Sunday, July 24, 2011

From stinky to sublime in my stockpot heaven

I dealt with the last of my stinky dye pots this week. The lichens I carved off the maple tree felled in my neighbor’s yard was the stinkiest. It also gave the best and most intense color. I thought I should try a second dip using some merino wool, with the hopes that I could create scarves in the beautiful golden-caramelly color from the lichens. Unfortunately, the colors were less intense the second time around. I’m going to keep an eye out for lichens on any fallen branches I encounter and see if I can repeat the experiment. My second dye pot contained oak bark, which gave a soft yellow-brown. I know it will be useful, I just don’t know what for yet! I also think that when the weather cools down a bit I’ll probably try a little more dyeing on merino using maple bark for use in my fall scarf collection.

Our vegetable garden production is booming. I’ve had the first tomato, and I see three-inch zucchinis on the vine. Of course the farmer’s market has far more, and sooner, but these are ours. Technically, Tommie planted them, and occasionally remembers to water them, but they end up on my burgers (the tomatoes) or in my cooking (the zucchini). Thoughts of green things growing on vines inspired me to create a new piece that incorporates peas. A long time ago I did a piece called ‘Pea and Friend’ with a pea vine and a ladybug on the plant. That was before I used needle felting, and now I think I could create a much richer and detailed piece by felting the leaves and peas. I pulled out some of the green fleece I bought at this year’s Fiber Event in Greencastle and carded it together with a few other lighter greens from my stores. I also discovered the extreme upper capacity for my carder! I still remember the words of advice about not overloading it from my friend Ulla. Of course without a demonstration one can’t know what that means. I just kept adding until I had a dense mat of beautiful green carpeting the drum. I had to get out a big screwdriver and do some serious lifting, rolling and ripping to get the fleece off the drum. It all turned out OK, with two big rolags of pea green fleece. The carding inspired me to weave the green canvas for the piece using my crunch green yarns, so now I’m ready to launch into making peas, pods, leaves, vines – and those cute little tendrils!

Saturday of this week was family day, and we packed in a lot of activities despite the heat. We started off at the farmer’s market, buying a big batch of heirloom and roma tomatoes for homemade bruschetta. We also picked up some fresh basil, garlic, and what turned out to be very spicy onions. My eyes watered until I remembered my protective gear (swim gogggles - what a sight!) and finished the chopping. We chopped, peeled, mixed and simmered in a ‘food only’ stockpot until we had a giant batch that ultimately filled around 20 glass jars. This has to last through the winter, but we’re going to test one bottle tonight with our traditional flatbread meal that consumes most of one of the jars of bruschetta.

After our morning farmer’s market stop we went to our secret creek bed that is littered with geodes and other treasures. Searching down in the cool, shady watercourse was a good way to spend a couple of hours. We collected rocks with holes in them, crinoids, rusty metal objects, and anything else that might look good in a weaving someday. I’m thinking about creating a piece with dirt and sky, as I have done before, but focusing on the lost bits and pieces and rusty things that turn up when you dig in the garden. I’ll probably nestle a tulip bulb underground and show the flower above. The concept is a little hard to describe, but I’m trying to capture the idea of the optimist planting bulbs in the fall for spring beauty. She breaks into the soil that has all the history and stored memories that you find when you dig a little bit. It’s always there, and the history precedes you—your world is intertwined with the people who worked the soil before you. In the end, though, you just remember the pretty tulip you see in the spring.

Until next week…

Martina Celerin


  1. Love that idea about the lost bits. Thinking of canning jalapenos with you for weavers. Wish my kids would eat hot stuff. Will update you with latest pics of dollhouse full of defunct Barbies and princesses.

  2. Thanks, Sonia. Tommie and I canned them 2 yrs ago - told him about you as we were doing them. Mmmm they were good! Looking forward to seeing the doll houses with residents!