Sunday, November 25, 2018

Thanksgiving week…

This week was filled with planning, exploring and travel as we visited Michigan for Thanksgiving.  I was mentally developing my body of work that features creatures that migrate for an exhibit to open August second.  One of the fun things about creating a body of work is that I can take time to explore and understand the animals and their movements, which led me to the realization that only Monarch butterflies migrate.  I especially connected with them as frosts killed off our annuals, including the Mexican sunflowers (Tithonia) that Jim tried to grow from seeds this year.  Unfortunately, the deer ravaged the plants.  Even after spraying to deter them, the deer adeptly munched off all the budding flowers before they blossomed.  
From my perspective, Mexican sunflowers have beautiful orange flower heads and monarchs love them, which makes them a perfect fit for my migration series.  I’m imagining a piece where Monarchs are dancing above and landing on the puffy yellow centers of the sunflowers.  I’m thinking about a landing site here in the Midwest that is almost a replica of their wintering place in Mexico.

In my family, fish are never far from my reality, and that got me thinking about fish that migrate.  And that led me to an interesting new felting technique.  I was imagining the one-way trip up rivers that most salmonoids make.  I want to create a piece where I’m looking through the cold flowing water to the smooth, mossy rocks on the bottom where salmon lay eggs.  
The constant flowing water polishes the surfaces, and the slippery bacteria on the rocks give them a unified, mottled appearance.  I already have a technique to felt balls to create rocks without a lot of effort by stuffing yarn and other wool scraps into old nylons and sending them through the washer and dryer.  I still needed to work through the painstaking task of felting fleece directly on the surface to create the look I want for the rocks on the river bottom.  I decided instead to try tacking the dyed fleece layers on the surface of my felt balls and repeating the machine felting process.  It worked swimmingly!  I’ll expand this strategy to complete my collection of river rocks.  After that, I’m looking forward to needle felting the salmon. 
Fortunately, Jacob is teaching and training at MCMA at least twice a week, so I’ll have ample time to sit and poke. 

With the drive to Michigan I had plenty of time to do transportable handwork.  We drove to Grandma’s in Kawkawlin on Tuesday, and then Jacob and I drove the loop to Oberlin to pick up Tommie on Wednesday.  We settled in for a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner with Lois and Grandma on Thursday.  It was good to have us all together.  I’m discovering that as the kids and family gets older, life just gets more complicated, making it harder to bring everyone together.  It just feels all the better when it does come together.  It was relaxing to catch up and hug.  
The best part of this American Thanksgiving holiday is that it’s so late in November that it isn’t far from the Christmas holidays.  Oh, and there was pie.  Grandma surprised me with a raspberry-cherry pie.  She had to go to three different stores to get fruit for the filling she wanted.  I’m tickled and honored that she went to all that trouble for me.  It feels good to be part of such a loving, caring family. 

Until next week,

Martina Celerin

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