Saturday, June 27, 2009

It's a blue week...

But it’s a happy blue! Last week featured a lot of blue sky and the days were hot. When the Bloomington summers heat up, I spend more time in the cool of my basement art studio. I launched into a new weaving to take a break from the detailed needle felting effort needed to finish the grapes. Green is so last week. Anyway, to cool off I popped open my blue box to find the colors for a cool northern lake under a blue sky. I drew a few sketches to get the feel for how a few paper birches would fit in and I set to work. I first constructed the green foreground of grasses and weeds using a sumac weave. That was early in the week when I was still green. Then I eased onto an uneven shoreline and onto the cool blue lake. I found that some deep blues that had glittery material woven in, and I used some synthetic blue raffia that I got from Opportunity House. When I bought the material I couldn’t imagine how I might use it, but I thought it had an interesting texture so it came home with me. Now the background is almost done and the birches are ready to step forward and be counted. Three, I think, if you’re wondering.

It was also a big blue week, as in picking blueberries from Bray’s. The boys and I hooked up with Karen Like and her three boys, Alexander, Noah and Thomas and the seven of us went on an adventure. The boys forged two teams and had a competition that ended in a tie. It was a lot of fun, but it ended up being more expensive than we planned, since we came home with 41 pounds of blueberries between the seven of us! Now the freezer is filled with individually frozen little blue gems that are slated for pies, muffins, bread, and pancakes. I haven’t informed the HoA (husband of artist), but I think it’s time for a new freezer. He’ll like that.

The last news of the week involves preparation for a weaving workshop at McCormick’s Creek State Park this Sunday, put on by the Friends of McCormick’s Creek. I’m not sure who will show up or even how many, but the class is limited to 20 people. Preparation meant a stop at Sherwin Williams for stirring sticks for paint, which were sanded into submission using my belt sander. I love my power tools! I also pulled out some yardsticks and cut them into footsticks and sanded them to make shuttles for weaving. For the actual weaving I picked up leftover thrums of yarn from the Textillery and some material from a neighbor who was having a yard sale. She’s a sad salmon out of water who used to live in Alaska and is heading, with family, to Texas. They don’t have a lot of use for warm fuzzy hats in Texas so she’s selling her supplies. So now I’m ready for a crew of 20, and my family will help me set up. I’ll weave and teach while they explore the creek beds in the park. It will be a good day all around.

Until next week…

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Green Grapes and Soup

What a pleasant Saturday this is! Normally I’d be showing at Art Fair on the Square today (here in Bloomington), but this year I decided to take the day off. I’ll replace the show with an adventure to Madison for their version of Art Fair on the Square, which is downtown in the Capitol of Wisconsin in early July. So instead of getting up early and getting set up I got to sleep in a little and begin my relaxed Saturday at the farmer’s market. We traditionally have part of our breakfast there. That usually means scones, muffins, cookies or croissants. It also means cheese curds, the freshest cucumbers of the season and whatever else we happen to find that fits the taste of the family. This week it was blueberries for a pie (yum!), peaches, and some flowers that needed a home. From the market we strolled over to the Square to inspect the art and engage in a little friendly artist-chat. The rest of the family played games on the cannon and the big grate on the northwest corner of the Square. The highlight, though, was finding Eleanor Broaded. She’s a jeweler based in Indianapolis and I love her work. For some reason, though, her elegant earrings somehow get caught in my clothes and fall off without me noticing. This year I got a nice brown ceramic pair of earrings that I really like. That made the whole walk worthwhile.

In the art world, I’m beginning a new project. I’m starting a still life intended to go above a mantelpiece over a fire. To begin I made a series of sketches, and the one that started to take shape in my mind is shown. I fleshed out the thumbnail layout to come up with a working composition that includes three candles, apples, grapes, cherries and lots of juicy colors. I began by creating the grapes, and of course that means a trip to Bloomingfoods to get the green, organic grapes for a model. The setback in this part of this story is that the grapes sat in the car next to the eSoA (elder son of artist) on the way home. He scarfed them down, leaving me with a good model for the stems but no grapes. So I scampered off to O’Malias, got more grapes that stayed in the front seat, and quickly got them down to my art studio. I pulled out three different green fleece to create the grape green, two of which I dyed myself last year. I carded them together and needle felted them into grape shapes. The process is very time consuming but I think they’re cute. Next I’ll create the stem parts (I’m all set on models there).

My other activity over the past two days has been converting our CSA (community supported agriculture) harvest into something compatible with freezer storage and quick dinners. On Friday I made a big batch of a soup I really like –Hungarian cabbage and dumpling soup. The HoA (husband of artist) really likes this soup too, but he doesn’t know about the secret ingredient that he would never eat (sauerkraut). Today I also made ‘Lois Soup’, named after a friend of the family (Lois Graham) who introduced it to us as a non-vegetarian friendly recipe. I made a few changes here and there, and voila! A hearty kale-based vegetarian soup. It had fresh garlic and onions from the farmer’s market, a little bay and rosemary from my kitchen plants, and a few secret ingredients I’d never put into writing. A cook has to have a few secrets!

One last bit of news—I have a new bike. At least it’s a new-to-me bike. I used to have a 1960s era English-made bike that was a hand-me-down from Grandpa. He demanded a big, comfy seat in his bikes, and that was its best feature. But after a 10-mile bike ride with the eSoA last week it was clear I needed something more than the clunky old one-speed I had. So I hopped over to the Bicycle Garage and found a used bike that needed a good home. It was hard to give up my big cushy seat, but the fellow there assured me that the seat would be equally comfy. Hmmm…we’ll just see!

Until next week…

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Reach for the sky...

At long last she’s finished—and I’m delighted! I completed my ‘Tree Woman’ piece this week, although I’m still trying to come up with a more fitting title for her. It’s been a hectic week with the boys in the art camp at the John Waldron Arts Center in the afternoons and the HoA (Husband of Artist) visiting the GPUs (grandparental units) in Michigan for a few days. I’ve been running around like crazy this week, but I just decided it was time to start attaching the branches. Then came the leaves, which was exactly what I needed to bring a measure of control and completion into my life. I’ve been scavenging little windows of time to get things done—a little poking here, a little grass-making there—until things came to a head Friday afternoon. Jacob had his friend Claire over and I convinced all the kids to come into my art studio and work on projects. That let me focus on my piece at the expense of the art studio floor turning into a disaster zone. I gleefully finished the grass and flowers at her feet. These were a composite of linen yarn, jute, cotton, fake evergreen boughs from a Christmas wreath and latch hook rug remnants. Everything finds its own niche around this place. When I called it done I showed it to the kids for an opinion. After a brief refocusing of three engrossed children (what—you mean you were working on something too Mom?) the consensus response was ‘wow!’ I’m really savoring having her hanging on the wall, and I’m patiently waiting for her to tell me her name. Every time I look at her I’m reminded that my favorite feature is her belly button, even if she does have a little wool in there.

It’s good to have the HoA home again. The boys have been a little sad, especially at bedtime. The world is set straight again, though, as the HoA triumphantly returned with cheese from ‘The Cow’ in Linwood, Kluski from Kryziaks, walleyes from Saginaw Bay, and Spatz’s hot bread from the bakery in Bay City. He even brought a few Tim Horton’s doughnuts home for his Canadian expatriate spouse. We’ll eat well this week!

The experience without the HoA in the house gave me a newfound respect for the trials of single parents. Life was full and boisterous, and herding 2 to 3 kids for meals, cleaning up, art class and bed is quite an adventure without any help. The week did have its highlights, though. At the boy’s art camp, one of the teachers was Rob of Bloomingfoods fame. He brought a wonderful fresh outlook on art to the camp. Rob introduced them to many new artists, techniques, and ways to think about creating art. He inspired Jacob to write a book entitled ‘How to Draw Aliens’, who told Rob he’d be willing to sell him the book. Always the entrepreneur, that boy. Jacob also made a beautiful vase, although the fact that it isn’t watertight will limit its applications. Tommie made a very nice dragon sculpture in the section with Jan Arbogast. It was a great two weeks, capped with an art reception to which we brought many brownies and brought home none.

My last big discovery of the week was the Monroe County Historical Society ‘garage sale’. I called my friend Cappi Phillips to ask her if it was worth going as she trundled off to the Talbot Street Art Fair. She recommended it as huge, fun and loaded with treasures. She didn’t need to tell me that twice! It is held in the old RCA storage building behind Cook Pharmaceuticals, and it was indeed huge, fun and loaded with treasures. I brought home a new dye pot, a basket for my cards and some very useful wire. I also just had to bring home a little nutmeg grater with a storage space on top and a cute little lid. It even had a hole on top to hang it on the wall! How could I ever leave such a special little thing at a big, impersonal place!

Until next week…

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Back to Work!

This week it's back to work. My focus has been on my "Tree Woman" commission piece. The trunk is filling in nicely, the arms and legs are in place, and the branches are now wrapped. I struggled a bit with matching the trunk color, which is a rich warm brown, with the branch color. I was sure I'd have a good brown yarn to match for wrapping the baling wire branches, but digging through my stash of yarns convinced me that I had a problem. I did come up with four close colors, and close counts in fiber art if they combine effectively. So the branches are wrapped with four different browns, and I find that the subtle color differences bring out elements of the trunk and earth. The remaining parts of the weaving, such as the green foliage and the dimensional crocheted background, are in place. Next week the Tree Woman will emerge!

I also had a great time this week at the Indiana Recycling Coalition's annual conference at the Bloomington Convention Center. Marilyn Brackney put together a show of recycled art to go along with it, and I'm grateful to her for all the work she did in bringing the show together. I know firsthand what a chore it is to orchestrate an event involving artists. I met a lot of interesting people from all over Indiana, including the fellow who runs the company that makes the baling wire I often use for structural support in my needle felting creations that reside in my weavings. You can bet I'll pay him a visit to collect more scraps! I sold one piece to Therese from Valparaiso (The Offering–see the March 21st and 28th posts). They're big on composting, and I know the piece will have a good home. That makes me feel good. It was also fun to hang a show with my friend Cappi Phillips, who's always a stitch to hang out with. I did have to give her my angry face when she tried to use her big, rusty upholstery hooks that would have ripped big holes in my nice new fabric display panels. Grrrr--rufff! I loaned her some of my shiny thin hooks and peace was restored.

This week Franklin Indiana hosted the Fiber Art Fair. Last year the severe flooding in central Indiana literally washed it out, but this year I made it back to pick up supplies. I dropped the boys off at the summer art camp at the John Waldron Arts Center, picked up a wallet full of cash from the HoA (husband of Artist), and got his agreement to pick up the boys at four. I headed for Franklin and didn't look back! I found beautiful Mohair, dyed to vibrant purple, deep sea blue and electric lime colors. The intensity of the colors is amazing. I also snagged some nice rayon dyed purple from Robin Edmunsen. I have a great idea for that as part of a wet-felting project I want to do this fall to make another scarf. I was also shocked to see how much her girls have grown up–they were off demonstrating spinning (one-dimensional weaving) while Robin was teaching a workshop. Time flies when you work with fiber, I guess.

Until next week…