A Tourist’s Guide to Southern Vermont

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1. Introduction:

Easily accessible from lower New England, Southern Vermont is a rolling carpet of Green Mountain foothills and valleys that offer a extensive array of seasonal sports, yet maintain all of the state’s characteristics, including picture postcard villages, covered bridges, maple farms, and cheese producers.

2. Orientation:

Brattleboro, gateway to the area, is “home to an eclectic mix of native Vermonters and transplants from all over the country,” according to the “Greater Brattleboro” guide published by the Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce. “This cosmopolitan town is southeastern Vermont’s undisputed economic, recreational, and cultural center.”

Accessed by Interstate 91, it is both the first major Vermont city north of the Massachusetts state line and the only one served by three exits-in this case, Exit 1 leads to Canal street, Exit 2 to Main Street and the historic downtown area, and Exit 3 to Route 5/Putney Road, which offers a commercial concentration of hotels and restaurants. The Comfort and Hampton Inns and the Holiday Inn Express, for example, are located here, while the art deco Latchis Hotel, complete with its own movie theater, is located downtown.

3. Brattleboro:

Situated at the confluence of the Connecticut and West rivers, Brattleboro was originally occupied by the Abenaki tribes, but protection against them took form as Fort Drummer, constructed by and named after, Governor William Drummer of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, in 1724.

Siding with the French in the French and Indian War, they migrated to Quebec the following year, at which time the structure was transformed into a trading post for the friendly few who remained behind. Nevertheless, peace, often fleeting during this period, dissolved between 1744 and 1748, prompting its troop re-occupation.

Becoming a New Hampshire grant, the area surrounding it, designated Brattleborough after Colonel William Brattle, Jr. of Boston, was chartered as Vermont’s first town the day after Christmas in 1753.

From the fort sprouted a settlement, giving rise to the area’s first store in 1771, first post office in 1784, and first Connecticut-spanning bridge in 1804. Becoming increasingly industrialized for the period due to the power provided by the Whetstone Brook’s waterfalls, it soon boosted paper, flour, and woolen textile mills, paper making machinery and carriage manufacturers, two machine shops, and four printers. It has been home to the Estey Organ Company for more than a century. The Massachusetts and Vermont Valley railroads subsequently facilitated commerce, trade, and travel with and to the rest of New England.

The current “Brattleboro” spelling was adopted in 1888.

Today, more than anything, the city is synonymous with art. Aside from its numerous venues, it uniquely features its Gallery Walk program, in which exhibits are displayed at some 50 locations throughout town on the first Friday of every month, some accompanied by live music and others by the artists themselves. Numbered, each display corresponds to the description, location, and route of the guide published monthly.

Maintaining the town’s raison d’être is the more permanent Brattleboro Museum and Art Center, located downtown, across from the Marlboro College Graduate School in the former Union Station and offering views of the river paralleling tracks outside and retaining the original ticket windows inside, behind which is the appropriately designated “Ticket Gallery.”

“Founded in 1972,” according to its own description, “the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center presents rotating exhibits of contemporary art and a wide array of cultural events, including lectures, workshops, performances, film screenings, (and) family activities.”

“Close to Home: New Pastels by Ray Ruseckas,” one recent exhibit, offered, as its title suggests, an artistic perspective of the area.

“The hillsides, forests, and glades of the Connecticut River Valley,” said Mara Williams, museum curator, “are Ray Ruseckas’ stomping grounds and inspiration. Ruseckas renders the changing dynamics of land in seasons, deftly capturing fleeting atmospheric effects, as well as the rhythms and proportions of place… Through refined tonal shifts or contrast between light and dark, (he) produces an effect of psychological apprehension, a frission between what is seen and what is implied or felt.”

“Threaded Dances,” by Debra Bermingham, another recent exhibit, equally featured surreal effects.

“(Her) paintings are elusive and mysterious as a landscape enveloped in mist,” Williams wrote. “Images emerge slowly, sensually from delicately layered surfaces. Veils of blue-gray to pearl-white shroud empty or barely populated space. Glimpsing objects-a fragment of a vessel under full sail, a teapot, a moon-through the mist, we are unmoored from time and space.”

Other recent exhibits included “People, Places, and Things” by Jim Dine, “Art + Computer/Time” from the Anne and Michael Spater Digital Art Collection, and the three-dimensional, inflated sculpture “Expanded Forms” by Rodrigo Nava.

Art, at least in literary form, may be interpretable through architecture-in this case, of Rudyard Kipling’s Naulakha home-Hindi for “jewel beyond price”-in nearby Dummerston. One of Vermont’s 17 National Historic Landmarks, it served as his home in 1892, because his bride was native to the area, and he wrote his famous “Captain’s Courageous” and “Jungle Book” novels here.

As a living house that can be rented for varying stays from the UK’s Landmark Trust, it features its original furniture, while the carriage house, which had once been Kipling’s barn, sports a living room fireplace and accommodates four.

Although it is not open for museum visits, one recent patron who had partaken of its “hotel” status, found that a decided advantage, writing in Naulakha’s guest book, “It is fascinating to visit the house of writers and artists, but all you usually get is an hour’s tour with an absolute prohibition ‘not to touch.’ How wonderful then to sit at his desk and soak up Mr. Kipling’s bath.”

Aside from art, Southern Vermont is often equated with its covered bridges and Brattleboro is no exception. Constructed in 1879 and located on Guilford Street off of Route 9, the 80-foot-long by 19-foot-wide Creamery Covered Bridge, for instance, spans the Whetstone Brook. Made of spruce lumber, with timber lattice trusses and either-end stone slab supporting abutments, it features a 5.5-foot wide, equally covered sidewalk that was added in the 1920s. It is the only such structure visible from Route 9 and the only one of Brattleboro’s symbolic structures to survive.

4. Grafton:

As a preserved village, Grafton, located north of Brattleboro, could serve as the quintessential image of Vermont and grace any postcard, with its church, crafts shops, galleries, museums, and historic inns lining Main Street (Route 121) and maple syrup taping and cheese making venues located just up the road.

With four general stores and a half dozen mills and schoolhouses during the mid-1800s, it was a hub for farmers, tradesmen, and travelers, producing shoes, sleighs, and butter churns. Retaining, a century and a half later, its blacksmith and cabinet making shops, it offers the visitor an opportunity to step back in time and sample true New England ambiance.

“Grafton’s uniqueness,” according to its own description, “comes from being a real town, not a museum-like recreation, with its citizens being its most valuable resource. It is a vibrant community still holding the traditional town meeting with participation from a wonderfully diverse population of 600 people.”

Surrounded by a kaleidoscope of color in the fall and covered with a blanket of white in the winter, it offers numerous recreational opportunities, but the latter season, particularly, “is a magic time in Vermont, making you believe that you are living in a holiday card. Cross-country ski, snowshoe, (or) stroll through the village. Then relax with a cup of hot chocolate,” it concludes about itself.

Cornerstone of the town is the Grafton Inn. Tracing its origins to the two-floor private home of Enos Lowell, who converted it to an inn to serve travelers seeking good food and lodging in 1801, it grew in size and prosperity with that of the village and counted several owners-from Hyman Burgess to the Phelps Brothers, who added a third floor after purchasing the property for $1,700 in 1865. That overall appearance remains to the present day.

Although it fulfilled its originally intended purpose of serving commercial travelers, several notable people have stayed there over the years, including Rudyard Kipling, Daniel Webster, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

After Depression era stagnation, disrepair, and competition from emerging modernized motels, it was acquired by the Windham Foundation in 1965 and elevated to more expected standards with plumbing, heating, hot-and-cold running water, and private bathrooms. Yet its 45 guest rooms retain their country character.

Its dining venues include the Old Tavern Restaurant and the Phelps Barn Pub.

Aside from the inn, there are several attractions in Grafton, including the Native Museum, the Grafton History Museum, and the Vermont Museum of Mining and Minerals.

Behind the inn is the Grafton Village Retail Store, which offers a wide selection of cheese, maple products, wine, and Vermont indicative souvenirs, but cheese is handmade a half mile up the road at the Grafton Village Cheese Company.

Established in 1892 as the Grafton Cooperative Cheese Company, it continues to produce handcrafted aged cheddar, a process visible through a glass window, although its production plant and a significantly sized retail store is located in Brattleboro. Behind the Grafton facility is a short covered bridge.

Another Vermont associated experience can be enjoyed at Plummer’s Sugar House. Owned by third generation syrup producers, it sports 4,000 maple trees, which are tapped between February and April. Informal tours are conducted and syrup can be purchased in its barn-like gift shop.

5. Molly Stark Trail:

Designated the Molly Stark Trail by the Vermont Legislature in 1936, the 48-mile, officially numbered Route 9 zigzags through the Southern Green Mountains, lowland valleys, lakes, streams, waterfalls, and historic villages from Brattleboro in the east to Bennington in the west. It was named after the wife of Brigadier General John Stark, who led the Colonial militia of Vermont and New Hampshire troops to victory in the 1777 Battle of Bennington, during which he proclaimed, “There they are boys! We beat them today or Molly Stark sleeps a widow tonight.”

In the event, she had no need to, but also never stepped foot on the scenic byway that bears her name and is associated with several others of Vermont fame, such as Ethan Allen, Grandma Moses, and Robert Frost.

It serves as the threshold to the Green Mountain National Forest. Established itself in 1932 to control rampant logging, flooding, and fires, its 399,151-acre New England and Acadian forest ecoregion is located in Bennington, Addison, Rutland, Windham, Windsor, and Washington counties.

Three nationally designated trails-Long Trail, Robert Moses National Recreation Trail, and portions of the Appalachian Trail-along with 900 miles of lesser-known paths afford a wide range of related sports activities, from hiking to bicycling, horseback riding, cross country skiing, and snowmobiling, in three Alpine and seven Nordic ski areas.

Abundant wildlife includes bears, moose, coyotes, white tailed deer, black bears, wild turkeys, and numerous bird species.

The town of Wilmington marks both the Molly Stark Trail’s halfway point between Brattleboro and Bennington and the crossroads with northbound Route 100.

Chartered on April 29, 1751 by Benning Wentworth, Colonial Governor of New Hampshire, and named after Spencer Compton, First Earl of Wilmington, the town itself was virtually fed by what its surrounding land provided, including grass, oats, corn, vegetables, potatoes, and the spruce, hemlock, birch, beech, and maple trees that were transformed into lumber. Haystack Mountain offered skiing.

Town and population growth were sparked by a series of precipitating events, such as the introduction of river-located sawmills in the 1830s, the establishment of a rail link at the end of that century, and the dedication of the Molly Stark Trail in the 1930s.

Threading through town, Main Street (Route 9 and the trail itself) offers views of another quintessential Vermont village, with quilt, craft, and antique shops, restaurants, and church steeples.

“Wilmington,” according to the “Southern Vermont Deerfield Valley Visitors’ Guide” published by the Chamber of Commerce in Wilmington itself, “contains superb examples of 18th and 19th century architecture in as many as eight distinct styles. From Late Colonial (1750-1788) to Colonial Revival (1880-1900), the architecture is so well-preserved, that the major part of the village has been placed on the Vermont Register of Historic Places.”

A right turn at the traffic light (coming from Brattleboro) on to Route 100 leads to the Old Red Mill Inn, “a wayside tavern, inn, and restaurant at the river’s edge,” as it bills itself.

Rustic in character, the inn, a converted sawmill dating back to 1828, retains much of its original construction and is itself listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Its dining venues include Jerry’s Deck Bar and Grill, with outdoor seating overlooking the Deerfield River, and the Old Red Mill Restaurant, whose “hearty food and drink are specialties of the house,” it proclaims.

“Prime steaks and rib roasts, along with fresh New England seafood, are menu favorites, all preceded by crisp garden salads and warm, fresh-baked breads.”

6. Route 100:

A short drive on Route 100 leads to West Dover, gateway to the Mount Snow ski resort, as evidenced by the Alpine-themed Austrian Haus Lodge, one of the first buildings encountered.

Settled by Captain Abner Perry, of Holliston, Massachusetts, in 1779, and granted a charter signed by Governor Thomas Chittenden, head of the newly formed Vermont Republic, the following year, West Dover and its easterly Dover counterpart began as the township of Wardsborough. After a successful petition to divide it, however, it evolved into Wardsborough itself and Dover after the passage of an 1810 Legislative Assembly act.

Although the summer initially served as the season of attraction for vacationers drawn to area farms during the early-1900s, its winter opposite took center stage mid-century when Walter Schoenknecht, of East Haddam, Connecticut, acquired the Ruben Snow farm, transforming it into the present and popular Mount Snow Ski Resort.

Demand soon turned the handful of lodges into the many of today, along with the coincident shops, restaurants, and motels necessary to support the influx of sports enthusiasts.

Literally paving the way to it all, Route 100 replaced the original dirt artery, which was plied by sleighs in its early days. Aside from automobiles, even the small Deerfield Valley Airport brings in winter tourists.

As a base town, West Dover’s purpose becomes increasingly apparent as you approach the Mount Snow entrance, revealing buildings such as the Inn at Sawmill Farm, the West Dover Inn, the Snow Mountain Market, and the Lodge.

“West Dover (itself),” according to the “Southern Vermont Deerfield Valley Visitors’ Guide,” “stands as one of Vermont’s most splendid examples of a homogenous historic district. Consisting of just 20 buildings dating from 1805 to 1885, the entire district is part of the National Register of Historic Places.

“The village showcases a number of well-preserved buildings. The West Dover Congregational Church, (for instance), was built as a meeting house ‘in the modern style’ of 1858 with money raised by selling pews at auctions. The adjacent Dover Town Office was originally the District #6 schoolhouse, erected in 1857. Across the street, the Harris House, one of the oldest in the village, is now home to the Dover Historical Society.”

Tantamount to any Vermont village is an historic inn-in this case, it takes West Dover Inn form.

“Nestled within the serene Deerfield Valley of Vermont’s Green Mountain National Forest,” according to its own description, “and only two miles from the base of Mount Snow, our home continues an important American tradition of friendly hospitality begun over 150 years ago.

“Originally built in 1846 as a stage coach stop and tavern, the West Dover inn has been lovingly restored and now provides 12 quiet, luxury accommodations, as well as modern and memorable dining in the 1846 Tavern and Restaurant.”

Its menu features pub fare and house specialties, such as rib eye steak, salmon, roasted duck, and pasta.

Mount Snow, the area’s major attraction, is reached by its Northern and Southern Access roads off of Route 100. Considered the most accessible Green Mountain ski resort and located only nine miles from Wilmington, it encompasses 588 acres subdivided into the four mountain areas of Main Mountain, North Face, Sunbrook, and Carinthia, rising from a 1,900-foot base elevation to a 3,600-foot summit one. Its vertical drop is 1,700 feet.

Twenty lifts provide a 30,370-person hourly capacity.

During the summer and fall, the Bluebird Express offers scenic, six-person bubble lift rides to the summit, where views from the Bullwheel Restaurant encompass Little Equinox, Equinox, Mother Myriak, Dorset, Little Stratton, Stratton, and Glebe mountains, which collectively appear as if they were undulating, green-carpeted waves interspersed with icy blue, mirror-resembling lakes. Cloud obstructions stamp the expanse with black patches.

“Mount Snow,” according to its self-description, “offers long cruisers, black diamonds, and technical tree terrain. The ski area is home to eight free-style terrain parks and a super-pipe. (It) offers 12 lifts to access the varying terrain… Advanced skiers and riders will enjoy the 12 trails and two lifts on the North Face. On sunny days, the South Face of the mountain called Sunbrook features ten trails serviced by two lifts with great open-trail skiing and riding.”

Accommodations include the slopeside Grand Summit Resort Hotel and Snow Lake Lodge, a less expensive alternative on its namesaked lake. Complimentary shuttles take skiers to the mountain in season.

7. Bennington:

Bennington, on the western end of the Molly Stark Trail, is particularly rich in sights.

Awarded a town grant after it was chartered by New Hampshire Governor Benning Wentworth in 1749, it experienced initial growth when soil and hands, of the original 20 settlers, transformed the area from ground to town, by means of hand-hewn logs and hand-ground corn, while mechanization took form as grain mills on the east side of the Walloomsac River and sawmills on the west, facilitating the population swell, to 1,500, only four years after the settlement was established.

Nail cutting forges, foundries, blast furnaces, blacksmiths, and tanneries augmented this expansion.

Today, a drive past the town on Route 9/Molly Stark Trail leads to several important attractions. The Bennington Museum is the first of them.

Incorporated in 1852 as the Bennington Historical Association, which itself was founded to commemorate the pivotal battle that raged a few miles across the New York state line, it is one of Vermont’s few accredited museums, whose missions is to “showcase and model the creativity of Vermont in all its forms and throughout its history, as well as serve as a venue for visual and performing arts that enrich our community and our world.”

Even the building that houses it is of historical importance. Constructed of native stone and originally serving as the first St. Francis De Salas catholic church between 1855 and 1892, it was acquired by the Bennington Historical Museum in 1928. Subsequent expansions and intermittent name changes resulted in the present Bennington Museum, the largest art and history repository in Southern Vermont with diverse collections from the early-18th century period to modern times. It features the most extensive public collection of paintings by American folk artist Grandma Moses.

Thirteen continuous and changing exhibitions have included “Gilded Age Vermont Reflects the Industrial Boom,” “Bennington Modernism,” “Works on Paper,” and “Regional Artist Gallery.”

The town, in many ways, was defined by the brief Bennington Battle that can be interpreted at the next attraction, the Bennington Battlefield State Historic Site, only a short drive away on Route 9.

Numerous, diverse reasons and circumstances have lit the spark of war throughout history. Supplies, or at least the pressing need for them, precipitated this one.

By the end of July 1777, the British invasion of New York, intended for the purpose of regaining control and led by General John Burgoyne, had reached Fort Edward, east of Glens Falls. But the flow of necessary staples from Canada that would ensure the movement’s advance through the Mohawk Valley and down to New York City, including draft animals, wagons, and beef, had been reduced to a trickle.

Because intelligence advised Lieutenant Colonel Friedrich Baum that Bennington-located storehouses were ill-protected, he elected to redirect his garrison to Vermont and New Hampshire instead. But Vermont’s Council of Safety, receiving word of his pending onslaught, solicited aid from Vermont troops under Seth Warner and some 1,500 New Hampshire men under John Stark.

Threshold to the confrontation was a hill overlooking the Walloomsac River, five miles from Bennington and not in Vermont, to which Stark sent defensive forces on August 16, 1777, two days after the British had reached it.

Although initial musket fire prompted the immediate surrender of Indians, Canadians, and Tories, the British themselves held their ground and a two-hour clash with the Americans, which Stark later described as “one continuous clap of thunder,” resulted in the capture of the hill and the death of Baum. When the last puff of gun power dissipated, 200 British had perished and 700 had been captured, as opposed to the 40 Americans killed and the 30 wounded.

The Bennington Battle monument, located at the supply storage site and the state’s tallest structure, had its origins in 1873, when the Vermont General Assembly established the Bennington Battle Monument Association, itself an extension of the Bennington Historical Society, with $112,000 for land and the actual structure raised by private citizens, the three states of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts, and Congress.

Designed by Boston architect John Phillipp Rinn and dedicated in 1891, the resulting monolith, constructed of blue-gray magnesian limestone quarried from Hudson Falls, New York, rises 306 feet, 4.5 inches from a 37-square-foot base and is elevator accessible to an observation level, whose 20 11-foot slotted openings afford views of three states. Guided tours up the 421 steps are also periodically offered.

Tickets are purchasable from the gift shop, which occupies the precise site of the original storehouse, goal and catalyst of the battle, while a smaller monument honors Seth Warner, commander of the Green Mountain Boys who helped defeat the British during the second engagement.

Another important Bennington sight is the nearby Old First Church.

Influenced by the “great awakening” in Connecticut and Western Massachusetts, local separatists first gathered on its site on December 3, 1762 in a rudimentary pine structure on what is today the green in front of the church and the village’s center.

Constructed in 1805 by architect Lavius Filmore, cousin of the nation’s 13th president, the church itself, of Colonial architecture, features full pine tree trunks hand-planned into columns, wooden block exterior corner decorations that resemble the stone ones used by their European counterparts, and both lower and upper pews, the latter for visitors and young parishioners.

After a 1937 renovation, which restored the box pews and the high pulpit, poet Robert Frost read “The Black Cottage” during the rededication ceremony, although a second, more extensive project, undertaken between 1994 and 1999, added the exterior’s present white and gray coat of paint. The interior was also replastered and attention was given to the marble steps, the basement beams, the roof, and the bell tower.

Although Frost was not himself a member, he purchased two family burial plots in the adjacent cemetery, where he is interred, along with 75 Revolutionary War patriots.

Art can be appreciated in Bennington in the Bennington Center for the Arts, located a short distance from the Old First Church and built by local philanthropist Bruce Laumeister and his wife, Elizabeth Small, in 1994, initially to display pieces from their own collection. Since, it otherwise achieves its goal of bringing world-class art to residents and visitors of New England.

Paintings and bronzes of and by Native Americans, along with Navajo rugs, pots, and kachina dolls, have yielded, from its earliest days, to an increasing number of notable exhibits in the expanding, multiple-gallery venue, including those from the Society of Animal Artists, the Plein Air Painters of America, the American Watercolor Society, the New England Watercolor Society, the Allied Artists of America, the American Academy of Women Artists, the Pastel Society of America, and Arts for the Parks. It is the only East Coast museum to have hosted the California Art Club.

Connected to the center is the brightly red painted Covered Bridges Museum, which was completed in 2003 and is the world’s first such venue dedicated to their preservation, understanding, and interpretation. They are, in essence, Vermont itself.

Exhibits focus on their design, engineering, construction, and history, and are augmented by films, computer work stations that enable the visitor to explore their building techniques, and a working model railroad layout depicting area covered bridges.

Connecting riverbanks and offering suspended passage for pedestrians, bicycles, horses, carriages, and motorized vehicles, they provide, according to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, a “brief darkness leading from the light to light.”

The real thing, as everywhere in Vermont, is not far from the museum. A northerly drive on Route 7, followed by left turns on to Northside Drive (which itself becomes 67A West) and Silk Road, leads to the 88-foot-long Silk Bridge, which spans the Walloomsac River.

After another left turn on to Murphy Road and a two-mile drive, the Paper Mill Village Bridge appears, a town lattice truss design, although it is a 2000 replacement for the original built by Charles F. Sears in 1889.

Finally, the Henry Bridge, located 1.3 miles further ahead of the intersection of Murphy and River roads, is another reconstruction, built in 1989 to replace the original hailing from 1840.

8. Shraftsbury:

A glimpse into a poet’s life can be experienced in the Robert Frost Stone House Museum, built in 1769 of stone and timer and located on a seven-acre parcel of land in South Shraftsbury (Route 7’s Exit 2).

A literary landmark, it was the home Frost lived in from 1920 to 1929 and in which he penned poems for his first Pulitzer Prize winning book, “New Hampshire,” including “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” ironically written at his dining room table on a hot June 1922 morning after he had been awake all night, working on a different project. An entire room is devoted to this effort.

“The ‘Stopping by Woods’ room,” according to the museum’s guide, “is (entirely) devoted to this poem-the story of how it was written, a facsimile of the handwritten manuscript, a controversial comma, presentation of meter and rhyme, what the critics said about the poem, and what Frost said about it. An example of extreme poetic craftsmanship, this beloved poem is one of the central poetic achievements of American literature.”

Because the surroundings remain virtually unchanged since Frost lived there-from the birch and apple trees, fields, woods, stone walls, and the timbered barn to the red pine trees he himself planted-the visitor can absorb his inspiration.

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Source by Robert Waldvogel

The Meaning and Symbolism Behind the Lotus Flower Tattoo

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Lotus flowers are amazing and have strong symbolic ties to many Asian religions especially throughout India. The lotus flower starts as a small flower down at the bottom of a pond in the mud and muck. It slowly grows up towards the waters surface continually moving towards the light. Once it come to the surface of the water the lotus flower begins to blossom and turn into a beautiful flower.

Within Hinduism and Buddhism the lotus flower has become a symbol for awakening to the spiritual reality of life. The meaning varies slightly between the two religions of course but essentially both religious traditions place importance on the lotus flower.

In modern times the meaning of a lotus flower tattoo ties into it’s religious symbolism and meaning. Most tattoo enthusiast feel that the a lotus tattoo represent life in general. As the lotus flower grows up from the mud into a object of great beauty people also grow and change into something more beautiful (hopefully!). So the symbol represent the struggle of life at its most basic form.

Lotus flower tattoos are also popular for people who have gone through a hard time and are now coming out of it. Like the flower they have been at the bottom in the muddy, yucky dirty bottom of the pond but have risen above this to display an object of beauty or al ife of beauty as the case might be. Thus a lotus flower tattoo or blossom can also represent a hard time in life that has been overcome.

Lotus flower and peonies are also two flowers that are very popular among Japanese tattoo artists and they make a great compliment to Koi Fish tattoos. Ironically enough the two koi fish and lotus flowers can often be found in the same pond in front of a temple. The Koi fish is a symbol typically for strength and individualism.

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Source by Chris Ryerson

Puerto Princesa School of Arts and Trades: Technical Education and Training Provider in Palawan

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PPSAT is one of the 125 Technical Education and Skills Development Authority Technology (TESDA) Institutions in the Philippines. It provides competency-based training programs and strengthens linkages with partners to develop competent workers for local and global employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for quality life. The school is an Accredited Assessment Center and Venue for various qualifications; a Regional Site for Language Skills Programs since 2008. It offers 16 Qualifications registered under the Unified TVET Program Registration and Accreditation System (UTPRAS). In December 2011, the school offered Training Methodology Program for the trainers handling TVET qualifications.

In October, 2011, the school has been accredited with the Asia Pacific Accreditation and Certification Commission (APACC) and a recipient of a bronze level award. This shows that its physical resources, faculty, curriculum, governance and management, are as good as those in the Asia Pacific Region’s TVET schools. The award received motivates its faculty and staff to continue working for the attainment of school’s vision, mission and objectives; as it belongs to the first 21 schools of the 125 to submit for accreditation.

As of these days, the school does not only cater high school graduates. It accommodates college graduates who wants to be technically trained, college undergraduates who dropped from school due to financial constraints, military personnel endorsed by officials from the Armed Forces to take programs prior to their retirement. It likewise recognizes high school undergraduates who have prior learning based on experience and graduates of the Alternative Learning System.

The Puerto Princesa School of Arts and Trades (PPSAT) is located along Rafols Road, Barangay Sta. Monica, Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, Philippines. The school was created under Republic Act 7928 on March 1, 1995 to offer technology programs to the high school graduates who cannot afford to take a four-year college program. It started offering a two-year program in Construction and Electronics Sector. On March, 2003, it had been identified as a Center of Technical Excellence with Machining as its Distinctive Area of Competence. The school was one of the 41 school-beneficiary of Technical Education and Skills Development projects funded by Asian Development Bank. This leads to more programs registered and opened to serve its clients.

Currently, the school strengthens its partnership with Local Government Units, Non-Government Units and industries to meet graduates supply and employment demand of the country. It closely coordinates with the TESDA-Palawan Provincial Office and other Offices for quality delivery of services for customer satisfaction.

As of 2011, PPSAT had produced 2,413 graduates, and 64% are already working. It serves more out-of-school youths who aspire for technical jobs in the Philippines and abroad.

© 2013 March Clarissa C. Posadas

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Source by Clarissa Cabaltera Posadas

Bonsai Trees Vs Dwarfing or Dwarfism

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Bonsai is the Japanese art of growing miniature trees by restricting the growth of the plant through various pruning and cultivating techniques. As part of the growing technique (aka the training process), future Bonsai trees are grown in containers/trays to limit root growth and provide easy access for pruning or shaping the plant as desired. The Bonsai method can take years before a final tree is completed and requires constant care for the tree to stay in the desire size and shape. Bonsai trees are often confused with dwarfism or dwarfing of trees. In actuality, the two processes are completely different in their approach to creating miniature trees.

In dwarfing, the miniature tree effect is obtained through genetics or selective breeding. In selective breeding, specimens which are smaller than the normal specimen size are mated to created a smaller than average specimen. This process is continued till you have a breed of the specimen at the desired size. The other method for dwarfism in plants is genetic engineering. In genetic engineering, genes that inhibit growth or provide miniature characteristics are spliced into the genome of the desired specimen. Genetic engineering modifies genes on a microscopic level while selective breeding modifies genes looking at the macroscopic effects. The end result is a miniature version of the desired specimen with all the desired aesthetics retained.

Depriving a plant of specific hormones during the growth process can also result in dwarfing of the specimen. However, the lack hormones can result in the dwarf specimen not displaying some the desired aesthetics or size. Practice or experience is the best the way to control the end result when using the hormone approach. For, creating display miniatures trees, the hormone method is not normally used.

Both the Bonsai art form and dwarfing are ways of growing many different miniature species of plants and trees. Whichever process is used, the end result is a miniature version of a larger tree or plant. At this point, the dwarfed tree/plant has some significant advantages to a Bonsai tree. Once the dwarfed tree is developed to the desired size, there is little maintenance (i.e. watering, removing dead branches, etc…) required to sustain the tree. However, the Bonsai tree will require continuing pruning and cultivation to maintain the desired size and shape. If not prepared, this can result in the death or ruination of the Bonsai tree. The Bonsai tree method is essentially a larger commitment of time and resources.

So, if the desired miniature tree is one the can be taken care of with watering and some general maintenance, a dwarf tree is the proper selection. However, if you want a miniature tree that reflects your personality and want a hobby for life, the Bonsai tree is the proper selection. In either case, miniature trees have been a source of beauty and awe in private gardens and public arboretums for decades and will add a definitive touch to any décor.

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Face Painting Safety – Do’s And Don’t’s

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It’s not hard to understand why simple face painting is a fun project that many people enjoy getting into. You don’t even need any artistic inclinations – both amateurs and professionals can do it. It’s something children of all ages can also do and is an activity that people of all ages enjoy very much.

Whenever you involve kids in any activity, safety becomes a primary concern. In kids face painting, I have listed down some safety precautions that you need to take into consideration. In this article, I have chosen to put emphasis more on the “Do Not’s”, as these often tend to be overlooked.

DO choose art supplies carefully. There are a lot of so-called face make-up and paints out in the market today, but not all of them are safe. It may be comforting to see the “Non-Toxic” sign on the label, but don’t fall for it hook, line and sinker. Not everything labeled that way is safe for the skin, especially for very small kids.

DO NOT USE acrylic paint! This type of paint is not meant for the skin as it could contain very harmful chemicals and colorants that are normally used in craft painting.

DO NOT USE “washable” or watercolor markers! Like acrylics, these also have chemicals which can cause an allergic reaction on the skin or worse, respiratory distress (for kids who aren’t used to paint chemicals). A lot of people are allergic to craft paints, even though they only have a little amount accidentally spilled on their hand or other body parts. Imagine what it can do to a child.

DO NOT use metallic craft glitters for (as the name suggests) these are just used for arts and crafts, never for the skin painting or molding. The FDA has also mandated that glitters – often used with face paints – should be 0.008 microns in size or even smaller (very, very, very small indeed) as these would be the only ones safe for skin use.

DO make sure to buy FDA-approved face paints; these are the only ones that are safe to buy and safe to use on children.

DO make sure your that the children you will be painting on doesn’t have any allergies to the products that you’ll be using. The common make-up and face paints have ingredients that are similarly structured. So if you are a mother who has make-up at home, the simplest way to test for allergies is to smear some lipstick or gloss just below the child’s wrist. If it doesn’t break out in a small rash after 10 minutes, then you may proceed with face painting. If there is some redness and swelling, then you may need to postpone your session for the meantime.

DO NOT put paint on a face that has even the smallest of pimples. You should only paint on a face that is clear of acne. Remember that a painted face will eventually need to be cleaned. Rubbing on a sensitive part of the face may cause more soreness. Suggest painting on either the arm or another part of the skin that is blemish-free.

DO watch out for head lice. As a face-painter, it is your responsibility to check the child (your child or not) for head lice. To avoid a lice-epidemic in your work area, make sure that you (yes, you, the artist) tie your hair back (if you have long hair). If possible ask the child to pull back or put a band on their hair too. Wash your hands in between each child to avoid infecting the next child. Use alcohol or baby wipes to be sure.

DO thoroughly clean the brushes and the sponges that you use. Clean these materials with warm soap and water. Do not use alcohol as your cleaning agent to prevent bacteria from growing on your tools. It is good practice to throw away moderately used sponges to avoid bacterial and fungal contamination.

If you follow these safety protocols, rest assured that you and your child (or children) will have a happy, fun-filled face painting activity all the time.

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Source by Tommy O Coffler

It’s No Secret – Seven Smart Ways A Vision Board Helps You Achieve Goals and Dreams

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1. A vision board makes your goals visible. That spiral notebook you scribble in is no match for images. For one thing, your vision board doesn’t get stored away in a dresser drawer. For another, you don’t have to flip through an image board to find a journal entry. Most important, for emotional impact a single decent photo blows away written descriptions.

2. A vision board keeps your goals in front of your eyes. In our world of information overload, remembering what you’ve decided to do on this earth is no simple matter. You wake up in the morning, start coffee, and turn on a TV morning show — “just for the weather.” What you get is a Category 5 hurricane of headlines and advertising. It floods your mind with sound bytes and yet more “incredible video, just in!”

With all that’s going on in the world, it’s surprising you remember to let the dog out, let alone what your goals in life are.

But with a vision board, you see your goals first thing in the morning — and as often as you want throughout the day. Even better: if you create a web-based vision board, it’s available wherever you go. You can visualize and focus on your goals at home, at work, even in an airport. Which is saying a lot.

3. A vision board allows you to choose your goals. If you don’t set your goals, someone else will set them for you — your culture, your family, your employer. Or television commercials. Why do you eat at McDonald’s? Um, the TV ads, and the giant M’s, have a lot to do with it. But when you use a vision board to advertise your own goals to yourself, you’ll pay less attention to french fries and more to your fitness program.

4. A vision board reminds you of what you’re working for. Are you just trying to get a report to the boss on time? Punch your time card? Make one more sale? Or do you have a goal, some reason for all the work you do?

If you don’t have a goal, you’re just running from one task to the next. Ask any chicken with its head cut off: it gets old, and fast.

But with a vision board, you remember what you’re working toward. The hard days — or let’s face it, the tedious and boring parts of even the most exciting projects — become not chores but stepping stones along the path to your goal.

5. A vision board acts as a carrot-and-stick for you. Despite some of the airy words floating round some vision board sites, your fortune ain’t gonna arrive on thought waves. Success in anything takes action. A vision board is the carrot that tempts you to work harder and smarter.

And yes, a vision board can be the stick, too. How? Even if you’re the only soul to know about your vision board, it’s still a commitment. It’s there all the time — a training partner who always shows up. It’s counting on you. Strange but true: you won’t want to let your vision board down.

6. Your vision board keeps you in a positive mood. If you’re a person who really wants to see the glass half-full, but often doesn’t – turn to your vision board.

Keeping long-term goals in sight helps you feel far better moment to moment and day to day. Feeling better means you can network better, work harder, love more sincerely — and feel fine about taking time off too. Sure, all of that makes you more effective and successful. But it also just feels better to have long-term, concrete goals.

7. A vision board allows you to create a purpose in life. If you don’t choose your purpose in life, one will be chosen for you. You really don’t want to wake up in a nursing home and find you’ve lived your employer’s purpose for your life. Or your culture’s. Or even your mother’s. (Maybe especially your mother’s!)

Your vision board not only helps you to set a purpose. It lets you modify your purpose when that’s necessary. For example after a major life change, or as you grow personally. Best of all, when you choose a web-based vision board site, you get all the inspiration of multi-sensory visualization – and never again have to fuss around with posterboard and glue.

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Source by Tim Ralston

How to Draw a Car Step by Step – Learn How to Draw a Car Easily Here

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I love drawing cars, it’s a great feeling to see one of your drawings that looks real on a piece of paper. But my drawings looked terrible until I found a guide on how to draw a car step by step. If you’ve ever sat back and taken a look at one of your drawings and seen wobbly lines, bad proportions and something that doesn’t deserve to be labeled a car, then I have some tips for you!

Now I won’t give away all the secrets I learned in the how to draw a car step by step guide, but I’ll tell you one of the processes I use now.

1. Draw Side View

Create a side view of the car you want to draw. Take your time with this because it will be the foundation of your drawing, if there’s something wrong here, it will be hard to fix it up later. Use a light pencil, take your time and be patient. Even the professionals take time to create great drawings!

2. Project Perspective

Now pick a point on the page that you want to use as your perspective. Project lines from all the points of your side view, such as the corners and indents of the body. Make sure these lines are straight, use a ruler and a light pencil once again.

3. Create A 3D View

At this point you will choose a distance from the side view along your projected lines to start drawing the perspective view. It should look like a copy of your side view, that is shrunk down a bit. Once again take your time and make sure you get it right.

4. Connect The Dots!

Obviously now you will draw in the lines between the two side views of your car. Just like connect the dots! Now add all the little structure details that you can. Then we move on to the hard part…

5. Shading

This step is the most time consuming part in the how to draw a car step by step instructions, depending on how good you want it to look. You will need to use a variety of different pencils to achieve the contrast in tones needed to get a nice metallic look. To get a good grasp on this, I’d suggest you going out and looking how light plays on cars and imagining it in black and white. Apply this to your drawings and it will be easier to envisage how your car should look. Remember to leave the highlights of your car unshaded to use the natural white of the paper to create that shiny look.

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Source by Alex Simpson

Forbidden Images of Homosexual and Lesbian Sex in Shunga

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Shunga, literally “Images of Spring”, is the generic term used to describe erotic prints, books, scrolls and paintings of Japan.

Prudery

Only recently (1990s) the study of shunga images depicting homosexual (male-male sex) and lesbian (female-female sex) acts of love have been commenced. This belated research of this “hidden domain” was caused by the official censorship in Japan and also because of the unease and prudery concerning the specific subject-matter in the past.

Male-male

Homosexuality, in Japanese called nansoku meaning ‘male love’, was not an uncommon phenomenon during the Edo (today’s Tokyo) period in Japan. In the early years of the Tokugawa regime (early 17th century) men greatly outnumbered women in Edo. There were very strict rules imposed by the government inspired by the loyal standards of Confucianism which excluded women to participate in any kind of work with the exception of household tasks. These regulations and the shortage of women can be seen as deciding factors for the huge amount of homosexual activities. The most characteristic feature of the depictions in shunga of male-male sex is the relation between the two involved “lovers”. The leading and dominant male with his shaven head is always the older one, this on the basis of seniority or higher social status, while the subjected passive partner was a pre-pubescent or pubescent boy or a young man depicted with a unshaven forelock. These young boys are often shown in female cloths and therefore easily mistaken for girls. They served as pages to high ranking samurai’s, monks, wealthy merchants or older servants and were most desired during their adolesence especially between the age of 15 and 17 years when the anus was still without hair. There are also several shunga designs on the theme of threesome sex depicting one man (always a young male) in the midst of sexual intercourse with a female partner while being taken from behind by an intruder. In most shunga images representing man/youth anal intercourse, the genitalia of the young man are often concealed focusing the attention of the viewer on the garment and elegant lines of the body.

Female Secrets

While there was a Japanese term for male-male (nanshoku) and male-female sex, joshoku or nyoshoku meaning ‘female love’, there was no such word to describe female-female sex or lesbianism. Most of the shunga’s I have come across as a dealer in the past 15 years regarding explicitly female concentrated designs (approx. 20 !) depicted either isolated women masturbating using her fingers or a harigata (artificial phallus/dildo) or two intimate women using this same sexual device. Hokusai (1760-1849), the most famous Ukiyo-e master designed two lesbian ehon (book) prints including one with two awabi (abalone) divers using a sea cucumber. Up to now the only shunga featuring this subject that has been described in literature is Eiri’s famous design from his oban sized series ‘Models of Calligraphy’ (Fumi no kiyogaki) published in 1801. In their book ‘Shunga, the Art of Love in Japan’ (1975) Tom and Mary Evans make an interesting comparison with Eiri’s (they attribute it to Eisho) shunga design and the paintings of the influential post-impressionist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec:

“Whereas Toulouse-Lautrec concentrated on the emotional bond between the girls, and the sad emptiness of the way of life which thrust them into each other’s arms, Eisho (Eiri) was concerned with the physical details of their relationship. And while even such an open-minded artist as Lautrec felt that such details were more than could be reasonably presented to his public, for the Japanese they were the central feature of the design”. (Evans – ‘Shunga, the Art of Love in Japan’)

It must be emphasized that these images of lesbianism in shunga were the result of male fantasies, designed by men and intended for a male audience.

Profound View

Notwithstanding the embarrassment the Japanese at first felt for the representation of these suppressed themes within the shunga genre it’s exactly these particular images that provide a profound view into the cultural and historical background of their country during the Edo period.

Recommended Literature

‘Shunga, the Art of Love in Japan’ (1975) – Tom and Mary Evans

‘Sex and the Floating World’ (1999) – Timon Screech

‘Japanese Erotic Prints’ (2002) – Inge Klompmakers

‘Japanese Erotic Fantasies’ (2005) – C. Uhlenbeck and M. Winkel

Important Shunga Artists

Hishikawa Moronobu (? -1694)

Suzuki Harunobu (c.1725-1770)

Isoda Koryusai (1735-90)

Chokyosai Eiri (act. c.1789-1801)

Kitagawa Utamaro (1753 -1806)

Torii Kiyonaga (1752-1815)

Katsukawa Shuncho (act. c.1780s-early 1800s)

Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849)

Yanagawa Shigenobu (1787-1833)

Keisai Eisen (1790-1848)

Kikugawa Eizan (1787-1867)

Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861)

Utagawa Kunisada (1786-1865)

Kawanabe Kyosai (1831-89)

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Source by Marijn Kruijff

Create Unique and Beautiful Art on Canvas With Raised Stenciling

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Stencils have been around since the 8th century and thought to be first introduced by the Chinese. They have shown to be a proven and long reaching method of adding ornate decoration for centuries in all areas of design.

From Arts and Crafts styling to highly ornamental and detailed Victorian designs, stencils have held their own while other methods of decoration have come and gone throughout the decades.

Being used to decorate walls, ceilings, furniture and even exterior concrete to add beauty and detail, stenciling has gained in popularity in recent years in even the wealthiest of homes and businesses.

Raised stencils are a unique twist on standard stenciling simply because you apply joint compound through the stencil openings to create a raised pattern instead of using paint. The material of these specialty stencils is much thicker than standard painting stencils which allows a significant profile to be achieved. Ordinary craft or painting stencils usually don’t work well for this application.

Raised stenciling, combined with ornamental plaster from molds was featured in our beloved “White House” at the turn of the 20th century when it graced the walls of the Red Room before Eleanor Roosevelt decided to re-decorate.

There is not much further information as to the history of Raised Stenciling and no indication as to why it did not become a popular method of decorating walls, but re-introduction of this lost art in 2004 took the country by surprise and has now become on of the most popular and interesting wall treatments of our time.

Raised Stenciling is not limited to walls and ceilings however. It finds its way in to art forms of all kinds! Used with wood putty or “Wood Icing” on furniture, it creates the look of hand carved designs that fool even the most experienced carpenter! Used on concrete, it appears that the design has been hand carved as a raised element.

Creating fabulous artwork on canvas using plaster stencils is easy and inexpensive.

To plaster stencil on canvas, choose canvas that is mounted to board rather than canvases that are stretched over wooden frames. You need that hard surface to plaster on.

Prime the canvas just as you would a wall before painting it.

An interesting, textured background could be achieved by spreading a thin coat of joint compound or plaster of paris over the primer with a trowel, allowing a skip textured effect by letting the trowel or scraper create natural dents and slight ridges. Allowing the flaws of naturally spreading the compound will give a more detail to the surface.

Allow it to dry completely.

Seal the plaster with a wash of 1/2 white glue and 1/2 water. This will allow any paint finish you do on the surface to go on smoothly. Joint compound or plaster and is very porous and will not absorb paint easily. The glue wash makes the surface consistent and non-porous.

I’ve used three different materials when creating raised designs on canvas: Plaster of paris, joint compound and molding paste (found in art stores).

Situate your Raised Plaster Stencil on the canvas as desired and tape in to place. You can choose to pre-tint the joint compound with deeply pigmented craft or artists paints prior to adding the design to the canvas.

Apply the compounds using a small trowel or plastic scraper by simply smoothing it over the openings of the stencil. By scraping the stencil smooth, the material will be forced in to all the nooks and crannies of the design so that the image is crisp and clear. Without removing the stencil, you can now add more mixture up to ½” thick. Note that the thicker the material is applied, the more cracks you may have in the dried product. In some cases, this can actually be a quite desirable effect.

Un-tape the stencil and gently peel it back from the canvas to reveal the design and allow to dry. Seal the design with the same glue and water mixture to minimize the porosity or use artist’s varnish.

Any number of methods of coloration can now be used to finish the canvas art, from faux finish techniques, to color washing by mixing translucent wall glaze with craft paints, to airbrushing.

There are lots of stencil designs that are perfect for creating a Plaster Painting but also consider cast plaster pieces as well. A combination of both would be spectacular! Consider a background of Raised Plaster Branches from a stencil and then applying Ornamental Plaster Leaves from a mold. Talk about 3-D art!

Cast plaster pieces can also form a natural frame by gluing them to the outer most edge of the canvas. © Victoria Larsen 2012

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Source by Victoria Larsen

Tattoos in Gold or Platinum – Shine Up Your Skin With the Newest Treat

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Would it not be cool to have your tattoos done in gold, silver, platinum or other metals as a unique jewel on your skin? A company in Japan might be starting a new trend.

For the skeptics who would immediate think that this would be some kind of health hazard to inject metal into the skin where it could easily enter the blood stream–you are right. There are no tattoos in the classical sense of the word which includes coloring with gold or other metals.

If you have a design that needs to look metallic, a good tattoo artist would instead use other colors to make it look metallic without directly using gold or silver ink. Such colors would, indeed, be toxic for the body and not something you would want to have lodging inside your skin.

The kind of tattoos are something else. These are not injected into the surface of the skin. Instead they consist of gold or platinum foil applied to the surface of the skin with a new technique developed by a Japanese company which I will present later in this article.

Technique

They consist of 99.99% pure gold or platinum which is applied to the skin in various artistic and aesthetic patters along with other elements such as colored stones and glitter powder. Thus they will not constitute any allergic reaction. Of course, if you are amongst the minority who would have any allergic reaction to normal jewelry made of gold or platinum, you should abstain from this “treatment” also.

Contrary to ordinary tattoos they do not last forever. The estimate is around 2-5 days. I imagine one would have to abstain from a nice Turkish bath in the period of wearing this unique and, no doubt, costly form of jewelry. They can be removed quite easily. Since they are applied to the very surface of the skin they will basically wear off along with the skin cells you are shedding.

A new trend in the making?

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Source by Stig Andersen