Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Today's Adventures

We went to Celebration today. (It's back after two years of absence due to governmental incompetence. Seriously, folks, if even I can make a budget then nobody getting paid to do so has any excuse whatsoever for failing that.) This is an arts and culture fair. It used to be a lot bigger and better, but at least it's there again. It'll be on tomorrow if you're in the area.

Food: A pathetic showing probably not helped by Coles County's despotic health board. They had a couple of new items. The Hawaiian Tropic shake-up was quite good, even though neither mangoes, strawberries, nor peaches are particularly Hawaiian. We got hot dogs. We also tried the chimney cake, which turned out to be a thin crunchy tube filled with about a cup of raspberry gel and chocolate sauce. Not really to my taste, but interesting to have tried. Once upon a time, the University used to put out food booths of international cuisine. I miss that.

Swag: Only a couple of tables had any, but EIU's Academy of Lifelong Learning knocked the ball out of the park. They had some typical items such as bookmarks, chip clips, and post-it notes: can't go wrong with those. The pens included a blue highlighter and a clever half-height click pen that opens when you pull the clip. Then there were some astute and uncommon choices: lens cleaning cloths and measuring tapes. But the real eye-popper was the free, insulated lunch bags. These things have waterproof cloth, a pocket on the closure flap, a padded handle, a clear window pocket for your nametag, and an extra velcro strip for attaching whatever. They're reasonably sized for a lunch, especially a child's lunch, and I noticed that they're also big enough to fit two bottles of water or soda. That means we can fill our insulated travel cup and stash spares in a bag. So. Much. WIN.

Vendors: There might have been a couple dozen booths, a sad remnant of a fair that once overflowed the entire quad. They've moved it to a different, smaller venue so it's not as obviously shriveled but anyone who remembers the heyday is not fooled. The quality was capable, though. Several good potters and painters, a very sharp photographer, a couple of woodturners, a couple of glassworkers one much better than the other, someone carving lampshades and bowls out of gourds, a metal sculptor doing moon trees, and of course jewelry everywhere.

One I haven't seen before is Very, Very Vintage Tinworks. The artist salvages imprinted tin from old ceilings, along with some woodwork and other oddments. The best panels get stretched onto frames, much like art canvas is, and then the original finish is overlain with several layers of translucent paints and sealants. The results are amazing -- we came home with a Green Man panel to hang in the dining room. Other piece, probably ones with some damage, get snipped into usable pieces to make upcycled flower sculptures and other interesting pieces. If you're a fan of historic decorations, definitely check out this artist.

LOL and look at this on the website -- see the mandorla with the key? Those are sideways. They have variously been called the Key to Life or the Key to Pleasure, the former usually in a church and the latter usually in a whorehouse. That's a more discreet excerpt of the Sheela-na-Gig. This article explores the fascinating symbolism. It's funny how many Pagan symbols wound up in those old tinprints, but they were often copied from famous buildings in Europe, so there you have it. Of course, if don't want to have conversations about the cunt with the key in, just lay them down like this an most people won't notice.

Another is a little slice of Terramagne: Creative Crafters is a workshop where people with developmental disabilities learn about crafts. They can make and sell things. The booth had paintings in a wide range of styles along with upcycled art. The quality ranged from average to impressively good, which is par for the course at Celebration. Sadly the one I wanted -- a button sculpture of a crescent moon done all in blue, exactly the kind of thing you see all over Bluehill -- sold before I got back on my buying loop. The other piece that we both admired was a tree whose leaves were made from puzzle pieces painted in different solid colors. First, that's a brilliant thing to do with partial puzzles; and second, it's a great motif for anyone who likes the puzzle symbol for neurovariance. You could just as well keep the puzzles in their original colors, though, and just sort through for the ones you want; but you'd probably need more pieces and keep them in buckets. Great idea for kiddie crafts, though.

One thing that intrigues me about upcycled crafts like these is that they're easy to do -- but hard to do well. Most people wind up with something that looks like it came out of a kindergarten art class. It takes considerable skill, and particularly, acute visual-spatial intelligence, to make something out of junk that truly looks like art and not junk. A few folks have made it into museums this way, but most upcycle artists are folk artists, at least for now. *laugh* Wait 50 or 100 years and society will have figured out the Picassos. For example, a button collage is basically a mosaic. You have to figure out how to fit the pieces together to make a picture, and the bits can't be too similar or too different, or it doesn't work. There are also two approaches: single layer of buttons, or buttons piled on buttons. If you want to try, there are kiddie and artistic instructions. Conversely the tree is more allegorical, without trying to make the puzzle pieces look so much like a tree crown that they stop looking like puzzle pieces. To make that work, you have to look at the world a little sideways and think about the similarities of things, or the meaning in symbolism, as well as appearances. There are actually lots of crafts for puzzle pieces, with varying levels of sophistication.

Other stops:

After Celebration, we had errands to run. Among the stops were Goodwill and ReStore to drop off things. Goodwill had a striking silk shirt with a wild pattern in blue, green, and yellow -- it reminds me a lot of the 'fast' fashions from Mediterranean designers. But it cost several dollars instead of several hundred. \o/

I also tried looking in Big Lots for flower boxes, but they didn't have any good ones. I did, however, find some morning glory seeds so I can start planting those presently. The weather was actually quite nice today, but apparently this is the coldest April on record in America.
Tags: art, community, crafts, illinois, personal, shopping
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