Winter has taken hold of Indiana, bringing the first real snowfall to blanket us in white. Besides being pretty, it’s a nice backdrop to my current focus, which is making green beans between other family activities. My bigger-picture objective is finishing my ‘Fall Stew’ piece, which will provide a cameo appearance space for my beans. I can’t use too many, though. I learned this important fact when I made the actual fall stew years ago. Because Jim really doesn’t like green beans, I had to be careful with the ratio of beans to other vegetables so I could slip them in and not have him notice. After the beans are done I’ll make some broccoli and parsnip and I should be ready to assemble the final piece.
Needle felting vegetables gives me some much-needed thinking time. When I made the tomatoes for my ‘Fall Stew’ creation, I got to thinking about heirloom tomatoes. I was remembering how recognizable they are on the tables at the Farmer’s market with their yellow shoulders, which take longer to ripen. That got me thinking about what it takes to be an heirloom. Objects don’t necessarily need to have a large actual value, just a perceived value to the owner or family. I thought about the things I have inherited, including some great tools from Grandpa (Jim’s dad) and family jewelry from my Grandmother.
This summer I went to an estate sale of a person whose mother was a hairdresser, which was her whole life, and she was selling her collection of rollers. Jim’s family fishes, so we have lots of old lures, rods and gear that have been around forever. The heirlooms are often tools of the trade that define that person or family (and I love tools!). Each object comes with a story, and the stories draw me in and demand that I translate the objects into art. I have all sorts of interesting heirlooms in jars downstairs, from an old tool that looks like an ancient pizza cutter with a wonderful patina (but is really a tailor’s fabric cutting tool), to tarnished silver spoons from long-forgotten collections - all waiting for the right composition.
All that musing helped me decide I needed to make a piece called ‘Heirloom Tomatoes’. Of course an heirloom tomato composition would feature an elegant fruit with lots of character springing up from a soil permeated with heirlooms. We’ll have to see how it comes together!
The other major project that looms in my future (everything in my life has looms) is costuming. This year’s musical performance at Bloomington High School South is ‘Pippin’. I’ve done all the sketches and I’ve been actively collecting and organizing clothing built around the color palate I designed. All of the clothes have spent two days in the freezer, a half an hour in the washing machine and an hour in the dryer before being sorted onto racks. I just love organization—it makes it so much easier to view what I have and then to get things done. On February first I hope to start actually building costumes for Pippin from all the recycled clothing pieces that Nancy Riggert and I have collected. The local thrift shops have been incredibly generous to us. MySister’s Closet has given us all their damaged or stained formal wear. Imperfections are easily mended and small stains mean nothing on the stage, so I can get a lot of mileage out of unwanted clothing. The Bloomington Thrift Shop has been wonderful about sharing clothing that doesn’t sell and sharing their excess hangers. Being able to start costuming with each of the starting materials hung and organized is hugely useful and will make the task of outfitting sixty-five kids a lot easier.
On the home front, hmmm, let me see. The Christmas tree is down and the decorations are put away. The snow is pretty, but the kitchen does not seem to be filled with the glorious scent of a freshly baked blueberry pie! Whatever shall I do?
Until next week,