Monday, October 27, 2014

Great people live in Indianapolis too!


My life in the art studio has been dedicated to commissions.  I’m excited to have so many requested pieces, but now I have to bear down and create the art.  At the top of my queue is my “Summer Salad” revisitation.  Because the composition features a compilation of many small needle felted vegetables, it’s the perfect piece to take along as I patiently wait for the boys at their various activities.  Right now, that means Taekwondo, hip-hop dancing, and voice lessons.  Happily, I now have the full complement of cherry tomatoes, olives, mushrooms and all of the radishes (except for their little white tails).  
 I’ll be finishing those soon when I can wet felt again.  My finger just needs to heal a little more from the cut.

Hmmm.  You might not have heard about my exciting trip to the emergency room at the Bloomington hospital last week.  I was working on part of the set for the “Phantom” performance and I severely cut my left index finger with an Exacto knife.  It took several hours of waiting, but they finally declared me to be functional and glued the wound back together.  They gave me a tetanus shot, patted my bottom and told me to be more careful as they discharged me four hours later at 12:30 a.m.  I’ll be back at full strength shortly. 

Injuries give you a moment to stop and take stock of your life.  As I looked around me, I decided that the color of my current season is orange.  It just feels like there is a wonderful orange glow around the neighborhood right now.  At the farmer’s market I saw lots of orange pumpkins (one of which came home with us), and the orange helped inspire me to work on the orange carrots for the “Summer Salad” piece.  We have had some beautiful sunny weather and the changing leaves are striking—just more orange in my world.  The orange motif was reiterated as I drove to Indianapolis last week on a mission to look for a new camera.  I got to see lots of trees changing color along highway 37.  One of the best parts of that adventure was a long overdue visit to the Indy Upcycle store on Guilford Avenue in Indianapolis. 
 It’s a recycled craft supply store, which is the kind of place where I find all sorts of treasures for my work.  I systematically went through every bin that the proprietor had and found silver cord and thread, green felt and yarns, wire scraps and tiny little objects that will work beautifully in my underground scenes.  I found the cutest little pair of scissors and some scrabble tiles, which seems especially relevant since I spend a fair bit of time playing Scrabble with friends online and Tommie at home.  Yesterday morning developed slowly after a late night due to the cast party for the “Phantom” performance Saturday.  We sat, talked and played scrabble in front of a fire while Jim baked a cranberry/apple pie in the kitchen.  Yum!  Anyway, I had a delightful time in the store and enjoyed interacting with the proprietor.  I was delighted when, on Saturday morning, I received a package in the mail from Indy Upcycle containing two tufts of green feathers!  It was one of the things we searched for, and the person there mailed me some feathers she discovered after I left!  I would say she should move to Bloomington, but I’m glad she’s there when I visit. 

On the drive home from Indy I got into some crazy traffic on 37, which prompted the thought that I should take old 37.  I got into more beautiful oranges on the old highway, and I was able to stop in at Musgrave Orchard.  I reconnected with the orange-haired (!) Hamiltons, whom I haven’t seen in a very long time.  I was amazed at how big the children there had grown while I wasn’t watching!  I picked up four big jugs of apple cider, one of which didn’t survive the day when my boys came home from school.  I also brought home a nice selection of apples and squash for my family.  The whole trip left me feeling very happy. 

My family life has been extraordinarily busy, as usual.  I’ll summarize a bit to say that the Sounds of South performance of “Phantom of the Opera” held their penultimate performance last Saturday night.  Tommie did a stellar job in the chorus and handling the props and stage.  He just handles everything on stage with a quiet professionalism.  I had to smile when Tommie, during the auction scene, bid on the monkey I created using an auction paddle that I also made for the show.  He didn’t get the monkey, but he started the group bidding on the piece—way to support your Mom’s work!  Jacob ran the lighting, as he has for the whole show, and threw in a few of his own creative touches to make the performance richer.  I served as an usher while Jim stayed home and rested after hours of wood cutting and splitting followed by Taekwondo and sparring.  It was great to usher and meet people from all over the community coming together to support the SOS group.  Everyone went away impressed with the extraordinarily high quality of the performance. 

I will be out and about in the community with my art a few times over the next few weeks.  First, I’ll be at Spring Hill Suites on College Avenue on Wednesday the 29th from 5-7:30 p.m. for ArtNight, a one evening exhibition of my weavings, along with two other artists.   You can see my latest tomato piece with the myriad tomatoes I needle felted over the summer on my travels.  Spring Hill Suites has started carrying my notecards and Sweater Petals as well.   Next, I’ll be present for a reception for the new bigheaded ant exhibit at Wonderlab on November 7th from 5:00 to 8:30 p.m.   
My final show of the calendar year will be at the combined Artisans Guilds show at the Convention Center on November 14th and 15th.  My ‘Looking at Water’ exhibit will still be there in the Rogers room, so stop in to see my new Re-Shirts at the show and my weavings nearby!
 

It’s been a long blog, but I can’t get by without mentioning the delightful Mutsu apple and cranberry pie that Jim made yesterday morning.  The next time he makes it, which better be soon so we can still find more Mutsu apples, he needs to know that the filling needs more cranberries!  I’ll have to do the experiment and see how I like this one a few more times, with espresso, to be sure!


Until next week,

Martina Celerin

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Commission after commission!


This week brought closure to a delightful project I’ve been working on for some time.  It’s an elaborate, large format commission piece that features an extended path with trees and flowers.  It is personalized with fabric from the owner, including a rich purple cloth from their wedding houpa.  My rule is that I won’t show an image of the completed work until the patron sees it first, so I can only give a sneak peak of a small section with the promise that I’ll post the entire image at a later date when their home renovations are completed and they can accept delivery. 

Bringing that project to a conclusion means I’m putting more energy into the next two commission pieces on my plate.  The first will revisit a favorite piece, “Summer Salad.”  It involves creating a lot of detailed vegetable pieces to scale.  This week was devoted to assembling the sliced tomatoes.  I put the outside skin on the six slices I prepared, leaving the project of layering on the details of the meat and seeds in the cross-section.  The cherry tomatoes for the piece are almost as cute as the ones that are coming off the vines in the garden.   
There aren’t many actual tomatoes as I’d like, since some creature of the night is stealing all the big tomatoes and some of the little ones, but I’m getting a taste.  I’ve built all of the shapes that I need for the mushrooms from felted sweater pieces, over which I’ll needle felt soft grey carded wool to make the surface look realistic.  Ahead of me lie the radishes, celery, onions, broccoli and cucumbers.  I promised to complete the piece by mid December, so I feel like I’m on schedule with all my other responsibilities.  The sliced vegetables seem to have attracted another big-headed ant, though.  They asked me to create one more worker for the exhibit at Wonderlab.  
 The reception for the ant exhibit will be held during First Fridays on November 6th from 5 to 8:30.  The ants will be provided, but it will be BYOP (bring your own picnic!). 

As I scurry into new projects, my exhibit continues to hang at the Convention Center in the Rogers room.  I realized that I neglected to take a photo of one piece before I hung the show, forcing me to zip back in to grab an image of “Looking at the Water”.  I had so much fun making the lawn chair and posting it on Facebook before I attached it to the piece.  
 So many people thought that I had reclaimed an old seventies-era aluminum lawn chair by replacing the fabric.  When they saw the piece on the kitchen counter top for scale it became clear that it was a miniature.  Still, the piece seems to bring back fond memories for a lot of people. 

Life is building to another crescendo this week.  Monday begins the last week of rehearsals for the “Phantom of the Opera” show that begins on Saturday, October 18th.  It continues for two more Saturdays, and they’re trying to sell out the shows to help cover the extensive costs for the elaborate falling chandelier and hundreds of costumes, among other investments.  You can see the evil monkey atop the ornate music box and the dead body I created for the show too—it’s incredible how much has gone into this production.   
Tommie is a chorus member and Jacob is in charge of the lighting.  Grandma will come to town for opening night and Jim will watch, cook, and keep everyone calm, so it’s really a family affair.  Oh, and speaking of my sweet husband Jim, he made me two apple pies on Saturday.  One went to a party and was consumed, but the other provided a slice for my Sunday morning breakfast with espresso. 

I should also mention that last week was the public school’s Fall Break.  I needed a break too, so the boys and I drove south west for a day adventure to French Lick.  It started with a beautiful fall drive along winding roads.  The little towns, with their unusual names and cultures seem very different from Bloomington.  We started with go-kart racing followed by a stop in an arcade.  
The boys deftly played a five dollar advance into enough tickets to buy us all tiaras and moustaches, which became the official family attire for the trip.  We found a hole-in-the-wall pizza place where the waitress was a little taken aback by our attire.  Then we played a round of mini golf (still in costume).  We have a family rule that the winner buys the ice cream, which of course turned out to be me.  No ice cream place was in sight, so we decided to venture into the West Baden Springs hotel so the boys could see the grandness of the dome from the inside.  As we approached the front door, a sharply dressed fellow asked how he could help us. 
You might or might not think that tiaras and moustaches were appropriate attire for the fancy hotel, but he let us right in and even became our tour guide.  He gave us lots of details about the history of the place and the renovations that were done.  I’ve seen pictures of the place, but until you’re standing there to experience the scale and the grandiosity of the place it is hard to appreciate.   We ended up having ice cream at a parlor in the hotel before the boys found an ornate chess set and board that was actually an inlaid table.  They played while I wandered the hotel to get a better sense of the space.  All in all it was a perfect day out and a break in our routine.  But now it’s back to art!  And the Phantom!  He says that tickets are available online, so we hope to see you there!


Until next week,

Martina Celerin 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Weave and ye shall receive!


I spent a delightful evening Friday at the reception for my ‘Looking at Water’ exhibition.  The Convention Center set out an amazing display of hors d’oeuvres to snack on, including butternut soup, gouda mac and cheese, and pumpkin tartlets.  Elegant servers whisked through the well-attended show with glasses of red and white wine on platters.  There was even a harpist, which provided a beautiful complement to my visual art.  We decided that the harp was perfect because of the connection between the strings in the instrument, the warps in the weavings, and the collection of yarns and wires comprising the pieces.  The subtle intonations of the harp are reminiscent of rippling water, creating a beautiful atmosphere.  I’m very grateful for how much effort that Patti Russo, Talisha Coppock and the Convention Center personnel invested in making the reception and show a wonderful event! 

The show itself marks another turning point for me.  It felt great to have all the water pieces completed and hanging.  It gave me closure to that body of work.  The highlight was all the delightful conversations I was able to have with people at the reception.  Many were new to my work, but it was great to bond with long-term supporters I have in the town.  Many picked up on the new techniques and subtleties in composition that were developed for the water-based exhibition.  It was heartwarming to share my sense of pride in accomplishment as we talked about the cohesiveness in the show and distinctive features in each piece. 

The life of an artist, sadly, isn’t all receptions and celebration.  With so much time invested in creating pieces for the exhibit, much that is mundane was pushed to the back burner.  I spent most of this week trying to restore some order in my life.  I fixed the vacuum cleaner and ran it over much of the house.  I processed a mountain of laundry and generally cleaned the rest of the house.  I even devoted some time to creating the last of the props for the Sounds of South performance of ‘Phantom of the Opera.  
 I created an elaborate jewelry box for Carlotta and trays of beer steins for the cast members in the ‘Don Juan’ scene.  I made it out to Long’s Landing, and the supportive crew there donated large foam pieces for the phantom’s armchair.  I did just dip my toes back into the art world at the end of the week by adding colorful flowers along the walkway of my large-format commissioned piece.  I need some green yarn for a third commission in my cue, which will require dyeing various textured yarns.  
 I wound skeins of yarns in preparation for the big dyeing project.  I even did a little needle felting for a second commission in the cue, creating mushrooms and olives for the piece.  Last, I’m gearing up to make some more sweater petals for the holiday season at By Hand Gallery, as well as the upcoming Artisan Guilds ofBloomington show this fall.   
This year the three Guilds (Spinners and Weavers, Glass, and Pottery) will combine to show at the Convention Center on November 14th and 15th.  My ‘Looking at Water’ exhibit will still be there in the Rogers room, so stop in to visit both!

Of course family events are still proceeding at full steam.  The boys are both heavy into rehearsals (two nights a week) for Phantom of the Opera.  Tommie will be on stage, while Jacob was tapped to handle the lighting for the show.  It’s amazing to see how far they have come since the first rehearsals I saw in late summer, so now I’m looking forward to seeing the final, polished version on October 18th.  Parents have been charged with ramping up advertising, meaning putting out yard signs, posters, magnets for cars, and anything else we can come up with.  Tickets are available on line, and we hope to see you there!   
Still, the best part of the week might have been the raspberry pie that appeared last Sunday morning after Saturday’s farmer’s market.  I had a slice each morning this past week, finishing the last one this morning with espresso.  The weather turned cold, but I’m looking forward to the first fire in the fireplace of the season tonight!  I hope you stay warm too!


Until next week,

Martina Celerin 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Looking at Water

My exhibition is up!  The primary focus of the past two months has been creating pieces for my “Looking at Water” exhibition.  Its first exposure will be at the Bloomington/Monroe County Convention Center, 103 S. College Road, in the newly remodeled Rogers room.  The room is a little secluded, but you’re welcome to stop in to see it.  The pieces will hang there until mid-November, and on December 1st it will move to the Bloomington Bagel Company on North Dunn for two months. 

One feature of the exhibition that I consciously worked toward was to incorporate some design or conceptual element that allows each piece to transition into the next.  I hung the exhibition with the thought of going from a small droplet of water to a small stream of water and on through rivers and ponds and ending in vast body of water—a scene where you don’t see anything but water around you.  One recent notable addition to the exhibition features a bluegill in a pond.  I spent a little time with fish images to ensure that the colors and subtleties were accurate. 
I’m also pleased with “Heading for Open Water”, which was inspired by boating trips to Saginaw Bay on Lake Huron.  We loaded Grandpa’s boat at Gambil’s Landing and drove through the seemingly endless rushes and cattails heading for walleye fishing on Saginaw bay of Lake Huron.  We passed by numerous turtles sunning themselves, dragonflies flitting around, and egrets scanning the shallow water for small fish.  As we broke into the open water of the bay we headed for deeper water, scanning the horizon for packs of boats that often gave away the places where fish were biting.  Far out on the bay you can see the towers at the mouth of the Saginaw River, the shore along Pinconning and Linwood, and the line where water meets sky to the east.  I know Canada is out there, even if I can’t see it. 

Another piece that I’m proud of features single droplets of water and is called “Water Sprout.”  When I water the garden I’m fascinated by watching the water come streaming out of the sprayer head on the hose or watering can.  I feel a certain satisfaction when I give small plants something they need to survive and grow.  The piece I created celebrates that water spout as it nurtures a little bean sprout.  It contains some stainless steel wire wrapped on an old wooden spool that Grandpa gave me at least ten years ago.  I’ve been saving it for a special occasion, because he handed it me accompanied with that serious look that meant ‘stainless steel wire’ was something special that needed just the occasion for use.  My “Water Sprout” features droplets of water created from blobs of hot glue extended from pieces of stainless steel wire from the special spool.  The wire that I used to create the roots of the bean sprout came from recycled spiral notebooks.  The math problems on the pages of the binder may be long forgotten and the paper recycled, but the spiral binder lives on in the weaving. 


I hope you’ll come join me for the opening reception of the show on Friday, October 3rd from 5-8 p.m. during Gallery Walk.  There will be a harpist from IU playing to add atmosphere.  If you live too far away to come, I made a short movie to capture the room and the feel of the pieces in the exhibit.  With the show hung, I feel as if a huge weight has been removed from my shoulders.  Luckily, the weather is warm enough to sit outside on the veranda and have dinner again.  Two nights ago we had pesto with some grilled butternut squash and a delightful bottle of wine, with some shared brownie treats from BluBoy for dessert.  We lit the candles to remember spring and early summer dinners enjoyed on the veranda.  I intend to have a little pause from art creation for a few days to catch up on other things I’ve neglected.  This morning I fixed the vacuum cleaner, and I woke to the smell of baking raspberry pie from berries that Jim secretly bought at the farmer’s market.  I’d say things are looking up!


Until next week,

Martina Celerin

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Weaving an Exhibition!


This is has been an intense week of artwork for me.  I’ve been getting up at six a.m. each morning and going straight into the art studio to weave.  I’m steaming along on pieces for my exhibition titled “Looking at Water.”  My goal is to have sixteen new pieces, and I feel like I’m on track to reach my goal.  I have eleven completed, but I have four more in progress and a sketch for the last piece.  In some cases I have the weaving largely assembled but I’m still lacking a featured animal or physical structure, such as a fish, turtle or a dock.  I don’t think I’ve ever had so many open books!  My attention is now is focused on a second weaving featuring a dock that I’m pretty excited about.  
 The inside of the weathered dock boards are felt from army blankets that came to me in my treasure hunts.  That continues the strong connection to my father-in-law’s old army blankets that supported so many pieces, but the wool from them is mostly gone.  As each piece comes closer to completion I feel better about the show.

My desire to do this exhibition came in part from a very successful exhibit I did early in the year at City Hall and Meadowood, "Portraits of Trees."  The show featured trees and lots of fresh spring green.  It felt great to see the pieces together on the wall after a long, cold winter.  Around that time I decided I wanted to assemble pieces for another exhibit built on a theme.  The idea transformed into the “Looking at Water” themed exhibit scheduled for October at the Convention Center.  Thinking about the shows reminds me that while I lack formal training as an artist, I seem to learn about the art world from unexpected places.  I’m not a television watcher, although I do watch Project Runway religiously.   
At the end of each season the surviving artists create collections that determine the winner.  I love the continuity in the collections the designers create, where theme elements connect the pieces—it might be a style, a fabric or a color.  One piece speaks to the next, not as a reiteration of the composition, but as a spark to begin the conversation on the next design.  I’m consciously trying to replicate that concept in my exhibition.  I’m looking forward to hanging the show as a linear story of “Looking at Water”, with design ideas and materials that flow through the exhibition.  The broader concept is still solidifying in my head, even as I have now mentally created all the pieces.  Come and see the exhibition and we can see how the story unfolds!

My other big art news is the completion of the bigheaded ants last month, which were finally delivered to Wonderlab.  This past week they invited me to participate in laying out the ants in their new home.  They are going to be crawling over the wall up to the sign that introduces the bigheaded ant exhibit.  After laying it out it became clear that they needed one more ant on the back of the sign.  As soon as my water exhibit is complete I’ll create one more worker ant.  Then I’ll re-launch on all my commissions in progress to bring everything together.  I have the large “Garden Path” piece to complete, and that’s my top priority.  
 I also finished weaving and stretching out the background for the “Summer Salad”commission.  That means I’ll be felting lots of vegetables for the foreground.  Sliced tomatoes, here we go!

On the family front, Jim and I celebrated fifteen wonderful years of marriage together.  It’s hard to imagine a life before marriage and my family.  Jacob grilled salmon for the celebratory dinner, which came out beautifully.  
 There was also a new peach pie, but the boys (and I) again made short work of that.  Then, somehow we managed to walk right past the raspberries at the farmer’s market on Saturday!  With the peach pies so fleeting, shouldn’t another pie appear very soon?  I know there’s fruit in the freezer!

Until next week,

Martina Celerin

Sunday, September 7, 2014

My world of water comes back into focus!


I was awake at 3:30 yesterday morning, unable to sleep as I mentally went over my inventory for my upcoming ‘Looking at Water’ exhibition at the Convention Center in October.  I spent a big chunk of my day locked in my art studio weaving water and creating cattails.  The only thing that brought me back to the computer to produce a long overdue blog post was the dire threat made by Jim that I couldn’t have more than one pie per post.  I enjoyed the first peach pie of the season two weeks ago, so I knew I better start writing!  Now I'm getting way ahead of myself.  I’ll try to catch you up on what’s been happening. 

My ants are finally done!  I delivered the colony to Wonderlab this past Thursday.  We’ll have a meeting this week to discuss the display, which might involve making one more ant.  Along the way, I feel like I learned a lot about the anatomy of ants, what distinguishes the species and which morphologies are shared.   
I came to love my ants, but I’m glad they’re out of the studio.  At Wonderlab they’re talking about painting or stenciling ants along the wall that leads to the exhibition, which sounds fun.  If they do that, I really think the last stenciled ant should be an intermediate between the stenciled ants and the first three-dimensional creation.  That would make it look like the last ant was crawling out of the wall.  I think that would be interesting, but it would mean making one more half-ant.  I invite everyone to the opening reception on the first Friday in November.  There will be a fun kids project to create ant parts by wet felting fleece into balls to produce the body segments.  These will be connected with pipe cleaners.  I have just the most perfect brown noils from Sheep Street that I will donate to the project.  This is just the ideal material to learn how to felt color-appropriate ant body parts.  Come and see!

Of course Labor Day means the Fourth Street Festival.  It was a very successful show from my perspective, with no major incidents.  The weather wasn’t ideal when the show opened Saturday in steady rain, but Sunday turned into an absolutely beautiful sunny day.  The humidity was low with some clouds, and over 33 thousand fair attendees came out for the two-day event.  Happily/sadly I sold one of my water-themed pieces I intended to show at my upcoming Convention center exhibition that I described above.  I think I’ll be able to replace the piece and come up with a full complement of sixteen pieces for the exhibition by the end of this month.  
 The ‘Looking at Water’ concept means that you’ll see any and all forms of water, from a drop falling from a faucet to small ponds with aquatic life and on to vast lakes.  So much of our lives revolves around water that I just had to think about water and express it in my art.  I’ll hang the show in late September and the opening reception will coincide with the first Friday’s gallery walk from 5-8 p.m.  Please stop by and say hello at that reception too!

My life is never so simple as to allow me to focus solely on my own art.  I’ve been dividing my time to help with the Sounds of South group’s ginormous production of Phantom of the Opera in late October and early November.  I have always possessed a passion for the theater, having regularly attended theatrical productions, opera and plays with my father.  I fondly remember having season tickets to the Stratford Festival performances in Stratford, Ontario.  When Tommie auditioned into Sounds of South it opened the door a crack for me to get involved.   
Earlier this summer I made a set ofskirts for the performance, and last month I finished repurposing an evil monkey on an ornate music box that is central to the performance.  I made an ornate hat for the diva in the performance, Carlotta, and it matches her extravagant gown and personality.  I added a reticule to her outfit, which is now also a new word in my vocabulary (thanks David Wade!).  I was also charged with making the body of Buquet that is hung from the rafters by the phantom.  I’ve never made a dead body before.  Heck, I’ve never made an alive body – well, except for my sons! 

My life was also filled with big personal events.  Jim and the boys tested for their black belts in Taekwondo on the 16th of August.  His brother Tim was the ‘bad guy’ for self-defense and got thrown around a bit, and Grandma came down to see the performance too.  It was a very emotional test all around.  Jacob was praised for his power and precision in his forms, Tommie for his flexibility and graceful high kicks, and Jim for just making it through the whole process.  We had a big reception at our house after the party where it was nice to just sit and relax in peace and quiet with food from the Owlery, cakes and cupcakes from Blu Boy, and a beautiful personalized cake from Esperanza Hogan.  
 Oh, and I did get a peach pie, a rare treat this summer with so few peaches, as a reward for finished my ants.  I know as soon as I get this posted I’ll get another pie.  Type, type, type!  Start rolling the crust, Jim!


Until next week,

Martina Celerin 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Aspens, ants, and evil monkeys!

Where did this month go?  I’ve never taken a three-week hiatus between blogs, but I know I was focused on making art!  I buckled down and have been working furiously on finishing three ongoing projects that need resolution.  One of them is a large-format commission piece that features aspens in the autumn showing golden leaf clumps in the canopy.  The understory is a nice olive-y green color with a few fallen aspen leaves, while the canopy is solid golden.  When I work with aspens in art pieces I remember being mesmerized by them during my trip to Colorado after graduate school. 
My father took me there in October 1995, and the images are still vivid in my memory.  To make the tree trunks I pulled out my box full of shoelaces and old macramé cord.  I wrapped them with a yarn that has a lot in common with a friendly shelter dog.  The yarn was destined to become upholstery fabric, but it ended up unwanted and tossed outside with the trash.  A friend of mine saw it, rescued it and gave it to me.  It gives me extra pleasure to know the history of my materials, which gives the combined piece a richer character. 
The crocheted yellow clumps were made using yarn I dyed last month, combined with an assortment of materials drawn from my yellow remnant box.  I feel like the piece is finally coming together.

As I work on projects, I feel like all of my deadlines are falling around October 1st.  Another ongoing project I have described before involve a series of bigheaded ants for permanent exhibition at Wonderlab.  I have the colony ants completed, but the queen is the final character I need for closure.  She’s coming along nicely!  Her legs are all made out of predominantly reclaimed materials - reclaimed baling wire, wrapped with a partially used skein of red-brown yarn from my collection.   
The antennae are made from Jim’s old guitar strings.  I like the deeper ‘E’ and ‘A’ strings the best because they are the thickest diameter wire.  Maybe I need to encourage him to play his guitar more.  I’m definitely running out of material—the queen needs her antennae!

The third major project that I have taken on involves the Sounds of South, the choral group at Bloomington Highschool South that puts on musical performances.  This year they’re producing Phantom of the Opera.  Tommie is part of the group, and I now see how enormous an undertaking these performances are!  A huge amount of preparation, construction, painting and groundwork go into the professional product they produce.  One of my tasks is to convert a happy, smiling Gundt monkey sitting on a black box into an evil little cymbal-playing monkey on an ornate music box.   
Somehow I managed to volunteer to transform the little guy into his role.  I have a ways to go, but I have removed the stuffing from his face and replaced it with wool.  I needle felted more wool over the facial structure to sculpt a look more consistent with the production monkey.  I still have to add the skin, i.e., some maple tree bark-dyed fleece to the monkey’s face and replace the stringy fur with some fake fur.  My friend Cappi Phillips generously offered to donate material that should work out perfectly—thanks Cappi!  I also dug out my gold paint and fancy trim to transform the music box into something more ornate.  This should come together shortly.

Last, I want to mention the wonderful, cool weather of late July and early August.  That allowed many enjoyable dinners outside on the veranda, grilled and otherwise.   
I even had a cherry pie that Jim and Tommie baked while I was apparently too busy to notice!  The pie was in the oven while I was downstairs in the art studio just before dinner.  They slipped it out and onto the veranda without me knowing or smelling anything!  It was a wonderful surprise, although as I think about it, one pie in three weeks seems a bit low.  I’m sure something will turn up soon.  I do have a big project, though, which will intercede into my art world.  This week I need to put away my art stuff and don my French maid’s outfit to transform the house into a presentable place for a reception.  Then I’ll smile and pretend the house always look like that!  Along the way, many bags of things will go to the recycle center and much Windex will be consumed.  It’s all because the three boys will test for their black belt in Taekwondo on Saturday the 16th.  Jim’s brother Tim, his wife Bobi, and Jim’s mother will all visit for the test.  Afterward we’re having a reception at 4pm in our back yard, catered by the Owlery and BluBoy from downtown – come if you’re in town!  I won’t promise a pie, but there will be lots to eat and drink!


Until next week,

Martina Celerin