Thursday, February 28, 2013

The city Blooms…

Last week featured a lot of preparation for the Bloom Artists Showcase this past Sunday.  I pressed and tagged all my new Re-shirts, including my latest style.  My first style I called  ‘Art Tanks’, but the new ones feature a flap in the back.  My friend David Goodrum suggested I call these ‘Art Tails’ - he’s such a creative fellow!  In the wake of my sewing machine breakdown, I also had plenty of time to start more pieces that I’ll feature in the ‘Garden Walk’ show at the History Center starting April first.
  My latest piece will feature three white lilies, inspired by some of my older friends.  Lilies take a long time to develop and flower, then they burst into display mode late in their lives.  I’m a very detail oriented person, so when I started on the project I needed to have some models in the house.  The pictures from the web just didn’t give me the level of detail I needed.  Jim answered the call and picked up some lily buds, but then he left them in the car in an attempt to surprise me.   

It turns out that the lilies didn’t like the freezing temperatures and came in as little green rocks.  The plant tissue just started decomposing in the warm temperatures and I never got to see my lilies!  Fortunately, I found some post-Valentine day lilies that needed to be adopted for a very reasonable price.  My art studio smelled great for a couple of days, and I got to look carefully at the shape of the stamens.  It didn’t take long to get the hang of making them, and so I plowed forward and wove the green background for the piece as well! 

Sunday brought the Bloom "Local Artists Showcase", and I was up early and set up by 10:30 for the noon start.  Even though about one thousand people came, it still wasn’t as well attended as last year, when the show was held on a Saturday.  The artists were an enthusiastic bunch, and everyone had a good time.  My Re-shirts proved to be a big hit.  At one point there was a real feeding frenzy, with people swapping shirts and trying them on in a round robin fashion fest!  I had a great time and did a lot of laughing with my customers.  The best news was that it was a lot lighter to pack them up to bring home after selling a bunch of them!  I did have half a booth full of my wall art pieces to complement the Re-Shirt half, but I think fewer people noticed my wall art.  I think the Re-Shirts were just so bright and colorful and vibrant that my wall pieces played second fiddle.   
There were even a couple of humorous moments when people were drawn in to the colorful Re-Shirts before connecting me to the wall art.  I got the “Oh!  I know you!” response a few times.  I did also get several generous offers from people who have clothing and fabric scraps willing to donate them to my stock, something I’m delighted about.  I’ll start block printing next week for my next round of Re-Shirts.  And before you ask, no, I don’t sleep. 

On the family front, the boys went over to a friend’s house to have a multi-holiday celebration.  How do you celebrate Lincoln’s birthday, Valentine’s day, the Chinese New Year (the year of the Snake), and Darwin’s birthday?  By making a chocolate stovepipe hat and decorating it with Gummi snakes!  Of course!  Everyone had fun, and we came home with more chocolate than we needed.  In between everything else there was lots of eScrabble, a beautiful day on Sunday after Friday’s ice storm, but alas, no pie.  Very sad.  I did hear that Jim discovered a bag of frozen Farmer’s Market raspberries hidden in the freezer!  I’m going to start thinking really loudly about what I want now, OK? 

Until next week,

Martina Celerin

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Re-shirt week.

This week I pulled out my trusty Jeans Machine sewing machine that Grandma gave me and spent the whole week sewing!  I first converted the dining room into a sewing room.  After the Unitarian Universalist Art Fair in December I was secure in the knowledge that my new Re-Shirt designs were well-received.  Around that time I had cut out some fabric for the next batch of Re-Shirts.  If you haven’t seen them, they’re artsy tank tops with tuxedo tails made out of fabrics that have had a previous life.  That means that old shirts, skirts, tablecloths and curtains are all fair game.  When I think of curtain fabrics, all I can think of is the great Carol Burnett and her parody of "Gone With the Wind."

My friend Ruth has been wonderful about giving me all kinds of fabric scraps, including batiks and embroidered pieces that I think came out of a jacket.  I even ‘retire’ a few shirts from my husband’s closets that he shouldn’t be wearing any more.  The process of creating shirts itself is a lot like making soup—what goes in depends on what you have on hand and what color palate strikes my fancy.  Just as I was finishing up this week, the tension on the sewing machine went wonky and it got stuck in reverse !?! And so the sewing was over.  ugh.  It now sits at Klaiber’s Sewing Center awaiting some care and attention.   
In hindsight, it probably would have been a good idea to give it a little oil every now and again instead of plowing through several show’s worth of Re-Shirts.  I mentioned to my friend Karen Cherrington that my machine would be down for two weeks, and she generously loaned me her sewing machine as a replacement.  She bought it in 1984 and the machine never made it out of the box.  It looks like a really solid machine, but I’m guessing it’s going to need a little oil.  I should be chugging along again by the beginning of the week.  Basically I’m gearing up for the Bloom show, which will be this coming Sunday, February 24th from 12 to 5:30 at the Bloomington Convention Center.  
 I’ll be in booth #60 if I’m not talking or laughing loud enough for you to hear me when you come in.  I have seen a lot of advertising for it, including in this morning’s Herald-Times, so I’m expecting a good turnout. 

On the home front, we celebrated Valentine’s Day with special chocolate.  It wasn’t homemade pie, but instead I picked up a mousse cake from Angel B’s bakery in town.  It went nicely with the 2010 Molllydooker shiraz.  Yum!  On Friday night the whole crew went out to see ‘Traces’ at the IU Auditorium.  It was an amazing show!  The upper body strength and athletic ability of the performers was outstanding.  We saw individuals who could hold their rigid bodies at an angle of 90 degrees from a standing pole, or climb a pole while spinning around it without using their feet or bodies.  It’s truly a cross between circus acrobatics and modern dance.  It had a few dramatic choreographed falls and dramatic recoveries that freaked out Jim a little, but otherwise we all had a great time.  On Saturday morning I slipped off to the Bollywood dance class at Panache.  Darrelyn runs the class, and basically it’s a huge sweat fest.  She’s an enthusiastic ball of energy that inspires the thirty or forty participants to dance their hearts out.  I may not be exceptionally coordinated, but I really enjoy the class.  And finally, between everything else, I’ve had a chance to slip into my art studio and do a little weaving.  I have idea for another Garden Walk piece.  It involves a stone path turning thorough a white picket fence that guards the flowers on the inside yard.  I’m hoping to make some good progress on that piece this week.  I’ll just have to see what else life sends my way!

Until next week,

Martina Celerin

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Hard work pays off!

This week was full of weaving like a madwoman, which resulted in a couple of completed pieces.  I have been juggling five ‘in progress’ pieces.  I didn’t have any evening meetings this week, which gave me lots of weaving and needle felting time.  Plus, both boys were healthy, so I really got to focus on my projects in the art studio, pushing projects forward.  I completed the last of my commission pieces, which was a revisitation of ‘Winter Birches’.  That piece is complete and on its way to Chicago.  I turned my attention to my ‘Spring Treasures’ piece.  It features a crocus bulb and a clump of emerging flowers, which are now planted in their new home.  Buoyed by my successes, I put the finishing touches on the feature piece for my upcoming garden walk show. 
As I was working on the piece, I was reminded of some advice I got from Mary Hambly, a local paper quilter I met when I was starting into my art career.  She wanted me to think carefully about the relevance of materials that went into the art, choosing fabrics for their relevance to each piece.  The ‘Garden Walk’ piece features a flagstone path made from fragments of Grandpa’s army blanket.  I needle felted raw washed wool over the blanket to create the stones.  This was my first synthetic stone piece, because I usually enlist my family to find stones for my weavings.  Grandpa’s blanket opened up a whole new path for me, and like so many other materials in my creations, will always have fond memories for me when I think of them in my art.  I also really enjoyed making all the flowers along the path.  I was channeling some of our still-sleeping garden beds, especially the color combinations.  We have some beautiful tradescantia, with their vibrant purples over blue-green foliate.  I was imagining deep red roses, which we don’t have because the Japanese beetles eat them, over intense, dark, rich green foliage.  Nobody eats that, so I have plenty to channel.  The tree in the piece was actually a leftover from a previous commission.  It turned out that I had one too many trunks and it seemed to fit perfectly here.  The whole composition was a very organic process that just came together beautifully at the end. 

I still have some other works that will come along shortly, but the upcoming week is Re-shirt week.  The Bloom artist showcase is coming up on the twenty-fourth of February.  I want to have plenty of shirts for that show, and I promised some new ones to people who said they’d visit the show.  The Garden Walk show, which will hang at the Monroe County History Center, will go up on April first.  That’s my big wall art push, to have all the garden-themed pieces ready.  I also want to give a shout out to my gallery out in Laramie Wyoming.  It’s called JenyOriginals, and they have a new website and will be carrying my Sweater Petals.

The rest of the week’s news is all family-oriented.  The boys earned their red-with-a
-white-stripe belt in Tae Kwon Do on Friday.  I like to think of it as the Canadian belt.  After illnesses the previous week, they puffed a little but got through it just fine.  Oh, and I must be doing something right—a peach pie appeared on Monday and I had slices for breakfast all the way through Friday.  Yippee! 

Until next week,

Martina Celerin

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Lemons in the Snow

When life gives you lemons, mail them to Massachusetts!  According to the UPS, the lemon piece has touched down in Massachusetts at its new home.  As promised, here’s the image of the final piece.  Every end turns into a new beginning, or at least a reminder that it’s time to get back to the other projects you’ve ignored along the way.  To that end I’ve been chugging away at my Winter Birches commission.  I’m pleased to report that I have all of the tree trunks made for the piece, as well as the branches. 
 If all goes well this coming week I should assemble the piece and send it off to its new home in Chicago.  The caveat stems from fact that my weekly schedule was rather disjointed because Tommie was sick.  I think it’s that stinking flu going around.  He’s much better now and was able to go back to school on Thursday.  Fortunately, the illness was isolated to Tommie, at least so far. 
Unfortunately, it meant that my art making was a little of this and a little of that.  I did launch into another piece for the garden show.  It’s the fifth piece I have in progress at one time, which is a record for me.  The piece will be titled “Washing the Harvest” and will feature an outstretched hand holding a radish under a water faucet emerging from a stone wall.  This week I managed to weave the wall and I got a good start on the hand. 
 I have a thumb and one finger, perfect for picking things up.  My hope is to add more fingers this evening during the IU-Michigan game, but I’m worried that it’s going to be too exciting.  I just can’t safely poke with a needle when I have to keep looking up at the game.  When I transitioned into art, I never imagined that college basketball games would slow down progress. 
 My goal for the upcoming week is to keep making progress on weavings, but the following week I will pull out the sewing machine to make Re-Shirts.  They were well received at the Unitarian Universalist Art Fair in December of last year, and I promised people that I would make more for this event.  They were so popular that I sold the one I was wearing three times, so I need to make myself one as well!  The Bloom Artists’ Showcase is coming up on Sunday February 24th, and will run from noon to 5:30 at the Bloomington Convention Center. I found this pic from last year's event on Bloom's web site.  Fortunately, I spent a little time over the holidays cutting out the actual Re-Shirt fabrics, which come from old clothing, curtains, tablecloths and random fabric scraps.  That means I’m ready to put Grandma’s sewing machine into high gear for about a week.  It’s called the Jeans Machine, and it’s a real workhorse.  On my old machine the zigzags would skip a few stitches when I put the petal to the metal, but this machine just hums along perfectly, even at “Interstate speed.”  I like that.  

After a long week of poor sleep and tired days, last night we celebrated with a delightful fish dinner.  Jim prepared his now famous orange-ginger-glazed salmon and jasmine rice.  The dish was accompanied by steamed broccoli, for which Jacob requested a cheese sauce - so out came my trusty old Fanny Farmer.  That sauce increased his broccoli consumption about five-fold, so I plan to make that again.  The adults added a delightful bottle of wine—the tempranillo with the pig on the label.  It’s actually a super inexpensive wine from Trader Joe’s, but when you just need a reliable tipple it does a fine job.  I wonder how it goes with peach pie.  Is anybody listening? 

Until next week,

Martina Celerin