Sunday, June 23, 2013

Des Moines Art Festival, here we come!

My loon piece is complete!  I finished needle felting the loon in Michigan and it was fun to be able to show the piece to my family there, especially Grandma, in real life as opposed to just in pictures.  When we got back from Michigan I needle felted the loon onto the weaving background and decided to add some reflection of the loon on the water. 
 I used very thin, gauzy layers of black and white merino fleece and felted like crazy into the water’s surface.  I made the cattails and leaves earlier, so I stitched them on as soon as the loon was in his place.  I’m delighted with how it turned out!  When we returned from Michigan I leapt into action on my large format ‘trail through the woods’ piece.   
I finished attaching the understory and stitched the background on to the frame.  When we were on vacation at Topsail Island we collected a box full of special beach rocks called mother stones.  I knew when I was collecting them I knew they would be useful for something, and I thought they were perfect for the trail’s edge.   
The piece projects off the wall about twelve inches, and I just love the way it looks when I walk around it.  I have it in the living room where we can all enjoy it before we pack it up for the big trip to the Des Moines Art Festival in Iowa.  Speaking of the trip, I woke up during the night thinking about all the new pieces I created for summer art fairs.  I suddenly had the realization that I don’t have nearly enough protective weaving covers for all the new pieces!   
As my family was watching Apollo 13 on movie night, I was cutting up old pillowcases, tablecloths, bed sheets and some fabric scraps I got from our previous trip to Michigan.  I also love using up scraps, including threads.  This was my opportunity to use all my wound bobbins remnants, which gave me a rainbow palette to sew up my weaving covers.   I now have 18 brand new weaving covers appropriate for my large format pieces.  In the past I just used old pillowcases, but my work has become even more dimensional that I need to create my own protective weaving covers.   
Sewing brings back fond memories for me, since I always think of my step-grandmother the seamstress when I’m sewing.  She used to complain that my lines were not straight enough and compare my sewing to a puppy peeing.  I think she would be pleased with how straight my seams have become, and the fact that I zigzag all my seams. 

In vacation news, our trip to Michigan was wonderful.  We had Haley and the new baby Arya fly in from New Mexico.  Dave and Martha drove up from Mississippi on their ‘visit the family’ tour.  For several days Grandma had a very full house, and it was terrific.  One of the fun things that we did was go on a charter with Captain Dougat Fish Point lodge.  
 Between the lot of us we brought home 17 walleyes.  We released a lot of small fish, many sheepshead and a couple of huge catfish.  We ate well, got plenty of hugs and laughed a lot, so it was mission accomplished for me.  Yesterday morning was the Farmer’s market.  Jim and I managed to slip out together.  It was a delightful morning—it was like a date!   
We picked up some local blueberries, perfectly ripe tart cherries, black raspberries, peaches, cucumbers and some fresh broccoli to come home with us.  The tart cherries are pitted and in the freezer, waiting to become a pie.  This morning, oh my, oh my, I smelled a black raspberry pie!  It looks beautiful and I can’t wait to try it! 

Until next week,

Martina Celerin 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A loon swam by for a visit…

Right now I’m working at full steam to complete two pieces before the big Des Moines Art Fair at the end of June.  A few weeks back, during the Open Studios Tour, I had created the background for a piece that will feature a loon gliding on the water through cattails.  That was before our visit to North Carolina, and I think I was channeling northern waters when I started it.  Now I’m close to finishing the loon.   
A huge amount of detail work has gone into getting the body shape just right and forming the intricate design on its back.  The level of detail reminds me of the days when I used to do counted cross-stitch.  Luckily, I’ve had a lot of meetings to attend, boys Taekwondo classes, and visits to the doctor  (just checkups!) to give me time to work on the loon.  Just a couple more car trips when Jim drives and I should have it complete!  I do have to be careful when I work on the eyes, though.  I’ve learned from past experience that I should never poke at a creature’s eyes around other people—it just weirds them out, even though it’s wool. 

While the loon piece has taken a while to get back to, my major studio focus has been a large format ‘path’ piece.  I’ve been posting snapshots on Facebook (I have a Dimensional Weavings page, which you’re welcome to visit and‘Like’).   
Recently I attached the tree trunks, added crocheted leaf clumps and branches, and lately I’ve been working on the understory.  Soon I’ll be able to stitch the actual weaving onto the frame and call it done!  I’m excited to have two more new pieces to take on my summer art fair trail.  First it will be Des Moines at the end of June, but this week I also learned that I was invited to participate in the Madison Art Fair on the Square again!  Hooray!  Everybody is excited to do the show, especially since we get to see Wendy and Duane in Hollandale.  I know we’ll eat well and laugh a lot. 

With the summer comes a whole bunch of family activities.  The boys announced that this summer they wanted to learn how to paddle a kayak.  As fortune would have it, we ran into one of their former teachers, Cindy Creek, who is one of the two teachers in the multiage classroom at Rogers elementary (with Mike Love).  She’s also a Zumba person, which is how I ran into her lately.  She’s an avid kayaker and volunteered to get us started.  We rented three kayaks on Friday, a day when the lake’s surface looked like oil. 
 It was flat and just perfect for learning.  We had a great time splashing around all morning.  Also on the boys ‘to do’ list was to ride the zipline in the Brown County.  We had a fabulous time, zipping along at thirty miles an hour, sixty feet over the forest floor.  I think we’re ready for the advanced (longer and faster) lines now.    

Jacob has also gotten into baking this past year.  His class started an ‘Emeril’ cooking project and compiled a cookbook.  He picked up another cookbook in North Carolina and has been baking ever since.  He’s made tiramisu cupcakes, chocolate covered strawberry cupcakes, scones (chocolate chip, then cranberry), and a peanut butter brownie sort of a dessert.  
 And finally, we found tart cherries at the farmer’s market on Saturday.  Of course you know what that means—pie!  Jim made a delightful pie.  He and Jacob thought it was too tart.  Tommie and I disagreed.  It was so flavorful, though, that we went back to the Tuesday night market and got more cherries.  They were pitted last night and popped into the freezer for the next time I need a pie fix.  This time it will be a mix of tart and sweet cherries, so hopefully the whole family will like it more.   
Although, if I love it and they don’t, hmmm... more for me? 

Until next week,

Martina Celerin 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Snead’s Ferry is the place for fresh fish

We’re back in Indiana after a glorious week on the beach on Topsail Island, North Carolina.  It was awesome!  Though we have traveled to the Outer Banks in the past, this year was a new adventure for us.  We went to southern North Carolina and rented a house on the beach of North Topsail Island.  
 That meant that the ocean temperature was warm enough for even me to venture in several times.  I spent a record amount of time hanging out at the beach, boogie boarding, and collecting treasures that had washed up on shore.  I didn’t take any work with me, as in no fibers except the clothes I wore.  I did take along my pencil crayons and a sketchbook and had some wonderful opportunities for plein air sketching. 

Of course thoughts of art are never far away.  I did find a couple of types of beach rock that are going to be perfect for artwork.  One type is known locally as mother stones.  These are rocks with many smooth holes in them.  We collected them before we knew what they were, but we learned all about them on our visit to the Missiles and More Museum.  We had a delightful and informative chat about the local beach artifacts with the two curators.   
We learned that the stones were revered by ancient cultures as a talisman of fertility.  From my perspective, they’re awesome ‘beads’ to use in weavings.  We also collected Precambrian quartz discs, washed smooth by the ocean like sturdy beach class.  Some of them were almost transparent while some possessed oxidized or reduced iron that tinged them red or grey.   
I’m not sure what I’m going to use these for, but rest assured I’ll find something.  We also learned about fossilized shark’s teeth that are common the island.  They’re black, sharp and shiny.  Once we knew to look for them, though, we found them all over.

One of the things I really looked forward to was being able to buy fish right off the fishing boats in the neighboring town of Snead’s Ferry.  What a great name for a town!  We discovered Mitchell’s, and like the seagulls, we leaned to come when the boats were returning with fresh fish and shrimp around nine in the morning.   
We got to see the shrimp unloaded and learned how to clean and prepare them.  They were amazing sautéed in butter and garlic, tasting more like lobster than shrimp.  We got to pick out the fish we wanted from the laundry baskets full of ice most days.  
 Even when it didn’t come from the boat, we had amazing fresh fish every day!  We tried redfish, mullet, sea trout, pompano, croaker, spot, flounder, bluefish, redfish and a big black drum on the last night that Jacob declared as his favorite.   

The pompano was a huge hit in our only fish fry—mmm, was that ever good!  Jim and Tommie caught spot and croaker off the pier, then bluefish, flounder and sharks in the surf.  If I ever retire from Bloomington I want to move to Snead’s Ferry.  Even the name just says it all.  Our whole north Topsail Island vacation played out at a slower pace than our trips to the Outer Banks around Corolla.  
 The houses don’t have pools and rarely have hot tubs, and the people we interacted with were more down-to-earth than the more tourist-oriented folks on the Outer Banks.   I’d like to say it’s good to be back in Bloomington, but I wouldn’t mind still being in North Carolina! 

Now that I’m back in town and settled in, my focus is on finishing some pieces for the Des Moines show in late June.  High on my list is my large format piece that features a path through the woods piece.  I’ve been crocheting the dimensional portion of the path to create the base, which projects forward about ten inches to support my tree trunks.  

 Next I’ll needle felt the path on top of the base.  At that point I’ll be ready to assemble the piece—I already have the tree trunks, branches and crocheted leaf clumps waiting to become trees.  I’ll be glad to pack that one up for art fairs and ultimately off to a good home. 

This week features more family news than art news.  Still, I need mention a couple of other things.  We did find fresh local blueberries at a roadside farmstand.  That means I got a pie!  There was no pie dish, so it ended up in a small casserole dish.  There was a lot of filling and not so much crust, which I liked.  Jacob got into baking on the trip, thanks to Mrs. Tamborrino’s Emeril cooking project.  Jacob came with a book full of class favorite recipes. 
 He made gulab jamun (little deep fried milk and butter balls, soaked in cardamom-flavoured sugar syrup).  Yum!  At the end of the trip I made ‘Low Tide’ cookies to use up all the left over baking supplies.  They were just perfect as a snack food on our trip home.  All the flights were on time, our luggage followed us, and we got home at a reasonable hour.  Let the summer begin!

Until next week,

Martina Celerin