Sunday, April 24, 2016

And Pippin Continues…

Pippin is still filling my world. Now that I have the vintage circus chorus costumes finished, I’m turning my attention to costumes for the principals.  This week I created the Baron’s outfit.  I began with a black overcoat from the Sounds of South closet and rebuilt it by lining it with the red velour that came from a seventies lounge dress.  I trimmed it with gold Christmas cord and curtain tie-backs.  The coat, now a justacorps, worked perfectly with a quilted red and gold vest I found at the recycle center a couple of months ago.  I had no idea what I needed it for at the time, but it became quite obvious when I started working on the baron.  It just needed to add a few red sparkles as embellishment.  The vest covers a fancy dinner shirt that used to belong to the Beast in Beauty and the Beast last year.  I removed the blue gems from the neck ruffle and replaced them with a red and gold piece of a Christmas ornament that I got from Becky DeLong (thanks, Becky!!)  
 The buttons on the jacket cuffs are old earrings with red jewels glued in the center and the front panels of the justacorps are held open with flattened gold Christmas tree candle holders with a red jewel hot glued in the center.  My baron will sparkle! 

I also worked on Pippin’s ‘Morning Glow’ outfit.  I learned I needed to create this when Chris Miller came into the costume studio and asked me what Pippin was going to wear.  I looked a little saucer eyed at him and asked “what do you mean?”  He explained that traditionally Pippin wears something over the top, something surprising and eye-catching with a little ‘wow’ in it.  I pulled out a black and gold collar/bib that I had cut from a woman’s tunic top.  To that I added reclaimed gold Christmas ribbon.   
I pressed in gold studs on the embroidered lattice work and added gold trim that I bought in Tuscon last year at SAS Fabrics and Trim Surplus Store.  I added golden yellow jewels and I pinned on a gold chain with a tassel that Nancy Riggert will hand sew onto it (thanks, Nancy!)  I counterbalanced Pippin’s heavy front of the bib with three medals that I picked up at the Materials for the Arts - Recycle Center, taken from the Texas Senior Games.  That really tickled my fancy!  I put the studded bib on the chain mail-esque shirt and hoo-doggies—it looks great!  Chris was delighted. 

If that weren’t enough, I’ve been building the ‘Headless’ character.  I started with a damaged backpack from the Recycle Center and added an additional buckle across the chest for stability.  I inserted used pool noodles and scrap Styrofoam into the backpack to give height to the tall headless fellow who would be carrying the actor’s head.  I then took an old jacket worn by Jouvert from ‘Le Mis’ (many, many years ago) and cut a head hole in the chest panel for the actor and installed it on the backpack understructure. I repurposed two gloves from the recycle center and put wire and stuffed fill into each of the fingers so I could position them to look like they are holding a decapitated head.  The build isn’t quite done yet but it’s close. 

The other big news form the past two weeks comes from the Sounds of South trip to New York City.  Sixty-five students and a handful of parent chaperones took the city by storm.  The highlights include seeing the production of Wicked at the Gershwin Theater on the night we arrived.  The costumes were amazing and the singing phenomenal.  I just was completely immersed in the production, even though I was up at 2:15 that morning to make the trip.  Friday night took me to the Franco Zepharelli's staging of La Boheme at the Metropolitan opera, which was awesome—it’s the Met, so what can I say?  
 On Saturday afternoon I took in the off Broadway production of Newsical, which was completely inappropriate for language and content—and I loved every minute of it!  It was hilarious.  I stopped in at the fashion fabric mecca Mood and was just overwhelmed with the number, range, colors, and textures of fabrics.  
 It was astounding, and yes, I met Swatch.  The final evening dinner cruise on the Hudson was gorgeous and delightful, and the perfect end for an amazing three-day visit to New York.  We had a nice dinner when I got home, but I had to wait for the pie until this weekend.   
A blueberry pie for dessert on a beautiful spring summer evening out on the veranda was a fine end to the week.  The sad news was that I have been informed that there are no more fruit pie fillings in the freezer from last year’s farmer’s market.  All I can add is that I hope the rhubarb is ripe!

Until next week,

Martina Celerin

Monday, April 11, 2016

Less Wall Art, More Costumes…

My art studio time was limited this week, primarily because I blocked off April for costume creation to support next fall’s performance of Pippin.  More on that later.  It seems appropriate that I devoted some time to completing the last little corner of my piece called ‘My Roots’.  I chose to make some white radishes as the last root vegetable to connect to my childhood.  I still remember when I was little and thought radishes only came in round and red.  That’s what always went into our salads.  My stepmother brought home long, white radishes and told me that they were just like the red ones.  I was confused by the shape and color yet trusting, so of course I tried them.  They were so spicy I vowed never to eat them again!  Of course one should never say never, and now I love white radishes.  One of my favorite spring treats is a radish sandwich on rye bread with cream cheese.  Slice the radishes thickly and top them with salt and it’s a perfect sandwich.  Yum!

Most of my time this week was devoted to costume design and creation.  The number of the week is seventeen, which is all of the new Sounds of South members who needed a vintage circus costume for the chorus.  Some of the outfits are completely finished.  Others still need some loving touches by the hands of my sewing and gluing faeries.  When I was done the studio was an absolute mess.  One day around midweek, Nancy Riggert came in and saw me sitting in the middle of the chaos, which means piles of blue, green and purple everything (trim, ribbon, lace, fabric, sequins and more).  She looked at me, and in her sweet voice asked if a raccoon broke into the studio and made this mess?   
Raccoons can make a good mess of things, but if you want true chaos you’ll find me sitting in the middle of it.  In the end I spent four hours on Friday just reclaiming the costume studio.  I rolled, folded and reorganized all of my materials into bins, drawers and containers.  Now the studio is ready for the next stage, which will be to make the armor for the war scene.  With seventy cast members, or as many as seventy chest plates, helmets and swords to fits kids of different shapes and sizes, the task at hand will be enormous. 

I’ll design templates for the outfits in small, medium and larges and hand them out as take-home projects for the parents to do during their down time.  A fun sidelight of this project is that my friend Dawn Adams has been diligently taking the filters out of all the Starbucks Keurig coffee units that her husband drinks.  She has been washing and saving them for me.  I see them as just perfect as rivet establishments, so I might have to crowdsource a coffee filter collection project among the group.  I’m going to need a lot.

The big excitement for the upcoming week, and the reason there won’t be a blog next weekend, is because I’m one of the chaperones for the Sounds of South trip to NYC this week.  Jacob is coming along as well, but Jim is going to stay home and turn up the heat before we get back.  I suspect the trip will be an amazing experience, since it’s already jam packed with tickets to Wicked, a dinner cruise on the Hudson, Opera tickets at the Met to La Boheme, and tickets to NEWSical.  The SOS choir will even sing at ground zero as part of the trip.  And oh, fingers crossed, I’m hoping to sneak off for my first ever trip to Mood, the mecca of fabric stores to see all the goods and meet Swatch the dog.  Last, you’ll be pleased to learn that my happiness is not going to depend on the appearance of a pie upon our return.  I plan to indulge at every pastry shop I can in downtown New York.  I’ve heard that there’s an amazing cheesecake place in Times Square.  The struggle will be to decide which piece to choose.  And if there should be a pie when I get home, I’ll still be genuinely thankful and surprised!

Until next week,

Martina Celerin

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Lots of irons in the fire…

My blogs often start out with the manageable lamentation that I have a bunch of projects in the works.  It seems that I have too much going on to accomplish it all.  What helps me manage is to stand back and look at the big picture.  I find if keep I moving forward, a little bit on each project each week, my responsibilities don’t feel so overwhelming.  This was one of those weeks!  I stepped back into working on a weaving project I started a while back, which was to work on the background for a birch piece set next to a summer lake.  I’ve made similar pieces, and this composition is especially calming for me.  I pulled the piece off the studio wall and started crocheting some of the foreground land mass to build the piece away from the wall.  
 I’ll plant the birch trees there.  Then I spent some time needle felting the effects of the gentle summer breeze on the water to create the perceived notion of waves.  I’m hoping that the piece should be finished and ready to travel to summer art fairs by this time next week. 

I spent some time this week moving ‘My Roots’ forward as well.  I’m creating this for an exhibition in November, although I’ll travel with this piece to summer art fairs.  I have decided that if it finds a new home this summer, it wasn’t meant to be part of the exhibit.   
My goal was to finish making the turnips that will nicely fill in the green hole still in the piece I shared last week.  I worked on these as the boys did their taekwondo, and the early-stage turnips are usually mistaken for potatoes or some other roots.  As the delicate purples and greens are added the turnips take on their identity.  I can tell they’re exited to join their other root relatives on the weaving. 

April marked my return to the costume studio at Bloomington High School South.  If you haven’t heard, and I can’t imagine that many of you haven’t, I’m currently creating the chorus costumes for a performance of Pippin this fall in a vintage circus motif.  I’ve been collecting all sorts of treasures from various places, both local and on my travels, to fit my color scheme for the performance.  I focus on reclaimed and recycled clothing and materials for the costumes.  Some parents have dropped off materials, but I regularly visit the Recycle Center (especially the Materials for the Arts program), My Sister’s Closet, and the Bloomington Thrift Shop.  I even found some useful costume things at the Re-Store in town!  On my spring break visit to Michigan I brought home a big haul from a store called the Cat’s Meow. 

One of the first new costumes I have laid out for the incoming freshmen includes a peplum I cut from a dress I found at the Cat’s Meow.  The purple skirt was formerly a purple dress, and what will be the black and white skirt was formerly a bed skirt.  I’ll trim the costume with Christmas ribbons and chords made from t-shirts, cut as a continuous strips to make the cordage. 
I am generating lots of projects for my sewing faeries!

While the costumes are my day job, I’ve been moving forward on pulling things together for my workshop in Virginia in June.  I took advantage of the beautiful weather from last week to bring my wide belt sander on the veranda.   

I converted the slats of wooden blinds into batons or pick-up sticks as the boys spent some quality time outside playing with bubbles.  They also decided they needed to try some stained glass work, so they spent a couple of hours on that project.  So yes, I happened to have copper tape and a soldering iron, and yes we have a bunch of beach glass, shells and funky found objects that they could fuse together.  Doesn’t every mom have those things? 

Family life has been about as busy as usual, with the biggest news focused on Jacob.  He had some extra practices this week before his big Hip Hop Connexion performance on Friday night.   
It was terrific!  The Jaywalkerz did a fabulous job, as usual, and brought the house down with their performance amid a dozen other skilled performance groups.  

 On the pie front, I had been scratching days on my calendar to maintain some hope.  Jim hasn’t been 100% and I wasn’t sure I was going to get a pie this week.  But good news!  I woke this morning to the smell of blueberry pie baking, and tonight night was a pie night!  Hooray!

Until next week,

Martina Celerin