Monday, December 24, 2012

On the eleventh day of Christmas,

The house is ready for guests!  It has been a delightful couple of weeks, with Christmas traditions reaching full force.  Last week the boys had two friends over to make our traditional candy house.  This is a tradition that I adopted from Emily, our neighbor, who figured out that making gingerbread houses is just too much work.  Baking gingerbread and trying to assemble it into a house is difficult enough.  After a couple of weeks no one wants to eat it anyway.  Her mom started making structures out of cardboard and then frosting them.  When the boys were little I started making a cute little house out of cardboard to decorate.  Now that they’re full-fledged creative young installation artists they design and build their own elaborate structures.  I made a quintuple batch of frosting just to cover this one, then turned it back over to them and their friends.  We had a bunch of leftover candy from Halloween that ended up back in the mix, plus a few goodies I picked up for color or textural contrast.  I guess I never take off my artist hat!  

Along about mid December comes Jim’s birthday, which is always the marker that we’re allowed to get a Christmas tree.  We feasted on the shoebox of brownies that Grandma always sends Jim for his birthday (three kinds—black forest, caramel, and seven layer brownies!).  Then we popped out to Bloomingfoods and picked out the biggest tree that would fit in the living room and keep the star under the roof.  We got a delightful, full tree that accommodated every single ornament we had.  The boys also took it on themselves to put up some outside lights this year, so we have a really festive house to great our holiday guests.  Jim’s brother Tim and his wife Bobi will be here, as will Jim’s Mom and Aunt Lois.  Will there be pies?  You bet!  I’m in.  And Stollen, of course!!

My artwork generally takes a back seat at Christmas while I feverishly clean the house for guests and make all the holiday magic happen behind the scenes.  I’ve still been making peppers, though.  Now I’m up to forty-five.  I laid them out on the piece and calculated that I’ll need seventy, so I’ll be on the pepper project for a while. 

The house waits in excited expectation for the guests that will arrive in a few hours.  The presents are wrapped, the beds are made, the wine is in the cellar and nice dishes are washed.  
  We have snow on the ground and more on the way.  We’re still hoping for uneventful travels and a full house tonight!  And did I say there’ll be fresh bread this morning and a peach pie tomorrow?

Until next week,

Martina Celerin

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Holiday season in full gear!

It’s been a full couple of weeks at the Celerin/Drummond household!  Holiday season is now officially in full gear.  My last art fair of the season is now behind us—the Unitarian Universalist Holiday Art Fair.  It was a wonderful show for me.  As usual, I had walls displaying my weavings, but my sales were overwhelmingly my Re-Shirts and Sweater Petals.  I showed my new Re-Shirt design, which includes a flap that delicately covers one’s bottom.  It reminds me of a conductor’s tuxedo in that respect.  Basically they’re artsy tank shirts that I create out of fabric that has had a previous life.  I’ve pirated everything from my husband’s old dress shirts to tablecloths to gently, and not-so-gently used clothing I pick up at Opportunity House and the Recycle Center. 
 I designed the pattern myself and I use a block stamp that I created last year for a focal point on the front.  I like the design from the front because it lacks a horizontal line where the shirt ends.  From the rear, the upside down ‘U’ over the back is more flattering.  I made a dozen of these shirts for the ‘UU’ show and they all sold!  With an eye to the next show, which is the Bloom magazine’s Local Artists Showcase in February at the Convention Center, I set out to cut some more materials for the next round of shirts.  I had to turn the dining room into a design studio to cut all the pieces, but now it’s back to being a dining room.
  That came just in time for this year’s cookie baking party.  This was an annual event at our house until the boys came along.  Not that they wouldn’t like the cookies, but it was just too much to manage.  This year we brought the tradition back.  That translated into 18 kids running around in the yard when they weren’t swiping cookies from the table.  The 12 or so adults sat around in the kitchen, drinking wine, talking and laying out the next round of cookies onto sheets covered with parchment paper.   For the kids, the rule was that they had to stay in the yard and they couldn’t use electronic devices.  Everyone seemed to have a good time; just what a cool, grey December day needed!

In between all the rest of my activities, I’ve been making more peppers for my pepper commission.  I’m up to 29 and I still have a ways to go, but I feel good about the piece at this stage.  I’m still selling a lot of Sweater Petals at Bloomingfoods, so I end up visiting there each week to re-stock.  We all went out to see Tommie’s holiday choir performance at Jackson Creek, which turned out beautifully.  Mr. Upchurch is a great teacher and really does a lot for the kids.  Speaking of Tommie, he has to do a monthly science project.  This time around he took one of his passions, fishing at Lake Monroe, and designed a science experiment around it.   
He and his dad compared live bait to artificial worms.  I don’t know exactly how it turned out, except that we had a fine fish fry at the end!  I also managed to snag another apple pie after Thanksgiving
 (and before the Christmas peach pie!), so life is pretty good for me right now.  The very best part, though was hearing the news that I got into the DesMoines art fair this year!  It’s a prestigious show and it’s my first time applying, so I’m excited to go in June 2013.  Look out Iowa, here we come! 

Until next week,

Martina Celerin

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Taking a break for Thanksgiving

I got a little bit of a break over the Thanksgiving holiday from my commissions and feverish show preparation.  The long drives did give me many hours to needle felt peppers, and now I have a colorful little mound of them.  I still have many more to make.  Fortunately, I have several meetings this week where I can quietly listen and poke away at peppers.  I just have an internal drive to keep moving the process forward, whatever projects I’m working on. 

During some quiet times in Michigan I also created more sweater petals.  These are for my display at Bloomingfoods and the upcoming Unitarian Universalist Holiday Bazaar and Art Fair.  The ‘UU show’ is the last holiday season show and it starts at 10 am on Friday and runs till 7 pm and then on Saturday from 9 till 5.  After that I go into full commission mode, completing the last two commissions I took on over the summer and fall.  Then I quickly have to switch back into summer art fair mode.  My booth needs a little replenishing after a successful 2012 season.  It’s all good (just busy)!

We had a delightful trip to Michigan.  We arrived in time for the big IU/Georgia basketball game.  Tommie and I stayed up while Jacob and Jim went to bed.  We tried to be quiet—really we did!  It’s hard when IU’s team comes up with some big shots or big plays.  I’m afraid we woke up the sleepers a time or two with our enthusiasm.  At Grandma’s house I noticed that the boys are getting bigger relative to Grandma’s furniture.  I have memories of great pictures when they were little, sitting side by side in Grandpa’s big armchair.  Now, when they want to play computer games together, they can’t fit!  
 Jim and Tommie got in a little fishing time, although no dinners came out of it.  Tommie was trying to do a science project based on comparing fishing variables, but the weather got in the way both times.   
The best we could do was baked steelhead for Thanksgiving dinner and a trip to the Oasis with Aunt Lois for perch.  On top of that there was homemade pumpkin pie at Grandma’s—with all the whipping cream you could fit on top.  Now that’s what I call a vacation.

Until next week,

Martina Celerin

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

One last holiday show for the year!

I have settled back in at home from the Déjà vu show in Columbus Indiana yesterday.  My drive out to Columbus through Brown County was beautiful.  I drove through the sunrise and into the pretty reds that were just coming into the sky.  A beautiful frost covering all the surfaces and brought a whiteness and crispness to the morning.  With very few cars on the road the atmosphere was peaceful and beautiful.  When I got to look around the show, I was incredibly impressed with the quality of the art on display this year.  Marilyn Brackney is just doing a fabulous job developing this into a quality show.  I found an appreciative audience and my sweater petals were a big hit.  It was also nice to be next to Cappi Phillips.  We got to do some catching up and chitty-chattying. 
 In quiet moments I worked on peppers for my latest commission piece.  I managed to finish one for the day.  Everyone at the show seemed to be looking for my roadies to be helping me, which they have every year I’ve done the show.  This year, though, I gave them a pass to do their Saturday activities while I handled the show.  It’s a lot of work, but the volunteers at the show were terrific and helped me move some of my materials in and out of the Commons.  I made it home around six-thirty to a roaring fire and a flatbread dinner with a bottle of wine.  That made the whole day worthwhile.
This week I shipped off my last commission piece, and the next day I received a call that the piece had arrived to an appreciative new home.  I’ll post a picture so you can see the final form—I’m delighted with how it turned out.  That freed up some of my work time to work on the next commission piece, based on ‘When Life Gives You Lemons’.  I managed to complete the background for the piece during the week. 
 Things are moving along as I completed my scarf-making efforts and I’m now gearing up to make some more Re-shirts for the upcoming UU (Unitarian Universalists) Holiday Art Fair and Bazaar. 

On the home front, when it didn’t seem as if I was going to get another pie, I decided to bake something for myself.  I came across a recipe for an apple-cranberry cobbler in one of the newspaper inserts last Sunday and decided to try it.  It came out really well, and the whole family loved it!  I did sneak in a few healthy things, such as some whole wheat flour, brown flax seed and raw wheat germ, but shhhh!  Of course I also cut the butter in half.  There’s still one small piece left for my breakfast tomorrow (with espresso and the newspaper), but it disappeared pretty quickly for desserts and into Tommie’s lunches.

My week ahead does include making some more Re-shirts, as mentioned above, so I pulled out the big sewing machine from Grandma.   At the last two art fairs I’ve worn a Re-shirt, and several people have asked if I would have them for the UU show.  I have converted the dining room into a sewing room, with all sorts of collected fabrics in stacks along the wall.  I’ve collected some really interesting fabric and used clothing that I’m looking forward to matching in the shirts.  I’ve also been thinking through how I’m going to make a piece that I’ve been imagining.  Anyway, the name of the new piece will be ‘Food for Thought’, and I’m imagining a ladle that will be spooning out letters falling into the soup.  A lot of my ideas start out this way, as half-baked creations whose composition starts to gel.  I’m looking forward to seeing how the piece evolves.  When I have something to show, you’ll be the first to see it!

Until next week,

Martina Celerin

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The holiday show season is upon me…

I enjoy the annual Spinners and Weaver’s Guild fall show, which proved to be a big success this year from my perspective.  While I always sell a few weavings and get some commissions, I did get to show off my newest item—Swuppets!  These are puppets made out of old felted sweaters.  They’re a lot of fun to make, and they were well received by the local crowd.  On Friday evening, a mother and daughter came to the show and the daughter just loved the Swuppets.  She bought one with visions of putting on puppet shows with it.  The next day she was back with her dad and her little sister in tow, who also decided she needed one.  The sister was delighted too!  I’m sure there will be some fun Swuppet shows at that household.  I also had one of my first patrons come by and try them on.  Usually by that point they have to buy one.   
She discovered that when she bent her fingers down the eyebrows moved too.  She was tickled and just had to have it.  I’m pleased it will be appreciated in its new home.  If you're looking around Bloomington for Swuppets, they're in the giftshop at Wonderlab.  My other big holiday item, sweater petals, have taken off this year.  These are flower petals made out of felted sweaters.  I have them on sale at Bloomingfoods East above my card display too, and so far they have been selling briskly.  I even came up with a nifty display trick by packaging them in units designed for single pie wedges.  The leaves attached to the sweater petals give them a triangular shape, so the whole thing fits nicely into the pie protectors I found at the Recycle Center. 

On the art front, I launched into making the peppers for my big pepper commission.  This is a piece modeled after ‘Some like it Hot’, which featured dozens of peppers of all sizes and colors.  My first purple pepper, a request from the patron, really turned out well with its indentations from felting.  It’s good to feel that project moving along as I move through my Holiday art show series.   
This Saturday I travel to Columbus Indiana for the Déjà Vu Art and Fine Craft Show at the Commons from 10-4.  Stop on by if you want to see the Swuppets, Sweater Petals, or my latest 3D weavings. 

My family has been very supportive of my fall work schedule.  Jim came by on Friday afternoon to help me set up the lights (he’s tall, which helps!) and all my boys came by on Saturday evening for a one-hour speed takedown.  I wasn’t the last one in the room this year!  I think Marla, the show organizer, was genuinely surprised.  To celebrate we went to Lennie’s for pizza and a glass of wine for me.  That was good, but on Sunday morning as I read my newspaper and sipped espresso, a strange aroma began to waft into the living room where I sat. 
 It was a pie!  An apple pie, with Mutsu apples from the farmer’s market!  Boy am I lucky.  I even went into delayed gratification mode, holding off on cutting into it until after dinner that night.  It was great, but I think I’ve been spoiled a little with the raspberry and peach pies of summer and fall.  I do know I’ll have pie and espresso in the morning! 

Until next week,

Martina Celerin

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Commissions, cows and candy…

This week it was more commission work for me.  My focus was on my pepper-themed piece.  I need to create my own canvases for each piece, which in this case must support peppers across a range of colors and sizes.  For the background layer I combined lots of fall colors, including red, orange, yellow, purple and plenty of green, which will contribute to making it a vibrant piece.  Most of that layer will be covered underneath the peppers, but patches will slip through and enhance the pepper layer.  Because it’s a custom sized piece, I went to my frame maker Tom Bertolacini to put something together for me.  The frame is now finished and I stretched out the background on the frame before I stitch it on.   
Now I need to felt a flat of finely felted peppers (it was too late in the season to pick a peck).  I have all my colored felts picked out to cover the pepper shapes, which I’ve been making out of old men’s wool suits that I collect in my travels.  People probably think they’re selling me a suit that I’ll bring home and make my long-suffering husband wear, unaware that I’ll carve it into little pieces, run them through the dryer and use needles to jam little pieces of colorful felt onto the shapes until they look like peppers.  Bwa ha ha!

My other project has been making more sweater petals.  I have plenty of time to work as I watch my boys do Taekwondo, so I get a lot done during those times.  I have a new display of them up at Bloomingfoods if you want to check out how they are evolving.  I also set up a scarf display for November at the Bloomington Bagel Company.  I’m low on scarves, so I had to pull all my traditional scarves from By Hand Gallery.  I replaced them with a set of my Lion’s Mane scarves, which is a new line I brought out last fall but haven’t displayed much.  This week I’ll launch into a serious scarf-making frenzy to replenish my stocks, but I’m running low on enthusiasm for making a lot more scarves.  This might be the last year they’ll be on display around town. 

This was the week of Halloween, which means I spent one night handing out candy to all the neighborhood kids in my cow costume.  If you can’t imagine me as a laughing cow (no, not a little triangle of cheese) here I am!  I don’t think I scared a lot of kids but I did have a good time.  Fortunately, there is a modest tax for handing out candy all evening, so I rewarded myself with some hundred thousand dollar ‘fun size’ bars, ad libidum.  On Friday night my family went to see the preview of 39 Steps, the latest Cardinal Stage production.  I bought tickets, but I also found one of the free tickets hidden around town.  That meant we could also invite one of the boy’s friends.  We all went to the Runcible Spoon for dinner, over the Blu Boy for a pre-show cookie, then on to the John Waldron for the performance.  As usual, they did a phenomenal job.  With four actors and a limited but highly creative and ever-changing set, the whole story just flowed beautifully and came to life.  Everybody had heard about the plane crash on stage and it was well done.  The character changes were managed beautifully, so hats off to the cast and Randy White for bringing it all off. 

Finally, last night we had friends over for dinner.  Jim made salmon and boca negra, which is a Julia Childs creation of a flourless chocolate cake.  It was amazing!  The best part, though, is that there’s enough left over for dinner tonight!  I can’t wait!

Until next week,

Martina Celerin

Sunday, October 28, 2012

And the leaves keep falling.

My intensive weaving season continued over the past two weeks as I moved forward on several commissions that came in over the summer.  I completed the background on another piece that features a path through the woods.  I picked out all of the yarn colors for my pepper piece and warped the loom I’ll need.  I also made more felted balls for my ‘lemons’ piece—I feel like all of those projects are moving along nicely.  I also completed a piece that wasn’t a commission, but one that I started just before the Fourth Street Festival.   
The chaos that the weather brought to this year’s event kept me from completing it before the show.  I probably had the time, but I just couldn’t focus on art creation.  Waiting to complete the piece turned out to be a good thing.  When Grandma was here two weeks ago we collected some gravel from a creek bed that turned out to be perfect in the piece.   
The rocks had been beaten up a little and the edges smoothed by running water in the creek.  The smoothness and the weathering made them perfect for the rocky tip of the peninsula in the piece I was finishing.  If you’d like to see some of my most recent work, come to the first fall show of the season, the Spinner’s and Weaver’s Guild show opens on November 9th. 

The business side of my life kept me busy too.  Toward the end of the week I got Tom Bertolacini, my photographer, to drop by and capture images of many of my newer pieces.  It had been a very busy summer, and I just didn’t have a chance to capture images of many of my newer pieces.  Some of them sold before I could get a picture, but I’ve resigned myself to that eventuality when the crunch before a show comes. 
 I also negotiated with Bloomingfoods East to display my sweater petals.  The barrier to expanding my display there has always been the expanded footprint in an already packed store.  I had an epiphany when I turned the problem over in my brain—I would just extend my card rack up one story!  The lower level will continue to display cards while the upper story will house the sweater petals.  I built the display out of mostly all reclaimed and recycled materials, except for the dowel I bought new at Kleindorfer’s Hardware.  I’m hoping that the weather cooperates just a little bit to give me a window to paint my creation black to match the rack.  With any luck it will be at Bloomingfood’s East early in the week. 

And yes, the season also features Halloween.  This year Tommie wanted to be a Zombie and buy a Zombie costume.  I usually encourage making costumes (I’m pretty handy with fabric, it turns out).  But he really wanted the costume, so I decided it would be a reward for his excellent first term grades.  Jacob also had a clear idea in mind, taken from one of his favorite books.  He wanted to be the Ranger’s Apprentice.  Fortunately or unfortunately, he came with a clear vision of exactly what the costume should look like.   
He rejected all the green materials in my huge collection for the cloak.  We ended up in the fabric store to find just what he needed.  I sewed the material into the cloak, and he found a button that was perfect as a clasp to define the hood.  He needed a quiver and decided that black leather was the way to go.  I’m actually quite proud of what we were able to create together.  For the arrows, Jacob and Jim went into the garden and cut down dried lily stalks.  They needed sharper points, he decided, so he’s been using Sculptey, an oven bakeable clay, to create them.  They also cut down a curved branch from the maple tree in front for the bow.  He’s been doing some whittling to get the shape right.  I, on the other hand, found the perfect costume on a trip to the Recycle Center.  I can’t wait to wear my cow costume!   
Mary at the Recycle Center suggested that I might want to put a ring through one of the teats, but I could see Jim wincing at the visual.  I’ll have my fun on Wednesday and take it back on Thursday.  It was good that I didn’t upset Jim too much, because he made us a fresh raspberry pie this morning!  We found the last of the season’s berries at the Farmer’s Market.  One batch went into the freezer for a winter pie and one went into a crust this morning.  I had fresh, warm pie with a second cup of espresso!  Perfect!

Until next week…

Martina Celerin

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Life’s path finds its home.

My past few weeks have been a roller coaster ride through a series of art and family events.  My big commission piece, ‘Life’s Path,’ is now complete and hanging in its new location, the Like Law Group’s reception area.  I just love how it looks against the orange background.  A lot of long hours went into completing the piece, which makes it all the more satisfying to see it hanging on the wall. 
 I immediately launched into my next commission, which also features a path.  This time the focus will be on the trees rather than the path.  Because my patron wants to hang it in a hallway it will have to be a flatter piece.  My trees can be a little feisty, and I don’t want them accosting anyone as they walk down the hall.  The challenge will be rely more on color to help create the perception of depth.  Of course the size of the objects in the piece conveys depth, so I’ll incorporate different sized elements such as crinoids to contribute to the depth aspect.  Fortunately, I have an extensive collection of found objects, sorted by size, so I’m already working the fossils into my piece.  As I’m moving this project forward, I’m also preparing for the next commissioned piece.  This is the time of year when I can catch up on requests for pieces I’ve received through all the summer art fairs, so you’ll be seeing these pieces come together over the next few weeks.  
 Next up is a version of my ‘Some Like it Hot’ piece that featured dozens of peppers.  The layout will be different, with the new piece a being narrower, taller version of the original.  The patron requested that I include some purple peppers, so I stopped in to visit the pepper lady at the Bloomington Farmer’s market on Saturday.  I bought a few purple peppers to get the color right.  A couple of days later I visited Yarns Unlimited and found some Corriedale fleece that was just the perfect match to my peppers.  

Along with the actual artwork, I’ve had several other projects to keep moving forward.  I’ve been creating felted balls in the dryer to use for fruits and vegetables, such as the larger peppers and some lemons that will appear in another piece down the road.  When the weather turned warm and clear, that was my signal to start finishing frames for the pieces.  I need to have the temperature above and the humidity below certain thresholds to stain or paint.  I need to get a bunch of frames painted before the cooler, wetter weather of fall blows in.  

The big family news of the week was the visit of Grandma (Jim’s mom) for the long weekend.  Friday was fall break for the school system and IU, so Grandma stopped by to play with us.  She told us the story of her family having raspberry pie for New Year’s Day with fresh whipped cream when she was a child.  While there are still raspberries around at the farmer’s market, we weren’t there early enough to claim a pie-worthy number.  Luckily, Jim froze a batch for pie filling a few weeks back and he baked one on Sunday morning.  Yum!  We’re going to need to get up early on Saturday and scavenge enough for another wintertime pie.   
Grandma went everywhere we did on the weekend, including out collecting fossils with the family.  Tommie is working on an independent study project for his science class, where he wanted to collect geodes from two locations and compare the crystal structures inside.  Of course it’s just a lot of fun to collect geodes and smash them open, so it doesn’t feel like work.  The report is written and the powerpoint presentation is done, we’re told, with two weeks to spare.  We’ll have to inspect it for grammar and completeness, but I’m delighted that he took the initiative and did it all on his own.   
On the collecting trip, we all climbed down into the river bottoms, including Jim’s mom at (very close to) 80.  She was a trouper, helping to find crinoids and small, opened geodes for Martina as Tommie did his thing.  We fed her a nice fish dinner for her troubles.  In fact, we ate pretty well while she was here!

Last, I wanted to mention a delightful adults-only date I had last Saturday.  Jim and I went to the Uptown for a nice dinner with a bottle of wine.  After the show we walked up Walnut to the Bloomington Playwright’s Project to see "Rx.The staging was really impressive (great job again, Chad!).  Many of the actors were from Ivy Tech, so I even knew some of them.  The best performer was the woman who played the drug company manager.  She truly brought the character to life.  In fact, I’m sure I met her at a scientific conference several years back when I was still a scientist.  The whole evening was delightful.   

The only bad news from the week was the realization that summer is giving way to fall.  My first show comes up on November 9th, which is the Spinner’s and Weaver’s Guild show at the First United Church onThird Street - yup, it's a picture of my piece, Summer Salad in full colour!!  The Déjà vu and Unitarian Universalist Bazaar shows can’t be far behind.  Yikes!  What did happen to summer!

Until next week…

Martina Celerin

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Leaf clumps are old, Swuppets are new...

My art focus last week was on my big commission piece.  For a huge landscape piece with lots of trees I needed to make a mountain of leaf clumps for the tree canopy.  I now have enough to fill a salad bowl! 
 I have been making branches to house the leaf clumps - I've made several to get me started and today I'll start attaching them to their trunks.  I never know how many I will need until I see them attached. Creating the giant trees is becoming less of a design and more of a discovery project, which means I’m readily distracted.  Squirrel!  There!   
Actually, what happened was I stopped in at a local business to ask whether she would be interested in carrying my sweater petals.  She hummed and hawed and asked if I had anything new.  Of course I do, I just haven’t invented it yet!  I’m still going to make sweater petals this year, since this is only the second year I’ve made them and I’m still developing ideas for the pieces.  In other words, I haven’t burned out on making them yet.  Along those same lines, this will likely be my last year to make scarves…    
I had been thinking about kids, and puppets came to mind, so I created Swuppets!  They are puppets made out of upcycled wool sweaters.  The creatures are whimsical, silly monsters.  The boys helped me sketch out some ideas for faces that appealed to them, and I’m having a great time making them. 

My life is never as simple as art projects, and this week was no different.  I wrote a grant for the CVB (Convention and Visitors Bureau) to support advertising for the Fourth Street Art Festival.  Over the past few years we’ve used the monies to support advertising buys in markets well beyond Bloomington.  Our goal is to attract art patrons from markets such as Cincinnati and north of Indy where the drive isn’t excessive, but where people might choose to spend a night in town.  All the stress of gathering data and writing the grant might be one of the reasons I needed to create the Swuppets when I did!  On Friday night my boys passed their red belt test in Taekwondo.  I’m very proud of them all.  They’re talented and cute as bug’s ears.  I continued on my baking binge by making a yeast-raised apple bread and cranberry-orange chocolate chip muffins.  Fall is soup time, so I made Three Sisters soup.  The three sisters are white beans, corn and butternut squash.  The recipe came from a Bloomingfood’s flyer a couple of years ago and has been a staple for winter dinners.  This week I’ll make corn-squash chowder.  Oh, and I wanted to mention that in my travels I dropped off my sweater petals to the new Hidden Closet location, which is now on Kirkwood across from the Buskirk-Chumley theater.  Brynda Forgas is the owner, and now she has a huge space compared to the tiny shop she had in Fountain Square Mall.  I’m delighted for her and wish her well in her new home. 

Until next week…

Martina Celerin

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Fall is here!

Now that traveling to summer art fairs is behind me and the weather is cooling off, I know it must be fall.  The kids are back in school too!  My art studio is a much quieter place, which means I can put my full energies into weaving again.  Last week I wove and wove and wove on my giant commission piece.  I was able to complete the background weaving and crocheting.  The flat background that fills the frame came first, after which I released the piece from the loom and stretch it into the frame that Tom Bertolacini built for me.  Then I started to build the foreground soil by crocheting forward, building up in layers away from the woven background.  I used my yarns in beige, sand and taupe shades to create the path, and I used random greens that I tend not to use as the base for the forest floor.  It’s a great way to use up the blue-greens and Christmassy greens that rarely work in my pieces.   
They serve as a placeholder yarn that I’ll cover over using my grasses and plant materials.  The goal is to create a realistic forest understory adjacent to the path that moves through the trees.  When I step back and look at it, I realize that the piece that has consumed an amazing amount of yarn.  I’m estimating that I consumed close to a twelve-gallon tub of yarn scraps just to finish the base for the trees.  That’s a good thing, because now I can close the lids on my storage tubs and they fit in my wall racks again!  To finish the base, I picked out the exact sand, taupe and cream colors I wanted to use for the path and layered them on top of the crocheted yarn.  I then needle felted the components together to get the mottled look I wanted.  It was very satisfying to see it all completed.  With the background in the frame, I moved on to creating the tree trunks and forest canopy.  I finished needle felting the free-standing tree trunks, so they’re ready to plant.  This week I’ll extend the trees by constructing the branches and launch into making the leaf clumps.  After my last round of dyeing, I have plenty of the crunchy greens available to create the leaves.  It’s a huge project, but I’m delighted to see it coming together. 
My life is never quite as simple as it should be, so lots of other things are going on as I weave.  I’m deep in the throes of writing a grant to help support advertising for the Fourth Street Festival.  It isn’t glamorous work, but it has to get done before the October first deadline.  It helps make the show better by drawing in crowds from accessible markets such as Cincinnatti, so I know it’s worth the effort.  On the home front, Jacob is finally emerging from a long and nasty respiratory illness.  It’s something like whooping cough, but it didn’t test positive for the actual disease.  He sure has the ‘whoop’, though.  After three trips to the doctor and a messed-up digestive system from all the antibiotics he’s finally looking like Jacob again.  It’s so good to have him back!  Friday night turned out to be a big night for the family too.  We left the boys to guard the house (OK, to play Minecraft all evening as their treat) while Jim surprised me with an elegant dinner at Finch’s Brasserie.  I had the grilled swordfish, which was excellent, and a wonderful calamari appetizer. 
 Jim planned it so we could have a bottle of wine and walk over to the opera afterward on a pleasant fall evening.  We had excellent seats, right down in front with all the long-time subscribers, to see DonGiovanni.  I’ve seen it many times, and I really enjoy a lot of the music.  Of course the production was excellent, so it turned out to be a wonderful evening.  It was a dry walk back to the car, but we missed a torrential downpour while we were watching the statue claim Don Giovanni.  The boys were sleeping in bed (for how long I don’t know) when we got home so all turned out perfectly.  Saturday brought the farmer’s market, which meant lots more tomatoes for sauces, cucumbers for lunches, raspberries for pies, and hot chocolate (or espresso for me!) along the way.  I should also mention that with the cooler weather my enthusiasm for baking came back.  I made babovka (a traditional Czech cake), muffins (with healthy stuff packed in) and “co dum da” cookies (which translates into ‘what the house will give’).  This week the house gave a few chocolate chips, white chocolate chunks, some peanuts, oatmeal, wheat germ and ground flax seed.  Fortunately, the kids only noticed the chocolate.  I even made my famous cheese filled slugs on Friday!  All that baking took a lot of effort, but I think I inspired Jim to make another raspberry pie.  Hooray!

Until next week…

Martina Celerin