Sunday, October 31, 2010

Holey Scary Scarves!

Halloween week started on a high note for me. I drove my mother-in-law to the airport on Monday morning after a wonderful visit. She headed back home to the pouting cats and falling leaves, both demanding her attention. There was still fresh apple pie for a few days, but now that’s just a fond memory. I threw myself into scarf-making one more time, bringing my inventory up to forty-two. That’s the good news. The less-good news is that I had to spend a little quality time with the iron to get them pressed into shape. I shipped the first of my babies off to the Holly Market in St. Joseph Michigan midweek. Then I had two patrons stop by, one intending to look at scarves and one just innocently coming by to pick up her son. Five scarves went out the door, so I was back designing and felting a few more this weekend. The sales would have called for a celebration dance all by itself, but I also sold two pieces from the Bloomington Playwright Project show. My ‘Transplant’ and ‘Among the Ferns’ are off to new homes! What a great week for business! There’s still time to see what’s left of the show until Thursday of this week. I’m also going to hang a show at the John Waldron Art Center tomorrow, which you’re welcome to come see. Even better, stop in at the reception this Friday, November 5, from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. The show is titled: “Fiberology: a Study of Textures and Colors”, and I’d love to see you there. If you can’t make it Friday, I’ll be in Columbus Indiana on Saturday the sixth at the Déjà Vu show at the Yes Cinema on the corner of Fourth and Jackson.

In other art news, this week marked the beginning of the end of an era. The weather turned warm enough to allow urethane varnish to cure, so I finally got to seal the four giant BEAD panels. These are the pieces assembled by the fairgoers at last year’s Fourth Street Festival and have been sitting in my living room all winter, spring and summer. I’ll gave them one more coat of varnish yesterday and will send them off to their new home in City Hall. At least I hope so—I expect I might have to remind them that they agreed to hang the BEAD panels there. You might not be able to fight City Hall, but I think you can persuade them to display art.

I’ve got to run—it’s Halloween day, and there’s lots to sort out. I’ve got the candy hidden (I hope) for tonight and the kids have a friend over. The pumpkins are carved and the costumes are ready, but I need to press more a few more scarves and I hope to lay out a couple more. Can’t. Stop. Working! The boys have been off from school for four straight days thanks to fall break, which means the house is a disaster and I’m feeling the pressure to get everything re-set for a new week of school, meetings and adventures. I also hear it’s traditional to make pumpkin pie—I’ll have to be sure Jim knows!

Until next week…

Martina Celerin

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Scarfing 3.0, this time with apple pie!

Yes, I spent the week focused on scarves again. This time I just went wild with the color schemes. I used reds, teals, purples and I even pulled out some pinks to complement the purples. That’s pretty audacious for me, since I don’t generally ‘do’ pink. When I was younger, skydiving was outrageous; now it’s using incorporating pink in a scarf! I even created one commissioned scarf. It had a base of grass green with black ruffled edges, and I think it came out really well. Now it’s time to hit the pause button on wet felting for a little while and focus on some scarf pressing. Sometimes it feels like I’m not making enough progress, but looking back I realize that I’ve been very productive—I’m up to 31 new scarves! I’ll be shipping the first lot to St. Josephs, Michigan on Wednesday for display at the Holly Market. I’m hoping that displaying them in Michigan’s snow belt during the holiday season will be the perfect venue for sales.

In my weaving world, I managed to finish the needle-felted carrots I was working on. They’re for a commissioned piece based on the earlier ‘Baby Carrots’ piece, and I’m really delighted with how they turned out! It’s going slowly, but I feel like I’m moving the process along. And in a real blast from the past, late in the week I took advantage of a warm spell to finish up the BEAD (Bloomington Entertainment and Arts District) panels from last year’s Fourth Street Festival! I collected thousands of recycled plastic toys in the four theme colors of the BEAD logo. I picked them up at places such as The Recycle Center and Opportunity House in Bloomington, and 5000 kids and adults visiting the Fourth Street Festival glued them onto four large wood panels. The weather got away from me last fall and I couldn’t get them sealed before the snow flew. Of course I was too busy when the weather was nice in the spring. That meant the pieces had a nice home in our living room all winter, which my husband Jim wasn’t too thrilled about. I think he missed the fact that they added a certain colorful charm to the room. Anyway, I dragged them out onto the veranda and sealed them with a coat of varnish. This Wednesday I’m hoping to get a second coat on them and send them off to their new home.

On Thursday, more big things started to happen when Grandma flew in from Michigan. She always needs a project, so we got her painting a long-neglected wall and baseboards at the top of the stairs. Boy does it look good now! Friday night we all went to watch the boys test for their blue belts in Taekwondo at Monroe County Martial Arts. All went well, and the boys are sporting their new colors and have bellies full of reward ice cream.

Saturday was the big day for everyone with the boys out of school all day. We made it to the Farmer’s Market early and got two big pumpkins and a big batch of winesap apples. The pumpkins went on the front step and the apples went into a delightful pie—did I say I like pie? At least I like all the pies my sweetie makes for me. In the afternoon we drove to Brown County to get a bit of a color tour, but sadly the trees seemed to take the ‘brown’ county part a little too seriously. We then stopped in at Zaharako’s ice cream parlor in Columbus for some cool refreshment - a nice transported back in time to when life had a slower pace. The day was topped off with a visit to Bloomington South High School to see their performance of Fiddler on the Roof’. It was well done everyone had a good time, even if we got home waaaaaay past our bedtime. But now I’m going to have some of the songs running through my brain today. If I were a rich man…

Until next week…

Martina Celerin

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Scarfing 2.0, but this time without the pie...

I’ve been on a tear this past week, turning out the scarves for my upcoming gallery and exhibit commitments. I think I’ll be able to get everything done as long as no one gets sick. I’m also not allowed to say ‘yes’ to any other requests for two whole weeks!

As I was working, I realized that I’ve been influenced by the changing fall colors as I made scarves. I’ve been exploring oranges, plums and reds, but I did throw in a few blue scarves for good measure. The fun part has been experimenting with the designs that have been coming together in my mind. The great part about making scarves is that they come together fairly quickly compared to a weaving. Even if turn I out the scarf-world equivalent of a klunker, before I can fret about it I’m off to work on the improved version. Of my more experimental pieces, I’m especially pleased with the ones where I’ve slit the roving into what might be called pencil roving and did some swirling patterns. I sandwiched the pencil roving with a shimmery yarn in between gossamer-thin layers of black merino. The pieces are reminiscent of Jackson Pollack paintings, but he didn’t have the foresight to make scarves. Actually, it’s all about playing with colors and textures and it’s a lot of fun.

My other project this week involved starting a commission piece. I was asked to do a new carrot tapestry, similar to the baby carrots I made a couple of years ago. I pulled out all my delightful oranges, which was easy because I’ve been in an orange frame of mind. Then I pulled an organic carrot out of the refrigerator. I mentally mixed the fleece colors I had to get a good carrot match so I’d know which ones to use. I then pulled out the drum carder owned by the Spinners and Weaver’s Guild, did a little carding and voila! I have a delightful wad of baby carrot orange fleece! That’s not a sentence you’ll read every day.

The big finale of the week was seeing Rent. I saw it years ago, and I enjoyed it so much I was thrilled when I saw that the IU Theater Department was including it in this year’s season. The evening started off by shipping the boys next door for a sleepover. Jim and I headed to the Limestone Grille for a delightful dinner of Indian spice-rubbed corvina (a lot like grouper, we were told) on a bed of steamed greens and accompanied by a cheese risotto. Add to that a pleasant glass of pinot noir and we were on our way to a lovely evening. We had just enough time to stop in at Blu Boy on Kirkwood for a decadent brownie, divided in half, and some decaffeinated Brown County coffee. Yum! We made it to the show in plenty of time and sort of melted into the production. It was an incredible performance, and the caliber of the performers was just amazing. It’s easy to forget these are mostly students. Angel was amazingly talented and funny, and the warm bond between Angel and Tom Collins was so loving and perfect. The manipulative Maureen put on a great performance too. She had the crowd mooing right out of her hand. I should have brought her a carrot!

Until next week…

Martina Celerin

Monday, October 11, 2010

Scarfing down some fresh apple pie...

I found myself in an all-to-familiar predicament this week. Back in the early summer it seemed like a great idea to commit myself to supplying scarves for both local venues and regional shows. You want twelve scarves for the Holly Market fall festival show? I’d love to! How about a nice scarf-as-art display at the Bloomington Bagel location on Morton? Sure thing! And you want them when? Plus a few more scarves for the holiday season art shows I applied to? Yikes! I’ve got a report on the Fourth Street patron survey to assemble and a grant to write to support our requests for advertising money, both due this week! I planned to devote October to scarf making, and I have. It’s just that a lot of other bits of my life have intruded into the process. On the bright side, over the summer and early fall I stocked up on a ton of scarf making supplies. I stopped in at Sheep Street in Morgantown and Yarns Unlimited here in Bloomington and picked up a lovely collection of fleeces across the color range I intended to explore this season. I also pulled together a beautiful set of non-wool yarns to incorporate into the scarves. I’ve been mentally working through some new designs and ideas I’m excited to try. When October came I was ready to hit the ground felting. That means taking over the dining room table, raising it up about six inches to spare my back as I lay out the scarf design and felt the fleece into submission. One of my ideas was to lay out a bunch of single ply merino wool yarn and try to bring it together with a minimal amount of fleece. It worked! Or at least it held together—the color combination isn’t ideal, but it’s a proof-of-concept piece. It kind of reminds me of a cocoon. It’ll probably end up in the collection of some local avant garde diva. Another idea I had was to incorporate many small holes into the body of the scarf. I realized that I could laminate material to create holes in one layer of the scarf on top of a solid layer. When the scarf dried I thought the concept was pretty interesting. My next attempt will be to laminate two layers, both with holes, into different levels of the scarf. Last year I also created a big ruffled edge look on some scarves that were well received, so I’m working on creating some new pieces on that theme. In all these new designs I’m trying to broaden my color palette. I want to incorporate some more oranges and earthy tones into my scarves. That takes me out of my comfort zone of jewel tones and reds, but I think a lot of people are drawn to scarves with an earthier feel. No matter what, I’m having fun creating new things. Now I just need to step up production!

Too much scarf work, with lots of rolling back and forth in the wet felting process, was pretty hard on my back and neck last week. I went through a bit of acetaminophen to try to get my body back on track. On top of my new morning Zumba workouts I’m getting all the exercise I ever wanted. You’d think that would earn me some kind of reward, and it did! It turned into a pie week. We got a batch of giant Mutsu apples at the farmer’s market last Saturday. There’s a lot less peeling if you buy big apples, I’ve learned. I helped peel the apples and Jim mixed them with a few secret spices and sugar and popped them into a delightful crust. On Wednesday evening, a wonderful fall apple pie emerged from the oven! My breakfasts this week have often been a slice of pie, a cup of coffee and a little whipping cream, all in a quiet spot with the morning paper. Who could ask for anything more?

Until next week…

Martina Celerin

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Taking the Redeye to Ohio

This was a week when lots of projects came together. First, I finished the red-eyed tree frog piece, and I’m delighted with how it turned out. I think it’s actually cuter than the first version. He has a much more mischievous look about him as he climbs further out on the fern frond. He’s all packaged up and ready to travel to his new home. I’m also pleased that I was able to finish my new ‘Trail to the Clearing” piece. I’ve been taking pictures as the piece progressed, which I’ll share. I began by needle felting the path, which is made out of fleece that I dyed with goldenrod collected in Michigan earlier this summer, a little brown alpaca that I bought at the annual Spinners and Weaver’s guild auction and wool that I dyed using sumac stems that I collected from last year’s overwintered berry clusters. Tommie and I harvested the fading berries and stems on our spring break trip to Michigan waaaaay back in March. I then attached the tree trunks I made last week and I filled out the trees with copper-wire (thanks to our local scrap yard) wrapped branches. I added crocheted leaf clumps that I’ve been making while attending art-related meetings and while watching my boys at their after-school activities. I like the idea that the piece has materials and influences from all over, which is a concept that I can identify with. I embellished the path with some collected materials. I dug into my nifty collection of ‘rocks with holes’, mostly from Jackson Creek in the Yellowwood state forest, and found pieces that matched the path colors. I finished the piece by making the understory plants out of all sorts of green bits and pieces to give it the real feel of an area where

filtered sunlight comes through the forest canopy over a trail. I stitched the whole thing onto the frame and called it done! If you’re in the area you can check out the piece at the Bloomington Bagel Company on Dunn Street.

That reminds me—I have a show currently hanging in
town, split over two locations. Half is at the BBC downtown, and that part reflects my bipolar artistic tendencies.

The pieces comprising the left half of the show are quite representational, and they include my forest woodland scenes and summer birches. And on the right the pieces become more whimsical and fun. The other half of the show is hanging at the Bloomington Playwright’s project on Ninth Street. Friday was the opening
reception, so I got to try out my new fancy top and stylish shoes I got in Michigan. Wearing the shoes was fun that night, but my back was a little sore the next day. Age condemns you to sensible shoes, I guess. Anyway, I had some very nice conversations with friends, old and new, and had a pleasant evening at the BPP.

As fall approaches the grand harvest of roots and tubers flood the farmer’s market, an inner signal goes off in me that says it’s time to make soup. When the onion skins cleared I had fourteen meal units of two varieties of soup.
The first was a batch of pumpkin-potato-pepper soup that Jim thought was fabulous. We had it for lunch right after the pot came off the stove. At the same time I filled our second stockpot with ‘three sisters’ soup. I got this delightful recipe from a Bloomingfoods flyer, and it too is now a local favorite. It’s basically a corn-butternut squash-bean soup that’s a ‘stick-to-your-ribs’ kind of thick and hearty. Perfect for a cool fall afternoon, which we had in abundance this past week. And while the weavings came together and the soups filled the freezer, it marked an ending to the summer phase of my busy artists schedule. That means new projects and new things to make in the kitchen! Come back next week to see what’s new!

Until next week…

Martina Celerin