Monday, August 29, 2011

Less than a week left till Fourth Street!

As the Fourth Street Festival on Labor Day approaches my days are jam packed. I’m moving art pieces toward completion and stomping out the organizational fires that inevitably arise as the show nears. In the world of art composition, I still have bikes on my mind. Last week it was the “Meet me by the Willow” piece, and that got me thinking about bicycle wheels. I needed some materials, so I took my family to the ‘Junk in the Trunk' community yard sale at Bryan Park. There I found some useful bangles that immediately became bicycle rims. To make wheels of different sizes I used wire I brought home from Grandpa’s pole barn (thanks again, Grandpa!). Wheels of all sizes ended up floating over the B-line trail in my mind, so the background of my latest weaving ended up forming a meandering trail using recycled yarns. I like the idea of the wheels of bikes, unlike cars, treading lightly over the path without leaving a strong impact on the world. All the elements came together in a piece I’m calling “Biking the B-line.” As I finished the piece I couldn’t help thinking that the design would make a really cool T-shirt. That got the ball rolling on a whole new project that I really don’t have the time for right now - but of course I started anyway! I asked my photographer Tom Bertolacini take pictures of all my latest weavings, including the B-line piece. I dropped the image file into Photoshop, played with the filters a little and added some graphics, and out popped a nice T-shirt design. I contacted my friend Janis, a freelancer for a local printing company, X-Printware, who is my contact for printing the T-shirts for the Fourth Street Festival. To make a long story short, I’m on track to make a first run of kiwi-colored T-shirts that I think will appeal to the Bloomington audience on many levels. It’s got art, biking, local design and printing, and it commemorates the opening of the B-line trail. Because the T-shirt is a reproduction of my art I feel justified in selling them at my booth, plus I’ll try to stock them at a few stores in town. I’m really excited about this new art and business venture.

The whole concept of the importance of bikes as a viable transportation alternative in town is big on my brain too. Of course that means I want to make another bike piece. This time I’ll make a bike floating on top of rusted car parts in the soil. I already have a good collection of rusty car scraps from my family trip to Michigan, as well as from a trip with the boys to the local junkyard and of course, I have PLENTY of rust coloured yarn! I’m really hoping the piece comes together by Fourth Street. I’m well on my way, so as long as nothing dramatic pops up that concerns running the show I think I’ll make it. You’ll just have to stop by my booth to see all my latest art - and pick up a T-shirt!

In between art there’s still a ton going on. I put down my needle felting long enough to watch my boys test for their brown belts in Taekwondo on Friday evening. They had a great test along with a bunch of excellent, more senior students. Friday was Tommie’s birthday, too, although we couldn’t celebrate much beyond ice cream after the test. We had flatbread for a birthday dinner Saturday, which followed an absolutely glorious afternoon at the Binford school field. The boys, along with friends Claire and Lara, spent several hours chasing, catching and ultimately releasing butterflies. They caught all the buckeyes they could ever want, plus a few monarchs, swallowtails and a few other species. I needle felted and supplied the water and snacks in between screeches and sprints after butterflies. I also was the beast of burden for the nets and soft cloth containment devices. We passed an older gentleman on the way home who smiled knowingly at me. I told him the pack mule always travels in the back of the caravan. I came home to a delightful dinner with a nice bottle of wine—how could I better spend a Saturday afternoon. Today, both boys team-celebrated summer birthdays by having friends for a movie with kettle corn from the farmer’s market. I had a couple of quiet hours while they watched Pirates of the Caribbean, then I dished out cake and ice cream to wind them back up. They were too full for dinner so they traveled to Bryan Park to play some soccer. That meant a little more evening weaving time for me. I’m telling you, my days are just packed!

Until next week…

Martina Celerin

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Only two weeks till Fourth Street!

My artistic trajectory has been a mad dash to complete a set of new pieces for the Fourth Street Festival on Labor Day weekend. I had the good fortune to sell a lot of my big pieces at the Madison show, but that meant my booth was pretty empty. This week I brought three new pieces close to completion.

One piece that I’m really excited about is my ‘Meet me by the Willow’ piece. I was channeling all the great bike trips the boys and I had this summer. I just had a great time discovering how to make a bicycle out of yarn, thread, wire and shoelaces. For the ‘Willow’ piece I created the bike wheels and frame out of used baling wire. At the last Spinners and Weaver’s Guild auction I bought some shiny silvery string that’s a little hard to describe. I wrapped it around the inside of the spokes and gears to get the metallic look I wanted. For the rubber tires I used some puffy black shoelaces, washed of course, that turned out to be perfect. The bike seat and pedals needed to be comfy, so I needle felted those into existence out of soft fleece. I’m just delighted with how the bike turned out!

My ‘Willow’ piece also needed some green, flexible hanging branches. I began with the tree trunk I made on the trip back from Michigan and felted branch extensions onto the main trunk to support the green hanging shoots. I made use of some thin wire from a recycled spiral notebook to make the actual branches, then added some raggy looking green chenille that was perfect for the hanging branches. I just wrapped and felted everything until I was happy with it. When I added the bike it looks like a beautiful miniature scene. I even angled the front bike wheel forward a little, because when you lean your bike against something it never lays perfectly flat. I also like the feel of the piece because it tells a story. It makes you wonder about where the rider is and whom she’s talking to. To me it’s like opening a book in the middle of the chapter to read a passage without knowing what comes before or after.

If that weren’t enough, still more art is racing toward completion in my studio. The lemon piece was officially declared finished this week. While watching the boys do Taekwondo I’ve been needle felting pea pods. I have the set I need finished, so I’ll be attaching pieces this week to the now-completed completed pea plant. I’m hoping I can finish the projects in time to have my photographer, Tom Bertolacini, come to town nearer the weekend to take pictures of everything for my portfolio. It always bugs me when I sell a piece before I have it photographed, and I now have a bunch of pieces ready to go into the booth so I have to get cracking.

With so much art happening I have to think a little about what went on with my family this week. Friday will be the big Taekwondo test when the boys test for their brown belt. Then Jim (and others) will officially have to address them as ‘sir’ when they’re on the floor, something they’re excited about. I’m really proud of the years of work they’ve put in to reach this point, and I’m pleased they’re still going strong with TKD and sparring. We did also get to the farmer’s market on Saturday as a family. I put ten pounds of tomatoes in the freezer for wintertime sauces and cooking projects. We got fresh corn and a watermelon. Best of all, we got a big basket of peaches and I got—you guessed it—a peach pie! Yummm! Now that the boys like pie I don’t get as much, but I think I’ll manage at least one more breakfast pie with espresso.

Life is good, if busy!

Until next week…

Martina Celerin

Monday, August 15, 2011

Lemons, beaches and family…

It’s been a while since life gave me lemons. The problem is that she didn’t give me enough, so I’ve been poking away at lemons for the past few weeks. I finally have enough for my “When Life gives you Lemons” piece! The last piece of the puzzle was finding just the right fleece for the lemon pith, the white material between the zest and the fruit. Luckily, my friend Ruth gave me some white fleece two weeks ago and it was just what I needed. I also discovered I was short on the yellow I needed for the rind. Unfortunately, my never-ending supply of every possible color failed me this time and I had to resort to web shopping. The problem is that you never know exactly what color you’ll get in the mail because the screen rarely does justice to the color. The fleece I got was a little too bright, but when I carded it with some yellow fleece I created by dyeing with dandelions a couple of years ago I was back in business with two big rolags. It felt great when I was able to lay out the lemons and sections on the background and saw that I had an abundance of my citrusy friends.

This week I drove with my family to Michigan to meet the newest member of the family, my brother-in-law Tim’s new bride Bobi. I don’t mind the drives because I get to poke while Jim drives. That’s how I finished up the lemons. On the way home I started poking on the trunk of a willow tree. I know that’s a bit of a leap, but last week I envisioned a new piece I’ll call “Meet me by the Willow.” The inspiration for the piece flows from all the bike-related things I’ve been doing lately. The boys and I have been biking to destinations when we can, including on geocaching adventures. I’ve also had my eyes peeled for bicycle wheels for the Fourth Street Festival children’s booth this year, which I described in last week’s blog. Bikes on the brain translated into a desire to make a scale model for the ‘Willow’ piece this week when the boys are in school. This year it starts on Tuesday the 16th! I can’t believe the school year is already here! Anyway, the piece imagines meeting a friend after a bicycle trip, leaning my bike against the willow while we talk. I wove the background between cleaning the house and trips to buy school supplies last week, so that part was ready. It was nice coming home to pieces in progress, which makes me feel all the more productive after slower week in Michigan.

If you’re reading this because you’re interested in family news, you’ll note that I glossed over some big stuff. Jim’s Mom had a big family reception for Tim and Bobi, and it was a big hit with everyone. There was lots of good food and drink. Kathey Gibson made her famous carrot cake, Naomi brought brownies, and lots of people brought different salads. All the cousins, spouses and families came and a good time was had by all. Bobi handled it all well, but she seems more comfortable in intimate settings than big parties. She and Tim Yu-gi-oh dueled the boys several times over the weekend and, I’m somewhat surprised to report, were able to defeat my boys in every duel. They don’t give up easily, however, and will undoubtedly be better prepared, perhaps with more powerful cards, before they meet again. Bobi was graceful in victory, and we’ve decided we’ll keep her.

We had a full visit, as usual, including a delightful trip to the beach at the Tawas Point State Park. We swam in Lake Huron, walked along the beaches to explore and find treasures, and watched the kite boarders do their thing in the wind and waves. It’s definitely a place we have to visit again next year. We went on a fishing trip, which was more of a boat ride, although Tommie caught one walleye and Jim caught a perch with Captain Ryan. I got to sit in the ‘pass me a drink’ chair and try to detect bites that never came. A few might have slipped past, because I put up my feet and enjoyed the blue skies, happy and relaxed. That made it a good trip. Tonight it’s late and time to call it a day, though, because I went back to Zumba this afternoon and made every muscle I own sore. Thanks Trish! But I’ll be back.

Until next week…

Martina Celerin

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Finding Rusty Things

Last week I wrote about my latest piece that incorporates rusty found objects into garden soil. The more I thought about the concept of memories and history under the ground, the more I wanted to expand the series and develop new compositions. That meant it was time for a treasure hunt! The boys and I first went to BIM, or Bloomington Iron and Metal. Sadly, they changed the rules since the last time we visited. The boys were no longer able to rummage through the piles of scrap with me. Due to insurance issues, even I had to wear a hardhat and gloves. Tommie and Jacob graciously agreed to give me five minutes of free time to look around. I saw and collected a lot of cool things, including six old bicycle wheels for the community art project at the Fourth Street Festival. This year the kids will be weaving into the spokes of old bike wheels. After the fair the creations will be displayed at Wonderlab along the B-line trail, which is heavily used by bicyclists (including us!).

Our next stop on the rusty metal summer tour was Auto Heaven. There we all searched in the front parking lot and turned up all sorts of treasures. We found hood ornaments, springs, nuts, bolts, and other small metal objects, plenty of which were rusty. These were packed up and taken home for a good wash, which turned out to be a bad idea in some cases. To my surprise, a goodly number of the pieces were stainless steel and cleaned up nicely. Never fear, though, because we’ll keep looking.

My main focus in the studio this week was to finish my first rusty object piece. That meant creating the tulip (neither found nor rusty) and attaching it to the bulb I made last week. I pulled the elements together and framed the piece, which means I’m a step closer to having a collection to display at Fourth Street. I will keep on the theme of making pieces containing forgotten treasures trapped in the ground, although they’ll most likely appear in next year’s collection as I develop new ideas. Right now I’m feverishly poking at lemons to complete my ‘When Life Gives You Lemons’ piece, and my pea leaves need some attention. On the bright side, my life will change next week when—wait for it—school starts again! There will be a big hole in my day when my boys are off at school. Tommie starts the sixth grade at the youthful age of ten, but he’ll quickly turn eleven. This year he gets to have different teachers for each subject and have a lot of moving around between classes. Jacob will launch into the fourth grade, hopefully following in Tommie’s path with regard to excellent teachers. I’ll have an extended work day in the studio, but I’ll miss all the summer adventures we’ve shared. It’s been a good summer!

Until next week,

Martina Celerin

Monday, August 1, 2011

Fourth Street approaches…

The Fourth Street Festival is about a month away, and I’m in high gear creating new pieces. The Madison show put a huge (but very welcome!) ding in my inventory, which has left me scrambling. I spent some time bringing along my pea pod piece. I did all the stem work and wrapped some cute little tendrils. Now I’m left with a mountain of needle felting, which means I’ll be sitting and poking at pea leaves and pods at every opportunity this week. I’m pretty happy with the piece so far, because I really like the contrast between the curvy, organic branches and the weaving background. I think it will look great when all the elements come together. I’ve also been poking away at lemons this week and I now have quite a pile, so I think my “When Life Gives you Lemons” piece will come together soon. The third piece I started this week is one I described in my last entry, which is about memories. I did the background weaving this week, and Tommie and I have been on high alert for rusty objects for the garden soil. The background already has a bunch of found objects incorporated into the weft. I love how the weft strings enhance the sense of the objects being trapped in the soil until someone comes along to discover them. The piece will also feature a tulip in the soil, and the bulb for it is now complete. To create it I layered browns and reds and oranges, then more browns on the surface. I feel like I’ve captured the shininess of the bulb. The layering of fleece to create textures as well as colors is a technique I came upon when I was making my abstract felted tiles.

The approach Fourth Street Festival means both work and excitement for me. The yearlong efforts of our working-artist committee will come together on Labor Day weekend, but rarely does it happen without a few surprises. This year we’re introducing a Spoken Word stage. Tony Brewer is bringing this project together in conjunction with the Writer’s Guild, which is part of the Arts Alliance of Greater Bloomington. A series of local writers will have a chance to present their ideas to a large crowd. I’m excited about it after participating in an Ekphrasis event, which roughly translates to ‘speak out.’ Local girls wrote poems in response to visual art that had been contributed by area artists, then the audience spontaneously repeated phrases that were most meaningful to them. There I saw how the combination of art and the spoken word can create profound new connections, so I’m excited to see how the spoken word stage might affect the Fourth Street event. I also want to invite everyone to come to an opening reception for the festival to be held at the By Hand Gallery. To celebrate the show’s 35th anniversary, each of the committee members will display one piece from five to eight on Friday, August 5. The opening reception is part of this month’s gallery walk, so be sure to get out and enjoy the art our town has to offer! My “Summer Salad” piece will be on display.

On the home front, Saturday morning brought the farmer’s market and another big batch of tomatoes came home with us. That means more bruschetta! Basically one begins with a selection of heirloom tomato varieties and onions from the farmer’s market, adds some basil from the CSA and oregano from the garden, and slips in some balsamic vinegar and wine from the pantry. There’s a lot of peeling and chopping and then: Ta Da!—bruschetta! The onion chopping used to bother my eyes, but I have my tear protection device in place. I can now report that week’s batch is wonderful! I love being able to share it with friends, and there’s plenty in the freezer to share.

Until next week…

Martina Celerin