Thursday, December 29, 2011

Holiday cheer, plus a little art…

This week news revolves around family activities, but I did manage to get some art done. I created a new kind of scarf—thanks to Cappi for the idea! It's made from old sweaters that I felted last week and red felt balls that I made last year! I’ve been making more sweater petals and re-stocking places like the By Hand Gallery and Wonderlab, but my main focus was on creating holiday cheer. The boys and I did some shopping downtown on the square with our wish lists in hand, supporting local merchants. Still, we couldn’t lose sight of the fact that Grandma and Aunt Lois were due to arrive Thursday afternoon. That meant a lot of house cleaning and holiday baking were on the agenda. The whole family piled in to the borrowed van and surprised them at the airport with our large welcoming contingent and hugs from everybody.

The holidays mean a full house with lots of feasting and adventures. Jim prepared a freshly baked peach pie as a welcoming present. It became breakfast on Christmas Eve day, and it was delicious. I learned that Indiana summer peaches freeze nicely. I plan to remind Jim of that every trip to the farmer’s market through peach season! That day we went to see the Cardinal Stage production of Annie. They just outdid themselves with this one. I didn’t think that was possible after last year’s production of “A Christmas Carol,” so now I can’t wait to see what they’ll put on next year. It was wonderful to see some children we know in the production, Joelle Jackson and Marlena Wagschal. We were beaming with pride for them and the great job they did. Their poise and talent was just amazing. That night nobody slept well, but everybody was still ready and excited for Christmas morning. There were plenty of presents and a tree decked out in chocolate. Everyone was happy. I made my traditional Stollen for breakfast, one with marzipan and one with rum-soaked fruits. Yum! They were excellent with coffee or orange juice, depending on your preference. That day I made a big pan of scalloped potatoes in a beautiful dish from Jan Arbogast while Jim and his Mom worked in the yard. She mowed the lawn and leaves while he raked and mulched. We had hoped for snow, but the sunny and mild weather was best for yard work. That evening we brought out the wedding china that hasn’t seen daylight since the boys were born and had a delightful Christmas feast, featuring an orange-ginger glazed salmon, my huge dish of potatoes au gratin, Aunt Lois’ cranberry salad, and enough jasmine rice to keep Jacob happy.

Monday morning we still had a house full of family, so the front yard became the focus. Grandma mowed, Jim raked and picked up sticks, then both went in the back yard to touch up the places that needed more attention. On Tuesday the winter skies finally opened up and gave us a little snow. Tommie and Jacob made a snow fort and they had battles with Jacob’s friend Garrett. Jacob and Garrett had the fort, but I think Tommie reigned supreme throwing snowballs, combined with his quick reflexes to dodge the frozen projectiles. Jim got out the chainsaw to cut up some wood when our fireplace pile went down. Tommie helped split the wood and cart it to the carport. We’re a good team—they make a roaring fire and I enjoy it!

All good things must end, and yesterday Grandma and Aunt Lois headed back to their home in cold Michigan. For me, it’s nice to be back at Zumba, shaking my tushy and working off the holiday fudge from Haley and Kris in New Mexico and the cookies from Katy next door. I laid out all my business paperwork for the year and soon I’ll be chugging along, filling out excel spreadsheets for the end of the year accounting. I expect the kids will be screeching around me with offseason play dates. I’m really looking forward to developing some fresh art ideas in the new year, which is my carrot to get the paperwork done. I want to do some stamping on fabric to support my Re-shirt venture. I’ll make my own stamps using the linoleum carving tools I still have from high school (I’m sure my five year reunion must be coming up soon!). Happily I got a new shop light for Christmas (our gifts are pretty utilitarian) that is hanging over my bench so I’m ready to go. I’ve been drawing a few sketches for patterns I might want to try. Much of the work will have to wait until the boys are back in school. Still, today I dream and tomorrow I work.

Until next week year…

Martina Celerin

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas is in the building…

The boys, out of school as of Friday, are my new daily companions as I weave through meetings and my art life. They are usually delightful to be around most of the time, but they take good cheer to the next level in the holiday season. Together we brought a big, lush tree from Bloomingfoods into the living room and started decorating it. The room has a fresh smell and it’s a great treat to pull out all the ornaments. As we hang them I get to remember how each piece is associated with my family history, from pre-wedding gift ornaments to pieces we got when the boys were born to special ornaments that Grandma gave us over the years. It’s a walk down memory lane. The boys are now deep into their advent calendars and are awaiting the arrival of Grandma and great aunt Lois on Thursday. That meant we had to launch into major cleaning mode to prepare the house so it doesn’t look like an artist with two kids lives here. The aptly named jungle room will become Lois’ bedroom so we picked up and sorted all the toys, games, legos, videos, and everything else a kid could accumulate over the years. We’ll be delivering care packages to the Recycle Center, Opportunity House and any other worthy place that will take the second hand games and toys.

Of course all the family activities exclude much time for creating art this. That’s OK, even artists need a week off. I did make a few sweater petals, and I did re-stock my sweater petals at By Hand Gallery and the "Bike the B-Line" t-shirts at the Downtown Visitor's Center at the Buskirk-Chumley theater. Fortunately, the theater is right next to Blu Boy Café and Cakery. We had to stop in to fortify ourselves before heading over to Lennie’s for celebratory pizza. At the noon BEAD meeting we ran into Chad Rabinovitz from the Bloomington Playwrights Project and we chatted about the grand reopening of the BPP in January. It will feature two commissioned art pieces (including one of mine!) and coincide with a new play called The Boy in the Bathroom. Chad says it’s an excellent production, so Jim and I will check in for an afternoon matinee. We’re also excited to see the Cardinal Stage production of Annie on Christmas Eve. It features two friends of the boys, Marlena Wagschal (our former neighbor) and Joelle Jackson (a preschool contemporary of Jacob).

On a final note, where art and life coincide, I was briefly banished from Target as the boys wanted to do some Christmas shopping without me. A woman who was a total stranger to me walked up and asked where she could buy my sweater petals! Maybe she saw me in this month’s issue of Bloom magazine—did I mention that I was one of the "7 Artists that Inspire" ?!? Well, why yes, I am! The answer is that you may stop by By Hand Gallery, Wonderlab, or you can find them online at Sweany Artworks online. Jaime Sweany was the owner of the Wandering Turtle Art Gallery downtown, and now she’s off on her own art endeavors. She’s a good friend and I like to support her. Oh, and speaking of supporting friends, local artist extraordinaire and truly tireless supporter of the Lotus Festival, Deborah Klein, is packing up her bags and moving back to Australia. We went to a delightful reception Sunday to say goodbye. Local artists each contributed a quilt panel to make a beautiful going away present for Deborah to help her remember her time in Bloomington. We all wish her the best down under.

Until next week…

Martina Celerin

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas waits around the corner…

I know this because, sitting just out of sight on the veranda, is a Christmas tree with its back against the house, waiting to come inside. We got it from Bloomingfoods a few days ago but the traditional tree corner was filled with Legos and card supplies. Tonight for sure it comes inside! The boys will do their homework right after school so we can start trimming later in the evening. It’s here, it’s here!

Of course this skips right past the frenzy of the week. We’re looking for a new Saturday routine since the Farmer’s Market closed down. The hardest part might be not getting the hot chocolate from Le Petit Café first thing in the morning. The charming lady who enabled our habit calls us ‘la famille chocolat’. Saturday morning we skipped over to Sweet Claire’s on Third Street to check it out. I got a tart with custard and cherry jelly that was delightful. The boys tried the hot chocolate and rated it a 9.5 out of ten, versus a 10 from Le Petit Café, so that speaks volumes.

In between holiday adventures I’ve been focusing on making my new sweater petals. To find the materials I’ve been zipping around to all my favorite re-sale shops looking for more wool sweaters in different colors. I was delighted to find a lovely orange men’s sweater at Opportunity House and some good strong red ones at the sorority thrift shop on Third street. Oh, and by the way Mom if you’re reading this—I found a really cute black and white striped shirt that I can’t wait to show you in person! I told the person behind the till that I’m going to show you and say that it’s MINE. Hee hee hee hee!

As I transition from art shows to marketing at retail outlets over the holidays, I spent some time restocking cards at my venues around town and distributing my sweater petals. I dropped off a big batch at Wonderlab and within a day or so I got a call asking if I could bring them more! They were closed Monday so I re-stocked them on Tuesday. I also sold a few at the last of the holiday art fairs this weekend at the Beth Shalom center. I shared the Discardia booth with Jean, Jeanne and Laurel so I could hang out and chitty chatty with my recycled art friends. The organizers did a nice job promoting the show, bringing in a very happy crowd for the art and a cookie sale. Oh, and while I’m on sweater petals, I discovered a new kind that looks something like a cross between a rose and a brain. Maybe Jill Bolte-Taylor will want one! I made them out of old suit jackets, especially the kind with the big padded shoulders that give you the eighties flashbacks. I see my job as a community service, ridding the community of all the old clothes that shouldn’t be rediscovered (like the men’s orange sweaters). Anyway, I’m also thinking that the new flower designs should also find their way into a weaving that I’ve been dreaming up. It will feature an hand holding out a bouquet of flowers over a background of sweater petal flowers.

Finally, on another family note, Jim’s birthday was Sunday. He didn’t want to have a cake with all the other goodies that have been available, so we made frozen yogurt parfaits with fruit from Bloomingfoods. I think everybody liked them! For his birthday I got him a bunch of new shirts, which he also seemed to like. Little does he know that every time he adds a new shirt to his closet I get to sneak out some of the old ones that I don’t like to see him wear any more. They’ll become part of Re-Shirt art tank top, so everyone wins!

Until next week…

Martina Celerin

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Holiday Season, Here We Are!!

It was a jam-packed week for me, culminating with the Unitarian Universalist Art Fair and Bazaar over the weekend. I had to keep focused all week with meetings planned for Monday through Wednesday. I managed to make a few scarves each day in the days before the show. I was pleased and impressed to see all the yard signs advertising the show and the ads in the Herald Times—the organizers did a great job promoting the show. Thursday evening my set-up crew came to help me at the church. The boys and Jim did a wonderful getting the booth set-up in a new spot this year. Just about everybody was shuffled around, which freshened up the show. My Sweater Petals were a big hit, as were my Re-Shirts. This show was the first chance I really had to display them both. It was good to see people trying them on and moving around, which gives you a much better sense of how the fabric moves when you put on my wearable art. It’s a lot like seeing fashion come down the runway, where the movement of the fabric helps bring each piece to life.

The show ended at 7 on Friday, which let me sneak out to see Jim’s brown belt test at 7:15. I got there just before it started with a package of dark chocolate brownies from Galaxy Gourmet to match the new belt. We usually celebrate with ice cream after a belt test, but this time we went home to have some fresh-baked apple pie. I don’t think anybody minded.

After the show on Saturday we packed up the art and the booth, headed home and collapsed. With each boy doing Taekwondo and sparring back-to-back before the takedown my roadies were ready to relax. We had a fire in the fireplace, a little wine with a Peppered Salmon dish from the freezer, and everybody went to bed tired but satisfied. Of course Sunday just brought a new set of adventures, beginning with St. Nicholas day. On the Bloomington Celerin calendar it falls on the Sunday after the UU show. Each family member found a big stocking stuffed with treasures, ranging from chocolate to toothbrushes and bubble bath. I even got some Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride tea (I’m really tight with the Jolly old fellow). Oh, and when I came downstairs I found a note from St. Nick next to an espresso and a stollen filled with marzipan that I suspect came from Sweet Claire’s bakery! It’s a nice low-key introduction into the holiday season. Now I’m eyeing Christmas trees at Bloomingfoods and planning for the candy house. I just have to remember Jim’s birthday next weekend! Shhh, don’t remind him…

Oh and one more holiday show - next weekend is a Discardia event at the Shalom Multi-Cultural Bazaar (3750 East Third Street, Bloomington, IN) on Sunday from 11 - 3pm

Hope to see you there!!

Until next week…

Martina Celerin

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

Before I tell you about my travels and discoveries from this past week, I wanted to share some more about the Déjà Vu show. It was held in the Columbus Commons two weekends ago, which is a wonderful venue for the show. This week Marilyn Brackney sent me a few pictures that show off the space and my booth and so here they are…

My last ‘new’ project was creating noodle scarves by cutting up felted wool sweaters and repurposing them. As I played with the process a little I realized I could take the process in new directions. I started creating wool flower petals and combined them with small felted balls I had in my collection and came up with a pattern I really liked. About then it was time to head for Michigan to see Grandma for Thanksgiving, so I packed up my felted materials in a bag with threads, scissors and my new thimble for the trip. During the drive I made a bag full of ‘sweater petals’ (thanks, Grandma!), my name for the new creations. They’re fun little bright spots to go on jackets, sweaters or hats. I just know that the gloomy weather is coming and a little bright spot can go a long way to brighten your day. I’ll display these at the Unitarian Universalist Church Holiday Art Fair and Bazaar this weekend (the UU show) if you’re interested in seeing them in person.

It was nice to travel to Michigan for the holiday to hang out with Jim’s mom, the Gibson’s next door and Aunt Lois. I got to just relax and spend time with everybody, although I did have to help with Thanksgiving dinner preparations. Jim made the crusts for the traditional pumpkin pies and prepared steelhead and salmon for one main course. These are the fish that he and Tommie caught in October so it was a real family effort. After Thanksgiving the whole crew spent a day at the King Tut exhibition in Midland, which I hadn’t seen since I was living in Toronto before moving to the states around thirteen years ago. Has it really been that long? I enjoyed seeing the Egyptian alabaster carvings and other art pieces, the gold work and liked the whole atmosphere. On Friday I helped Grandma transplant seven trees away from her barn, which made her happy and me sore. Jacob got into that project with me while Jim and Tommie were off fishing again. They did come home with a bucket full of perch from the pier at Tawas, so Saturday brought another nice fish fry. The whole family ate very well over the long weekend.

Now I’m back in Bloomington, back to Zumba to work off the holiday food, watching the first snow settling on the tree branches and gearing up for the UU show this Friday and Saturday. I’ll have all my new scarves—lattice, ruffled and noodles—along with my new sweater petals. Of course I’ll bring some art pieces for the display too, but I’ve been focusing on making scarves and commissions rather than new pieces to display. Stop in and say hello, see what’s new in my booth and don’t forget to pick up some cookies from the cookie walk!

Until next week…

Martina Celerin

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Seems like déjà vu…

This week marked the arrival of my brand new deep dish pie plate! My friend Jan Arbogast, a local clay artist, made us a beautiful replacement for our broken pan. To my great delight, it’s bigger than the last one - I’m telling Jim that means we can have healthier pies—they’ll have more fruit! Jim got right to work and made a mixed apple pie Thursday morning. It was yummy! Everybody got two pieces, and I have enjoyed pie and coffee for breakfast since Thursday. I’m guarding the last slice for tomorrow morning after Zumba.

In the art world, I spent the week preparing for the Déjà Vu art fair. Because the show features art created from reclaimed and recycled materials I decided I couldn’t show my ruffled scarves. They’re made from new merino wool and have no recycled content—unless you consider the sheep are recycling material for their coats. To fill in I launched into another new project that involves up-cycling old sweaters. The project came upon me when Cappi Phillip’s husband Bud had the vision to wash and dry her beautiful alpaca sweater she got on her trip to Peru. Cappi was very sad, but knowing that I could do something nice with it helped ease the pain. At least that’s what she said. I played around a bit cutting up felted sweaters and sewing them on to strips of felt. That wasn’t quite what I wanted, so I came up with the idea of making crocheted noodle scarves. I begin with a sweater, felt it, and then cut it into a continuous strip that I crochet to form the spine. Then I attach strips of felted sweaters onto the crocheted spine and felted the whole thing again. I think the resulting texture is really interesting. It’s a bold statement scarf and I really like them! I made some with black noodles and red spine, then red noodles with black spines before I went off playing with new color combinations. I’m basically riffing on what I learned when I made the ruffled scarves. In some strange way I see them as similar. The only major crash I had came when I tried to felt in the washing machine and the whole project fell apart. By the time I scooped all the tangled fibers out of the machine and onto the basement floor it looked like a giant eagle had swooped in and eaten a huge black sheep, leaving only the scattered coat remnants. That’s probably why we haven’t had mice in the basement this fall.

Saturday morning I packed up all of my latest creations and headed off to the Déjà vu show in Columbus Indiana. It was great fun. The Commons is absolutely the right place to hold the show—it’s airy, spacious and the layout supports a good traffic flow of fairgoers. Plus there’s a huge play space for kids next door, separated by a big, glass. sound-proofing wall. Thanks to Marilyn Brackney who did an amazing job of organizing the event and making it happen. I got to see people in Columbus that don’t make it to the Bloomington shows, including some of my friends from the Cincinnati workshop who made a long drive. Everything new was well received, including the noodle scarves and my line of Re-shirts I’ve been showing at the Discardia events. Next up is the UU show (the Unitarian Universalist Holiday Art Fair and Bazaar) in two weeks where I’ll show all my scarves, shirts, cards and wall art. Stop by(Fee Lane and the bypass) to see what’s new and buy some cookies from the cookie walk! Everyone goes home happy, guaranteed.

Until next week…

Martina Celerin

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Scarf season begins…

This week I was caught in a whirlwind of ruffled scarf creation. Last week I designed and wet felted a large collection of lattice scarves created from reclaimed and recycled materials. I combined novelty yarns, ribbons, and lace from my collections with ultrasoft merino wools to make my art scarves. I then decided I needed more ruffled scarves for the Fiber Arts show so I launched into creating black and red scarves from merino wool. I developed a strategy to make the outer scarf edge undulate, where the undulation is part of the actual scarf structure. I really liked how the red and black colors worked together, so after a few of those I made some of red, purple and black. That led me to two different shades of purple and black and then two tints of indigo and black, then on to scarves with tints of turquoise and black. By the end of the week I was looking for something different to do so I incorporated some shiny red Angelina fibers to give the scarves a little bling. I made so many that I was ironing scarves right up to the start of the Fiber Arts show. The good news is that the ruffled scarves were a big hit again this year. The bad news is that I don’t have many ruffed scarves left for shows later in the year! I guess that means I’ll be laying out more ruffled scarves before the December Unitarian Universalist Holiday Art Fair & Bazaar (Fee Lane & the bypass).

The Fiber Arts show itself was a huge success and a lot of fun for me personally. This year three local guilds put on their shows the same weekend, which was dubbed by the BEAD folks as the ‘Craft Crawl’. People could easily move between the local clay, glass and fiber guild shows at three nearby churches. Plus it was the weekend of the Handmade Market downtown. I think people enjoyed visiting all the venues—it was just a local art shopping weekend. For me, it was nice to see people I don’t get to chat with often enough. The Fourth Street Festival is always jam packed so I don’t get to visit with everyone. The Fiber Arts show is a little slower paced. I ran into my friend from Argentina, and I spent Friday and Saturday hugging people, laughing and catching up. I only stopped long enough to sell scarves, both ruffled and lattice, every so often. Now I’m looking forward to the Déjà Vu show this weekend in Columbus Indiana. I won’t bring my ruffled scarves, since they don’t have any reclaimed and recycled content, but I’ll bring a selection of my lattice scarves and my new upcycled sweater scarves. Even if I don’t sell a lot of art I’ll have a lot of fun with my art friends and show-neighbors Cappi Phillips and Pat Hecker. I’m sure that we’ll laugh the whole time. I went there with Cappi and Dawn Adams on a reconnaissance mission a few weeks ago to check out the space so I have an idea how the Commons will be laid out for the show. We had a great trip then, including lunch at Bistro 304—I’m looking forward to having a box lunch from there this weekend. Thanks to Marilyn Brackney for organizing the show, and I hope to see you there to show off my Re-shirts, scarves and a few weavings.

On the home front, when I have a successful art show my family makes me a celebratory dinner. This time things were a little hectic so I pulled some peppered salmon out of the freezer for dinner. Jim baked some bread and a boca negra (black mouth) cake, both out of the ‘Baking with Julia’ cookbook. It was sooo… good—Jim just nailed it. Just what I needed after a full weekend of chitty-chattying! I guess the last bit of news is that in the background of my life I’ve been working my new poppy piece, which is very labor intensive. For two months now I’ve been creating leaflets for the plant and I wanted to lay out what I had and see how many more I needed. I think it looks really good but I still have a lot of work ahead of me. I need more leaflets, plus poppy buds and flowers to finish the piece. I’m sure it will be ready for the first spring show! Oh, and if you’re in Bloomington and want to see some Scarf Art, I have several pieces hanging at the Bloomington Bagel Co. (on Dunn St). Stop in, have a bagel and enjoy the art (and the bagel).

Until next week…

Martina Celerin

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The fall show season begins…

I promised myself that before the fall show season began I’d complete the two commissions I agreed to do at the Fourth Street show. I just finished the second piece, called ‘Low Tide’, and I’m pleased with how it turned out. I was channeling the beach, specifically the receding surf as it deposits little pools full of shell fragments, drift wood, and other treasures. There’s always something for an explorer to find, which is why the beach is so great for kids and artists. The whole process of sorting shells takes me to a special place, and this time I remembered sharing my hunts for sand dollars with Tommie on the beach. Between a powerful surf and a parade of collectors what we found was more like sand quarters and dimes, but we snatched them out of the surf with gusto and glee. I’ll probably have to make another beach piece when the snow starts to fly and I feel cold again.

This year I added the Chamber of Commerce show at the convention center to my fall circuit. It was combined with a runway show, which was fun. One highlight of the show was when the sweet little boy, who couldn’t have been more than five, came down the runway dressed in a stylish vest. He was moving and posing and the crowd went wild. His mom had to come on the stage to give him the hook. The best part of the art show was sharing a booth with Terry Taylor-Norbu, one of my Fourth Street friends. She does beautiful dichroic glass jewelry. She let me have half her booth and together we kept the show lively all evening. It was nice to interact with a different group of people.

This coming weekend is the Fiber Arts Show and Sale put on by the Spinner’s and Weaver’s Guild. It will be at the First United Church here in Bloomington on Friday from 5-9 pm, then Saturday from 10-5—twenty four hours of pure fiber fun! It will be nice to seeing some old friends at a show that’s so close to home. Stop in if you’ll be around Bloomington. And if you're around town, stop in at the Bloomigton Bagel Co on Dunn street and see my ArtScarves exhibit - it'll be up until the end of November.

The family news this week begins with putting Halloween to bed for another year—we picked up all the decorations from the front yard. We even put a few more display things in the closet when they went on big discount the following week. I finally got a window to get the boys room clean (they did most of the work and all the complaining) and then I vacuumed the house. That’s a sign for me that the seasons are changing. Then we all went to the African American Arts Potpourri show on Saturday night. We really enjoyed the dance group segment and the boys really liked the chorale ensemble, and the soul review segment was fun and full of energy. The shows are always very well done, and I enjoy the diversity you see in the performers. They come on stage big and small, tall and short, hailing from countries and cultures all over the world. What they share is talent and a passion for performance, which is what makes the shows special. Now we’re looking forward to the spring show. I guess that means it’s time to get busy making more scarves for the fall shows and start some new weavings for next summer!

Until next week…

Martina Celerin

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I love weaving!

I always seem to forget that weaving is one of my favorite things to do. This week I got busy with the two commission pieces I need to complete in the near term. I finished my second take on ‘Tread Lightly’, a piece with rusty car parts in the background and a bike floating over the surface. I created the bicycle out of scrap wire that I found in Grandpa’s barn in Michigan and adjusted the thickness with old shoelaces. I wrapped them with yarn thrums I got from Peg Dawson, a friend of mine from the Spinner’s and Weaver’s Guild, that she got from another weaver in Minnesota. Yes, my bicycles come with lots of miles on them! I almost want to take them to Bikesmiths for a tune-up. I then launched into another commission piece similar to my ‘High Tide’ beach piece. Beach pieces are always good cold weather projects. I got to pull out my sandy yarns and seashells, which reminds me of walks on the beach and fresh ocean fish. Creating those weavings just takes me to a very nice mental space. Ahhh…

Back to fall and Halloween, which was last night. Before the festivities started, my friend and frame-maker Tom Bertolacini stopped by with nine new frames for weavings. He also brought the oversized custom frame he made for the McCormick’s Creek community weaving project I oversaw this summer. I guess I have a little frame finishing in the near future. I’m delighted because I’m just itching to start on some new weaving projects that are floating around in my head.

As evening fell, my three boys ventured out to places unknown to cajole candy out of unsuspecting neighbors. (Well, maybe they suspected). Of course I contributed to the process by handing out goodies at our house, decked out in its Halloween best with four carved pumpkins and ghoulish decorations all over the yard. I think that enough sugar and chocolate changed hands last night to keep everyone going until Valentine’s Day. Or, at least until Friday. You might not think that candy inspires math, but my boys will continue their Halloween tradition of making a pie chart in Excel and analyzing how much of which kinds of candies they got.

Finally, on a sad note, my deep-dish pie pan broke on our trip back from Michigan. My hands are starting to tremble a little bit from withdrawal. No. Pie. Since. Last. Saturday. Well, I suppose when you put it that way it isn’t so bad. Yet. I quickly got my friend and the boy’s ceramics class teacher Jan Arborgast on the case. She just e–mailed me to tell me she’s finished throwing the pan and did the fluting on the edges. Hooray! Jim, did you know there were still Mutsu apples in the refrigerator? Who can think of a number between three and four?

Until next week…

Martina Celerin

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A little rest and recovery…

Last week I posted on Wednesday, and Thursday we headed to Michigan to visit with Grandma for the boy’s fall break. They get two days off and I figured I needed a break too. I’d had my fill of committee work and scarf making, although I enjoyed stirring up some big batches of soup in between. I enjoyed just kicking back and watching the tree leaf colors change from early fall (Bloomington) to late fall (Kawkawlin). Of course I couldn’t just sit still the whole time so I did all the hand mending that I’d been saving up for the past few months.

When we pulled in late Thursday we saw the damage caused by a big windstorm two days before. Three of the big generations-old oak trees came down when losing just one is an event. One tree decided to play dominos and crashed into a second giant, which sent it tumbling down in a different direction and taking out some smaller pine tree tops. The third oak fell across the road and turned out to be hollow and full of grubs eating the tree slowly from within. Elsewhere the entire yard, which normally looks like a park as Grandma keeps the grass beaten down with the mower, was a big mess. We spent a couple of hours Friday morning trying to pick up but it was obviously more than we could do. We gave up the task and decided to have a surprise birthday party. I whisked Grandma out to a fabric store for a new zipper, and the boys decorated the kitchen with streamers and balloons and Jim made flatbread. I think she was surprised and happy, and we all enjoyed the birthday apple pie for dessert. Of course we had a candle and sang happy birthday (two weeks early) to make it official. On Saturday Jim and Tommie went fishing and came back with some silver fishies and stories that were a little hard to believe, even if they have pictures. Sunday morning, after lots of gigglin’ and chilin’ all weekend we delivered hugs and headed back home to Indiana.

I guess with all the family stories up front I have to get a little art news in at the end. I actually got to weave yesterday and today, which I love to do, to create one of my commission pieces - a layout similar to ‘Tread Lightly’, my bike piece on a background of rusty car parts. Fortunately I have plenty of rusty material to work with from my last visit to the Auto Heaven junkyard. I wash all of the metal bits and then use my trusty wire brush to remove all the loose rust flakes. I pulled out my rusty colored yarns and pushed away all my other responsibilities to start the piece.

Last, I’m excited because my Zumba schedule at the Windfall Dancer’s studio is going to expand from three to five days a week. It’s definitely the best place I’ve ever done Zumba. They have sprung wooden floors, ceiling fans, dim lighting, lots of mirrors and lots of space. It’s an old church converted into a studio so it just has the feel of an accommodating gathering place. Now I’ll get up at six a.m. every day of the week to shake my tooshie to the Latin music with about six other people - come and join us if you’re awake!

Until next week…

Martina Celerin

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Scarf making week!

I’m still trying to regain my balance after the workshop in Cincinnati, so I’m late posting again. After my big welcome home it took a few days to put everything away. I immediately launched into my scarf making mode, which means converting the dining room and kitchen into specialized work areas. I put two leaves in the dining room table so I’d have enough length to lay out scarves. To achieve a back-friendly working surface I raised each table leg by four encyclopedia volumes—hey, they’re good for something in the age of the internet! I covered the whole thing in a couple of layers of plastic to protect the wood and began setting the trend in scarves for fall 2011. I have to hold off as long as possible so the major designers don’t copy me, but now I’m ready to reveal that this year I’m doing all lattice scarves. I feel especially good about these because they consume the most reclaimed materials—I use yarn scarps that are the thrums from weaving projects and bits of yarn balls leftover from other people’s knitting and crocheting projects. The materials are mostly what I can collect over the year from resale and consignment shops around town such as the Opportunity House or the recycle center, plus leftover yarns given to me by my weaver and knitter friends. I’ve been having great fun creating the color palates for the scarves! Sometimes there’s a multicolor yarn that leads to a nice color combination, or sometimes I just channel a place or an emotion from deep inside. When everything is laid out I transform the kitchen island into a rolling station. I turn off all the lights, turn on WFIU and set myself up so I look out the kitchen window. I need 600 hard rolls in each session so I just get into a nice space and count through my workout.

Of course my life always seems to be filled with other nuggets of excitement. I had the pleasure of meeting the photographer from Bloom magazine, Steven Raymer. He has twenty-five years of experience photographic for National Geographic and he’s on the faculty in the IU school of Journalism. I was a little intimidated and felt a little humbled, but he is such a thoughtful, put-you-at-ease person that it was all great fun. He came with an assistant and took a bunch of shots in my art studio before going outside to get better light and take advantage of a beautiful fall day. He got a great shot of me with my yin-yang piece (I’m thinking ‘cover shot’ here Bloom editors—what do you think?). In other news, the whole family went to see Click Clack Moo on Friday. Like all Cardinal Stage productions it was a lot of fun, but I realized my boys were growing up. They’re a little too old for this kind of kid’s play (but not ready for ‘Hair’). We’re still on board to see ‘Annie’ with Grandma this Christmas, though.

Sunday the whole crew (Jacob too!) got into the Lila Mae and went to Lake Monroe fishing. Jacob drove the boat (the electric trolling motor) to get us on the fish and I filled up the bucket with crappies and wipers. Did I say I caught the biggest ones? I guess Tommie and Jim contributed a few too. Last night was the big fish fry and they sure were good!

Oh, and before I forget, this Saturday, October 22, is the Discardia Pop-up Sale from noon to 7 p.m. at the Bloomington Eco Center, 323 S. Walnut. The official blurb says “Discardia artists create one of a kind designs from 90% recycled materials. This non-profit consignment store is having it's second sale of items including jewelry made from bicycle parts, purses and bags made from rubber inner tubes and upholstery samples, clothing made from tablecloths and other used clothing, felted items made from old sweaters and more. If you are looking for something unique and want to help save the planet at the same time, this is the sale for you."

Until next week…

Martina Celerin

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Cincinnati is a great place for fiber artists!

I’m sorry I was so slow in writing my blog this week, but I’ve been catching up from my big trip to Ohio. I did a three-day workshop for a group of terrific and supportive group of fiber artists in Cincinnati over the weekend. That means that much of my early week was spent making sure everything was in order for the event. I color-coded my bags of materials so I knew which stuff went with each day. To be sure I had the best possible selection of materials I even made one last circuit of the thrift shops and recycled materials outlets like the recycle center. Since this was my longest trip away from my family I also made a trip to the grocery store to make sure they’d be able to eat reasonably well without me. Then I packed up my trusty Matrix that always seems to fit everything—it’s just incredible that way—and told Victoria (aka the Garmin) where I wanted to go. She led me through a gorgeous countryside of changing leaves, light traffic, and blue skies. I even surprised my hosts by showing up a little bit early.

The first evening I gave a talk to the group to introduce my art and myself. I brought copies of the talk on two separate flash drives, just because I like to be prepared, and the technology didn’t let me down. I was delighted to have lots of smiling and nodding faces in the audience during the talk and lots of questions at the end. Later I went to the home of my host, Gun-Marie, who is just the most wonderful, colorful, enthusiastic and knowledgeable person. I wish she lived closer! The following morning the group launched into ‘day one’ of the workshop: weaving with reclaimed and recycled materials. I built fourteen nail looms for the class so each person had a high-quality loom. I dumped out bags of materials such as leather strips, feathers, rocks, sticks, seashells, flax roving, lanyards, and a bunch of conventional yarns. I felt that I was able to push the individuals beyond their comfort zone in a really good way. I got one person who always weaves in straight lines with purple yarn doing undulating, uneven weaves using earth tones. I felt that they all just took the opportunity to explore aspects of their art and creative selves that they haven’t yet tapped into. I kept them moving too—every hour I made them get up and stretch. I’ve learned plenty of good stretches from Zumba and Jazzercise so I was ready for them. I also made them get up and wander around to see what their peers were doing, which I think was also a fabulous source of inspiration.

The second day brought new challenges, but we kept on having a good time. We embellished the weavings using techniques such as dimensional crochet and wrapping to make structures like trees and branches. I even took them outside to do some wet felting on another gorgeous day. We set up tables and had trays of warm soapy water to make small balls and noodles that could be incorporated into the pieces. The building we were in stands on a hill overlooking a valley covered with deciduous trees that all seemed to be changing colors. It’s about as close as fiber artists get to the plein air experience. That evening I got to visit a few of the studios that are part of a complex in an old schoolhouse converted into artist spaces. About thirty artists have studios there, and it was wonderful to wander around the different artists zones. On one stop I walked in and saw a jacket on display and knew I had to have it. I asked the Charlotte the artist if I could try it on, and when it fit, I informed her that it was mine—and how much was I paying her for it! Luckily for me she purchased it at a Goodwill store for eight dollars so I got a great deal.

The third day of the workshop covered needle felting. We poked till the cows came home! Actually, till about four o’clock, but I’m sure the cows were ready for happy hour and had begun to head for home. We started off making needle felted ornaments, but then I got them needle felting embellishments onto their weavings. Everyone seemed to have a grand time as we poked away and discussed various structures that they could make. I had some more really nice conversations with Gun-Marie, and I enjoyed hearing stories about her family. She was born in Sweden and emigrated to Venezuela, but with the current political regime it was time to move again. I could bond with her on that front because of my life upheavals caused by political crises in Eastern Europe. She has a wonderful family with four kids, including a daughter who is a gifted artist with training as a biologist. Our lives have a lot of parallels. The entire group of people just opened themselves up and I feel like I made a lot of new friends. I was very pleased and proud that they were willing to experiment and not be constrained by their own techniques and habits. The group included Teresa, an experienced needle felter who does amazing sculptural pieces, and in some ways it feels a little strange to try to teach someone so experienced. I feel like we were able to develop some new ideas and places she might take her art, so I’m hoping she got something valuable out of the experience.

The whole story ends happily, too, because at four I loaded up the car and headed for home. I zipped back to Bloomington to a wonderful dinner of kluski and a bottle of wine (an amarone—they did missed me!). There was even apple pie in the fridge! Now I have to transition quickly to scarf mode, because the holiday art fairs are speeding up rapidly. More about that next time!

Until next week…

Martina Celerin