Monday, June 20, 2011

Celery stalks, strawberry shortcake and big walleyes

I spent a delightful week in Michigan with my family. The weather was cool, even cold at times, but we had a great visit. We brought some fresh blueberries and Jim made us a pie. Luckily, we also found some just-ripe Michigan strawberries. Add some fresh-baked biscuits to the week and we had two fine shortcake desserts—yum! But my biggest success was—wait for it—on the waters of Saginaw Bay fishing for walleyes. We took out the Lila Mae, my late father-in-law’s boat, on a trip to look for walleyes. Over Jim’s pooh-poohing I picked out a red and silver lure with a spider on it at Frank’s, announced that it was the perfect lure for the day, and proceeded to catch a huge 24.5 inch (62 cm) walleye on it. It was the only fish of the day, and boy, I reveled in that victory. Jim turned it into a tasty fish fry, supplemented with Grandma’s homemade coleslaw. Everyone feasted!

All week
long we generally just spent a lot of time doing things we don’t normally do at home. We all played mini-golf (and Jacob beat everyone), the boys did a lot of archery in the back yard, and we did a little shoe shopping between feasting. It was just a great vacation all around.

I may have been on vacation, but don’t think for a moment that I didn’t spend some quality time creating art. During conversations and quiet times I did a lot of poking. I was focused on making small vegetables for a piece I’m doing called Summer Salad. I finished off the tops of some radishes, carrots and broccoli and I created my first celery stalks. The stalks tend to have a thick center rib and are thinner on the outer edges of the curved arms. The progression of stalk creation was interesting to watch. I laid out the fleece as a unit that was three times as long and wide as the final stalk. After I started poking I eventually shaped it down to the size I wanted and I’m pleased with how it turned out. I also made a few dandelion flowers for a different piece – those still need a haircut to transform them into well coiffed lawn flowers. The pressure is on to get some art pieces completed in the run up to the Art Fair on the Square in Madison, Wisconsin. Sadly, I wasn’t able to participate in the show of the same name in Bloomington Saturday due to booth and art damage from the Columbus show. I’ve heard that it was fabulous – congrats BPP on transforming it to a well attended show – and look for me next year! And fortunately, the replacement booth frame pieces I ordered arrived in the mail while we were in Michigan. Hopefully by the end of this week I should have a workable booth.

I do have a few other newsy things to tell you about… First, I’m the facilitator for a community weaving project out at McCormick’s Creek State Park this Saturday. I’ll be warping my five foot loom and organizing all sorts of natural materials to use in the project - all in organic, earthy colors. When I do a project you never know what materials will end up in it—this time I’m including some rope I got from Grandpa’s barn while we were in Michigan. I’m also gearing up to do some dyeing this week, or at least getting ready to dye. My photographer, friend and frame maker Tom Bertolacini brought me some Osage orange wood chips. He said that he had heard about dyeing with them and wondered if I was interested. What? Something to experiment with? Sign me up! That got me reading about Osage orange dyeing, which led me to dyeing with bark. Grandma had a lot of trees come down during the windy spring. Normally these get chopped up and burned, but there was quite a backlog of materials. I picked up a couple of bags of maple and oak bark to experiment with. These even have some bonus lichens on them, which is supposed to enhance the colors. I’ll soon set up some soak pails and see what I extract from the bark. I’m hoping to dye some Merino wool for natural color scarves this fall season. Time to get busy again!

Until next week…

Martina Celerin

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