Sunday, December 23, 2018

Finding the Perfect Colors

Art has taken a backseat this week, with most of my time spent preparing for the holidays and receiving Christmas travelers.  I did manage to squeeze in some art, though.  I moved forward with two pieces in my migration series, one that features koi and the second Mexican sunflowers—I’ll explain more about them below.  The two projects intersected in an interesting way when I sought the perfect fleece for the reddish-orange sunflowers.  Digging through my collection failed to produce anything close to the perfect color.  
I pulled out a lipstick red merino and several varieties of orange in the same color family that I picked up at the Fiber Event in Greencastle a few years ago.  I cranked them through my handy drum carder in just the right ratio and came up with what I think is the perfect orangey-red for my Mexican sunflowers.  The epiphany came later, when I was felting my koi, that I had exactly the reddish-orange color to create the koi I had been imagining.  I love it when my worlds intersect!

Creating the koi this time of year brings back a lot of my childhood.  Czech tradition dictates carp for Christmas eve dinner, and it turns out that koi are actually domesticated carp.  I certainly don’t plan to eat my koi—we’ll probably substitute salmon for our family Christmas dinner in Bloomington.  I am pleased with how the shapes of the koi are coming together.  I’m imagining that in the finished product, one koi with be black and white with reddish-orange spots, similar to the Doitsu or Sanke koi.  The second will be a yellowy-orange, similar to a Kawarimono or Kohaku.  I can’t wait to see how they turn out!

Of course there is also an interesting story to the origin for the perfect yellowy-orange koi that I envisioned.  As it turns out, a couple of weeks ago I was working on a piece that features brass keys.  I was trying to decide on a warp material, and before I picked out the gold lamé I tried overdyeing some nylon warp that I had on hand.  According to the web, food colorings will dye nylon.  I picked up some icing colorant that was supposed to be a nice gold, which would have been a good match for my keys.  
Unfortunately, the nylon went from beige to a soft pink that wasn’t useful.  The nylon apparently selectively pulled out the reddish colors from the dye.  Of course that left a big pot full of dye, so I tossed in a big handful of washed white fleece, and lo and behold, out popped the perfect orange-yellow color I wanted for my koi!  I cranked it through the drum carder and now I have all of the fleeces and colors chosen, so everything is in place to bring the weaving components together after Christmas into the final composition. 

When my life gets busy, it gets really busy, though.  I was really excited to get a commission to make six 8x8 inch tiles featuring creatures and flowers.  That should be both fun and satisfying to make.  I got the call on Wednesday during lunch on my long drive to Oberlin to pick up Tommie for the Christmas break.  It was wonderful to have his girlfriend Shaunacee along on the long drive.  
We nabbed Tommie, his bike, and a giant suitcase of clothes and put him in charge of the six-hour drive home.  Thursday we decorated the tree and Friday we spent the whole day baking cookies.  We seem to be cramming all the family traditions into a few days, but I’m still happy to just be doing them.  Jacob finished school on Friday, which means the pace should slow down a little.  
Grandma and Great Aunt Lois arrive this evening, which means we’ll have a full house with all the people I love.  And Jim let it slip that there would be a raspberry pie for Christmas dinner! 

Until next week,

Martina Celerin

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