Sunday, May 19, 2013

School is almost over!

The end of another school year is a dominant theme in our household these days.  Jacob has several big projects coming to a conclusion, including Friday’s big extravaganza.  Jacob was Thomas Jefferson.  I came to see all the presentations in the library, and the kids did a fine job with their early American personalities.  I’ve been stopping in to support Mrs. Tamborrino as an algebra tutor some mornings and having a lot of fun with the kids.  I even helped participate in the rocket-building exercise—launch is set for Monday!  To wind down after a long day when Jim was out sparring Wednesday, the boys and I took a nice walk in the neighborhood and played a fun rhyming word game.  Who knew swapping spit with a Russian communist was a ‘Bolshevik lick’? 
On our trip we ran into a big herd of deer roaming the neighborhood.  Depending on your point of view, they were either enriching our lives, eating our flowers, or menacing helpless pet and bicyclists.

Between all my other responsibilities I have slipped off to the art studio to move my projects forward.  I completed all the tree trunks for the foreground of the piece, and I think I have enough branches created for the canopy.   
As school winds down, I’ve been able to pirate a few of the wire from spiral notebooks that are no longer needed at school.  It’s actually a good time of year to collect those.  I warped the loom and started weaving the extended trail through the woods.  The lower layers begin with a sumac weave that will be covered with a dimensional crochet technique that will form the final path.  I’m using up a lot of yarn colors that I don’t normally have a lot of use for.  That includes soft peaches, pale yellows and beiges from my collection. 

Last night we held a meeting of the artists who organized this year’s Open Studio’s Tour.  We gathered in our dining room for a potluck and talk about this year’s successes and what we’d like to do differently next year.  The kitchen became the staging area, with a wonderful collection of foods.  There was even an interesting pie that featured blueberries, mild goat cheese and basil.  Yum!  I think everyone was enthusiastic about the event, and everyone in the group seems to appreciate good food.  As I’m writing this I have a belly full of strawberry shortcake with freshly baked biscuits in my tummy.  Jim is working on a biscuit version that doesn’t have shortening, which I encouraged.   
They haven’t been perfected yet, but they were still really good!  And as I write and think how to finish this week’s blog without a picture of a pie, I’m looking out at the beautiful spring flowers in the garden.  They’ll have to do for now.

Until next week,

Martina Celerin

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Three weeks full of art excitement!

My life certainly has been full!  I’m afraid it has gotten in the way of blogging.  The good news is that I have three weeks chock full of art news to relate.  Two weekends ago we opened up our house for the Open Studios tour.  I hosted Talia Halliday as a guest artist and my two boys supported the operation as doormen and greeters.  Talia does beautiful work with recycled materials to create art books. 
She took over part of the living room and hallway, while I displayed my work in the dining area.  Anyone who wanted to see my studio came downstairs to see my latest loon piece at an early stage.  We had a few familiar faces come through, but there were a huge number of new faces among the eighty-six visitors on Saturday and fifty-six on Sunday.  I enjoyed showing them the space.  Generally new visitors are amazed at how much material I have stored downstairs.  I often use between fifty and one hundred different yarns in any given piece to get the intermediate tones I want for each element and the color gradients I use for the backgrounds.  I have boxes and boxes of raw materials I’ve purchased, inherited, traded, or recycled from one source or another.  Anyway, the show came off without a hitch.  People commented on my polite and well-dressed doormen.  On the slow times, Jacob and Talia even collaborated on a book, so the freshest art was always on display.

I currently have two elaborate pieces that I’m trying to bring together before my first summer art fairs.  The first will feature a loon on the water, which was in progress during the Open Studios Tour.  I have since finished the water and I’m well into the cattails.  I haven’t completely decided whether there will be one loon or two just yet.  Right now I’m leaning toward one and calling the piece ‘Where is She?’  I’ll have to see what feels right when I get farther into the first loon.  I’m also working on a large format piece featuring a trail through the woods.  It is similar to a commission I did last year that I really liked.  I hope to have it completed in time for the Des Moines show at the end of June, and I’d like to find it a home in Iowa!  
 Right now I’m working away on the large tree trunks, tree branches, and mountains of leaf clumps I need.  The leaf clumps I’ve been making out of the mountains of green yarn I dyed last month and blogged about.  I do have two and a half gallon bags of leaf clumps completed, but last time I remember I thought I had enough, but I seriously underestimated how clumps I needed.  The tree trunks I need are coming along nicely too.  I make these out of Grandpa’s old army blankets.  I cut up the blanket and wrap pieces (triangles, actually) around some used baling wire before stitching it all together.  Of course the blankets are wool, so I’ve been felting them by sending them through the washer and dryer.  Speaking of the washer, I’m on a pause right now because it isn’t spinning, leaving me with a load of clean but very wet clothes. 
The helpful fellow from Morrison’s Appliance should be here this morning to have a look at the beast for me.  Between the washer, the roof leaking again, and Jacob’s trips to the eye doctor after getting bashed with balls on two separate occasions (he’s fine!), my life has been pretty full—even hectic!  And just when I thought my art was on a good trajectory for my Des Moines show, I mentioned to an art friend (she owns the Hidden Closet) that I wasn’t doing any art shows until June.  She burst by bubble by pointing out that June is next month!  And only three weeks away!  A big flurry of art has to happen between now and then. 

Looking back over the last few weeks, there have been some great times and big rewards.  I’ve been up early to do Bollywood at nine most Saturdays, which cuts into Farmer’s Market time.  Last week I was up at seven and bounced downstairs, ready to go.  I persuaded my boys that we needed to go to the market and off we went.  The bad news was that it wasn’t officially opened at seven.  The good news is that they sold us strawberries and rhubarb anyway!  We initially bought two pounds (rhubarb) and two quarts (strawberries), but the berries were about a third gone (thanks to Tommie) before we got very far. 
We picked up two more quarts for shortcake and eating at home.  They didn’t last more than a day.  The rhubarb wasn’t enough for my big pie plate (lovingly made by Jan Arborgast), so Jim was forced to make a delightful strawberry-rhubarb pie .  Mmm, was that ever good!  Jim baked some biscuits for strawberry shortcake too (Jacob doesn’t like rhubarb-based pie), so everyone was happy.  Tommie then took over making biscuits, a new skill he learned in Home Ec class in middle school.  That’s the first useful skill he’s learned—I’m sorry, I can’t count making microwave brownies as a life skill!  The pie lasted until about Tuesday, and Sunday was Mother’s day, so of course we needed to fulfill the rhubarb-pie-on-Mother’s-Day tradition.  Jim got busy again, this time with three pounds of rhubarb (last Saturday’s trip to the Farmers Market).  This one was great too, but I think I prefer the one with strawberries mixed in.  It has a richer flavor, a little more color and some different textures.  But I’m not complaining!  I’ll take two pies in two weeks any time!  For Mother’s Day Tommie made some more fresh biscuits that we had with jam for breakfast (do you get the idea that I’ve been eating well lately?), Jacob made me a beautiful card, and Jim made me the pie.  Unfortunately, someone gave me a cold too, so I wasn’t at my top form.  Still, my loving family helped me through.  What more could I ask for?

Until next week,

Martina Celerin