May 10, 2012

Swimming With Pillows: A Mother's Day Dream Come True!

I dedicate this post first to my grandpa!  He was a Cass Tech grad, WWII veteran, Detroit Mounted Police Office, Harper Hospital Security Guard, and an all round good guy.  Second, to my parents who often took me to Belle Isle as a kid to see the fish swim in America's oldest aquarium.  

Michigan Central Station
(took this picture from Wikipedia)
I love the history that just spills out of Detroit.  It is rich, it is powerful, it is gritty.  I loved going to Fort Wayne, the DIA, and the Historical Museum when I was a kid.  I can't begin to tell you how many birthdays were spent watching plays at the Youth Theater.  Mickey Miners was my hero!!!  I love that my parents took my brother and I on a day trip to Ann Arbor on a train that left out of Michigan Central Station.  Listing to my mom talk about the old Hudson's Building made it seem more like a magical castle than a department store.  She was always telling me about taking the bus downtown with Grandma Warrick and going up to the Notions Floor.  A whole floor dedicate to sewing.  My grandfather was a Detroit Mounted Police Officer.  He spent most of his career on a horse, patrolling the streets, riding in the Thanksgiving Day Parade, and making friends.  I loved listening to his stories about Detroit.  I still think about him when I am downtown.  Right now, I think he might be just a little bit proud of me because now it is my turn to contribute.  Now I have the opportunity to share my pillows and a little bit of myself with the City of Detroit.   

Belle Isle Aquarium (this picture is from their Facebook page)
The Belle Isle Aquarium is an absolute treasure in Detroit.  It opened on August 18, 1904 and closed on April 3, 2005.  The building was designed by Albert Kahn and the park itself was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead.  It was the oldest continually operating aquarium in America until it closed.  While looking into the specifics on building, I just discovered that it was a speakeasy during Prohibition.  (Thanks you, Wikipedia!)  My parents took my brother and I to Belle Isle a lot when we were growing up.  We spent time at the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory, the Dossin Museum, and the Aquarium.  As a parent, I have been able to take my own kids everywhere, except for the aquarium.  Well that all is going to change this Sunday!

Celebrate mom, see some fish, see some art, and check out my pillows!

Fabric I am going to buy from Spoonflower
This Mother's Day (Sunday, May 13th), the Belle Isle Aquarium will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and it is free.  Some of the tanks have fish, some are empty (but not for long.)  I am so excited!  First, because I have not been there for a really, really long time. Second, because I am going to display about 20 to 30 my pillows in one of the empty tanks.  That's right!!! 715 Pillows is going to fill a fish tank full of pillows for Mother's Day and for the Grand Prix events.  I have a lot of work to do before Saturday afternoon.  I know which pillows I am going to display but I have to figure out how to display them and figure out lighting.  This all came about so fast.  The Belle Isle Conservancy announced on Facebook a couple days ago that they were looking for crafty people to create a dry exhibit - aquatic exhibits favored.  So, I e-mailed them a proposal and got myself a tank!  I am beyond excited!  I am over the moon!  Right now, I am going to stock the tank with pillows I already have.  In the next couple weeks, I am going to make some aquatic and Detroit themed pillows and will swap out my stock for the Grand Prix party on May 31st.  Tickets will are $50 and I am poor.  However, I just may need to convince my husband that we need to get dressed up and spend some money so that we can stare at my fish tank full of pillows.  

So, I am excited.  My parents are in Europe so they have not heard the good news quite yet.  My children are thrilled and want to help out. My husband will be returning home from Seattle tomorrow afternoon just in time for me to put him to work. I also asked for help from a grad school friend who comes from a very artsy family.  Would my grandpa be proud?  Hell, yeah!  I just hear his voice right now, "It's a damn shame that place closed in the first place.  I am proud of you honey baby.  Really proud."  

John Christopher, Belle Isle, 1952


  1. yes jenny he would be very proud and tickled to death. the mounted barns are right next to the aquarium. you might have seen him gallop through the doors on his horse. having fun in London, Paris on sat Mom and Dad

    1. It is a wonderful thought! Miss you both and glad you are enjoying a trip of a lifetime.