The thread that has followed me throughout this year is costume design and creation for Beauty and the Beast. The Sounds of South group at Bloomington High School South will bring this to the stage this coming October. During the school year I went into the high school every day to create costumes. Now I manage to get in once a week or so to keep the process moving forward. I feel like I’m well beyond the halfway point with many of the tricky costumes done, but there are still plenty to make. Lately I have been focusing on the ball gowns for the last scene. I finished pinning together the sixth and final gown just this week. My sewing faeries have been very busy translating my creations connected by safety pins into gowns held together by stitches and hot glue.
I just can’t imagine taking on this humongous project without them—I’m incredibly grateful for every last stitch and connection they have put in place. Plus, they’re a lot of fun to work with! This is Alice seam ripping gold trim for the beast’s dinner jacket, which is my next big project.
My art focus of late has been preparing for the Des Moines Art Festival coming up at the end of June. We’ve been doing a lot of driving, first to North Carolina and most recently to Michigan. That means that I have been sitting and needle felting as Jim watches the road and keeps an eye out for hawks. One of the pieces that I’m working toward completing before the show is a piece that will be entitled ‘Fruit Plate.’
On the drive to Michigan I completed the kiwis, watermelon, lemons, oranges and cherries. I have still to make apple slices, grapes, and blueberries. That translates into a lot more dyeing, felting and assembly. It is a timely piece for me because it reminds me of the bountiful times at farmer’s markets. On our trips to North Carolina we stopped in at Farmer’s markets along the way to stock up, and our Bloomington Farmer’s market is still rich with strawberries, lots of cherries, greens and more.
We bought eight pints of tart cherries for two big pies. Fire up the oven, Jim! And we can get more cherries next week!!
I've also completed a large format commission piece for a hospital in Iowa. They asked me to create a piece that featured a covered bridge over a river in the forest. I’m happy to say that this year I’ll be bringing that piece along to deliver it to its happy home. This has taken a lot of my time over the past few months to bring together, which makes completion and delivery even more rewarding. I’m also working hard to make a few new booth pieces for Des Moines, including three that will feature willows. Last year was the first time I showed a piece with a willow in an outdoor setting. I just love the way that hanging branches move when a gentle breeze comes into my booth—it makes them look alive.
The first is our trip to Topsail Island, NC to celebrate the end of the school year. The four of us rent a house on the beach for a week where it’s wonderful to have quiet time for all of us together. We search for fossilized shark’s teeth and ray mouth plates, play in the surf and eat fresh fish. I don’t take any work with me, but I do permit myself to take some colored pencils and paper.
That way if I have an urge to create I have some materials. This year the urge was strong!
I just really enjoyed myself sketching on the beach and the walkway over the dunes to the beach. This past week we returned from the second trip, this time to Michigan. Grandma hosted Dave and Martha from Mississippi, Haley and Arya from New Mexico and the four of us, spread throughout her house. It was a fun time, packed with family adventures. Nothing too exciting—we went on shopping trips to Wilson’s cheese shop in Linwood, Northwoods Outlet for art supplies in Pinconning, and over to the Oasis in Bay City for the classic perch fry dinner.
There was a lot of sitting around the kitchen table and sharing stories and laughing. I do vaguely remember having a few pies along the way, but I’ve forgotten the details. I do know that there is a bowl of pitted tart cherries in the fridge waiting for a cool morning to turn into a pie. Please let it be cool tomorrow morning!
Until next week,