Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Arts Fair on the Square, revitalized.

The big news of the week is that I’m closing in on completing the big commission piece—the last pieces should be in place by the end of the week.  I’m just delighted with how it’s turning out.  On the drive back from Michigan I made a bunch more leaf clumps for the forest canopy.  I was sure I had plenty and a few to spare.  This week I attached them, and lo and behold, I was still shy a few clumps.  Some days my husband thinks I’m a few leaf clumps shy of a canopy, but I still love him.  A few afternoons watching the boys do Taekwondo (actually, not watching) and I had enough clumps.  I completed the canopy, stood back, and thought: “wow!”  The dimensionality and density of the greens is really dramatic in person.  I just need to attach the greenery to create the forest understory, which is in progress, and add some rocks and sticks along the path.  Now I’m mentally in completion mode so it won’t be long now.

Saturday brought Arts Fair on the Square back to Bloomington.  This year I decided to participate again because Chad from the BPP took over advertising and marketing.  Chad is just an awesome, energetic individual, just the right person to be in charge.  The show truly was revitalized, with big steady crowds passing through all day.  Set-up and take-down were smoother, easier and safer this year with the adjacent roads closed off.  Chad just did everything right, except for not having a ‘Best-in-Show’ award.  He set that right by making me a special star for my booth—thanks Chad!  You’ve nicely revitalized a Bloomington tradition. 

At the show itself I ran into a lot of interesting people.  I saw two sets of kids that were classmates of Tommie and Jacob at Hoosier Courts years ago.  They’ve changed so much I wouldn’t have recognized them out of context—wow have they grown!  I guess my boys have changed a little too.  I was thrilled that Tommie volunteered to get up at 5:30 am and help me set up the show.  He turned out to be an amazing assistant.  He lugged the four fifty pound weights up the hill to my booth location, as well as all the really heavy stuff I needed to set up.  He never complained at any point, always asking instead what needed to be done next for both set-up and take-down.  Tommie was just incredibly competent and helpful—thank you so much!  Oh, and I have one more funny story to tell.  I was off on a break and Jim was booth sitting for me when a senior IU official came walking by.  He recognized her but doesn’t know her well.  She walked past, looked right through Jim and pointed out to her friend that Martina had “just finished the turtle piece.”  Sometimes Jim feels like everyone in town knows me and everything I’m doing.  He couldn’t understand how she knew that I was even making a turtle piece, but I’m sure she must have come through on the open studios tour when it was in progress.  It is finished now, and I’m delighted with how it turned out—my little turtle friend has a nice shady home in the garden understory. 

A last good note from the week:  after the fair set up, Jim and the boys ventured to the Farmer’s Market Saturday for their usual treats and vegetable stock-up.  They came home with three quarts of blueberries for a giant pie that I’ve been enjoying all week long.  The berries are a little tart, which makes for a very flavorful pie.  The summer is off to a good start!  Is peach pie next, sweetie pie?

Until next week…

Martina Celerin

Monday, June 18, 2012

Back from Michigan!

This week I have to start with some vacation news from a delightful trip my family made to Michigan.  We visited with Grandma and shared the house with cousins Dave and Martha, who drove up from Mississippi.  Dave was born and raised in the Saginaw Valley, but Martha is a true southern belle.  We had a wonderful time traveling around, shopping and just hanging out and talking.  Martha is a true storyteller!  I spent a lot of time laughing.  Another highlight was going on a fishing trip on the Lila Mae with Jim and Tommie to find some walleyes for dinner.  
Saginaw Bay is very shallow where we launch north of Linwood, so the first and last part of the ride involves a slow trip through tall cattails and marsh grasses to reach the bay.  We passed a lot of turtles, some egrets and lots of other wildlife along the way.  At that point we could power up and enjoy a ride on the waves to reach the Black Hole.  Really--that’s what it’s called!  We drifted to the secret spot and managed to catch a mess of walleyes.  Of course I had to be different, so I also caught a huge catfish (he went back safely, a giant white bass (very tasty!) and a freshwater drum. 
 Tommie caught a few walleyes and Jim did most of the netting, unhooking and managing the boat.  I got choose exactly the right colors of lures for the day.  To Jim’s surprise, black with red spots was exactly what the fish wanted. 

The long drive to Michigan meant I got a lot of time to needle felt.  The boys were focused on their electronic devices, Jim was focused on the road, and I was able to make many of the carrots, radishes and cherry tomatoes for an art piece I’m calling “Eat your Veggies.”  It’s going to be similar to a piece I did before called “Summer Salad.”   
After a seven-hour drive each way I’m doing pretty well on the veggies.  Also, before we left for Michigan I attached all the crocheted leaf clumps I had been working on for my giant commission piece.  I only managed to leaf out one tree, so I spent some time in Michigan crocheting the rest of the tree canopy.  I’m looking forward to attaching the leaf clumps this week.  Of course I actually have a bunch of projects going on that I’ve started and I’m determined to finish before the summer art fairs.  One of my current themes has been pieces involving bicycles.  I’ve been creating a big batch of bicycle wheels for different projects.  Fortunately, Friday was the History Museum’s annual garage sale.   
The boys and I both found treasures, but mine included bangles for bike wheels and silver cording that’s perfect for wrapping the bangles to mimic the chrome rims of the wheels.  I’m envisioning a new composition that involves riding bicycles along a path into the sunset.  It will features an orange-to-yellows gradient path and bicycle wheels of different sizes winding their way along a trail. 

Looking forward, this Saturday brings Bloomington’s Art Fair on the Square.  It’s my first summer show and I’m glad it’s in town.  The weather looks perfect right now, so check out the show around the courthouse square - after you visit the farmer’s market on Saturday.  Since I can’t be there, I’m thinking I should slip out to the Tuesday evening market this week to pick up some blueberries.  It’s never too soon to start thinking about another pie!  I’m sure Jim will make one if the berries appear.  I will need to get a bunch of stuff done before then, and I’m hoping the humidity will stay down low enough so I can paint frames for my new pieces.   
Oh, and I meant to mention that while I was in Michigan, I got to meet up with another family cousin, Terri Close.  She’s been making some really sweet garden pieces that are essentially stacks of recycled china, bowls and plates to create display flowers.  Of course we had to have one, which now sits in front of our house to make it a little cheerier.  Thanks Terri!

Until next week…

Martina Celerin

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Open Studios Tour!

The focus of the entire week was getting ready for the Open Studios Tour.  This is the first year for the event and I wanted everything to go well.  Jim and I spent a good chunk of time on the garden, which meant weeding and mulching along the pathway to the front door.  We had lots of nice perennials in bloom, including lilies, bear’s breeches, penstemon, foxglove and astilbe.  We even slipped in some annuals this year for a little more color, which was a nice touch.  Jim has been out watering and applying spray to keep the deer away, at least until after the show.  I love it when a plan comes together! 
Of course when you invite all of Southern Indiana into your house you have to do a little cleaning.  Upon a close inspection, I saw the years of handprints the boys invested on the walls.  That took a good morning of scrubbing alone.  I moved the table and our big plants from the dining room into the living room to create space for art.  I set up my display walls all around the room and hung up all the weavings I had and a good number of my Discardia Re-shirts. 
 When a visitor came to the doorway, my son Tommie greeted them, asked them to fill out a brief survey, and showed them the layout of the house open for the tour.  Guests passed from the dining room to the kitchen, where free cookies and lemonade were set out.  They had to pass the T-shirt station, with my “Bike the B-Line” T-shirts and the boy’s new art creations they call T-bands.   
They are made from discarded T-shirts, torn into strips and incorporated into macramé bracelets.  They had some very cool color combinations and the pieces sold very well.  It turns out that Jacob has a real talent for sales.  This is good, because he’s saving money to buy an iPod Touch.  After this weekend he’s well on his way.  I’m proud of his ability to work and save for things he wants to buy.  Anyway, once they got past the kitchen guests came down to my art studio to see a few pieces in progress.

 The weekend itself was a huge success.  We had 173 people visit our house, and I had some absolutely delightful conversations.  There were a lot of people who have seen my work or followed my career and wanted to see the studio and find out how I create the pieces.  I was surprised to meet so many people who weren’t the usual that comes to art fairs so I got to meet a lot of new people.  I think everyone was amazed at my highly organized collection of yarns, felt, fabric, fossils and other found objects in big storage binds downstairs.  I need materials in a broad range of colors so my storage needs get pretty complicated.  Looking back, I was delighted to be able to share my workspace, pieces in progress and strategies for making art with everyone who came.  

 Of course art creation never takes a rest.  I moved the big commission piece forward, creating some more of the leaf clumps I’ll need for the canopy.  I attached the last tree on to the path, so I can tell the project is coming to a close.  It always seems that as one project finishes another lands on my plate.  This week I met with two patrons who want to commission a large piece that features a pathway through a forest, but this time in a landscape format.  It took a lot of planning to re-design the layout.  The focus is usually on the trees, but because it’s a horizontal piece the focus shifts to the path.  It’s interesting how changing the layout of the piece re-orients the focal point and feel of the piece.  The piece started with some sketches I did on the beaches of North Carolina and will come to fruition after the art fairs of the summer. 

And one last bit of family news—Jim and Tommie went to Lake Monroe on Memorial Day Monday and came back with a bucket full of big bluegills.  We had a delightful fish fry on Tuesday.  As if I didn’t get enough good food last week on vacation, Jim also made me a rhubarb pie this week, which lasted until Sunday morning.  Life is good!

Until next week…

Martina Celerin