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Posted on Sun, Feb 13, 2011 : 1:30 p.m.

Two Twelve Art Center in Saline challenges creativity with 'mouse house' contest

By Lisa Allmendinger


Saline artist Sandy Webster shows off her "mouse house," which is one of 11 artworks that can be found in downtown Saline through the end of February.

Lisa Allmendinger | Ann

The Cake Eaters, a group of artists who meet Friday mornings at Two Twelve Art Center, became "mouse house" creators this winter.

Eleven of their designs can be found hidden in downtown businesses through the end of February as part of a "mouse house hunt" during which visitors can fill out a game card and become eligible for a gift basket drawing from the Saline Downtown Business Association.

For three of the Cake Eaters, Sandy Webster, Key Cassill and Cindy Baxter, all of Saline, the mouse houses are just one of a number of challenges they’ve taken on through Two Twelve.

Since the art center’s inception about five years ago, the Friday morning group has been issued many challenges — to make something out of a cork, an old photograph, a seashell or a cigar box — which is where the mouse house challenge originated.

“It all began with a cork,” Baxter said of the artist challenges. “Margie (Bovee, director) brought in a bag full of corks because she wanted them out of the house and challenged us to create something with them.”

Those who took on the challenge designed jewelry, a doll and a pin cushion, while the winner of the challenge turned the cork into a boat that included two fishermen and floated in a wine glass.


Kay Cassill was one of 11 Two Twelve artists who took the mouse house challenge.

Lisa Allmendinger |

“The artists come up with ideas, write them down, and put them in a hat,” Baxter said.

“We try to do something new, something that stretches us,” said Webster.

Last year, the participants made fairy doors, which were also displayed in downtown businesses. This year, it’s mouse houses. Eleven in all, and just as in previous challenges, the creative juices were flowing.

Joy Ely, owner of the Pineapple House, was one of the judges who awarded first-, second- and third-place ribbons to the cigar box mouse-sized homes.

“It was fun but very difficult because they were all so creative," Ely said.

Webster, a fiber and watercolor artist from Saline, said her house design “Merry Little Christmas” incorporated elements such as her uncle’s fireplace in Dexter into a Mary Engelbreit story.

“It really took on a life of its own,” she said.

Cassill’s mouse house titled “Matthew’s Dream,” came from Leo Lionni’s “Fredrick’s Fables,” another children’s story. The painter, who has her self portrait at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, also added 3-D elements.

For Baxter, a former preschool teacher and painter, it was a tough choice because of the number of children's books she has.


Another mouse house.

Lisa Allmendinger |

She chose to use clay in her mouse house design and derived inspiration from the story “Little Mouse, The Great Big Bear and the Red Ripe Strawberry” by Dawn and Audrey Wood. The artists said the mouse house creations took them out of their element to design something fun in a small space.

At Two Twelve, there are about 50 to 75 artists who come and go from the art center, which recently moved two doors down to 216 W. Michigan Ave. Anyone is welcome to stop by, and there are classes for all levels and many types of art.

“It’s an amazing community,” Baxter said.

Lisa Allmendinger is a reporter with She can be reached at For more Saline stories, visit our Saline page.