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