Sunday, January 6, 2019

Koi being koi

My goal for this week was to finish at least one of my pieces in progress.  That piece turned out to be my underwater pond scene.  If you’re a Facebook follower, you know I’ve been working on creating two colorful koi.  I first sculpted the fish, and then the fish faces, including the distinctive whisker-like barbels that koi use to taste their surroundings.  When I layered on the patches of skin color I tried to make them appear somewhat random, which turns out to be a challenge.  
Our brains are geared to seeing regular patterns, and the whole idea of random colors violates our sense of comfort in symmetry. 

I next needed to position the koi in between the rocks on the bottom of the weaving and the lily pad layer that defines the water’s surface.  I wrapped some used baling wire with yarns that matched the color of the rocks and then inserted those into the fish on one end and the weaving on the other.  I used two wires per fish to prevent them from swimming in circles.  What I really love about this piece is that it’s my first piece that requires the viewer to move considerably if they want to take in all the details in the piece.  
I decided that this perspective on the art speaks to my experiences making costumes for the theater.  Like the costumes I created, you can’t get the full story face on.  The movement of the actors reveals the full story of the costume, giving the viewer the ability to see all the colors and how together they create the full effect of the outfit.

When one composition comes together I typically have to launch on a new piece, which is in this case was a fun commissioned piece.  It involves six felted tiles that are each 8 by 8 inches.  The first will have lily pads with a small turtle resting on a pad.  
I had a little extra fun with these because I used two blended green fleeces as the base and layered the greens to create the veined patterns that one often observes radiating from the center of the pad.  I also began creating a second tile that will feature two fern fronds and a wee frog.  
I calculated that I need forty-five of the individual pinnae (leaflets), so I’ll make fifty just to be sure.  My little pile is growing and soon I’ll have a frond.

I also did more experimenting with dyeing.  I’ve been reading about dyeing with black beans for years, and now that it’s soup season the moment had arrived.  I was already planning to make a black bean soup and freezing away a few bags of cooked beans, so I soaked about three pounds of black beans.  I ladled off the the black supernatant for dyeing and threw away the last bit of liquid that contains the coagulated bean goo.  
That material is supposed to interfere with color transfer.  I added about eight ounces of freshly washed white fleece to the black supernatant let it sit overnight at room temperature.  That’s a little odd, because I’m used to heating the dye pot.  The experiment yielded a light, almost metallic purple.  I was hoping for a more intense color, so next time I want to try heating to coax out more dye and get a better transfer. I suppose that this week I’m … making fronds and influencing purple. 

On the home front it is wonderful to have Tommie home for a month.  He’s a doing his winter term from Oberlin here at IU working with Carl Bauer.  It warms my heart to know that he is wrangling Eppendorf tubes and popping tips.  It also means that we need to cook twice as much of everything and wash a mountain of laundry!  
Even more fun is going to basketball games with him.  This week we had tickets for the four of us for the Illinois game—we even made it on national television!  Finally, sometime long, long ago I finished my cherry birthday pie.  In fact, I don’t think I’ve had a single pie this year.  Jiiiim!

Until next week,

Martina Celerin

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