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

Monday, October 3, 2011

Re-Shirts re-invade the dining room

I’ve had a busy week, but my efforts have been more practical than artistic. I put on my Fourth Street hat and submitted grant proposals to the CVB (Convention and Visitors Bureau) and BEAD (the Bloomington Entertainment and Arts District). We’re trying to secure funding to expand advertising "beyond Bloomington" for the show. We get a lot of visitors from Cincinnati, for example, and they tend to spend more at local restaurants and hotels. So now I’ve completed all my administrative tasks except the demographic analysis for this year’s festival.

On the arts front, I’m launching into projects that will support the fall art shows I do. I have that luxury because I’m all sorted, organized and packed for my workshop in Cincinnati this coming weekend. I leave Thursday and leave Jim in charge of the kids for four days. It’s the longest I’ve ever been away from my family, and I’m sure I’ll be ready to come home on Sunday.

On the arts front, I got out my sewing machine and threw myself into making more of my Re-Shirts. I’m excited about showing these at art fairs and Discardia shows. The Discardia movement is picking up steam locally, and they intend to have pop-up events in town this fall so I intend to have some tops to contribute. I began by going through my closets twice, pulling out all the clothing I’m sure I’m finished with. I also went through all my boxes of saved clothes with worn areas or stains that make them unwearable. The piles of clothes and scraps that I cut up threatened to take over the dining room, but by the end of the week I was back in control and had everything sorted and put away. Now the dining room table has been expanded by two extra leaves and raised off the floor by four encyclopedia volumes. Raising my work surface helps my back when I get into wet felting scarves for the fall shows. In between major projects I’ve been plugging away at my needle felted ornaments, finishing one and bringing a second well along the way to completion. I even took advantage of the nice weather to wash some of the fleece I got in the spring of this year. I need to finish this project before the frosts come. There was a little funny whitish stuff on a car in the driveway this morning. I just can’t think what it could be.

Thinking of chilly weather, it was downright cold at the Farmer’s market this Saturday. We were forced to start off (again) with some delightful hot chocolate from Le Petit CafĂ© along the B-line trail as we walked in to the market. Spinach is coming back with the cooler weather, so I bought some fresh greens for a salad later today. We also found some Mutzu apples, which I think make the best pies, so I’m looking forward to another fall treat. I’m afraid it will have to wait until after Cincinnati, though—maybe as a welcome home present? The weather inspired me to bake a little, making some foccacia, pizza and a couple of loaves of bread for the week. Jim even put the heating pad back under the mattress in our bed! I’m set for the winter. Wait! I didn’t mean that! I’m really enjoying the beautiful fall weather.

Until next week…

Martina Celerin