Tuesday, August 3, 2010

I Must be Finnish!

The news this week is all about finishing projects. I’ve been making the salamanders for ‘Six Salamander Salsa’ for several months now, and this week they put their feet on the bright green woven background. When I first set my colorful amphibian friends onto the minty surface, I was a little concerned that the contrast might be too stark. I was thinking up ways to help break up the background as I added the salamander legs and feet to connect the bodies to the weaving. As soon as the feet touched down, though, I realized that was just what I needed. The twenty four legs and twenty four feet really brought together foreground and background. I like how the salamanders are partying.

I was also into finishing frames this week. The oppressive humidity relented for a couple of days, so out came my unfinished frames. I broke open a jar of gel stain that I picked up from the Re-store to try. I’m all for trying to re-use and re-purpose materials when I can. The bad news is that it wasn’t very nice to work with. Either I don’t know how to use it, or the gel has lost some solvents along the way, but the stain turned into a sticky mess when I tried to wipe it off. I guess I know why it was at the re-store! I figured that the solvents in my usual stain would dissolve the sticky stuff on my frame, so I just gave it a second coat with my fruitwood stain. To my great delight, it turned out perfectly! I had been slightly unhappy with the fruitwood stain, because the color, a dull brown, wasn’t just what I was looking for. I ended up with a subtle brown with just a hint of a brighter yellow. Plus, the frame dried beautifully. The days are still quite humid, but I got into a routine of sealing frames outside at 11:30, zipping off to pick up my boys from their art camp at noon, then putting the mostly-dry frames into the basement with the dehumidifier to complete the process. Just three days and they were done!

I did have several other irons in the fire, or maybe shuttles in the weave this week. I started working on a three-dimensional forest scene. One of my early popular pieces was ‘A Walk in the Woods’, which had some dimensionality from the trees and canopy that surrounded a path into the woods. I now have a few new techniques, like projecting the ground forward and crocheting leaf clumps that increase the volume of the canopy. I’m going to try to bring these elements together in a more elaborate composition . I realize that isn’t really finishing a piece, which is this week’s theme, but I’ve finished deciding how I’m going to do it!

We did have a little extra drama in our lives this week. My son Tommie broke his wrist this week and will be in a cast for three weeks. The good news is that the bone stayed in alignment—it’s a fairly common torus fracture—and he should pop back into action without a lot of complications. He’s had the cast for a week now and it doesn’t seem to hold him back too much. But he is finished with the pool, water, the beach and fishing for the summer. The cast comes off the day before school starts. Snap! We thought he should keep it on for a few extra days to get the sympathy factor working for him at school but he refuses.

Here’s hoping that everyone stays cool and comfortable this week through the heat wave that’s settling over the Midwest. This is the one time of the year I’m really lucky to have a basement art studio that’s cool and filled with all the best toys!

Until next week,

Martina Celerin

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