M a r s i    P a r k e r    D a r w i n
|Where do I start?
Stained-glass artist dreams of writing books
By Sheila Pursglove, Special Writer
PUBLISHED: November 23, 2006
Chelsea Standard/Dexter Leader
Local stained glass artist Marsi Parker Darwin is setting herself a new goal – to succeed as a freelance writer.
"My dream is to write children's books and finish a novel I started 15 years ago," she says. "I'd love to publish at least one book before I leave this world. I've been a frustrated writer since second grade. So that's my next big dream." And fulfilling her dreams has never been a problem for "Moonlight Marsi" – the nickname she's carried since college days. Darwin – who has been published in The Auction Exchange, Current, Farm Journal, Michigan Traveler Magazine, and a publication of the National Stained Glass Association, and who also offers freelance writing and website design services – certainly has a wealth of experience to draw on for her writing. The Colorado native, who grew up in that state as well as New Mexico, Texas and Michigan, earned an honors degree in English from Albion College where her father taught geology. Over the years, she worked as a waitress, bartender, dietician, weather balloon chaser, child caregiver, co-owner of an evergreen nursery, and head librarian in Stockbridge for 10 years, before becoming a full time glass artisan in 1998. "I've been a chameleon all my life, but my transformation into an artist has helped me to express my vision of what I wish the world could be – a peaceful and beautiful place," she says. Darwin was introduced to stained glass – and to her future husband – in 1988, when she took a class from Bill Darwin II at the Waterloo Farm Museum, where she was a volunteer. The pair tied the knot in 1990, and now share their Waterloo Township home with three Welsh Corgi dogs, two cats and two parrots, as well as peacocks, chickens, guinea fowl, ducks, and geese. The duo loves the outdoors - morel mushroom hunting, fishing, and camping. "One thing I truly appreciate about this lifestyle is the flexibility that it affords," Darwin says. "My family, friends, and pets are of primary importance to me, and I'm able to juggle my responsibilities in order to have the time with them that I need." It's a lifestyle that also weaves its way into her writing. "The kids' books are based on the bird and animal antics I've observed around here, with a life lesson thrown in," she says. "I may self-publish one of these days. The novel is about an ordinary woman who has led an extraordinary life. Not sure if I will ever finish it!" Many of her passions – dogs, moons, Michigan flowers, leaves, birds, and morels – are in her stained glass panels, pendants, and small handcrafted ornaments she christened MoonCrystals. "I create little worlds, whether in glass, or in words, or in web designs, that make the imagination come alive," she says. "It gives me a thrill to think of my work giving people joy on a daily basis. It's fun to think that the sun is shining through my glass 24 hours a day, somewhere on this planet. I have pieces all over the world." Art is a family affair. The Darwin's pole barn is filled with stained glass art created by Marsi, Bill and Bill's mother, JoAnne. "Glass gives me the opportunity to play with color and light as I never could with paint or fabric," Darwin says. "I get very excited when I have a design in mind, or when I find a piece of glass that seems to show me a design. Sometimes I see a mountain, or a sunset, or a cloudy sky — lately I've been experimenting with new forms of my trademark, the moon and stars in a cobalt sky. Now I'm etching stars in violet glass, and mottled glass. I often get inspiration in the middle of the night and can't wait to get down to the studio to play with colors and designs." Her work is also displayed at her West of the Moon Gallery, an arts co-operative at 112 E. Middle St. in Chelsea. The space started in 2004 as "Darwin's Downtown" but when Bill decided to move back to his studio in Waterloo, Marsi rounded up 20 artists and artisans and opened in April 2005, offering baskets, cards, clay, collage, fiber art, glass, handbags, jewelry, mosaics, paintings, photography and more. Darwin, who ran Chelsea's first outdoor Art Market in conjunction with this summer's "Sounds & Sights on Thursday Nights" program, has had a finger in many artistic pies, including the 4 Friends group with artisans Susan Falcone, Marlene Dusbiber and Tracy Gallup. A stained glass door she created for ""Opening Doors: A Community Celebration of McKune Memorial Library," a joint community art project of the Chelsea Center for the Arts and the Chelsea District Library, was auctioned at the Oct. 28 CCA Autumn Jubilee fund-raiser, where Darwin and fellow artisan Sandy Knapp were honored. Darwin and her husband have been involved with CCA for several years, and served as artists-in-residence for the CCA’s 2003 Pathway to Renewal spiral mosaic sculpture. The pair also served as artists-in-residence at Manchester's Riverfolk Festival in 2003. "Bill and I were strongly drawn to one another when we met and I truly believe we were meant to be together," Darwin says. "He's a patient teacher, generous with his knowledge. Now it's a shared mission, to communicate our passion for the art of stained glass with others."
:: posted by Marsi 1:12am 12/01/06
this from my cousin Carolyn:
One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, "My son, the battle is between two "wolves" inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith. The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: " Which wolf wins? The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."
:: posted by Marsi 2:22am 1/12/07
I lost a friend a few months ago. She was an amazing example of how to live fully. I just came across one of her last e-mails.
"I did not need a heavy jacket to go for dinner yesterday. Fall cozy one did just fine. Besides that, the sun was shining and all was bright. Wes let me hang on to his right elbow and walking went so easy. We missed Arrow (their dog that died.) Leslie even brought out the framed picture to see. She seemed to set the pace for the activity of all three of them. Mac sat at my feet and Bow stayed on her cushion. That proves that her 14 years is a slow-down . The narcissus is in the budding stage and her center piece was just beautiful of red and green peppers and a (long red sweet) Spanish. The turkey was a prize picture on the large platter that I had made years ago and gave to them. Did not come home until 5:35 and we had had such a good time telling where each and everyone was. When I read Kenneth's good letter - that finished the Thanksgiving.I had printed out and read the following:
I am thankful for the gift of life For the invisible energy that beats my heart. I am grateful for all those who have gone before me, giving of their lives, creativity and love. I accept loss and death, and give thanks for the deepening of my spirit they bring. I am thankful for my growing sense of inner calmness, trust and faith that gives me assurance in the face of the unknown. I deeply appreciate the wondrous gift of friendship, the Friend behind all friends, and the delight of quietly, invisibly putting others first. So very deeply, I appreciate the warmth of love in my heart that silences my fears, guides me, and fills me with optimism about the future. With grateful anticipation, I embrace the unfolding adventure and mystery of life. I am grateful for the yet-to-be-discovered opportunities and delights that are sure to come my way. I am thankful for the glory of this present moment, and for the unfolding of each new moment. And I am thankful for my thankfulness-for the gift of gratitude and the clarity, strength and joy it bestows.
:: posted by Marsi 4:39am 3/12/07
I hadn’t known whom to thank until I happened to see the sign on Waterloo Road recently. Under Michigan’s “Adopt-A-Highway” project, The Knights of Columbus, Council 3092, have been picking up trash on that road and doing a wonderful job. Waterloo Road is designated a scenic drive, with its curves and hills, winding north of Chelsea through beautiful country on both sides of M-52. People often remark on the beauty of the drive when they come out to our studio, but it’s definitely enhanced by the cleanliness of the roadside. I can’t imagine throwing so much as a gum wrapper out the car window, but apparently not everyone was taught not to be a litterbug. I’m sure it is done mostly out of ignorance, and I know parents have their plates full already, but a few lessons about littering might go a long way. Thank goodness for people like the Knights, who give their own time for the environment. It’s appalling how many trash bags they fill, but it sure looks great when they’re done – at least for a while.
:: posted by Marsi 2:02pm 10/12/07
Darwins to display stained glass collection at Inn Season Café
Royal Oak, MI –
Beginning Tuesday, May 20 and running through August 31, 2008, Inn Season Café is pleased to invite Darwin’s Stained Glass Studio in an exhibition of their glass works. This collection has been crafted to showcase the talents of Bill and Marsi Parker Darwin, both award winning artists. The Darwins exhibit at juried art shows, in galleries and shops, and have been featured in Art Showcase Magazine. Bill Darwin II apprenticed in the art of stained glass with his grandfather at the age of sixteen and has been perfecting his craft for more than 30 years since. His patience and attention to detail have earned a reputation as “one of the premier stained glass artisans in the Midwest,” and his work can be found all over the world. Bill has been a First Prize Winner in the Delphi Glass Competition four times. In addition, he restores antique slot machines and maintains a professional croquet court in front of his studio in Waterloo, northwest of Chelsea. Marsi Parker Darwin grew up in Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas, earned a degree in English from Albion College, and has worked many jobs, finding her true calling when she took a class from Bill in 1988. Two years later they married, sharing their country home with corgis, cats, and birds. Marsi founded More Friends, a group of local artists who show together, and started the West of the Moon Gallery in downtown Chelsea, an artist’s co-operative. She also works as a freelance writer and website designer. In their spare time, Bill and Marsi enjoy listening to live music and are avid morel mushroom hunters. Inn Season Café is Metro Detroit’s most established vegetarian restaurant with a rotating exhibit of local artists. Since 1981, Inn Season using locally sourced organic produce when possible has strived to present skillfully prepared classic and inventive world cuisine. The Inn Season Café is located at 500 E. Fourth Street in Royal Oak, Michigan. For menu selections, visit the website at:www.theinnseasoncafe.com.
:: posted by Marsi 6:12am 5/12/08
Catherine's package came in yesterday's mail. it was odd; as i turned into our drive last night, i skidded a bit on the freezing snowy road and went on to her old driveway next door to turn around. i got the most wrenching "homesick" missing her i've had in many years. a wave of nostalgia hit me hard. so it was lovely to open the mailbox and get the things she sent. thank you, my dear old (young) friend! :o)
it has been frantic here. i had 4 shows in a week last week. one more to go, this coming Sunday. plus some custom work and painting saints faces for a church.
:: posted by Marsi 8:15am 09/12/08
One more thing...
"Make your art your castle, dear,
and if the mobs recoil,
Raise the bridge, flash a finger
And boil a pot of oil."
from Lauren at her show - not sure who wrote it? but so appropos...
:: posted by Marsi 12:10am 03/10/09