Martina Celerin, 3D Fiber Artist

Martina Celerin, 3D Fiber Artist

Artist Statement: I am a Bloomington, Indiana resident with a long and unusual path to my current art career. I was born in Prague, in what is now the Czech Republic, and I immigrated to Canada as a young girl. After earning a doctoral degree in plant sciences from the University of Western Ontario, I accepted a postdoctoral position as a molecular geneticist in the Biology Department at Indiana University. During that time I met and married my husband, and together we have two delightful boys, Tommie and Jacob. In 2002 I decided to transition from science back to my roots as an artist.

In the past I focused on oil pastels and acrylic painting. Independently, experimentation with each of these has been useful for my current medium of choice, fiber. Work with oil pastels forced me to focus on visual mixing of color, and the powerful interplay of colors when they are applied proximally compared to when they are physically distant. Acrylic painting allowed for quick mixing of colors both before and after applying it to the canvas, but, as with oil pastels, I became dissatisfied with the flatness of the art. I began gluing found objects onto the canvas and then painting over them. This was better, but still not enough. Eventually I realized that I needed to create my canvas. Weaving allows me to incorporate objects, textures and shapes, as well as colors and coarsenesses into the canvas. By combining this with needle felting, I have been able to push the dimensional limits of wall art and to create weaving-felting fusions that are 3D tapestries.

The essence of art is a balance between contrast and harmony. I’m creating beauty, scenes of pristine places and idyllic impressions, using discarded and unwanted things. My art studio is filled with a plethora of odds and ends, new and old. I have yarns of all weights, colors and descriptions, much of it recovered as scrap from local weavers and knitters, jars of fossils, shells and weathered rocks. These sit beside dozens of containers of beads and discarded jewelry from all over the world, waiting for just the right piece. There are strips of leather, hemp baskets undone, wires disentangled, and pieces of lace—bits and pieces of everyday life, waiting to create a specific effect in a weaving.

My inspiration is drawn from both nature and my imagination; some pieces are scenes taken from memories of family walks or places I have visited. Others are much more abstract, capturing an idea, a personality or simply reflect the feelings evoked by an event or geographical area. All of the pieces, though, are true weavings, integrating the materials, landscapes or emotions I’ve drawn from my travels and experiences.

Artist Discipline: Fiber, Mixed Media

Artist Business/Gallery Announcements:

Here’s a link to click to watch a video of my recent exhibit, “Migration: Where have you been and what have you seen?”

And a PBS video of the story of me and the fiber art that I create  “Expressions: Martina Celerin”

I will have a special event during the festival – free shipping!! And I will have live demos of my studio and weavings


Visit Martina Celerin, 3D Fiber Artist's Website

Artist Portfolio

  • Koi Pond

    $1500. 18" x 26" x 8"

    My sons are both gifted artists, and my younger son is particularly interest in printmaking. One of his first silk screen creations was of a koi gliding through the water, a beautiful composition and the seed of an idea for a weaving. I’ve always been fascinated by their colors and markings – I remember visiting them in a pond in the greenhouse at Western University – a place that I took refuge when I was writing my dissertation. I used needle felting first to sculpt the fish bodies, and then their 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 random, the way that I remembered them, which turns out to be a challenge.  Our brains are geared to seeing regular patterns, and the whole idea of random color arrangements violates our sense of comfort in symmetry. I wove the underwater portion of the background using teals and sparkly silver yarns and defined the surface of the water using lily pads that I needle felted from green wool.

  • Queen Anne's Monarch

    $990. 18" x 26" x 5"

    I’ve always been fascinated by British royalty - I’m an avid watcher of the BBC series, “The Crown”. I grew up in Canada and remember the big hoopla about Elizabeth II coming for her Silver Jubilee – I still have the coin that each of us were given in elementary school. And I also remember walking home from school and the open fields were filled with Queen Anne’s Lace and monarchs - what a great match that was for the royal butterfly to be on her highnesses royal clothing. I created the Queen Anne’s lace flowerheads from recycled lace, wove the background using a multitude of shades of green yarns, and created the stems by wrapping used baling wire with yet more green yarn.

  • Runny Birds

    $1400. 18" x 26" x 10"

    When my husband and I were first dating, we took a trip to Topsail Island, North Carolina. We stayed in a hotel right on the beach, ate wonderful seafood, and took long quiet walks along the seashore. And there we both admired the runny birds – the chipper sandpipers that dart into and out of the surf, the energizer bunnies of the coast. Fast forward to years later – we have two delightful boys, and we vacation on the North Carolina coast every year after school ends – and we still delight in watching the runny birds. I needle felted the sandpipers using black and white wools, as well as wool that I dyed brown using my spent espresso coffee grounds. I wove the sand and water using tan and blue yarns, respectively and created a foaming surf using vintage lace. I coated the oak frame with sand – because, no matter how hard you try not to, you always bring some sand home from the beach.

  • Forest Trail

    $990 18" x 26" x 8"

    When I need to find my calm self, I go for a walk in the woods. Here where I live in southern Indiana, we are lucky to have beautiful trails in the deep woods less than 10 miles from my doorstep. With names like Huckleberry trail and Bluebird Trail, you can just tell that they are magical. I wove the background of this piece using reclaimed and recycled materials, and I created the tree trunks using cords and strings that I wrapped with yarn. I used dimensional crochet, a technique that allows me to build up the foreground, to create a surface for the trail. I needle felted yarns directly onto that surface to create the mottled appearance of the path and then edged it with real stones and geodes that I've collected on my walks.

  • Guardians of the Sea

    $1200. 18" x 26" x 12"

    I grew up in southwestern Ontario, nestled among the Great Lakes. After school or work and of course on most summer weekends we would head to the beach. Port Stanley on Lake Erie was always the closest, and usually the busiest – bustling with people and sea gulls. I remember Mackie’s served the saltiest, greasiest, tastiest French fries which paired nicely with their sticky orangeade sodas. The chubby local seagulls knew them well too – and would sit on posts just waiting, or vocally encouraging beach-folk to share their treasures. And most of all I remember those blue skies, gentle breezes and beautiful waters. I needle felted the seagulls and weathered, wood posts using white, grey and brown wools, and created the gulls legs from used baling wire that I wrapped with yarn. I wove the water using reclaimed blue and silver yarns, and created the whitecaps using old lace.

  • Rush Hour

    $990. 18" x 26" x 9"

    My husband likes to fish – he grew up in Michigan and took every opportunity to be near water, with a fishing pole in hand. Before we met I had never fished, but I’ve always loved staring into the water, imagining what is beneath the surface. We often fish together and the view from the surface suggests calmness and serenity. But below is a very different story – water creatures scuttling around, leading secret lives. And usually we are not the only ones fishing – I remember watching the patient and effective techniques of the skilled snowy egrets waiting and watching its lunch approach. I needle felted the egret using white, yellow and black wools, and embellished it with feathers that I reclaimed from one of my “Hello Dolly” hats. I wrapped used baling wire with locally raised alpaca yarn, and wrapped pieces of brass flashing with green yarn to create the bullrush leaves. I wove the water using a variety of glittery and matte shades of blue and silver yarns.

  • Jem and Scout

    $1400 18" x 26" x 12"

    I travel to art fairs around the country and I chatted with a colorful Russian painter in Indiana that I met again in Mississippi. He lived for a number of years in the Czech Republic (where I was born) and after conversations about good beer and svickova omacka, he told me what I should weave - a typewriter! I use my art to tell stories and so I decided to reimagine a classic book, "To Kill a Mockingbird" Jem and Scout represent the children in the story whose innocence is destroyed in the narrative. I felt that I needed black birds for the artistic composition and fortuitously, that choice encourages the viewer to think differently about the story and the concept of innocence. I wanted to incorporate the physical words of "To Kill a mockingbird" into the background but because of the history of the book being banned, it felt wrong to destroy the cherished pages. Instead, I incorporated portions of the Sparks Notes decoupaged onto old CDs as part of the weft. I used dimensional crochet to create the body of the typewriter and needle felted both the casing and the crows. For the keys, I used vintage white plastic letters and numbers from changeable letter boards and an actual typewriter ribbon and guide.

  • Across the Pond

    $1300 18" x 26" x 10"

    I’m a turtle rescuer. Yes, I pull over to the side of the road and help the slowpoke get to the other side of the road. I think that the painted turtle is my favorite – the bright red stripes and crazy red markings on its underside are completely unexpected. I’m happiest when I see turtles in ponds or creeks – they must be safe there, away from their predators and access to their buffet at the bottom of the water column. With its belly full, I imagine the turtle pulling itself onto a downed log and basking in the sun. I needle felted the turtle using green, cream and red wools, and the water lily flower from white wool, and by wrapping pieces of spiral notebook wire with yellow yarn to create its stamens. I wove the underwater portion of the background using teals and sparkly silver yarns and defined the surface of the water using lily pads that I needle felted from green wool.

  • Calling Home

    $1200. 18" x 26" x 5"

    I’m fascinated with the evolution of telephones – from the cup-attached-to-a-wooden-box models to today’s magical devices. Independent of the era, the main role of the phone was to stay in contact with family. I remember Grampa coming to visit us from Michigan and scanning through our local white pages, looking for Drummonds that might be related. In my head I can still hear the sounds of the rotary dial, the ring and ugh, the busy signal of my childhood. I think of my boys carrying a flip phone with very clear instructions that they were to call when they arrived, and if they change locations. And now that they are in college we depend on daily texts and weekly family conference calls. I decoupaged bits of whitepages onto pieces of old CDs, and then wove them as part of the weft along with cream and pale grey recycled yarns. I scavenged old telephone parts and needle felted three red warblers - sweet, small birds that have very colorful calls!

  • Lone Pine

    $890. 18" x 26" x 4"

    When I was young, we used to take our family vacation at the Pinery Provincial Park in Ontario.  We’d stay at Pinedale Motel, just outside the park and spend all day and into the evening on the beach.  The dune system on that part of Lake Huron is stabilized by eastern White Pines, which are a favorite of mine because the needles are long, soft and elegant.  They were planted there in the sixties in a misguided attempt to stabilize the fragile oak savannah ecosystem.  I’ve reveled in creating deciduous trees—birches, maples, sycamores and oaks—but not the pines of my childhood, but recently I realized that if I wrapped long fiber chenille yarn around a piece of wire it looks like a pine bough.  Fortunately, our old wooden fence in the back yard had toppled over, making it easy to access our neighbor’s eastern white pine so I secretly snipped a small branch (shhh!).  I took it down to my art studio and dug around in my yarns to find that if I combined four different colors and textures together it resembled the bark of the pine branch.  I wove the water using a variety of blue and sparkly silver yarns and edged it with stones that I collected on our recent family vacations on the coast of North Carolina.

  • Pie Fruit

    $1990. 18" x 26" x 4"

    I didn't grow up eating pie. Oh, we had plenty of wonderful pastries and cakes, but pie it wasn't a part of my culture. But I married my husband - and he grew up not only eating pie, but baking a rhubarb pie every year for his mother for Mother's Day. Happily, we have embraced and expanded on that idea. In the summer, every Saturday morning that we are home, we go to our local farmers market and buy whatever fruit is in season and then magically he transforms it into a tasty delight. These are just some of the fruits that have been transformed. I needle felted each of the individual fruits from wool - some of which I've dyed myself from both natural and synthetic dyestuffs. The "meat" of the lemons is wool that I dyed using dandelion heads that my boys and their friends collected years ago (stored in my deep freeze) in a local park - and I paid them 5 cents a head. The cherry stems are small pieces of wire from used spiral notebooks that I wrapped in green yarn.

  • Blue Plate Special

    $890 18" x 26" x 4"

    We travel a lot in the summertime. Between art fairs all over the nation, trips to visit Gramma in Michigan, and family vacation on the east coast, we spend a lot of time on the road. To make it a food adventure, we try to find new places to eat - and diners are always favorites. Most diners have - hands down - the best egg dishes. And either the best, or worst coffee, depending on the time of day. I created this weaving thinking about those diners, as well as the glorified diners that I grew up with on TV - like Happy Days' Arnold's Diner. I wove the background using multiple strands of yarn in each of the three colors. I made the checkerboard pattern by tabby weaving the white background and then cutting up and attaching 1" squares of old vinyl 45 records. And I know that only people of a certain era will recognize those iconic, yellow and red 45 adaptors.

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