Sunday, May 15, 2016

Birches and White Pines

My blogs often tell the stories of the piece work I do when my life gets busy—which is most of the time.  Last week I was making kohlrabi, but I’m often making roots, fruits, animals, vegetables, hands, or tree clumps that comprise my bigger pieces.  The cerebral part of the process comes when I get the chance to assemble the pieces and arrange them in an art piece.  I usually need a big window of time when I can internalize this creative part of the process.  Deciding what works where and why is a very personal, reflective process.  I need silence in the art studio, free of fretting about upcoming deadlines and the routine of transporting boys to their activities for a long block of time.  It’s the time when I connect at my deepest level of consciousness with each piece.  I need to mull over the tentative composition and color balance in a critical way.  This week that happened for a new piece that features birches by a lake. 

Of course my week is also filled with small blocks of studio and travel time when I can work on the labor intensive parts of my craft.  One of those involved warping a loom for my next commission piece.  I picked out the yarns I’ll use for that piece last week and had a chance to do some weaving.  I love my weaving time, because it allows me to let my mind wander over the recent events in my world.  This was especially true this week because I’m weaving a structured fence and it felt like my hands were working independent of my brain.  I looked down and thought wow, look how much I’ve made!  I find that it helps to keep a piece of paper and pencil beside me when I’m weaving to make lists of problems to solve should they intrude in my weaving process.  That lets me clear my mind and quickly return my focus to more mental wandering. 

I also did have an artistic epiphany this week amidst my birches.  For the past several years I have yearned to create three-dimensional evergreen trees, but I’ve never felt that I could capture the structures to my satisfaction.  I’ve reveled in creating deciduous trees—birches, maples, sycamores and oaks—but not the pines of my childhood.  When I was young we used to take our family vacation at the Pinery Provincial Park in Ontario.  We’d stay at Pinedale hotel just outside the park and spend all day and into the evening on the beach.  The dune system on that part of Lake Huron is stabilized by eastern White Pines, which are a favorite of mine because the needles are long, soft and elegant.  They were planted there in the sixties in a misguided attempt to stabilize the fragile oak savannah ecosystem.  Anyway, I was staring at the large roll of thin, rigid aviation wire that Ben Gibson gave me last summer.  I realized that if I wrapped long fiber chenille around it that it might look like a pine bough.  Fortunately, our old wooden fence in the back yard has toppled over, making it easy to access our neighbor’s eastern white pine so I snipped a small branch (Eileen, I hope you’re not reading this!  Or if you are, I hope that was OK!).  I took it down to my art studio and dug around in my yarns to find that if I combined four different colors and textures together it resembled the bark of the pine branch.  I made some prototypes and I think I’m off to the races. 

In family news, the school year is drawing to an end.  Last week was Jacob’s spring concert at Jackson Creek Middle School and this week was Tommie’s at Bloomington High School South.  The auditoriums were packed with families and friends waiting for their little pumpkins to shine in the light.  And shine they did!  Now we’re crossing days off the calendar to the end of the school year.  The last event of the week was Second Saturday Soup.  Our generous neighbors open up their house and make three big pots of soup and invite friends and colleagues to the event.  Jim always tries to bake something for the dinner.  This week I found two more bags of chopped apple pie filling hiding in the back corner of the lowest shelf in the freezer.  These really are the last of the farmer’s market Mutzu apples from last summer.  It was a big hit—but it was completely consumed.  Which is great, but it meant that I didn’t get a slice for breakfast.  What’s a pie princess to do? 

Until next week,

Martina Celerin

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