Sunday, August 10, 2014

Aspens, ants, and evil monkeys!

Where did this month go?  I’ve never taken a three-week hiatus between blogs, but I know I was focused on making art!  I buckled down and have been working furiously on finishing three ongoing projects that need resolution.  One of them is a large-format commission piece that features aspens in the autumn showing golden leaf clumps in the canopy.  The understory is a nice olive-y green color with a few fallen aspen leaves, while the canopy is solid golden.  When I work with aspens in art pieces I remember being mesmerized by them during my trip to Colorado after graduate school. 
My father took me there in October 1995, and the images are still vivid in my memory.  To make the tree trunks I pulled out my box full of shoelaces and old macramé cord.  I wrapped them with a yarn that has a lot in common with a friendly shelter dog.  The yarn was destined to become upholstery fabric, but it ended up unwanted and tossed outside with the trash.  A friend of mine saw it, rescued it and gave it to me.  It gives me extra pleasure to know the history of my materials, which gives the combined piece a richer character. 
The crocheted yellow clumps were made using yarn I dyed last month, combined with an assortment of materials drawn from my yellow remnant box.  I feel like the piece is finally coming together.

As I work on projects, I feel like all of my deadlines are falling around October 1st.  Another ongoing project I have described before involve a series of bigheaded ants for permanent exhibition at Wonderlab.  I have the colony ants completed, but the queen is the final character I need for closure.  She’s coming along nicely!  Her legs are all made out of predominantly reclaimed materials - reclaimed baling wire, wrapped with a partially used skein of red-brown yarn from my collection.   
The antennae are made from Jim’s old guitar strings.  I like the deeper ‘E’ and ‘A’ strings the best because they are the thickest diameter wire.  Maybe I need to encourage him to play his guitar more.  I’m definitely running out of material—the queen needs her antennae!

The third major project that I have taken on involves the Sounds of South, the choral group at Bloomington Highschool South that puts on musical performances.  This year they’re producing Phantom of the Opera.  Tommie is part of the group, and I now see how enormous an undertaking these performances are!  A huge amount of preparation, construction, painting and groundwork go into the professional product they produce.  One of my tasks is to convert a happy, smiling Gundt monkey sitting on a black box into an evil little cymbal-playing monkey on an ornate music box.   
Somehow I managed to volunteer to transform the little guy into his role.  I have a ways to go, but I have removed the stuffing from his face and replaced it with wool.  I needle felted more wool over the facial structure to sculpt a look more consistent with the production monkey.  I still have to add the skin, i.e., some maple tree bark-dyed fleece to the monkey’s face and replace the stringy fur with some fake fur.  My friend Cappi Phillips generously offered to donate material that should work out perfectly—thanks Cappi!  I also dug out my gold paint and fancy trim to transform the music box into something more ornate.  This should come together shortly.

Last, I want to mention the wonderful, cool weather of late July and early August.  That allowed many enjoyable dinners outside on the veranda, grilled and otherwise.   
I even had a cherry pie that Jim and Tommie baked while I was apparently too busy to notice!  The pie was in the oven while I was downstairs in the art studio just before dinner.  They slipped it out and onto the veranda without me knowing or smelling anything!  It was a wonderful surprise, although as I think about it, one pie in three weeks seems a bit low.  I’m sure something will turn up soon.  I do have a big project, though, which will intercede into my art world.  This week I need to put away my art stuff and don my French maid’s outfit to transform the house into a presentable place for a reception.  Then I’ll smile and pretend the house always look like that!  Along the way, many bags of things will go to the recycle center and much Windex will be consumed.  It’s all because the three boys will test for their black belt in Taekwondo on Saturday the 16th.  Jim’s brother Tim, his wife Bobi, and Jim’s mother will all visit for the test.  Afterward we’re having a reception at 4pm in our back yard, catered by the Owlery and BluBoy from downtown – come if you’re in town!  I won’t promise a pie, but there will be lots to eat and drink!

Until next week,

Martina Celerin