Monday, June 22, 2015

Load up the trailer and get on the road!

The reality of the big summer art fairs is foremost on my mind right now.  I put most all of my energies into creating art this week.  It seems as if I was in the studio from the moment I wake up until deep in the night.  I’m making progress and I’m almost ready to take my art to Des Moines!  The first piece that I finished has already traveled extensively with me.  I did the actual background weaving in my studio a few months ago, but I took the weaving to Michigan to stretch it out onto its frame.  At Grandma’s I crocheted the foreground base for the peninsula and the water’s edge.  
 I brought the piece home and needle felted the tree trunks while watching the boys do Taekwondo.  The rocks in the piece are mother stones that we collected last year on Topsail Island in North Carolina.  To complete the tree I used remnant yarn thrums that I got from the Textillery in Bloomington to create the long branches.  The center of the branches is wire that I repurposed by straightening used spiral notebook binders.  Overall, the piece has a lot of history and a lot of travel.  And I’m delighted with how it turned out! 

This week I also worked on my fruit piece, making the apple slices and grapes while watching the boys teach Taekwondo at MCMA and during art-related meetings.  As I laid out the piece, I realized I need at least one more kind of fruit to balance with the dark-purply blueberries.  I’ve settled on plums as the perfect fruit.  I know exactly what I’m looking for, but it’s hard to communicate for me because in Czech there are two different words for plums, depending on the species.  I want to make blumy, which have the right purple and the right shape. 

On the Sounds of South Beauty and the Beast production front, my sewing faeries have been busy assembling my pinned-together costumes, and they look absolutely terrific.  I’m so pleased with the progress.  Lately I’ve re-launched into another character, the Enchantress.  I envision her as a regal, shimmery, silvery-teal goddess-like person.  I want her look to be very distinct from the ball gowns that I have been working on.  The basic dress for the Enchantress was a treasure we found on the road trip to West Lafayette.  Four of the SOS contributors traveled to see the touring performance of Beauty and the Beast.   
We also planned to make it a costume-scrounging trip on the way there and back.  We found the enchantresses dress in a consignment shop in small-town Indiana.  When Nancy and I saw it we just knew that it would work as the base of the costume for the Enchantress.  A couple of months later I was here in Bloomington, visiting My Sister’s Closet, when I found another version of the dress.  It was slightly greener, but almost identical.  I harvested that fabric to extend the first dress to become a full-length gown.  I embellished the basic structure by creating sleeves from the skirt of another gown I scavenged from the Recycle Center – Materials for the Arts.  
 I added some trim to the sleeves from a roll of Christmas ribbon that I picked up last weekend from the Monroe County History Center’s annual fundraiser garage sale.  I need to give a big shout out to them for lending us two mannequins for the year to keep the costume-making process moving forward.  I will reciprocate by lending them my mannequins next year for their sale. 

On the home front it has been a good week for pies.  We missed the farmer’s market for a couple of weeks on our travels, but we returned to cherry season.  We’re looking ahead to a visit by friends from Mississippi who have never had cherry pie beyond the canned version.  They’re coming for one of the Beauty and the Beast performances and we want to give them the real farmer’s market item.  Jim has been busy pitting cherries and freezing filling bags to have on hand.  He even made two different cherry pies since I last blogged a week ago in an attempt to perfect his filling.  Last Monday he made a tart cherry pie that was amazing.  It was also perfect with espresso as breakfast for the next couple of days.  This past Saturday we picked up ten more quarts for winter pies, and Jim tried a sweet cherry pie to compare and work on the filling texture.  He added a few strawberries that were left over, which unfortunately dominated the flavor of the sweet cherries.  I’m not complaining, though!  Maybe we should try it again to see what it’s like without the strawberries!  I feel good knowing that we’ll be ready for pies this winter to bring back memories of the summer’s farmer’s market.  Let’s do the same for blueberries and raspberries!

Until next week,

Martina Celerin

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Summer Fruit

It has been a crazy summer already and we’re just a couple of weeks into it.  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. 

On the family front, we recently returned from the second of our summer vacation trips.  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,

Martina Celerin