Sunday, January 17, 2016

Treasures from the Earth and Travel to Memphis

As the demands of the holiday season fade, I find myself able to spend much more time doing the things I really like—I get to work in my art studio!
I have obviously been channeling a steampunk motif and I like it!  It’s a direction I’ve never explored in my pieces.  The aspect that is the most challenging and fun is dealing with the contrasts that arise.  I’m forced to marry rigidly symmetrical and circular shapes of the metal components with the very organic shapes of the stems and roots of living things.  The metals are hard and shiny, while the yarns are soft and matte.  Bringing everything together in a composition that appears natural is a very interesting challenge. 

I have three compositions in mind.  The first project is my heirloom tomato piece.  I dove into the project and managed to finish the entire cross-section through the ground phase.  I was having so much fun working with the chocolaty browns of the earth that I decided to launch onto a second ‘found object’ piece.  I’m trying to decide whether it will become ‘Biological Clock’ or ‘Thyme’.  The piece will concentrate on small, usually metal mechanisms from clocks or other mechanical devices that I have accumulated.  I owe a big thank you to Becky Delong on this score.  When she was downsizing and cleaning out her closets, she passed along her collection of broken clock parts left over from costume creation on the 2014 ‘Phantom of the Opera’ stage production by Sounds of South.  

When I’m not in my art studio I keep busy on my ‘Fall Stew’ project.  That means when the boys are doing taekwondo, jiu-jitsu, hip-hop, or singing, or when I’m watching an IU basketball game on TV, I get to poke away at vegetables.  This week I finished the green beans and launched into making broccoli.  It’s a big part of our current diet, and especially favored when covered in my homemade sharp cheddar cheese sauce. 
The cheese comes from Linwood, Michigan, on our trips to Grandma’s house when we visit ‘The Cow.’  You can’t miss the Williams Cheese shop with the twelve-foot tall Holstein standing in front.  To make the broccoli I have been crocheting four stands of green cotton chenille in a random clump to make the florets.  To make the stems, I roll narrow strips of army blankets for the fibrous heart then sew the tubes together.  I needle felt the skin using a green fleece that I bought probably ten years ago at the Fleece Fair (now known as The Fiber Event) in Greencastle, Indiana.  I remember buying a pound of uncombed, soft green fleece that I could never imagine consuming, but now I'm down to a tiny fluff that I hope will cover the stem of the third broccoli crown. 

My big travel news is that I’ll be taking my show on the road to Memphis, Tennessee.  I’ll be running a workshop on February 27th and 28th.  If you’re interested in participating, I think there are still a handful of the 20 slots available.  Here is a link to the Memphis Guild of Handloom Weaver and the application should be posted soon, and as well, here is an email address for the guild:   I’m so looking forward this!  I currently have fifteen looms ready to ship, so I’ll be scrounging around at the Re-Store and other recycling places in town to come up with the materials to build a few more looms.  Mostly I need one-by-twos, finishing nails and L-brackets to give the structures some rigidity. 

If you were worried that I had forgotten about the costumes for Pippin, rest assured that I have not!  I’m moving that project forward on my Monday and Friday visits to South.  I ordered a few things online, such as a funky parrot hat for the Jimmy Buffet scene.  I managed to fit each of the boys into their pre-pants (aka conventional clothing) that I will alter pretty drastically for the stage.  All the girls have been matched with bodices that I will use to make the base of their costumes.  I feel like I’m on track to match boys with jackets and shirts and girls with skirts and pants this coming week.  I’ll be ready for my self-imposed February first deadline for starting the truly creative process of building a cohesive and expressive collection of costumes.  There will be a lot of cutting materials and exploring how things look pinned together before they are passed on to the sewing faeries.  Oh, and hot glue—I ordered twenty five pounds of the indispensible adhesive so we can put our heads down and keep working without the interruption of a trip to Joanne’s once a week for more. 

On the home front, the boys are slogging through school.  After two weeks they are already ready for a break from school. The crazy Indiana weather we’ve been having hasn’t been helping.  We oscillate between fifty degrees and pleasant some days, before it turns rainy and slick and drops down to zero and windy.  It’s like spring is teasing us, then pulling the rug out from underneath.  My summer art fair schedule is coming into focus, with trips to the Des Moines Art Festival and Madison’s Art Fair on the Square, two of my favorite shows.  Throw in a couple summer vacations and the day planner is filling up!  Sadly I’m still waiting for my first post-Christmas pie…but the pretty bouquet of flowers that appeared on the dinning room table almost filled in. Almost.

Until next week,

Martina Celerin

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