Monday, September 26, 2011

Heading for Cincinnati

My focus this week was on preparing for a three-day workshop I’m giving in Cincinnati, Ohio. Plus I’m giving a talk the evening I arrive. I’m very excited about the whole prospect as I busily prepare to make it as intense and fulfilling as I’ve envisioned. I have an outline set for the three days that has helped guide me in the preparations. In the past I’ve made cardboard looms with bamboo skewers in the top, but because this is going to be so intense I decided to make a class set of wooden loom with nails to hold the warp for each participant. Tommie has been nailing looms to earn a little extra cash and I’ve done the rest. I’ll bring a set of cardboard looms just in case, though. I spent a little time making a full set of shuttles and batons out of yardsticks that I made into footsticks and cut into the appropriate shapes. You might think it was a lot of work, but I got to use a new belt sander from Grandpa’s garage so I had fun. Thanks Grandpa! You know I love power tools.

In between writing grants and reports this week I’ve also been making felted balls for the inside of ornaments. To do this I consumed my entire bag of wool scraps, including pieces of yarn, remnants of felted wool and cut-off pieces of knitted wool. I vowed that I was done with ornaments, but there is a person from Vincennes starting an art-gift shop over the holidays in the visitors center who asked me if I’d contribute some of my work. I’m always up for helping new arts adventures. I ended up agreeing to supply six ornaments and six scarves by the end of October. I’ve completed three ornaments so far… Basically I just keep plugging away as the boys do their Taekwondo or I just have some quiet time.

Speaking of the boys, they have had their own adventures this week. They started their clay class at the John Waldron arts center downtown. I just love the fact that they’re budding artists who use some of their free time to explore their own ideas and create their own pieces. Our house is just full of art, by the way. I’m also grateful to Ivy Tech and the city for bringing this all together and helping the Waldron prosper—it’s such an important community asset. In addition to Taekwondo, sparring and art projects, both at the Waldron and at home, they had a Yugioh tournament at our house on Sunday. It was a rainy weekend, which only deterred them a little from playing outside on Saturday. Badminton was the popular sport until it finally rained just a little too hard. Saturday morning we did get in a trip to the farmer’s market, which translated into the last raspberry pie of the season—yum! We got the last of the basil, some late corn and watermelons, and a big basket of peaches that are either eaten or frozen away as pie filling. They’ll make a delightful memory of summer on some bitter winter day. Or sooner if I can’t wait that long!

Our trip to the farmer’s market now has a new stop at Le Petit Café on the B-line trail for hot chocolate. It’s incredibly rich and dark, and it’s the perfect start-up for a cold morning at the market. All in all, it has been another wonderful and jam-packed week in Bloomington!

Until next week…

Martina Celerin

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A quiet week

I’ve had a bag of unused wool in the back of my mind for a while. Actually, it lived in my art studio in a brown bag, and this week it needed some attention. The Spinners and Weaver’s Guild members held a secret fiber exchange at a meeting before summer break. Each recipient was tasked with making something out of their secret material. I received a bag of superwash wool in a beautiful blue color with hints of purple and green. The premise behind superwash wool is that it can be put through the washer and dryer because it doesn’t felt (and therefore won’t shrink). I didn’t know if I could needle felt with it but I wanted to try. I decided to try to make an object I’ve never done before, so I set off to make a bowl. I began with an old blanket and cut it in the shape of a doughnut, two layers thick. If you imagine the doughnut as a pie (I think of everything as pie) and cut out a generous slice, that’s what I did to the material. I stitched the edges back together to create the basic bowl shape and started to needle felt the wool. It worked out surprisingly well. I did the inner surface first, then I needle felted a swirly pattern on the surface using a soft lavender yarn. I’ll be working on coating the outer surface last so that I don’t have the pattern showing through. I’ll see if I can complete it before the first guild meeting of the fall on Monday.

The weather was just gorgeous this week in Bloomington, so I took the opportunity to do a little work outside. That meant puttying, sanding and painting the oak frames that my friend Tom Bertolacini builds for me. It’s nice to be outside when it isn’t too hot (most of the summer), or too cold (a few days the week before), or too wet. Now I have twelve black frames ready to be filled. I know it’s time to start weaving again, but I need a break after a long summer of creating, traveling and selling. My family and I went to the farmer’s market Saturday for our usual stock-up on fruit and veggies, which was also a nice break. It’s a great time for the market with all the late-season goodies. We found watermelon, corn, raspberries, cucumbers, apples and a big bag of peppers for a peppered salmon dish. I also got an inspiration for a new piece when I chatted with Sarah at the volunteer fair. She is involved with the Bloomington orchard project. I thought they had mainly apple trees, but I learned that they have a huge variety of fruits. I’m excited to tour the grove and see what’s going on. I did learn that they’ve been preventing the trees from bearing fruit until they become bigger and well established. The concept of a huge new harvest of all different kind of fruits got me thinking about and sketching a whimsical tree covered with all the fruits in the orchard. I need to think a little about the structure to get the scale right, but now I’m excited again to start a new piece.

I went on lots of little forays this week—I went back to Auto Heaven to forage for rusty car parts and came back with a big bucket of stuff. Tommie and I went to the train racks by the B-line trail and came home with a big bag of treasures, including some old spark plugs, which I think are cool. Everything is carefully washed and dried and waiting in a big plastic jar and so I’m ready to begin a commission similar to my ‘Tread Lightly’ composition that sold quickly at Fourth Street.

On Thursday the boys and I went to an exhibit at the John Waldron arts center to see an exhibit of Turkish textiles put on by George Malacinski. The exhibit, entitled "Woven Treasures: Near- and Middle-Eastern Textiles" was amazing, featuring a combination of interesting techniques, materials, colors and effects. Perhaps the most amazing was a horse bridle that had a felted structure stitched onto a woven fabric with an embroidered surface. I saw a wedding dress that was both beautiful and sad. It featured an extraordinary silk fabric embroidered with silk—you could see that it represented a phenomenal amount of work. The mixed feelings come from the knowledge that the marriage was arranged for a young girl whose body was not allowed to show. Her arms were bound underneath and covered with the beautiful dress, and she was married as a commodity and not a person.

Oh, a couple of quick final notes. My two big commission pieces were shown in Saturday’s Herald Times Homes section when Carol Krause wrote a piece and photographed them for an article about the homeowners renovations. That was nice to see. And even though we got raspberries, there won’t be enough for a pie this week. I’m still optimistic that something with a crust will turn up soon! It’s fall apple time, and there are still plenty of peaches around! Is anybody listening? Jim?

Until next week…

Martina Celerin

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Transition week

Since my last post I’ve been shifting gears. I’m exiting my summer art fair mode, which is built around traveling to fairs in the Midwest to sell my weavings. I have a few administrative projects to take on, such as documenting the success of the Fourth Street Festival and writing grant proposals to help make it a better show next year. I’ll also be giving a talk and putting on a three-day workshop in Cincinnati in a few weeks, and then I’ll focus on making scarves for the local fall shows. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t time for a new art adventure!

Two years ago I participated in the Trashionista fashion show. I had a lot of fun designing two gowns out of reclaimed materials and some ethereal shawls out of used dryer sheets. I’m excited about contributing to this year’s show at the Buskirk Chumley Theater. In addition to the main show, which is a worthy fundraiser for the Center for Sustainable Living, a smaller group interested in making clothes from recyclable materials appeared this year. They’re called Discardia, and this weekend they held their first show. It was held alongside the Simply Living fair in the Third Street Park behind the police station. I wanted to participate, but with all my responsibilities to the Fourth Street festival I didn’t think I’d have time to make any clothes. Then I realized I still had few days to pull something together—and I love a challenge! I leaped into action and created a pattern for a loose-fitting tank top. My thought was to piece together scraps of fabric from clothing that was popular in a previous incarnation. I decided to call my new line ReShirtz, and off I went picking color and pattern combinations I liked from my collection of retired clothing. My son Tommie loves this sort of project so he picked several combinations for me, including the first one to sell at the Discardia show. It’s been a lot of fun cutting apart beautiful silk dresses and batik pants from dated clothing styles. The change of pace from needle felting vegetables has been nothing short of refreshing! I’ll show the clothes at some of my fall shows, including the upcoming Déjà Vu Art Fair in Columbus.

On the family front, today marks my twelfth wedding anniversary. We celebrated last night with a delightful flatbread dinner and a bottle of Mollydooker Shiraz (our current favorite wine). I was surprised with a beautiful bouquet featuring a dozen red roses when I got home from the show takedown. This morning I smelled the crowning celebratory food, a raspberry pie featuring fresh red raspberries from the farmer’s market. I can’t wait to try it! The top crust is a little funky, as usual, but beauty isn’t the hallmark of a good pie. Even if I overdo it a little bit with pie I know that Zumba starts up again tomorrow at Windfall Dancers—hooray! What more could I ask for?

Until next week…

Martina Celerin

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Fourth Street Festival 2011!

The story of my week centered around the Fourth Street Art Fair. During the week leading up to the fair I was racing to get things done to make the show run smoothly. I finished one last weaving that I called ‘Letters from Home’. The story behind the piece comes from the visits of my Grandmother from Czechoslovakia to my childhood home in Canada. She would fly to Ontario every few years and stay three to six months and then fly back. In between she would write long letters on onionskin paper that had a blue tint. In those days you paid for every ounce of weight in airmail letters so the incredibly thin paper was important to save money. Those letters made a strong impression on me. I remember a conversation at last year’s Spinner’s and Weaver’s Guild show discussing the lost art of writing letters. Everything today seems busier and faster; now we communicate more electronically. All my memories of my Grandmother, including the late nights playing canasta late into the evening and exchanging letters on the thin blue paper came flooding back to me last week. I transformed the emotion into a weaving with a blue background to represent the airmail paper and letters pouring out that spelled a memory. On the piece I wrote about remembering the time we danced, but the concept was all about celebrating and exchanging life in an earlier time. I told the story to an IDS (Indiana Daily Student) reporter at the art fair and I was surprised to find the story in the paper and on-line! In a strange twist of fate my Czech relatives today can read and share the story faster than I could ever mail it to them in a letter.

The reality of the approaching show was a little less personal and warm, however. Electronic communications were flying among the show organizers. I checked my e-mail ever few hours to read about the latest complication or fire to stomp out. There are always a few holes in the show layout to fill as late cancellations come in. Friday finally came and the committee assembled to mark the streets and get the show started. After all the illegally parked cars were towed and the streets marked we invited the artist to set up their booths in 95-degree heat. Everything went smoothly, but Saturday turned into another scorcher. We reached a local record with a 102 degree first day of the show and I was worried about the turnout and the patrons. This year we set up free water carboys around the show to make sure everyone stayed hydrated and that was a hit. The crowds came out early, and within the first hour I sold all of my new bicycle pieces. Fortunately, the patrons allowed me to keep the pieces on the walls throughout the first day so I could share my new work with all my local friends. By late in the afternoon the weatherman tripped up and the zero percent chance of rain turned into a brief thunderstorm that cooled off the show around five. The last hour of the show was still quite pleasant, as was the celebratory dinner held this year at the First United Methodist Church on Fourth Street. It was a wonderful setting for the reception. The food was incredibly good this year and the ceremony came off without a hitch. I’m so pleased—and relieved!

On Sunday morning I arrived at the show early with a sense of impending doom, since the weatherman called for a 70 percent chance of thunderstorms throughout the day. When Jim came I asked what the weather map looked like, and he told me I didn’t want to know. It turns out there were bands of rain all around us and for hundreds of miles to the south, all heading our way. In a welcome twist of fate, however, all the rain skirted Bloomington and we had a cool, pleasant, and even awesome day for the fair! People were happy, joking and buying art like the old days. From a sales perspective it turned out to be my best show ever, with nine pieces finding new homes and two more commissions put into motion. I’m so fortunate to be in this business and in this town! We tore down the booth and packed our neighbor Emily’s van, borrowed for the show, in record time. I drove it all home, had a nice chat with Grandma (Jim’s mom) about the show, then headed back to make sure that everything was cleared away and the artists were all safely headed home. I’m sure glad I’m not doing the Penrod show next weekend! When I got home Jim had a nice Kluski dinner with an Amarone opened to celebrate. I feel great about the show and all the hard work of the committee. I’m really proud of us for pulling off such a good show this year despite all the weather surprises. Of course now the planning starts again for next year! Oh and if you are interested, there's a great video of 2011 Fourth Street Festival that an IDS reporter, Margaret Ely has posted.

One last note that needs a mention is that I launched into another new venture last week. With the opening of the B-line trail in town I decided to create T-shirts using my weaving dedicated to the trail. The shirts were well received at the show, and now I’m working hard to market them locally for the opening of the biking and hiking trail. It’s a new venture for me, but I love a new challenge! Who knows what will be next!

Until next week…

Martina Celerin