Monday, May 30, 2011

Beach week!

I didn’t get a lot of art done this week, but I got a lot of art thinking done. That translates into developing ideas for pieces and planning how to execute them. The location had a lot to do with that—my family spent the week on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I feel completely rejuvenated after a week of sand and sun! I took a lot of pictures of the waves, surf and sand to help jog my memory as I get back to work. I also did some material acquisition, collecting shells with holes in them from the beach. That happens to be one of Tommie’s favorite activities. We planned our mornings around low tide when the best collecting occurs. After one night of thunderstorms and wind we found a treasure trove of collected shells, sand dollars and beach glass just under the surface. What a haul I made for a few beach-themed weavings! Unfortunately, we packed so much stuff in our suitcases on the trip out that we didn’t have any weight to spare for packing shells. Fortunately, the post office has big boxes, and ‘if it fits, it ships’. About five days of beach treasures fits, along with a pair of jeans and some leftover rice to fill in the cracks. I’ll look for that to arrive on Tuesday.

Most of the week was spent in rejuvenation mode after a long winter of doing commissions. That meant eating fresh seafood as often as possible. We had fresh flounder, tuna, mahi mahi, and mako shark, plus a small black drum that Tommie caught. The shark was the surprise meal of the trip. Its texture was distinct from most fish and its flavor was mild and delectable. Along the boardwalk to the beach we found wild blackberries ripening nicely in the sandy soil. Tommie took the lead in berry collection and by the end of the week we had enough for Jim to bake a nice pie. Warm from the oven and paired with caramel frozen yogurt it was delightful. It was worth every bite, but I can’t wait to get back to Zumba in the mornings!

My family found lots of activities to keep them busy. The ocean was the major attraction. Jacob was the boogie board champion, riding the breaking surf all the way up onto the beach. He named his board ‘dragon slicer’, and they were together at every possible opportunity. Tommie got a board too, but decided he’d rather body surf. That left the second board to Jim, and he and the boys spent a lot of quality time riding the waves. The only downside was the ocean temperature on most days. It was occasionally so cold on that I couldn’t get much past my ankles, which made me the beach documentarian. On a few days I did swim, and it was wonderful to be in the ocean and feel the power of the surf. Besides the beach, we went to Jockey’s Ridge State Park where we hiked to the top of a few huge sand dunes. Jim and I sat and had pleasant conversation while the boys rolled down the steep dunes. We enjoyed the panoramic view of both the ocean and the sound while the boys ran up and down and finally buried each other in the dunes. The discomfort of having sand in your hair was removed by a stop at Logan’s ice cream in Nags Head.

The return to Bloomington means the return to art. The upcoming weekend (June 3-5) I’ll be in Columbus Ohio for the Columbus Arts Festival. I’m scrambling to finish a new piece before I go. This year I’d like to avoid the severe thunderstorms that trapped me in my booth for a while. I hope to see you there!

Until next week…

Martina Celerin

Friday, May 20, 2011

Little lost frog...

Completing projects is good, and I was able to finish another commission piece this week. It will be my last for a while because my summer shows are coming up and I need to turn my attention to making some fresh pieces for art fairs. I was commissioned to create a new version of one of my earliest popular pieces called ‘A Walk in the Woods’. I pulled out my big box of green chenille thrums, most of which my husband had tied together and rolled into balls. I think the greens look very crunchy and leafy, like you’re looking into a bowl of fresh lettuce for a salad. I pulled out the combinations that worked well together, blended them in different combinations, and worked to create more depth than I had in the original piece. More recent pieces have taught me that by crocheting some of the green leaf clumps I can bring forward the canopy and move the tree trunks deeper into the background. On the forest floor I added some flowers because, well, the person who commissioned the piece wanted some! I was channeling a pleasant dog walk I had with my friend Dawn Adams last month. The dog enjoyed the freedom while we took in the emerging green and delicate spring ephemerals.

Delighted by my success with my ‘Walk in the Woods’ piece I turned my creative momentum to completing my Red Gum piece. Unfortunately, my frog seems to have been awakened by the recent monsoon-like rains and hopped away. I made him a couple of months ago, and I know exactly where I left him. When I reached down to quickly capture him (he’s a good jumper even without his skin) he wasn’t there! I did have a flood in the art studio and everything got moved around. Maybe he’s still hiding down there somewhere, pining for fresh water. I should probably look around the sunken window where the waters flooded in. If he doesn’t turn up shortly I’ll have to make a new frog and find him another home when he does get hungry and turn up. Thinking about all the water has me remembering my sketches of a cool lake in northern Ontario. My next piece might just need some deep, glistening blue yarns to capture northern waters.

I couldn’t write about the week with out mentioning Jacob, aka the Dodo bird from Alice in Wonderland. The performance was Thursday and Jacob was the star of the show. For me, anyway! The school sent home an ugly looking costume that was a cross between a gigantic, overweight chicken (think Foghorn Leghorn) and a University Professor (complete with a pipe for contemplation). Jacob rejected the image and came up with his own. Our journey started out at Once Upon a Child, where we bought a gray long-sleeved t-shirt for $2.50. We pulled out a bumpy feather pillow from Grandma and repurposed the feathers. Jacob used about ten hot glue sticks to lay down rows of feathers from his hands to his elbows. The outcome was very realistic. He made a big yellow beak and a tricorn hat (they were in the original instructions) to go with his feathery wings. I convinced him that wearing a long-sleeved yellow t-shirt upside down would give him the needed yellow legs (Dodos have yellow legs he noted—thanks Google!). He pulled a pair of shorts over the shirt to cover the unused neck hole and he was ready to lead the Caucus race! He acted and sang like a champion, as did all his friends in Mrs. Bland’s class. It’s enough to warm a Mom’s heart.

Until next week...

Martina Celerin

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake for Breakfast

The highlight of my week came early - the culmination of months of work when my two extra large commission pieces were hung in the spacious kitchen of my generous patrons. They hired a professional with two assistants; they showed up with ladders, stud finders and laser levels. Toss in the artist and we had an unbeatable team. I have to say that when I stepped back to admire the pieces I thought they looked very nice. The rewarding part for me was seeing how well all the untested elements ultimately came together—the new large formats, the necessary large scale of the vegetables and hands, and my new strategy for attaching the heavy piece to the frame.

My next stop was in Indianapolis on Wednesday morning after a harrowing trip through rush hour traffic to the north side of town. My vision of pleasant driving through sleepy Bloomington neighborhoods, where people wait at four-way stops until you go through, are not shared by Indianapolis drivers. I was showing my weavings and Re-Bead-ery jewelry at this year’s Indiana Recycling Coalition meeting, held at the Hilton North and organized by recycled artist coordinator extraordinaire Marilyn Brackney. The hotel support people were wonderful, helping me haul all my stuff to its spot. The meeting people were enthusiastic and positive. My art was well received, even if sales weren’t the best, and I had a nice time chatting with the participants. The only downside was driving back home, again through rush hour traffic on 465 around town. I am sooooo happy that I’m not commuting to Indianapolis on a regular basis!

The last part of the week I did my best to hide myself in the art studio and try work on my latest commission. I completed the trail on my piece based on ‘A Walk in the Woods’. I really like how it looks. It made me feel warm and fuzzy inside to pull out the warm coppery tones that I haven’t worked with in a while. I even found an old coaster that had one layer in a coppery tone. Nothing in my materials bins are safe! I incorporated a lot of different fibers that I wanted and I think it looks really nice.

The rest of the news is all family stuff. My three boys tested for new belts at Monroe County Martial Arts. The younger boys got their blue-with-a-black-stripe belts, one level below brown. And my more and more agile hubby Jim got his blue belt in the same test. He was the junior belt, and with his long reach many were a bit worried that he’d spin out and accidently kick someone near him, especially the parents of the little girl to his right. It was Friday the 13th, and 13 people were testing. Luckily, lightning didn’t strike, no one was hurt, and everyone went out for pizza or ice cream at the end. Hooray! Saturday morning brought the first round of strawberries at the farmer’s market. Jim made biscuits, I cut up the berries and added the sugar, and the boys requested the fat-free vanilla ice cream for the top. That’s Sunday morning breakfast at it’s best.

Until next week…

Martina Celerin

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mixed Fresh Greens on Mother’s Day.

This week was such a mixed bag—a little of this and a little of that. I was tying up loose ends on a bunch of art projects, not all of which were expected. The most exciting news on the art front was that I was able to re-launch on a weaving I started last fall. It requires beautiful red gum leaves with a deep wine-red color. I had needle felted the leaves months ago, but this week I found just the right yarn and some nice thin steel wire to create the stems. I think they look delightful! Months ago I began to create a toad to live in the piece, but I never gave him any skin. This week I’ll focus on toad skin, trying to resist the temptation to lick it. And even though I spent huge blocks of time and energy on commissions this winter, I still managed to launch on the next request on my list. It’s based on an early piece I did called ‘A Walk in the Woods’. I began a search of my cord boxes to find just the right material. I was looking for some specific thrums that I know work well for the tree trunks, and luckily I found enough of the material. Trunk creation involves twisting one really interesting cord to give the look of bark I want. If you’re a regular blog reader, it may seem as if I always have just the right material for a project. My husband Jim can’t decide whether I’m great at choosing which materials to save (everything) or whether I decide that what I find is just what I needed. The answer is—both! To create my path through the woods I did some digging to find just the right copper and light brown yarns. And yes, I had just the right colors! This week I’ll start the actual weaving, a phase of each project that I really love to do. Because this piece lacks needle felting, I needed something to keep my hands busy while I watch my boys during their Taekwondo and sparring classes. I decided to begin yet another project that does involve a lot of felting. It’s based on a photograph I saw in a Turkish cookbook. The picture shows grouping of vegetables that are being prepared for a salad. Everything looks so crisp and fresh that it makes my mouth water. My version will involve sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, whole carrots and radishes, and chopped broccoli. And whatever else occurs to me that I think would look good! I invested a little time this week putting the outer skins on my cucumbers and tomatoes as the boys trained under the watchful eye of Mr. Scott at Monroe County Martial Arts. This Friday will be a big day for all my boys there as they test to advance in rank. The younger boys will be blue belts with a black stripe, the last belt before brown and Jim will advance to blue belt.

The diversity of my art projects was matched by the diversity of other family events that culminated in a special Mother’s Day. Sunday afternoon was our spring egg hunt, which brought bunch of kids to the house to search for eggs and screech happily as they ran around the back yard. Dinner was Atlantic salmon with a ginger-orange glaze. It has a little balsamic vinegar and a touch of honey and I really like it. We opened a nice bottle of wine, had some red new potatoes boiled to perfection, and topped it off with a rhubarb pie still warm from the oven. I received an elegant watch from Jim and two sweet handmade cards from the boys. It’s good to be a mom!

Until next week…

Martina Celerin