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