Source: Grosse Pointe News Online

Falling into a classic story

by Ann L. Fouty Features Editor

June 20, 2013

Oh dear! Oh dear! Don’t be late.

A new adventure, “Fairy Tales at Ford House: A Wonderful Experience,” comes to life at the Edsel & Eleanor Ford House, in the third and final summer series celebrating fairy tales. This year, it’s all about Alice from “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” as she, the Mad Hatter, the Queen of Hearts and the White Rabbit kick off the high-energy, imaginative event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, June 29.

The Ford house’s wooded grounds, activities center, Josephine Ford’s playhouse and the pool house set the stage for story time and an art exhibit, inspired by the novel written by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll in 1865. Both human and animal characters from the story will be incorporated in activities including multi-cultural storytelling, story circles, games and a storybook reading event.

The art and educational portions of the exhibit, Almost Alice: Illustrations of Wonderland and Alice, Art & Artifact, open the same day and run through Sept. 8.

Opening day

Experience Alice’s wonderland in the South Cottage where the atmosphere is set to make children feel both small and large, mimicking Alice’s size changes.

In the main entrance, children will have a chance to take books from the cottage to read in a designated outdoor reading area, said Sara Ericson, the Ford House’s museum technician.

Back inside the cottage, an oversize book with large print can be handled to experience that shrinking feeling.

In another cottage room, children sit at a child-size table as tea party guests. They also will have the opportunity to try on hats, including the Mad Hatter’s tall hat.

The hall of doors will be set up in a third room of the cottage. Children can gaze through peep holes to see pieces of art illustrating Alice’s story. The last door opens and children can squat down to peer into a garden setting.

A fourth room contains a toadstool table and chairs and children’s activities.

“They’ll feel tiny in this room,” Ericson said. “There will be a projection of the Cheshire Cat. It will fade in and out. The cat’s body will fade, then the face, then the smile.”

Josephine’s playhouse will be transformed into the White Rabbit’s house with the lizard flying out the chimney and its bottom half in the fireplace, Ericson said.

Also, children will be able to dress up either as the White Rabbit or Alice.

The grounds are the site of a maze, a petting farm, three-legged races, story telling, puppet shows, short plays performed by Grosse Pointe Theatre members and croquet with the Queen of Hearts. Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum will be around and children can blow bubbles with the caterpillar.

Advance tickets cost $12 or $15 at the door.

“This has become such a community staple, a family event,” said Ann Fitzpatrick, vice president of communications for the Ford House. “It’s creative and fun.”


“Almost Alice: Illustrations of Wonderland” presents artist Maggie Taylor’s digitally manipulated pieces into layered montages. Faces in the pieces were taken from vintage photographs and incorporated into photos. Of particular interest are the faces of the King and Queen of Hearts and Alice. Her illustrations are in the South Cottage.

The second exhibit, “Alice, Art & Artifact,” is a multi-media art creation from eight College for Creative Studies students in an art and artifact class. Their work was inspired by either the story or Ford House artifacts.

One of the items, Alice’s night dress, was created by Nabeela Najjar of Detroit. She fashioned the unusual nightgown from leafy paper and gauzy material. It can be seen in the playhouse’s bedroom.

According to Josephine Shea, Ford House curator, fiber artist Karen Quinn of Livonia created three sizes of aprons. From a more than 6-foot apron of pink to a medium size of green gingham to the smallest green and pink, they are multi-layered. Guests can lift the layers of material to reveal a different apron.

Ceramicists Michelle Perry of Saginaw and Alexandria Rabishaw of Milwaukee both created tea sets. Other items created include costumes, water colors and embroideries by illustrator Emily Boyd, ceramist Alejandra Roig, fiber artist Alexa Ulbrich and illustrator Andrea Del Rio. Their works are on display at the pool house.