Sunday, November 30, 2014

Vegetables, pie, and excitement in the art studio!

I moved from project to project over the past few weeks.  I was still riding the high of a great artisan’s guild show two weeks ago when I took down the remaining pieces.  Five pieces found new homes and I took on a new commission as a result of the Convention Center exhibition, "Looking at Water", so I’m thrilled with the outcome.  Jumping ahead, I’ll hang the remaining pieces at the Bloomington Bagel Company (on Dunn Street) on Monday.  I think the smaller number of pieces will fit the space better at the BBC—talk about silver linings!

On the family scene, the next big event was a visit to Grandma in Michigan for Thanksgiving.  I wanted to share that on the trip North I managed to do some extended sketching for a team effort I recently signed on to.  I’m on the costume and prop committee for Sounds of South’s next performance (next Fall), which will be Beauty and the Beast.  It was wonderful to have quiet time to think and sketch without any pressure.  I needed to get down all the ideas that have been floating around in my head, along with the suggestions and ideas from other members of the group.  The process was somehow very cathartic.  I’m pleased with the first iteration of the costumes, but now I need to run everything past the rest of the committee and the director, so I can’t share any images yet...   
On a humorous note, I did read that one girl in the play had ‘sausage curls’, which I mistakenly took to mean that she was the ‘sausage girl’ who sold sausages.  I got right on making stage sausages from Gramma’s old nylons and rolled up deep red felt—we’ll see if they make it into the performance.

It’s always a little colder in Michigan, which leads people to wonder why I travel north for the holiday.  I always tell people that I really like my mother-in-law!  My best laid plans for an uneventful trip fell apart the Sunday night before we planned to leave.  A night of heavy rain overnight turned into a deluge in the wee hours.  Sometimes when that happens water enters my studio, uninvited, though my tiny art studio window.  
 It soaked my carpet and padding along the west wall, forcing me to move half the studio contents out of the room to manage the wetness.  Fortunately, all of the art was hanging on the walls so no pieces were injured.  Making the whole thing a bit more stressful was the fact that power went out around 6:15 a.m.  The good news is that the back-up sump pump kicked on, powered by the new battery.  Moving wet carpet and art materials is even less fun when the lights are out in a dark, cool basement, but we managed.   
The bad news is that the power stayed out until after two in the afternoon.  That’s about the time the battery gave out!  Jim was trying to figure out what to do in the dark when the power finally came back! 

We did have a delightful trip to Michigan, visiting with friends and family.  Dinner was grilled salmon, baked sweet and red potatoes, and steamed broccoli with cheese sauce.  For dessert Grandma made two pumpkin pies.  One was her traditional, while the second contained bourbon, cream and maple syrup.  It was more delicate and I preferred it, but I’ll eat just about any kind of pie.  On Black Friday we stopped in at the Oasis for the traditional deep-fried perch lunch.  Yum!  Then we headed out to see the new Penguins of Madagascar movie.  It was a fast paced movie in the tradition of the more recent James Bond movies, with non-stop action, impossible escapes, an evil villain, and lots of fun word play. 

On the trip home I finished many of the vegetable pieces I intended to finish in Michigan.  I finished all of the green onions and broccoli for the “Summer Salad” commission that I’ve been working on, then assembled the cucumbers.  I just need to finish the seeds for them, which I’ll do this week as I wait for the boys at their activities.  I should be able to assemble the entire piece this week and ship it off to its new home.  That means I’ll begin the sketches for the next commission, a large format piece featuring a river winding through the woods. 

My last news involves a workshop Saturday, December 6th from 1-4 p.m. to demonstrate how I make felted ornaments.  I need to check with Talia at Gather, where the workshop will be held, to see if there are enough people signed up to run the workshop.  It should be a lot of fun.  And of course I’ll be glued to the IU basketball games this week.  Tommie and I have been having a great time watching this year’s team come together. 

Until next week,

Martina Celerin 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Seeing Red: Tomatoes, Tea Towels and IU Basketball Season!

What a wonderful event!  This past weekend marked the first time that all three artisan guilds held their fall shows under one roof.  The Convention Center hosted the event, and I heard nothing but praise and enthusiasm for this new change of venue.  Musicians played in the lobby and the Convention Center set up a café with tables in one of the rooms.  It was just a delightful experience for the patrons.  I was fortunate to have a doorway booth for my art with my own exhibition space (the Roger’s Gallery) across the hallway.   
My ‘Looking atWater’ exhibition was still hanging there.  It was wonderful to have so many people go in and look at the pieces then come across the hallway to talk about the work.  I was also thrilled to have four of the sixteen pieces find new homes before the exhibition came home on Monday morning.  In addition to the weavings, many Re-Shirts, sweater petals with pins and my new headband sweater petals found new homes.   
The headbands are hard plastic that I wrap with black yarn and attach a sweater petal flower and some leaves.  I think they look very cute, and they turned out to be a big hit!  They will be available at Wonderlab if you’re interested in seeing them—check out the new Big-Headed Ants exhibition while you’re there!

To prepare for the Guild show I spent big blocks of time over the past two weeks making twenty-six new Re-shirts.  I found a new source of black double fold bias tape, made in the U.S.A., which was fortunate for me.  
 I went through 130 yards of the material!  I also spent little bits of time here and there over the year collecting bobbins for my sewing machine.  Before I started I wound all of my bobbins.  It is so nice not to have to stop and wind a bobbin before continuing to sew.  Of course I fill in my down time as I watch the boy’s activities with my needle felting.   
This time I finished up some tomato slices for a commission piece I’m trying to finish.  I finished the celery, which means that it is now green.  My finger has healed enough to wet felt a little, so the little while root tails for my radishes are complete too. 

Speaking of needle felting, I had a crazy idea this week.  Since I’m only doing one art fair (and it’s over!) I thought it might be fun to do a workshop to demonstrate how to make felted ornaments.   
I’ll be running at least one workshop through Gather, the new craft shop in Fountain Square Mall here in Bloomington.   
We’re advertising the first one for Saturday, December 6th from 1-4 p.m.  If you’re interested, please sign up here.  The cost is sixty dollars and includes all materials and plenty of laughs.  I will come with half a dozen ornaments to give people some ideas, but they’ll likely hang on our Christmas tree. 

My personal life is proceeding nicely, with my almost-healed finger back in action.  I picked up some cozy wool socks and pretty red tea towels from Peg Dawson at the show.  In fact, being able to get started with a little Christmas shopping is nice part of the Guild show.  With the snow and cold weather this week past week I made good use of the socks!  

Tommie and I went to both IU men’s basketball exhibition games last week and had a great time cheering.  It’s the closest I’ve come to finding hockey games to attend in Indiana.  I missed Friday’s game due to the show, but now I plan to be in front of the TV rooting for the Hoosiers for the rest of the winter season.  I hope they do well!  And dare I say—there was no pie this week!  Must I wait for pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving?

Until next week,

Martina Celerin 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Ants and the Arts!

My first blog line is starting to sound repetitive, but my art focus has been on the next commission piece in the queue.  This refrain will be continued over the next couple of months as I work toward completing my next four commissions...

This week I’ve been making more cute vegetables.  The carrots are done and await installment onto the weaving.  The celery stalks are next, made by needle felting the needed shapes from raw wool that I washed and carded this summer.  I need both center cut stalks and pieces closer to the white root section – the ones that are shaped like a paddle.  I now have three of the five naked celery stalks for the piece made, and when I get all of the forms made I will clothe them in celery-green-dyed wool.  And then I’ll be on to tomato completion.  I resumed tomato poking again to create the meaty part of the sliced fruit, which requires a slightly different shade of red from the juicy part.  
 I’ll finalize the slices by creating the seeds from wool that I dyed with the bark of maple trees from Grandma’s house in Michigan.  When that’s done I’ll have five of the ten vegetable piles and I’ll be off on the trail of broccoli florets.  This commission was promised for the middle of December and I’m feeling good about meeting the deadline.  I’m hoping to find just a little window of some warm weather soon to do some more dyeing, though.  I have a couple of large, forest-based commissions pending that I’ll need more of my green mohair boucle to make leaf clumps.  Then I can just huddle down in my art studio and try to weave and stay warm until winter passes and I don’t need to imagine spring greens. 

I did have some measure of closure on a project for my boys and me.  The final “Phantom” performance was Saturday night.  Sunday was tear down morning.  A whole bunch of cast family member volunteers showed up to reduce the set to a nicely organized pile of lumber for the next performance.   
The costumes and materials have been packaged for future performances (go costume clean up crew!), and some key prop pieces borrowed from Cardinal Stage Co  made their way back home.  All in all, it was an exuberant bunch of musical theatre art supporters and I was impressed at how quickly it all went away. 

I did spend some time this week getting ready for the upcoming holiday season.  I assembled a bunch of five packs of note cards, packaging them with ribbons for delivery to local art galleries.   
I’ll bring some along to the upcoming Artisan Guild Show at the Convention Center where I’ll feature my Re-Shirts and weavings.  Of course my ‘Looking at Water’ exhibit will still be up in the adjacent Rogers room, so my framed pieces be well represented.  I did also hold a pop-up exhibition at the Spring Hill Suites downtown.  Ashley organized an evening show for a couple of local artists.  She and the hotel staff did an outstanding job bringing it all together.  There were wonderful champagne aperitifs and beautiful catering—the food was good but the crab cakes were delicious.  
 It was really nice to hang out and chat with both people who came specifically for the show and some hotel-goers who stopped by to see the art. 

Finally, on the horizon is the Opening Reception for the Big-Headed ant exhibit atWonderlab.  Come and join us this Friday (Nov 7, 2014) from 5 - 8:30 pm for art, ants and activities.  Both children and adults are welcome to create their own miniature Big-Headed ants by felting balls of merino noils (thanks, Sheep Street!) for the head and abdomen and using brown pipe cleaner for the appendages.   
Erin from Wonderlab and I made the prototype, and we had a lot of fun doing it.  I’ll be there, hanging around in case anyone wants to talk about ants.  If not, I’ll be poking at vegetables.  I’ll bring all my little veggie piles for people to see.  And speaking of cranberries, Jim made me another cranberry apple pie!  This time he used a whole bag of fresh cranberries.  It had a delightful tart flavor and I’m looking forward to a week of espresso and pie breakfasts.  That, and some leftover Halloween candy should keep me zinging and creating more art!

Until next week,

Martina Celerin