Sunday, April 17, 2011

Ratatouille Arrives!

Finally—‘Ratatouille’ is complete! I’m delighted with how it turned out. I even feel as if I’ve taken the first step toward being a grandma by carrying around pictures of the completed piece and showing the people who have watched me along the way. I received so much support and encouragement as I felted tomato slices, eggplants, zucchini and herb leaves into existence over the past few months that I felt I needed to share the finished product. It has been fun to watch their responses to seeing the finished piece. The people who actually saw the size of the tomatoes have the best sense of the overall magnitude of the finished piece, which is huge 5' X 2 1/2 '—the tomatoes are the size of dinner plates. Even though I like the tomatoes, my favorite part of the piece is the basil leaves. I feel like they really enhance the cohesiveness of the piece, and I just like how they turned out. I can almost smell the piece!

Did I say I was pleased with how it turned out? That’s true, but I am sooo ready to move beyond creating vegetables. At the end of the week I devoted big blocks of time to my next piece, a signature piece for the Bloomington Playwright’s Project. If you’ve seen their aggressive writing tools on the attack you know the basic design. In my version the background is purple and the BPP letters are a bright yellow. That means I spent some time digging through my yarn boxes to find just the colors I needed. I was on a spring and birth mind set (their motto is "where theater is born") and so I chose a purple that reminds me of the Johnny Jump-Up violets in the lawn, mixed in with their shockingly bright yellow dandelion friends. I bought the yellow fleece at the Fiber Arts show from Donna Jo Copeland last November. It was dyed with tumeric to produce a brilliant, almost neon yellow, which is amazing considering that it comes from a natural dye. The yellow letters have a crispness that I’m enjoying, especially after focusing on organic vegetable shapes for the past few months. And weaving, finally weaving, in my art studio has been a delight. While I enjoy needle felting, there’s a certain rhythm to weaving that I’ve missed. The piece will feature a hand, which I’ve completed, holding an angry pen, ready to create a great play. I just need to adjust the length of the wrist, and make the pen.

The fact that it’s officially spring means the dandelions are commandeering the local lawns. I had the boys out collecting dandelion heads for dyeing later this summer. I even spent fifteen minutes this morning mowing down the yellow flowers in the strip of lawn between the sidewalk and road. I should have enough for a good dye pot. I’ve got to replenish some of my color stocks, which also led me to the big Fiber Event in Greencastle this past Friday. It’s one of the highlights of my year. I went with my friend Ruth, which made for a delightful trip. We chitty chatted the whole time, making it feel as if we made it there in ten minutes. I had a wonderful conversation with a weaver and natural material dyer from Nashville who sold fair traded spun banana silk yarn—that will probably make it’s way into a scarf this fall. We talked about some of her recent adventures in dyeing, and she showed me some yarn and fleece that she had dyed with wild rose clippings using iron mordant. It got me eyeing the wild rose in our back yard that I don’t really like because it scratches the whole family as they bring bikes through the gate into the back yard. We talked about using invasive plants for dyeing, which made me wonder about using euonymous as a green dye. That evil vine has taken over big parts of the back garden beds, and it’s heading for a major haircut this summer. I’ll do some experiments with added alum and varying conditions, but I’m sure I’ll find a use for any material that survives the dye pot.

The last bit of news from the week has to do with one of my favorite foods—pie! A rhubarb pie appeared yesterday morning. Although it came from frozen rhubarb because no fresh stalks could be found, it tasted great and the crust came out as a crumbly delight. Yippee! I’ll have pie and espresso for breakfast after Zumba all week!

Until next week…

Martina Celerin

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