Sunday, November 11, 2018

What happened to autumn?

The first snows fell this week, bringing a cold and calming sense of closure to my summer art season.  Now I will transition into my winter hibernation mode of creation in my art studio.  I completed the last of my scheduled events by running a workshop on felting techniques for my local guild.  While I really love traveling to workshops, where I can meet new people and enjoy different parts of the country, it was nice to just melt back into my home after the workshop, knowing that I could sleep in my own bed last night. 
Yesterday’s workshop featured an enthusiastic bunch of felters, from absolute beginners to highly skilled fiber artists.  We focused on creating birds, from vibrantly colorful birds of whimsy to highly detailed and accurate creations.  It was such fun to see the excitement and intensity brought to the workshop, which, like the birds themselves, was manifest in the diversity of the personalities and styles present.  I have great fun teaching, and I always come away with lots of new ideas and a renewed drive to create my own art.  
The next question is always ‘When is the next workshop’, and I’ve been communicating with artists in Canada, Alabama and Florida, so I’ll let you know when there are firm dates. 

We’re coming to the end of an era this coming week, with Jacob expected to get his driving license on Thursday.  Then he can drive himself to each of his activities.  For now, though, I still get to sit and watch him, even if he is behind the wheel there and back as a student driver.  
Lately he has been doing Muay Thai kickboxing, which leaves me time to work on willow leaves for my next piece in the migration series.  When I was in California for a conference at Asilomar many years ago I took a side trip to a site where monarch butterflies congregate for a rest on their migration to Mexico.  I imagined what the trees must look like when the butterflies land en masse—the intricate wings clustered together must have looked like draped flower petals.  I decided to create a weaving to show the scene that I imagined I would have seen.  
I have the green gradient background woven and stretched out in a frame, and the cascading willow leaves will drape forward from the background.  I have also created the butterfly wing blanks, so now I need to embellish them with the monarch patterns.  The good news is that I learned a lot from my costume design experience creating checkered men’s suits from plain and striped materials and drawing in the patterns I imagined.  I experimented with different kinds of art markers and I’ve settled in some that work really well on fabric.  Imagining all the butterflies I’ll need for the weaving means there is a lot of drawing patterns in my future!

I also did some puttering this week with natural dyeing.  I have to say it was a lot of fun to share my fleeces in the the bird workshop, where I shared my black walnut, avocado, onion skin and maple bark dyed fleeces.  My latest experiment wasn’t yet dry, though, so it stayed home.  Last weekend, after the Spinners and Weaver’s guild show at the Convention Center, I noticed a spruce tree that had dropped a carpet of pine cones—so I knew what I had to do!  The next day Jacob and I went out and collected what turned out to be 156 pine cones, because that’s how many fit into my dye pot. 
I did my usual technique of boiling them for an hour followed by an overnight steep.  I strained out the woody solids the next day.  I reheated the dye pot and added a pound of freshly washed fleece, boiled that mixture for an hour and let it steep overnight.  I pulled out a yummy beige caramel that resembles the color of eggplant flesh after it has been salted for about an hour.  I don’t know what I need it for yet, but I know that everything will find its purpose. 

Finally, yes, it was a pie week.  Plus, there’s a video showing how it was made!  Several people have asked for Jim’s pie crust recipe, in part because it uses oil instead of butter or shortening - that makes it a little healthier, and I’m sticking with that answer because I love pie.  Jacob was a wizard at filming and editing the video to make it clean and sharp.  The pie was a pumpkin spiced apple creation, which was an awesome treat after our celebratory dinner! 

Until next week,

Martina Celerin

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