Monday, November 29, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving means family, food and travel. Before I got into the full spirit of the weekend holiday, though, I still managed to move some projects forward. I finished most of the carrot tops for my ‘Baby Carrots’ piece. I still need to finish one carrot top and needle felt the little babies onto the background. And dig up a few treasures for the soil—perhaps a rock or some slag and a rusty nail. Just the kind of stuff you dig up when planting veggie seeds in the garden bed. When I re-launch my art career tomorrow, after unpacking suitcases and getting laundry going, I’m also going to start on a black ruffled merino shawl that I was commissioned to create. I just got a big shipment of merino wool from Oregon, and I had already purchased all the black merino within a fifty-mile drive of home. My plan is to use the wet-felting strategy I developed for my ruffled scarves and create a larger triangular shawl.

This year for Thanksgiving we drove to see Grandma in Michigan. We started off from school Tuesday after lunch and drove like the wind. The whole family was mesmerized by a book on tape: Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief. Tommie and Jim have read the whole series, but Jacob and I were hearing it for the first time. We both guessed who the traitor was, and what parts of the prophecy meant as the book went along. Even better, we were able to drive without stopping until dinner around five. We then embraced Kawkawlin with hugs all around with Grandma and Uncle Tim. He arrived from New Mexico earlier in the week and had some alone time with Grandma before we descended on the scene. For Thanksgiving dinner, Aunt Lois drove in from Essexville and the Gibsons from next door joined us. They brought their friend Millie. Everybody contributed to the dinner, which was fun. The Gibsons brought turkey, stuffing and gravy, Millie brought scalloped potatoes, Tim made a potato and bean stir-fry dish, Jim made salmon and Aunt Lois brought cranberry salad and mom made squash. She also arranged the table and made the place look special. I was in charge of cutting bread, arranging the relish tray and keeping wine glasses full. An important task! Everything came together beautifully. Everyone had all they could eat and then we finished off the feast with pumpkin pie and ice cream. We even opened a fifteen year old bottle of Muscat as a dessert wine that we have been saving since before we were married. The dinner, like most of the weekend, was just lots of chillin’, hanging around and chitty-chatting with family and friends. It was all very nice. We got to do a little secret Christmas shopping, and I even got a stylish winter jacket from Mom that I get to wear now, but promise to keep clean until Christmas and put under the tree. The highlight for the boys was when Ben and Kathey Gibson, took them to the airport. Ben flies a jet in his semi-retirement, and he took the boys for a tour of the plane. They got to sit in the cockpit, learn about engines and flying, and even had a brownie sundae at the airport. Does life get any better than that? When they came home they were just bubbling over about their adventure and showed us all the pictures and movies they took. Today we got an early start and sped straight home in time for welcome-home Kluski dinner! As soon as I get this written it’s sure to be bedtime. Tomorrow it’s back to work and a chance to reflect on the weekend.

And now back to art... this weekend is the Holiday Art Fair at the Unitarian Universalist Church (Fee Lane and the bypass, here in Bloomington) on Friday 10 am - 7 pm and Saturday 9 am - 5 pm. Hope to see you there!

Until next week…

Martina Celerin

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Baby Carrots Find a Home

My maternal instinct kicked in this week. I wanted to finish the background for the ‘Baby Carrots’ commissioned piece I’ve been working on so my little friends could have a home. Not only did I finish the weaving, I even stretched it out and stitched it on the frame. After the frantic scarf-making and shows over the last few weeks I decided this was just the right thing to do—get in my art studio and weave! Now I just need to create the carrot tops. The cold weather is upon us, and babies lose most of their heat through their heads, you know. Oh, and I also cleaned up the back of the weaving. That process always brings back warm memories for me. My grandmother always said that a piece of art should look as good from the back as it does from the front. I’ve kept that idea to myself for years. When I first started having my work photographed by Tom Bertolacini, though, I had to laugh out loud at his first effort. He actually photographed the back of one of my abstract pieces, thinking it was the front! In his defense he said that it looked good—how could I be upset?

The events from last weekend spilled over into this week in some unexpected and funny ways. At the Fiber Arts Show I met a delightful woman, originally from Argentina, who was very kind and complimentary toward my work. She asked me if I taught what I do, and I said I really didn’t. I basked in the glow of many similar kindnesses from last weekend as I prepared to do a long-planned workshop in Danville, Indiana. Anyway, I had a beautiful drive through rural Indiana along highway 39. Full disclosure—it isn’t much of a highway. It has wonderful switchbacks through southern Indiana limestone country and lots of cornfields farther north at the southern end of the glacier track. The towns were tiny and quaint and a lot of the barns were leaning to embrace mother earth. I was richly and repeatedly reminded that Bloomington, my little oasis, does not represent Indiana. When I arrived at the highschool in Danville I was greeted by an enthusiastic bunch of people, including—you guessed it—my new friend from Argentina. It turns out she’s a teacher at the school. We laughed and laughed, and I guess I was busted for saying I didn’t teach my craft. The group was delightful and we had fun creating needle felted ornaments. This was actually a repeat visit for me, and Tiffany (the organizer) and her friend (another workshop repeater) had created some truly beautiful patterns on their ornaments. I’m scheduled to go back in the spring to run yet another workshop on whimsical felted turtles. That should be a lot of fun!

This week some of my summer veggies showed their displeasure with being ignored over the summer. In the bottom of the crisper I found half a cabbage from July and couple of old squash that were starting to get a little moldy. I just handed the whole drawer to my husband Jim for a trip to the compost pile. I did feel a little badly about my best-laid (but failed) plans to cook with the squash into soup. To atone for my errant ways, I whipped up some ‘Lois soup’ using kale that came to me from a generous neighbor, Nicola. The soup is named after the boy’s fairy godmother, Lois Graham. She lives an active life of retirement, split between Cross Village Michigan and somewhere in southern Texas, depending on the season. Her soup (in my hands) has greens, black-eyed peas and veggie sausages, plus a little spice to warm it up. It’s tasty and the perfect cold-weather soup. We had some the night I made it, along with fresh focaccia. Yum! The timing was good, because the rosemary plant that lives on my kitchen counter needed a trim.

Now it’s time to get ready for Thanksgiving. I’m planning on doing a little sketching to get some fresh ideas down, and the boys are looking forward to getting some time off from school. The only dark moment from the week came in Jim’s Tae kwon do class Wednesday, when he separated his shoulder on an ill-timed fall. He kept on going until the X-rays Saturday showed what happened, and now he’s a little disappointed about having to cut back his activities for a while. He does look cute in the sling, though!

Until next week…

Martina Celerin

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Big Fiber Art Fair

The calendar might say it’s mid-November, but the weatherperson had other ideas last week. We had some delightful sunny days with days in the mid seventies. Normal people think of raking leaves or going for a nice walk, but not me. I took the unexpected opportunity to finish four wood frames for weavings. Just like rodents putting away nuts for the winter, I store away finished frames for those long winter days when I’m cozied up in my art studio weaving and it’s too cold outside to use putty or stains. Of course that got me excited about weaving, so I spent some time working on my Baby Carrots commission. I wove a little dirt and remembered just how much I enjoy weaving. Luckily I snapped out of my reverie in time to get ready for the Bloomington Spinners and Weaver’s Guild Fiber Art Fair on Friday and Saturday. It was wonderful to catch up with people I only see once or twice a year. It was especially nice to finally cross paths with a woman who’s been looking for me for five years. I did a show in Sellersburg, a small town in southeastern Indiana not too far from Louisville. I haven’t done the show since, mostly because Sellersburg isn’t an apt name. I even read the papers the next day, thinking that the bridges between Indiana and Louisville must have washed out, keeping all my potential patrons south of the Ohio River...

The thing that struck me about this weekend’s show was the number of people who not only recognize my art, but can also point out the pieces that represent my new directions and ideas. This year the big hit for me was the ruffled scarves. I sold every one I had, which has sent me into a frenzy to find more merino. I try to buy all my stuff locally, but I've exhausted the supply of merino fleece for fifty miles. I ultimately ordered some from a web source in Portland, Oregon, but I ended up buying them out too. I’m patiently waiting for the delivery and a refund for the rest of the incomplete order. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m anticipating making more ruffled scarves and a black shawl, all before the next show, the UU Art Fair and Bazaar on December 3 & 4.

Doing the show this weekend made me appreciate my support crew. I got a delightful breakfast of toast, sausages and eggs. OK, the eggs were egg beaters and the sausages were the veggie version, but they were just what I wanted. They brought me food at the show when I needed it, including a delightful sandwich from Panera for lunch Saturday. When the show was over they packed me up in the rain and drove me home, smiling the whole time. I’m very lucky. My security translates into warm fuzzy art and new challenges.

A next step for me came to pass over the past few weeks, with David Goodrum stepping down as the president of the Fourth Street Art Fair executive committee. I tried to bribe him with some old champagne. Actually, I gave him a bottle to congratulate him and a second bottle to bribe him to say on. It didn’t work. When the committee reconvened and had elections to replace the executive committee, I threw my hat into the ring. Now I’m the new Fourth Street Fair president. I’m a little nervous about the enormity of the task but I’m looking forward to the challenge. The show has been a big success for 35 years, so I have big shoes to fill and long shadows to grow beyond. The good news is that the hard working crew of volunteer artists that make it happen is still in place. They make it fun and worthwhile.

Until next week…

Martina Celerin

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Gearing up for the fall season

November marks the start of my busy holiday season of shows and events. That means last week was spent trying to get ready. I felted scarves like a fiend so I’d have plenty of pieces for all the shows, including the Déjà Vu show in Columbus on Saturday. I was feeling so good about my progress that I put away the table risers and left my special felting tablecloth in place. I figured that one meal with the kids and it would be covered in ketchup and butter stains and thereby earn a trip to the washer. I also reclaimed my art studio to do a little weaving. This was a bigger project than I imagined because the boys decided it was the perfect place to do a little whittling. They did ‘clean up’, but I still spent a huge amount of time picking up all the little wood chunks left behind. I pushed everything else to the walls and got out my old friend the easel. I loaded up a loom and warped it with some brown polypropylene yarn. I filled my work area with my yummy chocolaty red/brown earthy yarns. I sorted them into a color gradient, and tomorrow, by golly, I’m going to weave! "Baby Carrots" your home is on it's way...

When Friday came I was feeling pretty good about my progress. Off I went to the opening reception for my show at the John Waldron Art Center. What a fun time! My boys were delightful, having learned the ‘Mom’s having a reception’ drill. They hung out with me and made origami Greek gods (Tommie) and fortune tellers (Jacob). They entertained themselves beautifully until Jim came to whisk them off to Greek’s Pizzeria for dinner. I had a delightful time chatting with people—I even got a few compliments! It was great to see one of my Zumba instructors, Liz, from Bloom Zum who gets up with me at 6:30 a.m. to keep me in shape. It was interesting to see her out of context—nicely dressed and looking sharp. I’m guessing I look a little different too when I’m not gyrating and dripping sweat. The best news was that one of my pieces, ‘Out on a Limb’, found a new home. There was no time to rest when we got home—I loaded up Bluebell with everything I needed for the Déjà Vu show and went to bed early.

Saturday morning I popped up out of bed early, ready to go. I drove to Columbus, set up the show with a few weavings, a lot of scarves and cards, and a few of my ornaments from last year. I had a really fun time. Part of that came from the happy and enthusiastic crowds we got—kudos to Marilyn Brackney, who is making the show into an impressive, artist friendly annual event. I was also fortunate to be set up next to Ann, an artist friend from Muncie, and across from Cappie, my good friend from Bloomington. Ann is just hysterical, and the three of us made jokes and laughed all day. I think it’s safe to say that a good time was had by all! The show sales went well too. I sold a weaving—“Stone Fish” found a new home. I sold a lot of ornaments (I’m down to about 18) and cards too, so I was busy all day. The big mover this show, however, was my felted scarves with ruffled edges. I even sold one scarf to three people! That’s too complicated a story for the blog, but ask me in person someday and I’ll tell you the tale. My proudest moment, though, was when I ran into a regular blog reader. She asked for some history around some of the felted tiles I designed in North Carolina. As I told her the story she kept filling in details! She knew about the rice paper I bought on the Outer Banks and the sketches I made. When it was time to take down, Jim and Tommie showed up to help. Jacob was playing at a friend’s house and having cheese pizza for dinner. Things went so smoothly we weren’t the last ones out, which is a rarity. By the time I got home I was ready to set the clocks back and go to bed, secure in the knowledge that I earned that extra hour of sleep. Tonight, though, I’m slipping back into stress mode. I sold so many scarves that I need to put a few more together for the show this coming Friday and Saturday (the Spinners and Weaver’s Guild’s Fiber Art Show). I have a few commissions to put together too—it’s the whole problem of selling one scarf to three people again. I dashed out to Sheep Street today to get more merino and I spent my post-dinner hours laying out some more ruffled scarves. Christmas just can’t come too soon this year! In all seriousness, though, it’s good to be busy creating new things, and I really enjoy meeting new people and talking about my art.

Until next week…

Martina Celerin