Sunday, February 26, 2017

Birches and Veggies…

I’ve been thinking about my excellent frame maker, Thom Bertolacini, and his family cabin.  I have never been there, but he’s told me stories about how wonderful a place it is.  From what I understand, it’s on a lake surrounded by birch trees.  It is serene and calm—just the place you need for some quiet thinking and solitude.  My thoughts led me to make “A View from the Cabin”.  It’s my interpretation of a peaceful northern lake, perhaps somewhere in my childhood home of Canada.  I like looking at it because it delivers a sense of calm that things are on track and happy for me.  I made the lake such that it feels large enough to swim in, but small enough that you might be tempted to swim to the other side. 

My life this week featured a lot of my usual routine.  I spent several hours in meetings and watching my boys do TKD, or teach other kids.  That means I got some needle felting done.  I am slowly producing the vegetables I need for my next composite piece called “Salsa”.  This week I focused on making the bodies of tomatillos and cayenne peppers.  They each need more detail, such as belly buttons for the tomatillos and petioles for the peppers, but I’m happy with the emerging color and shape.  I think they will fit in nicely with the other salsa components I’ve created.  I’m jogging my mind for what else I put in my salsa, and I’m coming up with red and green onions.  You can’t have too many onions in salsa, can you? 

I’m also pretty excited that I’m working out the details for another workshop this year in October or November in Charleston, South Carolina.  We’re still working on the exact date and details.  I’ll let you know when it is finalized here, and on my website.  I love doing workshops because it allows me to share the techniques I’ve developed over the years.  I get to watch people get excited about incorporating new approaches into their own art.  The next workshop on my schedule …and coming up quickly… is in Toledo, Ohio on May 13-14 with the Fiber of our Being FeltingGuild. 

My art career keeps me on the move.  On Monday I’m loading up Bluebell with a collection of my fiber art and heading south to Washington, Indiana, to hang a small exhibit of my weavings and tiles.  I’m also giving a presentation and demonstration at the WashingtonCarnegie Public Library on March 21st at 6:30.  It’s fun to tell people I’ll be speaking at the Carnegie in Washington about my art.  I will discuss my weaving compositions and introduce a little about my techniques.  I’m looking forward to the adventure.  It’s always fun to see the looks on people’s faces when I talk about my history and convoluted path from a little girl in the Czech Republic through the frozen tundra of Canada (at least it felt that way) to a slightly graying fiber artist in Southern Indiana. 

Last night was date night!  Tommie is my usual basketball partner, but he was off at Butler University competing in Science Olympiad (Bloomington High School South got second place - woohoo!).  Jim and I got to watch an exciting game by the Hoosier men playing against Northwestern.  One highlight was watching Devonte Green (aka baby Yogi) launching a Hail Mary from beyond ¾ court to beat the halftime buzzer.  The shot arced so high that the ball disappeared behind the scoreboard for a second.  If that weren’t enough, Thomas Bryant snuck in a two pointer with two seconds left to tie the game and he finished it with his free throw for the win.  Wow!  And I’m still enjoying the glorious cherry pie from last weekend.  I get one slice a day for breakfast, which is healthy because it’s loaded with fruit.  Did I say I love pie?  Thanks Jim.  You’re the best.

Until next week,

Martina Celerin

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Back to the studio…

I spent a feverishly productive month in January costuming for the fall production of Hello Dolly put on by Sounds of South.  I’ll share some images later, but I want to begin with my February efforts in the art studio.  The reality of all my commitments is settling in with a couple of deadlines looming.  One big project is to assemble pieces for an exhibit called “Feast your Eyes” at the Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  I will be shipping several pieces, including a collection of six felted tiles featuring southern fruits.  I have some citrus pieces that I made before, but I challenged myself to create a peach.  The flesh and skin of the peach is much like that of an apple, but the colors are very different.  I blended deep yellows with almost maroon fleece to develop the mottled streaky texture of a peach skin.  The real challenge, though, was making the pit. 
The texture is so obviously distinctive and interesting.  I used fleece that I dyed intensely with onion skins where the color came out so dark that seemed perfect for a peach pit.  Different fleeces take up different amounts of the dye, and I find that the lighter materials are actually perfect for creating felted onion skins.  The pit features concavities in the surface, but I then forced the shadowing by using a natural very dark brown, almost black fleece.  I’m really pleased with how it all came out! 

After the peach construction, I still needed one final traditional fruit for South Carolina.  I chose figs because my cousin in Mississippi, Martha, always talked about making fig preserves.  Several years ago I finally had a chance to try some real southern preserves when she brought some to Michigan and they were amazing.  Of course we needed our own.  We were inspired to plant a Midwest-hardy fig tree and each year we get a few more figs but still not enough for a preserves.  Clearly figs are a more southern thing and are plentiful there, although evidently they are becoming harder to find, even in the south.  The commercial jams that we can buy here are OK, but they are nothing like the preserves that Martha brought.  Anyway, my experiences led me to felt some figs for the project.  I will also ship “My Roots” to fill out the exhibit, which opens June 10 and runs until September 17th. 

In other fun news, I received an unexpected call from the editor of Bloom Magazine.  It seems that the editor, Malcolm Abrams, found my exhibit (Nature to Nurture) at the Bloomington Bagel Company on the east side of town.  He offered to write a story about my art and the exhibit for the April/May issue of Bloom.  I stopped in to the Bloom offices for a photo shoot the next day and I anticipate that it will turn it into a nice story—I’ll let you know when it’s out!  

With the teasingly warm weather I’m of course starting to think of the glorious days of summer and hanging out by the water.  That inspired me to complete a couple of water pieces that I started late last year.  I’m channeling the inner birches of my childhood, and I have woven some grasses for the background and should be attaching birches later this week.  For now, I’ve hung the unfinished piece at a prominent spot in my studio so I can stare at the water and enjoy the calming waves as I collect my thoughts for future pieces. 

Just to tease you with an update and a few pictures from the Hello Dolly costuming, I have all of the current member girls Sunday best costumes designed.  Many moms have spent lots of time attaching all of the bits and pieces that I have pinned together on the mannequins to create each costume.  I usually have about five mannequins in progress and I just move from one to the next while my sewing and gluing faeries capably bring the costumes to life. 

In family news we are screaming up to the boy’s second degree black belt test.  It will take place on March 4 at 2:30 pm at Monroe County Martial Arts.  If you’re in the area, please stop by to cheer them on!  We’ll have a reception afterwards catered by the Owlery.  I’m expecting lots of whooping and hollering and hugs all around when the kicking stops and the sweat settles into the carpet.  Also looking forward, tonight Jacob and I have tickets to Georgia McBride, put on by the Cardinal stage company.  I’m told it’s the story of an Elvis impersonator that reinvents himself as a drag queen.  And I’m told that the costumes are amazing!  I can’t wait.  
 I think we’ll combine the show with a fancy schmancy dinner and call it a night on the town. 
On the pie front I am barely surviving.  I can’t even remember the last pie.  I’ll have to check my phone for the last pie pictures to see how long the drought has been!  Oh wait, I guess I did have a very nice tart cherry pie the last time I was in a pie drought.  Oh, and I guess there was a very nice peach pie a couple less than two weeks later.  It just feels like its been months!  That’s good enough for me—I need another pie!  We haven’t had blueberry or apple yet this year.  Just sayin’.    

Until next week

Martina Celerin

Monday, January 16, 2017

Hello Willow and Hello Dolly

The winter skies outside might be dark and foreboding, but the new bank of lights in my art studio makes it feel like the middle of August.  Thanks sweetie pie Jim!  It’s bright and sunny inside, so I’m working on a bright and sunny piece--my Willow by the Lake.  It feels good to return to a calm organized space.  It’s a refuge for me.  The piece still requires me to attach the dangling, swaying branches and adorn the shore with some stones, but the peace and calmness is just what I needed at the end of this busy week.  I had a hectic but rewarding few days in the costume studio fitting all of the returning Sounds of South members into their pre-costumes for the October production of Hello Dolly.   
When the curtain rises there will be roughly seventy kids on stage and each one needs at least two costumes!  The color story matches the happy, sweet and cheerful play.  The musical might be a little fruity and sugary, so I chose the color palate with that in mind—watermelon and lemon.  Each of the chorus members will display all of the colors in their costumes.  The production is set in 1885, which was the height of late Victorian extreme fashion.  I’m having fun assembling the huge bustles and leg o’mutton sleeves into colorful creations.  I have five of the women’s costumes designed and assembled to various stages and I’m working on the sixth.  It’s so much fun because each outfit is completely different.  I’m fortunate to have big bins of trim to work with, harvested by the Sounds of South kids from old clothing, ruffled curtains and lacy table cloths.  And of course there are some unusual treasures - the "buttons" in this green costume are actually vial caps that Cook donated to the Material for the Arts program at the Recycle Center!
I also have T-shirt cording that parents have created by cutting one inch continuous strips from watermelon and lemon-colored T-shirts.  I’m making the bustles out of the crinoline that I can harvest from old prom gowns that have fallen out of fashion. 

On the family front, I can’t believe it’s only been a week since we’ve returned to school.  I feel like we have seamlessly returned to our routines and are again rocking along on all of our daily activities.  The boys are back into voice lessons, hip hop, science Olympiad, Taekwondo and sparring.  I’m back into city meetings, E2C exercise classes and Zumba.  Speaking of the boy’s Taekwondo training, they have scheduled their second degree black belt test for March 4th 2017.  Over the holiday they did some extra aerobic training to enhance their endurance for the grueling test.   
Forgive me for a mom moment—I’m very proud of their accomplishments and I’m looking forward to celebrating their achievements!  Speaking of pie (how did that pop into my mind)—there’s only been one, but sadly it was a pizza pie.  It was beautiful.  It was amazing.  It was tasty.  It went well with a glass of wine.  But it wasn’t a “pie” pie.  Helllooooo…   Jiiiiiiimmm…  There hasn’t been a pie picture in the blog since November 15th!  What ever shall I do...?

Until next week

Martina Celerin

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Trees and tomatoes and no pie, oh my…

It’s been a tree week.  Looking around outside I see a lot of bare branches and snow.  I remember my husband telling me that you have to love browns if you want to live in Indiana.  I do, as long as there is some pop of color associated with it.  Like tomatoes!  After a long couple of weeks of family activities followed by reclaiming the house, I’m finally getting back to work in my art studio.  I’m finishing a piece that I started over a month ago.  I’m creating the grey-brown tree trunk as I look at all the grey-brown trees and brown withered plants with a dusting of snow in the neighborhood.  There is something beautiful about the complexities of the lines of the branches that is now visible with the leaves missing.  With that said, I’m ready for the hints of spring green to give some much needed color to the world.   
My answer to the problem was to make some tomato slices as part of a weaving called ‘Salsa to Go’.  The title might evolve, though, because this week I introduced the boys to home-made guacamole—thanks Kroger for having 88¢ avocados—and they loved it!  My art really does reflect my life, so the art piece might actually become a visual recipe for guacamole. 

Speaking of yummy foods, I put my birthday present from Grandma to the test.  She gave me a new potato ricer and I used it to make butternut squash gnocchi.  I actually used it for the potato portion of it.  I made a ginormous double batch and half went in the freezer.  We topped it off with a garlicy-roasted red pepper sauce and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.   
I filled to capacity two six-foot teenage boys and their parents.  It’s the time of year when the new school year begins and we need quick dinners in the freezer.  The luxury of time over the holiday break allowed us to make slow meals, but that will all change tomorrow when school restarts.  Fortunately, I’ve got plenty of soups, chili and lasagna in the freezer for those crazy packed days that are fast approaching. 

Speaking life getting back into full swing, tomorrow I will launch into costume making for Hello Dolly.  At last count I had over thirty suit coats and pants in watermelon and lemon colors (fuchsia, emerald green, lime green and crisp yellow).  I’ll start fitting the boys with their colorful pre-costumes.  Each of them will wear all of the colors.  No Indiana winter grey-browns in this crowd!  And yes, still no pie, although Jacob has been making Pizelles and Jim’s homemade bread is wonderful, but they’re not pie.  I need fruit to prevent scurvy for my long voyage through winter—just sayin’!

Until next week

Martina Celerin

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy Solstice, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I exercise with a bunch of crazy fun people in the wee hours of the morning three days a week.  They’re a terrific lot and we share many stories.  They have embraced me in their group and I love being part of it.  Not only do we exercise, we share stories and bounce ideas and act as each other’s support staff.  Just before Christmas, Cathy Green announced that we all needed to wear our solstice shirts to our exercise class on December 21st.  Of course the rest of us just looked at each other in a puzzled way and hemmed and hawed.  When I got home I decided that if Cathy said we needed them, I was just the person to make them!  After scrounging for shirts, especially long-sleeved white ones (the sleeves are for yet another project—they’ll be pseudo socks for the Scottish highlanders in the parade in Hello Dolly—more on that later), I brought out my glitter glue, gold fabric and solstice-appropriate embellishments.  I briefly transformed the kitchen island into a craft space and gleefully spent the day on a silly fun project.  Oh, and Mary Madore, yours will be waiting for you when you get back to Bloomington! 

So Christmas—it was wonderful in our house with Grandma and Great Aunt Lois visiting.  On Friday evening before Christmas we ventured out into the rain to see Oliver.  It was wonderful—Cardinal never lets you down, especially for the holiday shows.  The joy pouring out from a stage full of kids singing and dancing is overwhelming and you can’t help but smile.  The costumes were terrific.  The sets were incredibly complex and featured constant rearrangement and reassemblies.  The choreography of the shadowy bodies flitting across the stage to create the sets was a captivating performance hidden inside the play.  I had seen many of the primary actors before, but the undertaker’s daughter was new to me and I thought she was terrific.  Mike Price, the outstanding professional pillar and mooring for all the young actors, was in his element.  He is an amazing character actor—I could watch him on stage all day.  We went home delighted to feast and party until we had to deliver everyone to the airport on Monday.  

On Christmas morning, Jacob received an unexpected present.  He was supposed to be a bad boy in the Sounds of South holiday performance.  It’s part of the newer Christmas song:  “I’m getting nothing for Christmas”.  Unfortunately, Jacob got sick and wasn’t able to perform, so Jim tried to make it up to him.  You have to sing, or at least say, that title line in your head to get the joke, but hopefully you’ll grasp it when you look at the box that Jacob is holding. 

My boys must have heard some running water around Christmas, because they turned into beavers and built a dam around the carport.  Our neighbor, Martha Oakley, had a large tree cut down in her front yard, leaving huge chunks of trunk that needed a new home.  After a large number of treks back and forth to Martha’s house, hauling some ginormous hunks of wood each trip, and a heck of a lot of swinging of the maul, we now have at least a year’s supply of firewood guarding my car.  The only downside to the break is that there Was. No. Pie.  OK, yes, we’ve had cookies, brownies, stollen, chocolate, and rumballs, but no pie.  But I’m hopeful!  The stollen didn’t last long.  The cookie supply is dwindling after giving away many tins and keeping after them after meals.  There are a few rumballs and brownies put away in the freezer for a time when chocolate is needed, but it’s time for a new dessert!  We NEED some of the summer farmer’s market fruit to come forth for a pie! 

Until next week

Martina Celerin