This song kept running through my mind during the short time I was in town.
Why so short? Well, it seems that everyone wants to spend time at Kohler-Andrae State Park. It is a lovely spot, and I’d be happy to return.
Why? Well, first off, I got a PULL THROUGH SITE! It doesn’t look like much at first glance.
Ah, but on the other side of my trailer, I have my own private world.
The other campers must have been there before, because they parked so that their doors faced their private fire circles and tables. But they missed out on the view from their door at sunset.
This park is right on Lake Michigan, and there are the loveliest cool breezes.
I could only get the site for one night, so I did the best I could with the time I had. I googled “What to do in Sheboygan” and decided to visit the John Michael Kohler Arts Center. They were also having a fiber arts arts exhibit, and I’ve done my share of off-beat fiber arts. I had to see what they had.
The first thrill happened before I even got into the Arts Center. I found this little gem in the parking lot.
I think this is a food truck, but wouldn’t it make a great camper?
It even has its own deck on top!
With my expectations suitably raised, I headed inside. There was a sign that permitted photography. If any of the artists I have included see this and don’t want me to show their work, please let me know. I will remove your work.
What a great entrance to the exhibit!
Oh, my, this is glorious! And, something that appeals to my recycling soul. It’s made out of the lids from a Starbuck’s she visited over the span of 21 months.
And how about this one? Talk about ethereal!
This sign on the floor tickled my fancy,
And this is the work of art being protected.
There was even an artist, Amy Honchell, who used fibers to express geographical/geological themes.
Unfortunately, I didn’t take good enough notes to be able to include the titles of these other pieces. But, if you are curious, the show will be up until October 11, 2015.
I thought this was marvelous, but I couldn’t find an identifying plaque.
Another artist’s work I enjoyed was done by Carole Frances Lung.
Lung, in the persona of Frau Fiber, raced one of Wigwam’s industrial knitting machines. Wigwam is one of Wisconsin’s notable companies, still producing their popular socks right there in Sheboygan. A process that took the machine minutes to complete took her an entire half-day shift.
Carole Frances Lung was one of the artists in residence at the Kohler factory. This is a piece based on the overalls they workers wore when they were produced in-house. From what I remember, she wove the material and then sewed the uniform. Those are the pattern pieces used to cut the material. They are made of iron (I think) and have handles on them for moving them around. I was fascinated.
Speaking of Kohler, I was lucky enough to be able to take a tour of the Kohler Factory in nearby Kohler, Wisconsin.
The tour started at 8:30 the next morning, and I slept fitfully because I was a little worried about oversleeping. Since I didn’t have my campsite for a second night, I had to take my Flo, the Airstream, with me. The woman who took my reservation assured me that there would be room for me to park on the street. I suppose anxiety about parking also contributed to my restless night of sleep.
The tour was fantastic! If you ever get the chance to take it, I highly recommend it if you are curious about how things are made.
They don’t allow visitors to take pictures, so I have none to share with you. If you are interested, they do have some photos on line. Just google Kohler Factory images.
We met at the Kohler Design Center across the street from the plant. If you are a fan of plumbing fixtures, you might just want to spend and hour and drool about the lovely things that are available. Our tour guide, Jim, was a Kohler retiree. He had worked there for 47 years in several of the departments, so he could give us a lot of inside information.
The first section of the plant we visited was the pottery. When we entered, we saw a whole bunch of wall-mount urinals being unmolded. My glasses fogged up immediately upon entering, as the temperature is at least 80º and the humidity is 80% year round. We walked past more molding stations, drying rooms, kilns, glazing stations, quality control places, and packaging stations.
We also took a quick glance into the workshop for the ceramic artists in residence. It’s a highly competitive program, according to Jim. They get room and board, all materials, a workspace and collaboration with the Kohler employees to create works of art informed by industrial processes. They have to donate two finished works to Kohler. These works of art are displayed in the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, around the factory and around the village of Kohler.
Then it was on to the place where the faucets are made. This building is five stories tall, but we only skimmed through the bottom floor. Jim proudly described the workmanship and the finishes that were used. He spent a good portion of his career in this department.
After that, we went on to the foundry. Not only do they make bathtubs for their own lines, they make cast iron parts for other companies. The part I saw them working on was a brake drum, which is definitely not part of the Kohler plumbing line.
The bathtub casting was going on in a never-ending circle. It was amazing to see the molten iron being poured into the molds and the constant quality testing going on. A metallurgist was sampling the metal by the scoopful out of each batch of metal.
They unmolded the tubs, cleaned them off, heated them up, applied the enamel, cleaned off the drips and they performed quality control all along the way.
We also stopped in to the Artist in Residence studio in the foundry. This artist was willing to chat a bit. He had made a mold of a Fritos bag and had cast metal reproductions. He had a design he was working out on paper and he said he was going to experiment with applying enamels to the metal bag. He was from Ireland and had the most delightful accent.
The tour was three and a half hours long, and I was getting pretty pooped. I was very thankful that my truck was not ticketed, because the sign said that there was a two hour limit, except for residents.
I figured that, if I should be unlucky enough to get a ticket, I would argue that I was a resident since Flo was my home and my home was in Kohler.
Luckily enough I didn’t have to try to make them see reason.
Off I went to the next stop, Devil’s Lake State Park. Another one-night stay. These state parks in Wisconsin are just a-hopping!