Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Time to weave and receive!

 As soon as I completed my final commission piece, I revved up my sewing machine and launched into one last push on Re-Shirts before the Unitarian Universalist Art Fair this past weekend.  I managed to assemble a few more from fabrics I snipped into shape and stored for the occasion.  I wanted to have a nice selection because the Re-Shirts were a big hit at the ‘UU’ show last season.  I even picked up a few shirts I had at 'The Gathering' in town and ended up with sixty-two Re-Shirts.  Just as I was building up artistic steam for the show, a big storm came barreling out of the Midwest.  It dropped ice on us during set-up, then eight inches of snow overnight and through Friday.   
The schools were closed and the town pretty well shut down, but I drove in to meet the enthusiastic crowd of eight or so shoppers that braved the weather.  On the bright side, I had lots of time to needle-felt, talk to my friends and even do some Christmas shopping without any crowds!  Saturday dawned a little cold and crispy, but more people did venture out.  It was good to see some familiar faces that I get to see only once or twice a year and catch up.  The smaller crowds yielded longer and more meaningful conversations, which I liked.   
The good news is that I have plenty of Re-Shirts for the Bloom show in February!  I'm sure I’ll till make a few more, though.  I’ve had several comments or requests for Re-shirts that are a little longer in the front.  I re-designed my tank in all three sizes such that it is about four inches longer both places.  I’ve created the pattern and I’ll try it out before Christmas.  My plan is to give great Aunt Lois the first one in blue, which is her color, so don’t tell her! 

Partly because of the show, I have done a fair amount of needle felting lately.  I finished the lemon and orange rinds for my fruit plate piece.  That reminds me of the story of the piece, which is a nice circle.  My booth at the UU show is next to Abby Gitlitz, the glass artist.  Last year we got to talking about Turkish food.  Abby used to live in Turkey and she speaks the language.  She offered to bring me a recipe for imam bialdi, my favorite dish at Anatolia on Fourth Street in town.  Abby brought me a cookbook that happened to have an image of a bunch of vegetables laid out on a plate as a salad, some assembly required.  That image inspired the “Summer Salad” piece, and now, a year later, “Fruit Plate.”   
I was also reminded that last summer, Marcy Neiditz, ceramicist extraordinaire, gave me a pale green, thick, wool sweater that she shrank.  I’m never sure what I’ll use materials for, but I discovered that the green was just perfect for the inside of kiwis slices!  I added the brown skins onto the kiwi slices during slow times at the show.  I even had time to work on the pink fruit of watermelon triangles.  I previously dyed some fleece with cherry and strawberry kool-aid to get just the right color.  When the show was finally over Saturday afternoon, we packed up in record time and celebrated another successful show in our own special way, with homemade kluski and a warm blackberry pie!  I think there’s still one slice left for tomorrow’s breakfast with coffee.  Now I can focus on the holidays and reclaiming the house.  The power of two boys to reduce order and cleanliness in a house should never be underestimated.  Then I’ll get to move back into my art studio and weave!  I’m so excited!

Until next week,

Martina Celerin 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The holiday season is upon us!

Last week included Thanksgiving, which means travel to Michigan to visit Grandma and her kitties.  I came really close to finishing my latest commission piece just before we left, which made me eager to get back at it when we returned.  I’m delighted to report that the weeping willow is now fully leafed out, finished, and en route to it’s new home.  I love the way the branches drape from the tree.  I see an elegance that reminds me of Rapunzel’s hair.  To finalize the piece I added a special bench with an unusual feature—it gives the patron’s initials and anniversary date carved into one of the bench slats. 
The piece is a gift to commemorate their anniversary, so I wanted it to be special.  I did some practice carving and staining to get it right.  I think I came up with a technique that yields writing that is at once legible and cryptic.  You have to know what you’re looking for to recognize the detail.  The piece is finally complete and I’m delighted with how it turned out. 

Since you asked about Re-Shirts, the number of the week is 32!  That’s how many new shirts I’ve made for the Unitarian Universalist art fair.  I probably could have assembled a few more but I ran out of black bias tape.  I finished snipping off all the little strings and my friend Ruth came through on her generous offer to come by and iron the shirts in advance of the fair.  It’s the last art fair of my holiday season before I burrow into my studio to create pieces for the 2014 summer art fair season.  Next week I will also re-stock my local venues, such as The Gathering, which has Re-Shirts and Lion scarves for sale in the holiday season, and By Hand Gallery, Wonderlab, and BloomingfoodsEast, which have felted scarves, sweater petals and cards.  The all make nice holiday gifts!

Speaking of Thanksgiving, we had a delightful visit to Michigan for the holiday.  We visited with Grandma, Lois and family friends the Gibsons and Ms. Millie.  We ate and laughed a lot and just generally hung out.  I’m never good at just sitting still so I did manage to make a nice big bowl of leaf clumps out of the yarn that I dyed last month.  I also came up with an idea for a new piece.  It was inspired by a comment from my patron that I sent the last piece to (Tap Water).  
 She said something about a fruit piece and I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be fun to do a fruit plate similar to my ‘Summer Salad’ piece. In my new vision I want to create clumps of color where similar vegetables are arranged thereby making almost color blocks on the canvas.  I’ve started thinking about and creating lemon slices, orange slices, kiwi slices, blueberries, cherries, apple chunks and watermelon triangles.  
 I’ve already made the lemon slice discs and attached yellow fleece, dyed with turmeric to create the outer edge of the lemon rind.  I’m looking forward to delving into my dandelion-dyed fleece to use as the lemon meat.  I think it will be a fun piece, but don’t ask about cantaloupes because I'm allergic to them. 

Oh, and I did get two small slices of pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving.  It was good, but not enough.  The pie fairy is going to have to hurry to get one in before we get to the special raspberry pie scheduled for Christmas!  Go pie fairy, go!

Until next week,

Martina Celerin 

Monday, November 18, 2013

As American as Re-Shirts and Apple Pie

It is delightful to be back on schedule with a weekly blog—things have settled down to the usual weekly hectic pace.  I have been working on my next commission piece and I now have the background woven.  By the end of today I should have the piece stretched out in its frame.  My next step is to do the dimensional crochet to build the grassy shoreline forward such that there is a place to plant the willow tree and the bench that are the focal points of the piece. 

I love to weave, so that’s taken up a lot of time, but I’ve had to split my time between weaving and making more Re-Shirts.  Last week I cut out the pattern for 48 new Re-shirts!  I focused the fall/winter colors that are strong and bold.  I tried to avoid pastel colors, but a few fabrics just demanded to be used.  I am planning to do the Bloom showcase in February, so those colors might be more appropriate as spring approaches.  It was a lot of fun breaking open the boxes of fabrics I’ve been collecting over the past several months.  
 It’s a lot like opening Christmas presents with all the colors and textures.  I then get to piece them together to see who works with whom.  I began with eight bins of fabrics that have had a previous life and now I’m down to four.  So many of the fabrics have history, such as the Re-Shirt I made from Rosemary P. Miller’s curtains.  I even cut up my first official art fair dress, which was made of flax.  The back-story here is that I always have a collection of four or five nice dresses that I wear at shows.  The lower parts of dresses are usually in really good shape as the tops wear out, so I want them to live in a Re-Shirt.  I even have some shirts that Tommie has outgrown and should be hand-me-downs, but the colors and patterns don’t match Jacob’s aesthetic.  And of course I’m permitted to remove shirts from Jacob’s wardrobe that no longer match his vision of style. 

To keep myself fit I’ve been doing Bollywood, Zumba and Dance fit more regularly these days.  Yesterday morning I was even part of IU’s Dance Marathon as a back-up dancer in Darrelyn’s Zumba troop.  Our goal was to pump up the crowd of over three thousand IU students with some energetic music and dance.  They were thirty hours into the marathon at 5:30 in the morning when we started.  It was a lot of fun, although I realized I was the oldest person in the whole room.  What I lack in youth I make up for in enthusiasm!  The marathon was held in the indoor tennis facility to make room for all the students and dancers.

On Friday night, Tommie and I went to IU’s basketball game.  It was a lot of fun, whooping and hollering and cheering.  We even did the IU chop (on cue, of course).  On the way out we spoke French as we walked to our meet-up point with Jim and Jacob.  They went to see Ender’s Game, and they came to pick us up.  I think they liked the movie.   

With the balmy weather we’ve had this week I was able to sand and paint four more frames for this winter’s weaving projects.  That brings my total of finished frames to 24.  The warm weather will pass with the spate of thunderstorms and sporadic tornadoes that passed us by yesterday afternoon.   
Oh, and good news!   
A fresh apple pie appeared early this week!  I still have one slice left to have with coffee to start my Monday morning, so life is good. 

Until next week,

Martina Celerin 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Great holiday art fairs, but no pies.

When the weather turns cold I start thinking about the Bloomington holiday art fair season.  It has been a full couple of weeks as I prepared for the Fiber Arts Show held over the past weekend.  The Spinners and Weavers Guild puts it on, and this year we had a record turnout.  I heard that the concurrent Clay and Glass shows that are also held in churches along Third Street were packed as well.  I brought forty-five of my new Re-shirts to the show and came home with less than twenty.  With the Unitarian Universalist (UU) Holiday Art show coming up in early December, and Talia's "Gathering" pop-up store opening in Fountain Square Mall later this month I have to get busy again!  With the weekend behind me I took over the dining room, pushing the table out of the way to make the floor into my palette.  The boys will just have to find somewhere else to eat for a few days!

My Re-Shirts are my project to give a second life to great fabrics trapped in old garments.  I collect and cut up shirts, skirts, dresses, curtains, and any interesting materials I can get my hands on.  Sometimes I include a fabric panel "chest plate" I created by block printing.  Over the summer, in anticipation of this season, I made my own blocks and created some prints to which I’m partial.  I also experimented with a cross-section of a Nautilus shell and used that as a ‘block’ to print.  The result isn’t as bold as I intended, but the pattern has a delicate quality and lots of detail that I find appealing.  I’m planning to incorporate it as a centerpiece in some of the new shirts for the UU show. 

Weaving hasn’t been a mainstay of my efforts lately, but I did finish one of my commission pieces, a version of Tap Water.  I excitedly finished the piece and packed it up into a big box to ship today.  And now I’m launching full force on my next commission piece, which will be similar to my recent ‘Sitting with Grandpa’.  It will feature a park bench overlooking a pond, but this one will have a secret message carved into the bench to celebrate the couple’s anniversary. 

My family life has been packed, as usual.  Jacob has been practicing with his Hip Hop group at the Panache dance studio.  With extra practices in the evening to tighten things up, along with Tommie’s Science Olympiad and Jacob’s assistant teaching at Monroe County Martial Arts, we were a bit oversubscribed.  Last Friday night was the showcase and Jacob did a fabulous job with his two pieces.  I think he also had a great time dancing with his friends, so this might become one of his regular activities.  Panache is such a great studio, filled with enthusiastic and supportive people. 

  And as for the report from the kitchen - lots of baking has been happening in the house, with bread, muffins, but no pie.  I used up all the summer apples from Grandma’s house that we had frozen in July.  I incorporated the rind of three oranges into a nice recipe I found that uses whole wheat flour and lots of cut oats.  I made variations with cranberries and just got the OK from Jacob to include toasted pecans.  Hmm, did I say that there was no pie over the last TWO weeks?  Even though I called on the Pie Fairy in my last blog?  I am not amused. 

Until next week,

Martina Celerin 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Grants, Grandma, pies and bright fall colors

Over the past two weeks I got started on my fall commission pieces.  The first one is a revisitation of my ‘Tap Water’ piece that features a water faucet dripping onto a dandelion with a long taproot.  I began by digging through my earthy browns, which I love to do.  The colors remind me of chocolate, from American milk chocolate to extra dark Swiss delights.  The darkest colors sink to the bottom of the piece in a gradient to the lighter browns at the surface.  I warped the loom and just rocked on the dirt for the piece.  My next project was to create the stone wall that holds the faucet.  For the mortar I use greys with a hint of brown to give the piece a warm feel.  Oh, and the teacup in the picture is from a local artist, Walt Schmidt.  At the Fourth Street Festival he caught me drinking out of a cup made by a Slovak artist, but that wasn’t enough to appease Walt.  He gave me a nice cup from his wares.  It is perfect for tea—thanks Walt! 

To create the stones in my rock wall I like to cluster similarly colored yarns together.  That got me digging through my box of sand yarns.  Unfortunately, I discovered that a rodent was trying to turn my yarn stores into a winter pantry.  I found acorns, allium seeds, and sunflower seeds.  To Mr. Mouse:  sorry, that is SO not happening.  I gave Jim some dark sunglasses, a stern look and orders to solve the problem.  Despite the losses, I was still able to bring together soft grey pinks, stony browns and earthy purples to make the stones I needed.  
 I want them to be slightly colorful, reminiscent of the different granite rocks I found on the beaches of the Pinery in Ontario, where I grew up.  I just love the colors in the water-polished stones!  I even added some yarns with glittery characteristics to match the feel of the rocks when the sun hits them.  The effect needs to be muted so the rocks, which cover a large background surface area, don’t stand forward and fight with the foreground water tap structure. 

Fall marks the time when the boys get seriously into their extracurricular activities.  That gives me lots of time to needle felt objects I need.  Jacob is practicing for a hip-hop showcase in two weeks, and both boys are gearing up for the next belt (red/black) in Taekwondo.  It’s the last stop before black belt!  I have had plenty of time to create the dandelion leaves and root that I need, as well the tree trunk for the next commission piece.  That will feature a willow tree with a nearby park bench. 

The last two weeks also featured all sorts of fun family events.  Grandma came to visit during the boy’s fall break.  The weather was perfect, giving us plenty of outdoor time.  That keeps Grandma happy!  She mowed the lawn twice.  Really!  I think the second pass just scares the grass, but she seems to think the collecting bag fills up again.  We did leave the lawn in pretty bad shape before she arrived.  She bought herself a present that will stay at our house, which is a weed-whipping trimmer.  Jacob has taken to it, and now the lawn looks wonderfully manicured all around.  We also managed to do some shopping for a new sofa after seventeen years of hard use on the last one.  We traveled Bloomington to test every couch in town for bottom-pleasing comfort.   
While we shopped, Jim made a delightful salmon dinner and followed it up with a farmer’s market fresh raspberry pie—yum!  On Saturday, everyone had a nice trip to the farmer’s market.  That means we made a stop at Le Petit Café for hot chocolate, bought lots of fall veggies for the week, and came home a basket of tomatoes for the freezer.   
We even got in a trip out to Brown County to see the fall colors.  The boys and I did some zip-lining, we had lunch at Zaharenkos, and we all took in a round of mini-golf.  ONE of us scored THREE holes in one!  Since you asked, yes, it WAS me!  With the beautiful blue skies on a perfect fall day, everything just came together nicely.  Except that the pie disappeared way too fast.  I think we’ll need another soon, please, pie fairy!

Until next week,

Martina Celerin 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Grants, Pies and Bright Fall Colors

Over the last two weeks I limbered up my fingers and dove into grant-writing mode.  The most important support I apply for is to bolster our marketing efforts for the Fourth Street Festival of Arts and Crafts.  The CVB (Convention and Visitors Bureau) has been very helpful in years past by supporting targeted advertising in regional markets such as Cincinnati to the southeast and Indianapolis and beyond to the north.  A large number of people traveling to Bloomington from afar spend money at local motels and restaurants, so they help promote our mutual interests in bringing art patrons to the city.  It’s still a chore to write the proposal because I need to assemble all the details about the show and how we marketed it.  The format changed this year so had a small learning curve to try to get it right. 

In between grant writing I was working on some smaller projects to keep my fingers limber.  It’s sweater petal season, which are felted flower accessories I make and sell locally.  I decided to do some dyeing to get some fresh fall colors into my sweater petals.  I did some dyeing with Kool Aid, which is an amazing starting point because the dyestuff is non-toxic and the colors are vivid.  I did some non-traditional mixes to create new colors, which is a little against my scientific nature.  You might think I would need to follow the same recipe to get a consistent product, but this time of year I just get inspired by different colors.  Every time I drive to a meeting I see new oranges, reds, yellows and deep purples emerging all against a blue fall sky.  I added a few pinks and purples to cover the spectrum and I ended up with some very cheery colors.  Next I need to scale up my efforts to dye the spectrum of green yarns I need for all my winter weaving projects.  I got out my antique skein maker and began cranking to make skeins of yarns to dye or over dye. 

While I was dyeing on the stovetop the oven below decided to follow suit.  The ceramic ignition element gave up the ghost after six years of service.  Fortunately, the helpful folks from Morrison’s popped out in a few days to replace it for me and I’m back in business.  The oven gave out right when Jim was raising dough to bake, so he ended up using the toaster oven. The loaves came out surprisingly well.  Lately I’ve been into baking muffins to put in the boys’ lunches.  They like fresh muffins, and I’ve been sneaking in some healthy ingredients.  I slip in fruits, milk powder, whole grains and more that I can’t mention, along with lots of vanilla to make them flavorful.  I also made a ‘healthy’ caramel pie
this week, which is one that Jacob requests.  It’s actually a recipe for a pureed yellow squash pie that I got from Mary at the Recycle Center.  I cut down on the butter, upped the eggs and replaced the white sugar with brown to make it a little more ‘caramely’.  I like to think of it as a pumpkin pie without the heavy-handed spices.  And yes, I did get a pie since I last wrote.  Jim made nice Mutzu pie with apples from the Farmer’s market.  He actually made two and gave one away, so he was busy.  Tommie even got into the act, making Beignets from a mix that our relatives from Mississippi brought us when they visited MI in June.  
 Beignets come from the café Beignet in New Orleans, and they’re deep fried dough covered in powdered sugar.  They make delightful companions to espresso!

We did manage to get out a little too, attending the Lotus Festival for the first time as a family this year.  The boys’ favorite was De Temps Antan.  Each boy had ended up with a band T-shirt from the band.  After a pre-Lotus trip to the Owlery for dinner and Blu Boy for a "diva brownie" and ice cream for the boys, the evening was full and fun.  This week Grandma comes to visit and the boys have fall break, so I expect a packed few days!

Until next week,

Martina Celerin

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Re-tooling after Fourth Street

I’m finally settling back into a routine after Fourth Street, with a few surprises tossed in.  I put away all of the summer art fair materials—my tent, walls, aluminum poles and everything else.  Even as I’m winding it down, I’m thinking about launching into the fall and holiday art season shows.  I spent a little time this week making a bunch more sweater petals for Bloomingfoods on the east side.  I dropped off forty new ones for a display unit that sits on top of my cards.  I quickly moved into making new Re-Shirts for the holiday shows.  First comes the Spinners and Weaver’s Guild show on the second weekend in November.  The bad news is that as soon as I got a full head of steam assembling Re-Shirts, my wonderful sewing machine from Grandma started to give out again.  It reminded me of the story about Grandma’s lawn mower that was shaken to pieces from all its use—the sewing machine is in the same kind of shape.  
 Happily, Karen Charrington lent me her really-old-but-never-used sewing machine.  It’s a solid metal dinosaur from the sixties and just a fabulous workhorse.  I just put the petal down and the machine flies over the fabric.  I might be setting a bad example for Tommie, who was taught in Home Ec class not to put the pedal down more than half way.  I’ll have him straightened out before you know it!  I now have thirty new Re-shirts.  I would have had more if life had not set me back a bit early Friday last week.  I heard an intense hissing sound coming from the basement and descended to find the hot water heater steam-cleaning the concrete floor.  Fortunately it was warm and clean so it wasn’t too bad to stand in to clean up.  I spent a little time triaging the wet things we had saved in the basement to decide which ones we really needed, which was a good thing.  Of course it happened on our wedding anniversary.  When Jim looked up to see what gift he was supposed to give on the fourteenth anniversary it turned out to be ‘water heater.’  Who knew?

This past week has taken me into my annual paper work period. I have to tie up four proposals related to Fourth Street, take care of some tax things, and resolve some overdue (and very dry) business-related stuff.  I also need to complete a commission sketch that’s long overdue (it’s coming Sonia!).  Pretty soon it’s going to be ‘reward the artist’ week.  I’m hoping to start doing what I like best, which is to make some new art.  I’ll begin with the first of my commissions from the summer art fairs, which is a piece based on ‘Tap Water.’  It features a water tap that sticks out from a house, dripping water on a dandelion with a deep taproot.  I also shipped a weaving to Oregon—‘Beach Dunes’ has a new home.  I built a box for the safe passage west, although I understand it has to wait just a little longer until the house is completed. 

In addition to art, I blended back into my usual exercise routine of Zumba, Dance Fit, Bollywood and Sweaty Monday’s with Jenny.  Jim and I went to the Wonderlab fundraiser as guests of Cindy Creek and her father-in-law Jean Creek, who is a big Wonderlab supporter.  We had a great time, laughed a lot and had fun bidding through the iphone system.  I won a bike helmet that Jacob quickly adopted.  It’s neon green and came with two bike tune-ups, which is really why I was bidding.  We also had some amazing chocolates there from Peachtree Mountain Truffles.  I thought the only good chocolate in town was from Blu Boy.  On Saturday morning we made it to the Farmer’s market for hot chocolate (at Le Petit Café) and lots of produce—we got eggplants, cucumbers, onions, garlic, peaches, apples, sweet potatoes, and watermelon.  The peaches became peach butter, and I’m hoping that the apples become a pie soon!  Oh, and we all went to see the Blue Man Group on Saturday evening.  We all had a good time, and Jacob even got a picture taken with one of the blue guys at the end.  Did I mention I’m ready for a pie?

Until next week,

Martina Celerin 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Another Successful Fourth Street!

It has been an extremely busy two weeks, but Fourth Street Festival 2013 is in the rear view mirror.  Life is slowly returning to normal.  I have learned not to try to make any new art pieces the week before the festival, keeping my week open to deal with the last-minute craziness that always seems to happen for which nobody plans.  I keep busy with some puttery things, like painting frames and updating my bookkeeping.  Then the strangest things come up.  

 This year I needed to find a bullhorn at the last minute, because it was part of the emergency plan to notify artists in case something big and unexpected happened.  After a lot of looking I found one at the IU surplus stores, but it turned out to be a piece of junk.  Even though they explicitly say they won’t take refunds, I’m the person who put the ‘fun’ back in refund.  I ended up with an awesome replacement (actually, big thanks to the IU surplus store fellow who gave me his to replace the battery holder shaped like a dented horn). 
My security police friend said it was even better than his!  With the weather extremes of the past two years, I tended to check in to see the forecast every fifteen minutes or so.  Boy, did that ever drive Jim crazy!  He says I shouldn’t worry about weather that’s days away, but I checked anyway.  The first day turned out to be very hot and sticky, but the accompanying thunderstorms held off until after the show and the banquet dinner.  By morning the storms were gone and neither the art nor the artists were any worse for the weather.  Sunday was considerably cooler and a better sales day. 
All tolled, 36,000 people came to the event this year.   Despite running all over Fourth Street (and beyond), the show treated me very well.  I sold several pieces and had a few commissions.  I was also honored with the Best in Show award this year!  For as good as it was, I’m relieved and happy to have it all behind me for another year.  Now I’m working on commissions and taking care of the little business things that come up, like re-stocking my cards and T-shirts around town.  I’ve been making more sweater petals to sell at Bloomingfoods this year, which were very popular in the fall and winter months last season. 

In other fair news, Jacob and Tommie spent a lot of time caring for my booth and talking to patrons when I was off stomping out fires.  When I asked Jacob what his favorite part of the show was, he said it was using the credit card reader!  Many people told me what a wonderful salesman he was for my work, and some of my artist friends want me to rent him out to sell for them.  He does tell good stories about the work and makes a very personal connection to the art, so it’s good to have him in the booth.  I wanted to mention that the first piece to sell this year was my new willow piece called Sitting with Grandpa.  It was kind of hard to part with because I was still pretty emotionally attached to it.  The piece had some of Grandpa’s old army blankets in it, so there was a real connection to him.  In Czech, when you have problems you go and talk to the old willow.  I think Grandpa did that too, since he grew up around some giant willows in his backyard that were a big part of his life.  They were great climbing trees and just good places to hang out.  He liked to be near water, which is where the willows lived. 

When the show was over, I was treated to a delightful celebratory dinner.  After takedown we had Jim’s orange glazed salmon, rice, peaches and a bottle of wine.  For dessert, Jim baked a fresh apple pie using transparent apples from Grandma.  Boy, were they ever flavorful!  Jim, you can make another one any time now!  I know you have more in the freezer!  Which reminds me that I also started back on my Zumba routine.  I’m pretty achy and a little sore, but it feels good to be active again.  Oh, and I also went out on closing night to see “Urinetown” at the Bloomington Playwright’s Project theatre, a play directed by Eric Anderson.  After a delightful dinner at Samira with the boys home playing Minecraft, it turned into a fine evening.  What more could I ask for?

Until next week,

Martina Celerin 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Fourth Street Festival approaches!

Each year, Labor Day brings the busiest weekend of my world, the annual Fourth Street Festival of Arts and Crafts.  I’ve been sitting in my art studio over the past two weeks feverishly turning out a few more new pieces for my booth.  I’m pleased that I’ll have several fresh pieces that have all come together after my last summer show in Madison.  My inspiration largely came from thinking about all the summer road trips this year.  We saw lots of water, birch trees, and a very lush, green landscape.  The cool wet spring was certainly embraced by the plant life this year.  At some point I realized I needed to make a Summer Birches piece, after all the highly successful Winter Birches pieces I’ve done in the past.  I used some of the birch leaf clumps I made on my last trip to Michigan.  I wanted to create a deep birch forest with a cool feel.  The background has some darkness but both the canopy and the understory are light and cheery.  The colors and the trees really make me feel happy!  
 Next I wanted to finish the Cattail Marsh piece that I wrote about two weeks ago.  I initially wanted lots of cattails in the foreground, but for me it’s an internal struggle to get the balance between too many and not enough.  I certainly didn’t want the water to get lost in the background and I think I achieved that.  I also find the photograph of the piece interesting.  The image flattens the piece out considerably.  The foreground itself extends forward close to six inches.  It’s common for my pieces to look either more or less dimensional when captured in a photograph, and this is a good example of the latter. 

In my push to finish pieces in progress for Fourth Street, I finished a piece that also features birches, this time by a stream.  I incorporated rocks from both North Carolina’s Topsail Island beach and Katy Abramson’s driveway on Jordan Avenue in Bloomington.  I was just matching rocks based on color and size and the two sources turned out to be a good match.  About the time I finished that piece, my boys reported that they were having a laundry crisis.  Tommie announced that none of his favorite four shirts were clean (yes, he’s in full teenager mode, turning thirteen on Monday).  When I get focused on art I just try to keep on top of household stuff, which is in reasonable shape.  We do have dinner every night, often thanks to Jim last week.  Along the way I’ve had plenty of meetings and the boys have had many taekwondo classes.  That gives me plenty of time for needle felting tomatoes.  
 I recently finished the last tomato for a piece, which includes lots of tomato varieties.  There are heirlooms with yellow shoulders that never ripen, classic red tomatoes and even little cherry tomato clumps.  I really miss having the little cherry tomato volunteer plants in the garden, which came from Jim distributing compost around the flowerbeds full of rich soil and tomato seeds.  It took a few years but Jim slowly evicted them in favor of flowers—I’m not sure that was a good trade!   At least I get to have lots of them in my weaving.  The final component of the tomato piece was the stems and calyxes.  That’s a lot of detail work, but I did manage to finish them this week as well.  With the piece assembled, I’m really delighted with how it all turned out!  When we went as a family to the Farmer’s market this morning and saw all the tomatoes for sale it reminded me of my piece. 

This week has been filled with furious art making, since I set a deadline of today to finish art and put on my show director’s hat.  I had an idea for a willow piece by a pond that came together over the past few days.  It features willows, made out of Grandpa’s old army blanket, that stand next to a bench overlooking a pond.  The willows and the army blanket remind me of Grandpa, who loved the old willow trees around his back yard.  The piece is going to be called Sitting with Grandpa, which seems appropriate as you look out over the water from the bench.  Grandpa loved to fish, but he enjoyed thinking about fishing and planning new trips at least as much.  

There were a lot of family things happening too, but I can’t remember too much from the past two weeks.  I do remember going to the pool last Sunday evening with Jacob and his friend Lara.  The water was a little too cool for my tastes.  Jim and Tommie made a trip to Lake Erie and brought home lots of perch, so we feasted over a fish fry with my Zumba instructor Liz.   
She’s leaving town to start her career as a dietician in Cincinnati, and I’ll miss her a lot.  The boys probably did something to earn a Nobel prize in some category, but I was too busy weaving to notice.  I’m sure they’ll tell me soon!  I did notice that there was another pie, this time a peach pie, which was a delightful breakfast treat with coffee over several days.  What more could I ask for?

Until next week,

Martina Celerin 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Pie in the art studio!

Yes, I enjoyed a beautiful slice of warm blackberry pie with my family in my usual working space.  Tom Bertolacini, my frame maker and photographer, dropped off fourteen oak frames, including one for my next piece of a non-traditional size.  It will be a re-interpretation of my ‘Tap Water” piece for a patron in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Tom also left behind some giant cucumbers, zucchini, squash, two generous quarts of blackberries, and one tomato that Patty was willing to part with.  
 Jim transformed the berries into an awesome pie.  On Monday evening the boys brought the creation down to the art studio and we all feasted before dinner.  I was on my way to the annual BloomMagazine reception, and although there was food I couldn’t possible go without trying the pie!  Dawn Adams and I had a wonderful time.  I got to see the most recent issue of Bloom and I was delighted to see a large photo of me from the local artist showcase event that Bloom puts on in the winter.  If that wasn’t enough, the ad for the Fourth Street Festival also features a giant image of one of my pieces, Summer Salad.  It was a good evening for me!

With the annual Fourth Street event coming up over the Labor Day weekend, I’ve been trying to spend as much time in the art studio as humanly possible.  I even make the sacrifice of eating pie for breakfast (with espresso) in my art studio!  
 I’m currently working on a northern pond piece, which is really the home for my loon.  I have completed the background, the cattails and the accompanying leaves.  I made them out of used paperclips that I straightened out and wrapped with yarn.  I found a nice brown chenille to make the actual cattail heads.   
They recall a warm, fuzzy memory for me, since in Czech the word for cattail is ‘cigar’.  I remember as a child trying unsuccessfully to light them.  I’m also working on tomatoes for a piece, and I am eight tomatoes shy of the completed work.  I still have to make some of the stems and leaves, but I have several meetings ahead of me.  That translates into plenty of tomato poking time.  I hope to have the piece completed by Labor Day.

I got to work on the components of the Tomato piece because we made one last trip to Grandma’s before school began on Wednesday.  We had a delightful trip, and in addition to making tomatoes on the drive, I made progress on a number of other fronts.  I had been thinking about making more underground pieces.  I was looking for memorable and rusted objects that evoke an emotional response.  Pieces that trigger a memory of something forgotten that used to be a regular part of your life.  While Jim and Tommie were off fishing, Grandma, Jacob and I went off to an antique mall across the street from our lunch spot.  I found a tintype photograph of two army officers that I knew I wanted to incorporate into a weaving.  I also found rusted old metal cars and a rusty fishing lure, among other treasures.  Grandma said she had plenty of those old rusty lures out in Grandpa’s pole barn.  Sure enough I found plenty of those, as well as a trove of other rusted treasures.  While I was there, Grandma’s neighbor Kathey Gibson came over and saw what I was doing.  That brought on an invitation from Ben Gibson to dig through his garage.  He had years of rusty history in his garage!  I found old keys, antique welding goggles, rusted tools, and treasures of all sorts.  I have two big bags to sort through some quiet day this winter. 

As I sit to recount my memories of the past few weeks, I realize how jam packed the whole time has been.  We brought back two big bags of transparent apples from Grandma’s prized tree.  They became three freezer pies, uncounted tupperwares of frozen chunks for muffins, and a big bowl of applesauce.   
The boys wanted to go on one last kayaking adventure, so we went to find the place Cindy Creek, the boy’s first grade teacher who got us started on kayaking, called Crinoid Beach.  We paddled across the lake to find the ‘beach’ – they are really more of limestone outcroppings.  I’m not sure that we landed on Crinoid Beach but we landed on a beach with lots of rocks with holes in them – perfect for incorporating into weavings, so for me it’s now the Rocks-with-Holes-in-them Beach.   
The boys got to swim and we all had lots of fun splashing around and having our lunch.    

And on Friday night, Jim tested (and passed!) his test for half-red, half-black belt in Taekwondo.  We’re so proud of him! 

Until next week,

Martina Celerin