Monday, July 29, 2013

Weave, weave weave...

I think I have finally settled into a routine back at home.  I get to weave every day!  It feels nice to return to a regular rhythm in my art studio and at home with my family.  The only other big project from the week was to wash a pail full of rusty things.  Jim says I’m the only person he knows that washes rusty stuff.  I found some of my treasures in Champaign, Illinois, on our trip home from the Madison show.  Champaign isn’t as meticulous at keeping all their roads as spotless as Bloomington does.   
We discovered a secret gravel alleyway close to Papa Del’s where we found some great rusty things all over the road, including a rusty caster from a chair.  When I got home, I also discovered a use for the boys’ jeans that are blown out at the knees and are no longer wearable (that’s my opinion, anyway).  They make great drying pads for clean, rusty things!  Who knew!  Anyway, the rusty pieces will be for a new piece that features a crocus emerging from the rusty ground.  I have an orange, needle-felted crocus in hand from an earlier project, so I’m hoping I can bring a piece similar to ‘Spring Treasures’ together pretty quickly.
As I described last week, I had a terrific summer season that depleted me of my finished weavings.  That translates into a need to make new pieces for the upcoming Fourth Street Festival.  That’s my last summer art fair of the season, held over the Labor Day weekend.  I felt very comfortable making some new birch pieces that feature water as I worked in the cool July air.  How often do I ever get to report that!  I found several yarns that are really good for making sparkly water, which is a nice shade of blue with sparkly material incorporated into it.  I found it on our trip to Madison at the Knitting Tree.  The owner saw my work at the show and offered for me to come in to scour her place for yarns that might work in my pieces.  The previous owner had purchased a lot of novelty yarns, so there was quite a selection to look through.  While I mostly use reclaimed and recycled materials and dye and overdye a lot of my own yarns, sometimes I need small amounts of materials to create a specific effect, like sun on the water.  
 I’m really pleased with how the water on my latest piece turned out.  The whole thing came together came together pretty quickly because I had some birch trunks left over from a day-long birch wrapping fest earlier in the year. 

My family life has been pretty full too, since the boys don’t go back to school until next Wednesday, August 7th.  Last night we went to the Monroe County Fair to see the pigs and rabbits, and I got my annual elephant ear.  I had to go through several rounds of “No, we are not getting a pet bunny!” and “Yes, they are very cute!”  Not always in that order, but you get the idea.  It has been a week of birthday parties, trips to the pool, and zip lining at eXplore Brown County.   
We had an amazing day in the park, with 75 degree weather and sunny, with a gentle breeze to keep it perfect.   We had the option to do one run backwards, free-falling off into oblivion.  That was quite a rush.  We zipped over lakes and threw in stones.  The people who ran the lines were friendly and fun, making it a very pleasant day.   
We went to the farmer’s market before going to Bollywood at Panache Dance Studio on Saturday morning, and I got pretty excited when Jim bought a big batch (three quarts) of perfectly ripe blackberries.  Unfortunately, he put them in the freezer for a winter pie.  Ouch!  Oh, and the last big news—I bought a trailer to haul my stuff to art fairs each year.  Grandma snooped it out for us in Bay City, and it’s just what I need.  We were planning on buying a used trailer in rough shape so we could personalize it with our own graffiti, but this one is very classy.  Hmmm.  Did I say I didn’t get a pie?

Until next week,

Martina Celerin

Monday, July 22, 2013

Summer Art Fairs!

Wow, what a crazy art fair season it has been!  I’m terribly sorry for breaking my usual pattern of weekly blogging, but the events of the past month squeezed all the spare time out of my schedule.  My roadies and I did two art fairs in three weeks:   Des Moines, Iowa and Madison, Wisconsin two weeks later.  The bottom line is that twenty-three weavings now have new homes!  I’m so pleased, proud and flattered that so many people wanted to buy one of my pieces!  I’m getting a little ahead of myself, though.  

The last time I blogged I was feverishly preparing for the Des Moines show.  I had just completed my new loon piece and packed everything up for the trip.  The show itself circled the Pappajohn sculpture park, which turned out to be a very nice setting.   

The hours were brutal—ten a.m. to ten p.m. Friday and Saturday, then ten till five Sunday.  The good news was that the support crew was terrific.  My boys and I had access to free snacks, water and soft drinks all day long, something they took advantage of.  The people who visited the show were thoughtful and considerate Mid-westerners.  Even though Des Moines is a big city, the people give it a small, almost Bloomingtonian feel.  

 I didn’t sell a single piece on Friday, which made me briefly doubt all the good things I had heard from other artists about what a good show it was for them.  Things really got rolling on Saturday, though, when I sold several pieces.  The boys even got into the act and helped sell some of the work.  Jacob especially was telling family stories about how pieces were made, and how I acquired elements that went into pieces. 
 Most people listened in awe as he led them through the booth.  I’m sure he helped sell a few pieces for me.  I ended up leaving eleven pieces in new homes in Iowa. 

I have to say that I was pretty proud of my output of pieces over the winter—I started the season with thirty-one pieces in my booth and a couple in galleries around town.  After Des Moines, though, I was spurred to create as many new pieces as possible for the upcoming Madison show.  My family was terrific—the boys gave me some space, and Jim took over running the house and cooking.  I worked from sun up until sundown to replace a few of the pieces that were popular in Des Moines.  My ‘Garden Walk’ especially was one piece that was very well received and sold early. 
I was able to create a similar piece, along with two other pieces for which I already had made some of the needle-felted and crocheted components.  I took everything I had to Madison, hoping it would be enough.  I ended up finding new homes for twelve new pieces—my best show ever!  The show was made even better because we got to stay with Wendy and Duane in Hollandale, Wisconsin.  It’s a long drive in and back each day (around 45 minutes), but we get to stay in an absolutely quiet patch in the meadows far outside town.  Wendy and Duane take very good care of us.  We had grilled salmon and dark chocolate bread pudding, among other delicacies, to celebrate the art fair successes. 
While I worked, they all went off to explore the Cave of the Mounds, Aunt Mary’s Café, and play mini-golf.  I did get into the act a little on our set-up day, though.  Jacob suggested that we rent bikes.  We all spent Friday morning riding the trails around Madison’s lakes and streams (with a nice lunch at the Zuzu Café too).  I can’t tell you what a nice time the whole trip was!

The reality of my successes hit home as we drove home.  I just didn’t have enough pieces to justify packing everything up and doing the Uptown show in Minneapolis.  I was really excited about doing the show, which has received great reviews from some of my Fourth Street art friends.  It was a very sad time to sit down and write the e-mail telling them that I wouldn’t participate this year.  Even now I need to buckle down and make some new pieces to show at Fourth Street.  
 I figure I have five more weeks, with the boys in school for four of them.  I’m already well into a tomato piece.  I wove the background, which I think of as tomato sauce.  On our drives to art fairs I have been making tomatoes.  I have around twenty-three made, but I still have a ways to go.  I haven’t fully decided if it will be a salsa piece or a tomato piece, but right now I’m in a groove making tomatoes. 

Being back in town means sampling all the good things Bloomington has to offer in the summer.  The boys tested for their red belt with a black stripe on Friday.  One more belt (red/black) and they’ll be on to their black belts.   
We’re very proud of them.  We also got to the farmer’s market on Saturday for broccoli, corn, cucumbers, peaches and boysenberries (they called them blackberries, but I think they were boysenberries).  Jim made a delightful pie.   
It was so good that next week we’re going to stock up on berries for a freezer pie.  Berries are a great way to take a little bit of summer and save it for the cold days of winter.  So…  I’ll have coffee and pie for breakfast for the next few days, and no art fair to prepare for this weekend!  Life is good. 

Until next week,

Martina Celerin