Alley Mill

Thanks to Covid I’ve been able to drag my daughter on nature adventures on her days off school, since every other form of entertainment is currently closed/off limits/frowned upon, etc. Our theatre has been closed since March, there were no parades or festivals this year. 😦
We have to be careful to find bathrooms before we go on trails, because most of the state park restrooms and facilities are still shut down, but the parks and trails give us something to do on what would be otherwise another day in front of video games or the tv. – which I am both thoroughly sick of. If I stay home and go outside, I feel like I need to be working in the yard or garden, so I have to get out and get away if I’m to just relax.

I’m not a fan of crowds and some of the parks are quite a bit busier than I like them right now (Elephant Rocks and Johnson’s Shut Ins have been INSANE this year), but Alley Mill is less exciting, so therefore less busy than the more popular parks. It’s a few miles outside of Eminence, Missouri along the Ozark National Scenic Riverways park. This includes the Current River and Echo Bluff which is another of our favorite places to go, especially in summer. We didn’t go tour the mill because we had our puppy in tow and you can’t take animals into state run buildings- or so the signs said. We did go walk the nature trail that circles behind the mill and along the spring for about 1/4 mile before looping back to the parking lot.

I’ve seen SO many pictures of this place on photography forums and Missouri parks forums that I follow and after seeing it in person, I understand why. The mill makes for impressive photographs, especially if you have good light ( I didn’t, it was too bright and my photos look washed out because of it) and can capture the deep red of the mill against the spring’s turquoise water. Yes, the water IS actually that color in person, I did not ramp the color way up in these pictures AND they were taken in mid-day in full sun! There were some cool little caves along the path, though not for human exploration. They were gathering up a big group of horses for a trail ride when we first arrived. We stopped to look at the hoof-prints in the mud on the way out and chat with a couple whose toddler wanted to pet Bowie.

The trails were pretty calm, there’s lots to look at, if you want a quiet little daytrip with lots of photo ops, I’d highly recommend it. If you have busy toddlers that like to run from you like the couple at the end, I would recommend keeping them strapped to you on the trail- it’s high up, narrow and the water below is running VERY fast over some rather large boulders underneath. You don’t want to have to swim for your kid (or dog!) in it.

I recently did a painting of the one of the pictures I took on a saw blade. You can see it on Etsy here:

Acrylic saw blade painting of Alley Mill

https://www.etsy.com/listing/891211240/alley-mill-springs-on-antique-handsaw
It’s of that same iconic shot below the mill that all the photographers like to take.

My daughter loves to visit anyplace with water. Have any recommendations for us in Missouri? We’d love your suggestions!

-B

Painting saws

I have another saw blade available on Cordes Farm’s Etsy shop! This one is on a hand saw, rather than the round blades I’d been using. I found it on the wall in our red shed- which according to our neighbors that have lived here for years, used to be a poultry barn sometime around the 1960’s/70’s. Also according to neighbors- it was one of the largest poultry operations in the state at one time.
Now it’s just “the red shed” to us and it’s full of random stuff that Paw Paw Max has put there when he couldn’t think of where else to stash them. We were poking around in there when my brother Stephen came to visit and he spotted 5 or 6 antique handsaws hanging on the shed wall, which was a great find because I was already starting to run out of round ones to paint on. I’m not particular though, I’ll paint on just about anything and these are really cool.
I looked up the saws online and best as I can figure, they are about 40-50 years old. Most of them had the Warranted Superior Eagle symbol still intact on the handle, some of the emblems were missing, one of them has a plastic handle. Of the Warranted Superior saws, all have wooden handles with ivy scrollwork carved into the wood. I found many of these on E-Bay, ranging in price anywhere from $15 to several hundred dollars depending on how old they thought they were. I don’t have any way of authenticating the age of mine, I just know they are vintage old things from Max’s shed.
These cleaned up pretty easily, since they’d been hanging indoors out of the weather, there was minimal rust, mostly just spider exoskeletons (eww) and dirt (we don’t mind dirt). I washed them, let them dry and sprayed the fronts with a rust arrestor/primer which cured for a while before I painted on the first one. I dabbled a bit in oils on a painting for my daughter and decided I’m not a fan, that I much prefer my acrylic, so this one and probably most of my future paintings is in acrylic. I’m too impatient with the drying time of oils- I have a bit of that Veruca Salt thing going on of “I WANT IT NOW.” Three days for some thing to dry so it doesn’t smear is WAY too freaking long, so acrylic it is.


Anyway, this painting is a conglomeration of our field, the neighbor’s field, a lovely sunrise picture I saw and just a bit of random nature stuff from off the top of my head. I’m working on a turkey one next that is put together in a similar way. To some, boring I know, but this is what I’m attracted to and what I love. Most of the photographs I take are landscapes, old buildings, plants and animals too… other than that period of time where my daughter was small and I ran around behind her photographing and video taping her every move. She’s almost a teenager now and doesn’t appreciate that like she used to. 🙂
She does like my painting though and asked me to do one for her room of our dog that passed away recently. So I painted her Ollie in the creek fetching a stick. That one is just done on a piece of barn wood that she went and found in the garage. I’m working on a fall scene in oil for her too, but it’s not finished yet because… that freaking dry time. The Ollie painting game me a chance to work on my rock painting technique and play with the new fan brush I picked up, which seems to work great for running water. Mostly greens, blues, browns and greys in that one, I didn’t throw in my usual pop of color because I was working from a particular photograph of Ollie in a friend’s creek.

I’ll post an update when I make some progress on the new turkey painting. I got some new detail brushes also which I’m excited to try out and Ely talked me into buying a set of palette knives, which look really interesting, but also kind of scary.
I’m going to be teaching 4-H crafts this year, so I’ll be sure to share some of those that we do too. Although I will confess, most of those will not be original ideas, they’ll be Pinterest projects. Right now I’m off to figure out how to make hand cream because I can’t find the stuff I usually get at Walmart and I’m VERY picky about my hand cream. I figure if I make it myself, at least I know exactly what I’m smearing on my skin, as opposed to the commercial stuff that has at least 10 unpronounceable ingredients in it.
Always busy. Keeps my mind from wandering or dwelling. 🙂

The fall scene sawblade is for sale HERE on Etsy.


-Belle