Sunday, August 29, 2010

Anybody need a hand?

It’s time for my annual big push in preparation the Fourth Street Festival here in Bloomington. Thankfully, this year I’m not trying to deal with the children’s booth project. That ate up a huge amount of my time the past few years, and I still have the unfinished project from last year sitting in my living room. This year’s challenge was filling my booth with fresh art for my discriminating local clientele. That became even more of an issue than usual when the fine folks at the Madison Art Fair just about cleaned out my booth. Rain or shine, the set up is this Friday for the weekend show, so I only have a few days to bring things together. That includes helping stomp out all the little fires associated with the show’s production that pop up every year.

On the bright side, I just finished a big piece called ‘The Harvest’. It has a hand that’s pulling a carrot out of the earth, which means I’ve been needle felting a hand and a forearm for the last few weeks. I’m really pleased with how it turned out, but the disembodied arm has freaked out more than a few people. I’m sure it looks a little creepy to watch someone poke needles at high speed into a realistic looking arm. I took it to the farmer’s market yesterday, and while we picked up some corn, peaches and tomatoes, we hung the hand-in-progress from the steering wheel. As we walked away we all marveled at how realistic it looked. In hindsight, in today’s world it might not have been so smart to have a realistic arm hanging free of a body in your car. At least it wasn’t dripping blood. On the bright side, now the arm is securely fastened in its permanent location, pulling a carrot out of the earth. I’ll be in trouble though, if the police come for the arm —it will tell them it was framed!

I did do a little dyeing this week too. I pulled my frozen harvest of yellow goldenrod flowers out of the freezer and threw them into my dye pot. I first tried my stock protocol, which is to boil the flowers for an hour in water and let them steep overnight. Then I filter the brew and throw in my washed wool. I boil it again for an hour and let it steep overnight again. My first effort wasn’t too spectacular—the wool came out a pretty but rather drab yellow. There was still quite a bit of yellow in the dye pot, so I threw in some alum and some fresh wool to see what would happen. Out came a brilliant yellow that I thought was amazing. Next time I’ll start with alum see how it turns out. I may be an artist now, but still love doing experiments!

On other fronts, I finished my whimsical yellow bird and perched her in the framed tree I created for her. I've named it "Out on a Limb" and I’m very pleased with how that one turned out too, so I’m looking forward to debuting my newest pieces for my peeps here in town. That reminds me of waking up in the hotel room during the Columbus Ohio art fair next to my then seven-year-old son. He woke up with a smile, looked up at me, and said: “if your friends are your ‘peeps’, I think your best friend must be your ‘perp’!” Why that was the first waking thought in his head is beyond my understanding—weird stuff like that comes from Jim’s side of the family. That was the good old days, though. Now Jacob is eight, and Tommie just turned ten. We’ve been feasting on an excellent chocolate birthday cake this week. The intrepid boys, along with their friend Lara, chased butterflies in an open field until they collected 51 today, including a bunch of new species that were photographed, identified and released. I sat and sketched with my new wood-less coloured pencils while they ran around, so all was well in my world!

Until next week…

Martina Celerin

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