Sunday, February 26, 2017

Birches and Veggies…

I’ve been thinking about my excellent frame maker, Thom Bertolacini, and his family cabin.  I have never been there, but he’s told me stories about how wonderful a place it is.  From what I understand, it’s on a lake surrounded by birch trees.  It is serene and calm—just the place you need for some quiet thinking and solitude.  My thoughts led me to make “A View from the Cabin”.  It’s my interpretation of a peaceful northern lake, perhaps somewhere in my childhood home of Canada.  I like looking at it because it delivers a sense of calm that things are on track and happy for me.  I made the lake such that it feels large enough to swim in, but small enough that you might be tempted to swim to the other side. 

My life this week featured a lot of my usual routine.  I spent several hours in meetings and watching my boys do TKD, or teach other kids.  That means I got some needle felting done.  I am slowly producing the vegetables I need for my next composite piece called “Salsa”.  This week I focused on making the bodies of tomatillos and cayenne peppers.  They each need more detail, such as belly buttons for the tomatillos and petioles for the peppers, but I’m happy with the emerging color and shape.  I think they will fit in nicely with the other salsa components I’ve created.  I’m jogging my mind for what else I put in my salsa, and I’m coming up with red and green onions.  You can’t have too many onions in salsa, can you? 

I’m also pretty excited that I’m working out the details for another workshop this year in October or November in Charleston, South Carolina.  We’re still working on the exact date and details.  I’ll let you know when it is finalized here, and on my website.  I love doing workshops because it allows me to share the techniques I’ve developed over the years.  I get to watch people get excited about incorporating new approaches into their own art.  The next workshop on my schedule …and coming up quickly… is in Toledo, Ohio on May 13-14 with the Fiber of our Being FeltingGuild. 

My art career keeps me on the move.  On Monday I’m loading up Bluebell with a collection of my fiber art and heading south to Washington, Indiana, to hang a small exhibit of my weavings and tiles.  I’m also giving a presentation and demonstration at the WashingtonCarnegie Public Library on March 21st at 6:30.  It’s fun to tell people I’ll be speaking at the Carnegie in Washington about my art.  I will discuss my weaving compositions and introduce a little about my techniques.  I’m looking forward to the adventure.  It’s always fun to see the looks on people’s faces when I talk about my history and convoluted path from a little girl in the Czech Republic through the frozen tundra of Canada (at least it felt that way) to a slightly graying fiber artist in Southern Indiana. 

Last night was date night!  Tommie is my usual basketball partner, but he was off at Butler University competing in Science Olympiad (Bloomington High School South got second place - woohoo!).  Jim and I got to watch an exciting game by the Hoosier men playing against Northwestern.  One highlight was watching Devonte Green (aka baby Yogi) launching a Hail Mary from beyond ¾ court to beat the halftime buzzer.  The shot arced so high that the ball disappeared behind the scoreboard for a second.  If that weren’t enough, Thomas Bryant snuck in a two pointer with two seconds left to tie the game and he finished it with his free throw for the win.  Wow!  And I’m still enjoying the glorious cherry pie from last weekend.  I get one slice a day for breakfast, which is healthy because it’s loaded with fruit.  Did I say I love pie?  Thanks Jim.  You’re the best.

Until next week,

Martina Celerin

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Back to the studio…

I spent a feverishly productive month in January costuming for the fall production of Hello Dolly put on by Sounds of South.  I’ll share some images later, but I want to begin with my February efforts in the art studio.  The reality of all my commitments is settling in with a couple of deadlines looming.  One big project is to assemble pieces for an exhibit called “Feast your Eyes” at the Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  I will be shipping several pieces, including a collection of six felted tiles featuring southern fruits.  I have some citrus pieces that I made before, but I challenged myself to create a peach.  The flesh and skin of the peach is much like that of an apple, but the colors are very different.  I blended deep yellows with almost maroon fleece to develop the mottled streaky texture of a peach skin.  The real challenge, though, was making the pit. 
The texture is so obviously distinctive and interesting.  I used fleece that I dyed intensely with onion skins where the color came out so dark that seemed perfect for a peach pit.  Different fleeces take up different amounts of the dye, and I find that the lighter materials are actually perfect for creating felted onion skins.  The pit features concavities in the surface, but I then forced the shadowing by using a natural very dark brown, almost black fleece.  I’m really pleased with how it all came out! 

After the peach construction, I still needed one final traditional fruit for South Carolina.  I chose figs because my cousin in Mississippi, Martha, always talked about making fig preserves.  Several years ago I finally had a chance to try some real southern preserves when she brought some to Michigan and they were amazing.  Of course we needed our own.  We were inspired to plant a Midwest-hardy fig tree and each year we get a few more figs but still not enough for a preserves.  Clearly figs are a more southern thing and are plentiful there, although evidently they are becoming harder to find, even in the south.  The commercial jams that we can buy here are OK, but they are nothing like the preserves that Martha brought.  Anyway, my experiences led me to felt some figs for the project.  I will also ship “My Roots” to fill out the exhibit, which opens June 10 and runs until September 17th. 

In other fun news, I received an unexpected call from the editor of Bloom Magazine.  It seems that the editor, Malcolm Abrams, found my exhibit (Nature to Nurture) at the Bloomington Bagel Company on the east side of town.  He offered to write a story about my art and the exhibit for the April/May issue of Bloom.  I stopped in to the Bloom offices for a photo shoot the next day and I anticipate that it will turn it into a nice story—I’ll let you know when it’s out!  

With the teasingly warm weather I’m of course starting to think of the glorious days of summer and hanging out by the water.  That inspired me to complete a couple of water pieces that I started late last year.  I’m channeling the inner birches of my childhood, and I have woven some grasses for the background and should be attaching birches later this week.  For now, I’ve hung the unfinished piece at a prominent spot in my studio so I can stare at the water and enjoy the calming waves as I collect my thoughts for future pieces. 

Just to tease you with an update and a few pictures from the Hello Dolly costuming, I have all of the current member girls Sunday best costumes designed.  Many moms have spent lots of time attaching all of the bits and pieces that I have pinned together on the mannequins to create each costume.  I usually have about five mannequins in progress and I just move from one to the next while my sewing and gluing faeries capably bring the costumes to life. 

In family news we are screaming up to the boy’s second degree black belt test.  It will take place on March 4 at 2:30 pm at Monroe County Martial Arts.  If you’re in the area, please stop by to cheer them on!  We’ll have a reception afterwards catered by the Owlery.  I’m expecting lots of whooping and hollering and hugs all around when the kicking stops and the sweat settles into the carpet.  Also looking forward, tonight Jacob and I have tickets to Georgia McBride, put on by the Cardinal stage company.  I’m told it’s the story of an Elvis impersonator that reinvents himself as a drag queen.  And I’m told that the costumes are amazing!  I can’t wait.  
 I think we’ll combine the show with a fancy schmancy dinner and call it a night on the town. 
On the pie front I am barely surviving.  I can’t even remember the last pie.  I’ll have to check my phone for the last pie pictures to see how long the drought has been!  Oh wait, I guess I did have a very nice tart cherry pie the last time I was in a pie drought.  Oh, and I guess there was a very nice peach pie a couple less than two weeks later.  It just feels like its been months!  That’s good enough for me—I need another pie!  We haven’t had blueberry or apple yet this year.  Just sayin’.    

Until next week

Martina Celerin