By Susan Christian
One of my favorite job responsibilities is managing the “in’s and out’s” of our home tours. We do several of these each year and each one brings a new challenge and a new joy. I love getting to know our homeowners, and it is especially enjoyable when they give me the okay to come in and take over their home for a long (very long!) weekend. Through Think Local First and through working and living in Ann Arbor, I have gotten to know several local artisans and merchants who will let me borrow their merchandise and artwork to help stage these homes. With their help, I can truly make the magic happen and add a “third dimension” to an already beautiful home. They love the opportunity to show off their wares so it really is a win/win situation for all. We recently had a beautiful home in Burns Park on tour for the Builders and Remodelers Association of Greater Ann Arbor (BRAG) Remodelers Home Tour. This seemingly modest home is full of crazy technology that will let the owners enjoy it long into the future comfortably, with little maintenance, and with little concern over the inevitable rise in energy costs. Once again, the owners very graciously let us come in and overhaul their home. It wasn’t a stretch by any means, as they have exquisite taste and amazing artwork, but I did want to bring in some “texture” to the setting. My go-to person for “texture” is Mary Underwood from Front Porch Textiles. I can always count on Mary to have on hand a sumptuous selection of hand-woven delicacies made from hand-spun fibers that she is thrilled to share with us. She spins yarns from all sorts of materials and then weaves them into a multitude of scarves, throws, and towels, any of which would add color and warmth to even the gloomiest of houses. She also teaches weaving in her amazing studio.My particular favorites are her hand-woven and hand-finished linen kitchen towels. They come in a rainbow of colors and patterns, and the intricate weaving and unique color combinations are a joy to behold. (I couldn’t resist the red ones and came home with two after the tour!) Not only do these pieces add color and texture to our home tours, Mary adds a very special warmth and color to my life. She is passionate about what she does, and travels the world looking for fibers and connecting with artisans who share her passion. She also teaches weaving and spinning, and lectures on both. I love to listen to her talk about recent travels or recent projects she is working on and her studio is always warm and welcoming – regardless of the weather outside. If you love weaving, spinning, knitting or just would love to hang out with Mary…go to her website and give her a call. I am certain she would love to hear from you.