Sunday, January 27, 2013

Working through the basketball game.

Last week I promised to share the image of my completed lemon commission, but the piece has not yet been delivered to Massachusetts.  I promise that next week I’ll post it – for sure!!  In the meantime, I’ve launched into my next commission, which involves revisiting my very first version of Winter Birches.  I pulled out all my whites and soft greys, greens and purples and began weaving the companion piece.  It feels a lot like retracing one’s own footsteps, because I’m weaving with the reference piece right beside my easel.  
 I look at the original and think…  oooh, that’s how I did that!  I even managed to find some of the original yarns I used in the piece.  I still need to make the trees and the branches, so that’s on my agenda for this week. 

I’ve also been working on the needle felting parts of two garden-themed pieces that I have in progress.  I managed to make two of the three onions for the ‘We Three Kings’ piece that will feature three onions underground.  The white onion is created from a natural-colored white fleece.  The yellow onion is fleece that I dyed with yellow onionskins last year.  The third, purple onion is something I’ll be working on during the IU game this afternoon.  It features hand-dyes purple mohair that I got from Fleece Fair last year.  The surface veins for this onion feature a beautiful purple alpaca – and I have no idea where I got it!  If the game is an easy win for IU, I should be able to get it done during the game.  If it’s intense battle, like the Butler game, I probably get too caught up in watching the game and I’ll have to finish the onion tonight.  
 This week I also completed the three crocus flower heads I intended to put into a weaving.  Now that I’m looking at the finished flowers, I might just choose one of the flower heads for the piece and add two buds that also pop out around the main flower.  To me, that is more reminiscent of the clumps of crocuses that come up in the spring.  I’ll see how I feel about the composition when I lay out the flowers on the piece.  

Mid winter is a busy time of year for art and city meetings.  Tuesday I hosted the Open Studios Tour meeting.  The event will be happening on April 27th and 28th this year.   Plenty of planning has to happen before then.  This year our call for artists brought in forty artists, with almost two thirds of them are new to the event.   The organizing committee is an enthusiastic bunch and it’s great fun to work with them.  And at home, tomorrow I’m planning on baking some lemon-poppy seed muffins, as requested by the boys.  It’s a poor substitute for pie, but I’m optimistic that the pleasant smells in the kitchen will remind Jim that he needs to bake another pie!  Peach, please!

Until next week,

Martina Celerin

Monday, January 21, 2013

When I give life some lemons!

I finished my lemon piece!  I’m very excited about it, and I’m ready to contact the person who commissioned me to make it.  I hope that soon it will be traveling to its new home in Massachusetts.  I’ll post a picture of the finished piece after the new owner has had a chance to see it, which will probably be next week.  There’s just no time to rest, so I launched into my next commission.  The person who bought the original ‘Winter Birches’ asked me to create a similar piece as a graduation present for her daughter.  With the cold snap bearing down on us, this somehow feels like the right piece to focus on right now.  I was delighted to have the original piece hanging on my wall again after many years.  It reminds me of how much I like that original piece, and how much my style has evolved.  
 My first color gradient background was based on over fifty different yarns to create the horizon effect I wanted.  It’s really a mixed gradient of browns, grays and greens to achieve the misty, serene, cold, late afternoon feel in winter.  This original “Winter Birches” is also much flatter than my current tree pieces.  It predates my dimensional crochet tactic for bringing a base away from the background to plant the trees in.  I’m excited that this is my last commission piece for a while because I need to launch into creating pieces for an upcoming show at the History Center.  The plan is to hang it on April first, and it will stay on the walls through the Garden Walk event in late June.  I’ve been thinking a lot about garden-themed compositions that would be appropriate for the show.  I’m envisioning a garden path with felted flagstones, and I have a sketch I’m happy with.   
This morning I came up with another that I’ll call ‘We Three Kings’, which will feature three fat onions (yellow, white and red) growing in the dirt.  I’m also currently working on a piece that features three crocuses I’m calling ‘The Three Sisters’.  I finished the soil background, which is full of treasures long lost in the garden soil.  I’ll add the crocuses shortly.  I cut the flattened crocus petals shapes from commercial felt and stitched wire around each of them.  I’ll needle felt wool onto the petals to create the lenticular shape.  
 I’ve already dug through my boxes of roving to find the colors I want to use.  One of the joys of searching my stores is that I always seem to find just the perfect color.  This time I found a dark purple roving I dyed years ago for a long-forgotten project.  It’s just perfect for one of my crocuses.  It’s fun to be creating something new!

Of course life is never all about art.  We got a rude shock when water started leaking through the roof last Sunday.  We called up the roofing fellow, who diagnosed the problem as failed flashing around the chimney.  This has been a problem before, and the chimney fellow supposedly sealed it up for us.  This is getting really old!  
 I really want to get the ceiling fixed, but I can’t do it until I’m sure we’ve got the water problem sorted out.  I’ve also spent the week trying to dry out the storage areas that got wet to avoid any unwanted molds growing in the bedroom areas.  Of course there’s always a silver lining when problems enter my life.  On Monday I came back from Zumba to find an apple pie on the cutting board and two loaves of bread in the oven!  The pie lasted until breakfast on Thursday.  Is it too early to wonder when the next one will appear?

Until next week,

Martina Celerin

Monday, January 14, 2013

Peppers, lemons and spring dirt!

My week featured pieces I finished and new projects started.  The pepper commission piece is finally hanging on the wall in its new home, being enjoyed by its new owner.  Commission pieces always have a little higher level of stress associated with their construction, because I’m trying to create a concept for a specific person, not just me.  I was delighted to see the peppers with a smiling owner on Facebook!  It makes the many hours of poking at peppers all the more rewarding.  My needle felting projects haven’t stopped, though.  I’m plugging ahead on the next commission, which features lemons.  
 I calculated that I needed to make two lemons a day to meet my deadline of having the piece done by the end of the month.  Right now I’m on track with thirteen lemons and six slices literally in the bag.  Of course I always need something new and creative going on, so I was inspired to begin weaving a new piece featuring forgotten treasures buried underground.  Perhaps the melting snow and appearing gardens helped prompt the project. 

 The weaving really represents a lot of what my life can be like—it’s pretty chaotic under the surface with lots going on.  On top it all looks calm and serene.  I’ve incorporated a lot of objects into the piece that are emblematic of my life right now, such as an old scrabble tile, a wooden spool, a fishing bobber, wrenches, pulleys, old plastic toys, and old coins. 
  I even have one of the pressed pennies with the Wonderlab logo from an adventure when the boys were younger.  I think the surface will feature three emerging crocuses—something happy and spring-like.  Jim likes to have them in the lawn for the color, but I wonder if he just doesn’t want to cut the grass until Grandma visits in the spring. 
 She just turned eighty, and she seems to delight in cutting the lawn in any season.  When she came for Christmas, she was out mowing leaves and frightening the grass so we’d have a nice spring crocus show.  Of course then we got a foot of snow and she was cabin-bound for the rest of the visit.

Much of the rest of the news is more like that of the underground section of my weaving.  I woke up yesterday morning to drips coming through the living room ceiling and onto the sofa and carpet.  The roof fellow is coming by today to have a look—I hope this won’t be another big repair!  On the other hand, I had a nice drive with Susan Snyder to Indianapolis on Monday last week.   
She drove while I poked at lemons, then she went off to shop for ceramic supplies while I watched three boys at the trampoline park.  I think a good and productive time was had by everyone involved.  That reminds me, Susan made one of the presents I purchased for Jim at Christmas.  Our big serving bowl developed a scary crack, so Susan made us a big and very pretty klusky bowl.  I appreciate the idea of supporting the local artists, and Susan didn’t disappoint us!  We’ll serve many nice meals from that bowl in the years to come. 

Until next week,

Martina Celerin

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Christmas, my birthday, New Year’s Day and art!

A lot of exciting things happen around the holiday season here in Bloomington Indiana, but that news has to wait.  As I move into 2013 my need to get into full gear making art kicks in.  Sometimes I can’t sleep in the morning and I slip down into my art studio to keep all my projects moving forward.  The holiday’s delayed my completion of a commission piece featuring peppers, but my family and the festivities had to take priority.  Now the ‘Some Like it Hot’ piece that features sixty-six peppers of all shapes and sizes is complete!  The theme of this piece, contained in vertical format, was hot peppers.  I created jalapenos, habaneras, and slightly zingy chili peppers in all shapes and sizes.  I’ll give you a wee sneak peak of the completed piece here, but I really want to show the completed piece to the couple that commissioned the work first.  Next week I promise to show the final image.  With the pepper piece off my priority list, I’m moving on to the next commission.  It’s a version of ‘When Life Gives You Lemons.’  
 For this piece I’ve been creating needle-felted lemons and lemon halves and quarters for sectional views.  I have plenty of lemon skin colored fleece as well as lighter yellow lemon “meat” that I dyed using dandelions the boys and their friends collected on a grand adventure last spring to the big field adjacent to the boys’ elementary school. 
For my piece I estimate that I need about forty lemons and part lemons, and so the poking continues whenever I have any sort of a quiet moment.  I wove the background about a month ago, and it has been keeping me company in the art studio.  It’s bright yellow and acts like a little sun on the wall.  It’s a rectangular sun, but I find the bright glowing yellows to be warm and reassuring. 

In addition to art creation, now is the time of year to apply for summer art fairs.  I have already been admitted to the Des Moines Art Festival, about which I’m really excited.  Here in Bloomington, we’re just now getting the electronic application process available for the Fourth Street Art Fair.  That’s usually my cue to start applying to the other major shows I want participate in this summer, which are in Madison and Minneapolis.  Madison’s Art Fair on the Square has always been very good to me, and it’s a fun time to catch up with our friends Wendy and Duane that live out in Hollandale.  I think I know better what I’m looking for from the Minneapolis shows, so we’ll give that a try again this year.  I did have a brief shock when I opened up the application sites and discovered that the deadline had already passed—it was the third of January!  I leapt into action, hoping to get a late application into the system, even if I had to pay a late fee.  It wasn’t until I sailed through the whole process with no problems did I realize that my Americanization was not yet fully complete.  I remembered that 3-1-2013 was not the third of January, as it is in Canada and most of the civilized world.  I really had until March first!  Now my fingers are crossed that I can get into those shows. 

As we get ready for school to start next week, we’ve been moving out of the holiday season.  The Christmas tree is down and the ornaments are packed away.  On the bright side, we’re still eating the candy from the candy house.  
 The 29th was my birthday, on which I had a nice dinner and a bottle of wine.  I even got a boca negra cake (straight from the Julia Child’s baking book) that was simply awesome.  You’re probably thinking I would have preferred a pie, but we just had a peach pie when the family was here.  We got to share my birthday with Tim (Jim’s brother) and his wife Bobi from New Mexico.  We had a cheese fondue and everyone seemed to enjoy it.  For my birthday I got a new valve for the shower head.  You might not think that to be a romantic gift, but a quiet night without distracting drips does a lot for me.  I also got a delightful bottle of wine from Grandma and a coupon for a serger of my choice.  Jim was sick with a bad cold for on my birthday and missed the end of the holiday sale at JoAnn’s fabrics, so I had to settle for the coupon.  Of course the clock starts ticking on two events—when do I get the serger, and when is the next pie?

Until next week,

Martina Celerin