Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Back to the Studio!

I’m back in my art studio working on several projects.  I have several commissioned pieces in various stages of completion, due early this spring, and I’m trying to keep them moving along.  The first features a bicycle propped up against a fence.  I wove the background and stretched it out in its frame.  I’m now building forward the flower garden and path area that projects into the viewer’s space.  I am also in the early stages of a second commission that is still mostly a vision in my head.  I know it will require tree trunks, so those are underway.  I suspect the composition will feature a forest path with two dogs sitting patiently, waiting for their owners to catch up.  
 I completed some sketches to share my vision, but I need to have the layout approved by the commissioner.  Now that I’m weaving and creating again, it feels great to be back working with my hands using materials that are familiar.  It was a lot of fun playing with new materials in the Bahamas, but fiber art is my life and livelihood. 

I have also made some major strides forward on my other big project.  I’m working on sculptural costume design for the Sounds of South production of Beauty and the Beast, to be performed this October.  My first completed piece is ‘Chip’, a sweet little cup with a small crack and the son of Mrs. Potts.   
She’s always ready with a cup of tea for anyone willing to brave the castle grounds.  Mrs. Potts is next on my plate (actually, I have to make the plates too!).  I have a delightful sketch for her and I have assembled her skeleton from donated, water sport hula hoops (I found that out directly!) and plastic tubing recycled from the former home of World Wide Automotive.  I will coat the hoop skeleton with ½” thick soft foam, then used and washed white felt (retired from Twisted Limb Paperworks) and then yellow fabric (scrounged from a thrift shop), green stripes and purple flowers that match Chip.   
The stripes will be easy because years ago I ordered ribbon that I thought would be perfect for an unrelated project.  It wasn’t.  On the bright side, I got a great deal for the ribbon on e-bay.  After eight years of storage I have finally found the right application for the green ribbon.  The flowers on both Chip and Mrs. Potts are made of the same purple felt (from the Materials for the Arts at the Recycle Center) so they match each other.  I made a pattern for the flowers and handed it off to one of the Moms of the SOS group and she cut out all sixty-four flowers I needed!  I love having the support to bring my visions to life! 
As soon as Mrs. Potts is assembled I’ll be ready add her final touches.  Her spout is in progress—I have now fitted the prototype onto the girls who will portray her.  The base is made of one inch thick couch cushion foam which I will up holster with yellow fabric.  It will be removable and attachable to the body of the teapot via Velcro.  Overall, I’m having a lot of fun with the design elements here—Chip is built from a laundry basket and a pool noodle, but you’d never know from the costume.  My younger son Jacob is modeling the costume in the picture above. 

I also had a wonderful adventure to West Lafayette Indiana with three other SOS moms this week.  The costume creating committee embarked on a hilarious adventure to see the Disney stage version of Beauty and the Beast to get ideas.  On the drive up we stopped at several thrift shops and scrounged for costume and prop parts.  We started off early in the morning, stopped anyplace along the way that might have clothing or prop treasures, and attended the evening production.  It turned out to be very educational for our planning.  I got a great hint for creating Lumiere’s torches without using an actual flame and an idea for the beast’s jacket and cloak.  
 I was less keen on the napkins and utensils that were part of the big dance number.  It reinforced for me how happy I am with my designs.  There are a large number of costumes to create for all the villagers, utensils and characters, but they are also coming along swimmingly.  I’ve completed the sketches and a prototype for the top half of the napkins and passed along a takeaway project to another mom to sew both top and bottom pleated napkin parts.  That’s basically how I’m hoping this will work—if I create the design and bring the materials and instructions together, one of the SOS parents can take over finalizing the actual costume completion.   
I have to give a big thanks to Nancy Riggert in this process, who has been an enthusiastic partner and a fountain of knowledge about how to get things done.  Her energy and effectiveness give me confidence that this whole project will actually come together on schedule. 

Good news!  There was a pie last weekend.  Jim made a beautiful blueberry pie from farmer’s market berries.  There was something subtle and special about the fruit in this one—it had a hint of black current flavor in the filling of summer blueberries.  
 I even think it was his best blueberry pie yet.  And I’m not just saying that because I know there are two more bags of blueberries in the freezer!

Until next week,

Martina Celerin 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Bahama surprise!

I had the surprise of my life about three days before Christmas this year.  The holiday season is always hectic and full of surprises, but this year seemed especially so.  I was working hard on the Sounds of South ‘Beauty and the Beast’ costume design project, which meant creating templates to cut and use for patterns on various costumes.  I was trying to finish my Christmas shopping because Grandma and Aunt Lois, who come for the holidays each year, were coming a few days early this year.   
On top of that, the boys wanted to have my birthday celebration before Christmas this year.  Like many other late December birthday people, my special day is often overwhelmed by the commotion surrounding Christmas.  Even so, I was skeptical about the wisdom of holding the celebration three days before Christmas.  Fortunately, I did get a raspberry pie that day!  That helped a little. 

After a nice kluski dinner, my family staged an elaborate ‘reveal’ to tell me we would spend my fiftieth birthday (yes, it’s very hard for me to believe that too!) in the Bahamas!  
 They had arranged for a flight, car and house rental on a secluded bay on Abaco.  It came complete with a hot tub, kayaks, and beautiful sunrises over the water.  Everything had been arranged without me having the slightest idea about what was going on.  That basically left me with five days to get in the right mindset for a warm-weather vacation just after Christmas.  The location turned out to be amazing and serene.  The images on the website didn’t do it justice.  I’ve been wanting and needing to get away for some time, since the pace of my life has been really high without many pauses in between.  I always talk about relaxing but I never really do.  This was a forced relaxation.  
 It got my creative energies rejuvenated and that left me inspired.  I ate very well, slept well, and I enjoyed my family and location to the maximum.  I played with non-fiber media without any real goal in mind, which was a lot of fun and very artistically stimulating.  One day I didn’t have my sketchbook so I pulled out my Swiss army knife and carved driftwood.  
 I used my pencil crayons to color a party dress on a Conch shell that was sun-bleached white.  I had the time to look carefully at how tree roots grew into the coral reefs.  I saw the subtle color differences in stands of pine trees and mangrove swamps.  It truly was a rejuvenating period for me. 

I definitely ate well on the holiday.  I ate more conch that I’d care to admit, but it was so tasty and so wonderful to be there.  It was perfect to get food from the local peeps far away from the touristy areas.  We had conch fritters several places, including the Fish Fry village near Nassau when we landed, at the ferry to Green Turtle Cay, and at a restaurant in Marsh Harbour.  I had lots of fried conch (the best was in Mount Hope on Little Abaco) and even conch salad from a local legend close to Treasure Cay.  Now I’ll be thinking about conch for weeks to come. 
 In between meals I spent a lot of time exploring the shorelines and collecting.  I picked up everything from sea biscuits, shells and coral to a well-used paintbrush, a buoy, and a special gold polyester hat that is now my favorite.  The boys were pretty excited to see the humongous conch shells and brought a couple home, among other treasures.  We picked up fresh coconuts and ate them for snacks.  I discovered that I don’t really like pina coladas, but rum and pineapple juice with a piece of coconut on the side is very nice.  Even better is rum and guava juice—yum!   
We rented a car and Jim dutifully drove on the left side of the road, taking us down secret roads that led to cow paths and onto donkey paths before turning into overgrown foot paths to the ocean.  We visited so many different types of beaches, from the pure white sands to the solid coral outcroppings and everything in between.  We found and saw lots of live creatures, such as hermit crabs, mollusks, live sand dollars and lots of colorful fishes on the reefs. 

It was a great nine days, but now I’m very inspired to launch back into making weavings in the art studio and creating costumes for Beauty and the Beast.  I’m not a costume designer, but I responded strongly to this project because the performance needs sculptural costumes and my artwork tends to be very sculptural.   
It’s a way of exploring a related but very relevant art form to help keep me fresh.  In closing, I will note that it is a new year and there still hasn’t been a pie.  I suppose I did have lots of treats in the Bahamas.  The guava duff is a heavenly local treat, and the Café Florence makes “the best sticky buns in the Universe”, according to a respected travel publication.  I did have a slice of pineapple pie, coconut tart, and other treats I don’t need to mention.  But a fruit laden pie with berries from the summer farmer’s market?  My loving husband seems indifferent to my pie needs.  I guess he’s earned some credit, but my supply of patience is not unlimited. 

Until next week,

Martina Celerin