Friday, September 22, 2017

One after another

Last weekend was the Festival of the Forks (because the two branches of the Kalamazoo River fork right here in Albion).
It included a car show! I saw the sign and was so tired I didn't want to go, but then my housemate was going so I got my clothes and shoes back on to take a gander.
We also went to Marshall to visit their very lovely farmers market, and to run errands. While walking downtown, we passed the American Museum of Magic.
I can't remember anymore when I did this but it's nice to have dirty and big studio space to be able to ink and drip and dry. What comes afterwards, not sure, but there's another big seamed sheet waiting.
This week I finally got to pick out a big enough table for my hanji vat!! After phones calls and emails and the wrong table delivered, it finally arrived on the day that they also sent the plumber to deal with the floor drain that was no longer working. After we looked at furniture in the old high school building, we looked at the office of one of the guys helping us and we were so impressed by his paint swatches! He said often people can't see the color from those tiny chips, so he painted all of these paint tray liners for bigger samples.
It's not easy to deal with an entire college that uses SO many different paint colors and finishes for their many, many properties (inside, outside, etc.). It's also very hard when you have students who don't understand (or maybe care) about how to properly paint. These are samples of what happens when you don't wash the paintbrush.
Meanwhile, tiny things going on in the studio. Slow slow slow but it's hard to be motivated in all of this heat. What is with this summer solstice weather on the autumn equinox? Well, we know what's going on but it's still distressing.
Yesterday the Nature Center director finally had time to take me around some trails to look for milkweed patches and we also visited the student farm. They grow and sell to the dining hall and also sell surplus at the student center on two afternoons a week.
I knew these would probably be bad but it's hard not to wish that we could make use of these awful invasives. The autumn olive is more promising (top) than the privet (bottom) but I'm not holding my breath. I did a little batch of milkweed but was dripping sweat and hid out in the cool studio until my radio interview in Korea, and then for a couple hours after that. Today I'll try to fill the vat (it's set up!) but also get to visit a local Valley beater!!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Slow going

Two weeks and finally got approval to get a table big enough to fit my hanji vat. Inching towards some progress! Here is some milkweed in the back garden of people who have become my fairy godparents here.
I got my Tasmanian oak dowel beating sticks adjusted so that there's a flat edge, which gives me two corners to help expedite beating.
Playing with knots while stuck. Not so much stuck as a bit overwhelmed by all the things I have to do versus what I want to do.
The cover is the only one done with pencil and ink. The rest are from a past session of onion skin fun. Thread is gold from Japan via Australia.

I kept thinking it had to be earth shattering but all that was necessary was to DO SOMETHING. Another long awaited book is bound, another waiting to be bound. A dress got started last night. A worm's progress is still progress. Meanwhile, LOVING Joanne's new work!!!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Relationships to time

Now I know which boards work better (the wood ones) and that I shouldn't press this hard (all gauges are so different!). I haven't made paper since the weekend because I'm hoarding the pulp for when I eventually get tables to set up the vat.
My first bit of milkweed from an unsanctioned harvest. Scraped the outer bits for the first time as an experiment as well as a lesson in process and patience.
I made tiny weavings while thinking that maybe all I'll do here is work on small ideas. Who really knows in the end, but I liked the idea of not putting insane pressure on myself to produce an enormous amount of finished large work.
Downtown gets creepy at night but is close to the river.
Part of the reason is the massive construction on the main drag, where they pulled up the brick-paved road and are doing all of the concrete over (and apparently were delayed by hitting water mains at least five times in the process because the maps were not accurate...or maybe people can't read maps anymore) before re-bricking.
Cooked this batch of scrap paper that I've collected for a couple of years. It's amazing how even after hours of boiling in soda ash, the paper is still pretty much intact (this is the soaking picture, before cooking). Will be interesting to see if it comes down any once I beat, but I can tell already that the bits twisted into cord are NOT coming undone.
I went in the wrong direction on the river walk trail thing; it was desolate and creepy with so many stray or locked up dogs howling at each other (I couldn't see them, only heard them). Big buildings like this in the middle of empty land right near the railroad tracks. The trains are certainly not as frequent as when the town was bustling with industry and people but it's still pretty frequent as someone who hears it go by the house every day and night.
Left: milkweed. Right: paper mulberry. Still not on a regular schedule at all but doing my best not to get crazy about what I do and don't get done daily. Listened to a deceased poet on a podcast say that stress comes from a perverted relationship to time. This makes so much sense!

Friday, September 08, 2017

First Friday

Slowly starting to move around: I spent an hour beating fiber this morning before the sculpture class started. I have to time my beats and do it in places that cause the least amount of noise. It travels pretty well in this building, so I think I'll have to be noisy in the mornings before classes start or in the evenings.
Even though I don't have tables yet for the big vat, I could definitely get started with smaller papermaking. I already mixed up some formation aid and the hose is working well. All of this feels like a luxury.
I took some pictures of my show, so you can see it here if you can't make it (and I imagine most people can't). After all that beating, I need a snack so I may go for a walk and get a better sense of campus. My housemate gave me a very lovely gift yesterday of woven shina, from the area of Japan where she lives (Yamagata prefecture). We watched a video of the linden tree being felled and the bark processed into thread and woven into cloth; so many similarities to preparing the paper mulberry bark for papermaking! This is a nice explanation in English, and of course Habu carries some yarn (as well as the bark).

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Back in Michigan

Getting ready to go gets harder each time.
Once I settle in at home, it's hard to leave. But they all came with me for now. I forgot so many things but that's what happens when you pout at the end and put off packing until the day you leave.
My first pecan pie, baked for a very special surprise occasion. We spent the long weekend celebrating, which made it even harder to leave.
But the people are incredibly nice here in Albion, and you can see the house where I get to live in the distance, so close to everything else on campus. I haven't even gotten to see much of campus but I will get to it once I feel more set up in the studio.
I already managed to forget my keys this morning so I had to walk back to the house and was very happy to see this bunch of milkweed greeting me on the way! Good friends, good omens.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Countdowns abound

The ongoing demands of travel and work have been hard, especially on health and making. Nothing is in dire condition, but I would benefit from more sleep, less stress, and Much More Making. I began this one on a night when my hands really needed to get back to the latter.
All cords had been onion skin dyed, and the blue ones later overdyed with indigo.
I finished on a Saturday afternoon in time for a coat of methylcellulose. I don't bother cleaning the windowsills because I live in a high traffic area and pretend I'm not breathing all the pollution (though I guess that's the benefit of being away from home!).
The dried bird (who does more yoga than me), ready for new adventures. I can't deny that this jiseung practice has been incredibly taxing on my body, so I returned to my physical therapist for advice. The verdict: more rest, more stretching!
I didn't get to unwind completely after Michigan travel because of two engagements at the Cleveland Museum of Art. The demo last week went well, and convinced me that I'd need an assistant for my class on the weekend. Thankfully, my faithful past apprentice was able to help. I'm also fortunate to have a friend with ready tools—Bill loaned me the drill in the background to dismantle the crate for this lovely new Aardvark Press. The crate parts went back to him to rip for use as press boards, though I have a feeling I'll need more.
I was 15 minutes early for setup and unloaded equipment for class at the curb. The remaining equipment did not appear on time, which made me wish I slept in for an extra hour, or taken the time to have a proper breakfast.
About 45 minutes later, I moved my equipment closer to the outdoor class site. Eventually, all the other stuff arrived, most importantly, the hose!
We couldn't have asked for better weather—a mix of sun and clouds, never too hot, and a bit of wind (I ran after a couple sheets that dried and flew away). The fiber I cooked came down nicely and we had six vats after all the beating. It was so nice to move the tents to the lawn for papermaking on the lawn.
One of my students traveled all the way from Puerto Rico, after having decided to write about hanji for her thesis, inspired by a year of living in Korea and visiting my teacher. I was so glad she was able to come because my Michigan class had to turn away everyone on the waitlist.
I couldn't put out my usual spread of hanji artwork outdoors so I did show and tell after we boarded the sheets and were waiting for them to dry. Everyone went home with batches of dry and damp sheets, pretty good work for one day. With Charity's help, my car was loaded (with the 250-lb press!) and ready to go faster than the tents were bagged. And more good fortunate: the elevator at home that had been broken for almost a year had just been fixed days before.
I had started the head of this one right after I finished the blue duck, but paused to teach and recover. Yesterday I cleaned up the rest of my equipment and supplies so I could have a day to make before I move again next week. Today was my first free morning in recent memory, so this one is drying now. Someday I'll live in a place with cleaner windowsills.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The last fortnight home

My Ox-Bow students made lots of paper, almost all of it to be shared (socialist paper à la Frank Brannon!). We had a few good days of sun but the rain also appeared as well as high humidity. We managed, though, even through my sleepless nights worrying about it while laying in damp bedding. I'm not sure how I managed on so little sleep but it was a great group.
JeeYeun, who is doing her MFA at Cranbrook, spent a lot of time at the hanji vat. It was put to good use and everyone was good about beating all the fiber and not complaining.
There was a leftover indigo vat in the meadow so I took my class out to play. JeeYeun already knew more techniques so she had lots of beautiful pieces by the end.
Once she figured out how to make cords, Kim was so speedy with them and with twining. She finished one basket, and then started one with indigo-dyed cords.
Diana is already a piñata artist, and was inspired by my teapot to make her own. I love the indigo stripe detail and the handle wrapped with paper thread, all with paper made in class. She gave some of her paper to a student in the bookbinding class, and this book has covers of that paper.
This student from another class came through to look at our show and tell, enjoying Sarah's excellent amate and bark lace accordions. What else? All my pictures are here.
The print/text class did beautiful work 
The book class churned out SO MANY BOOKS! 
And the painting class was inspired by the well-fed chickens on campus.
Five of us went out in a canoe to get to Lake Michigan for the sunset. I was so grateful to Lyndsi and JeeYeun (both Cranbrook folks) for doing all the steering and paddling!
After 7 straight days of work, I drove an hour east to Kalamazoo to see the book arts center, where I'll teach and exhibit this December.
Then I pushed off to head east again for another hour to hang my new show at Albion College. By then, I was barely standing from lack of sleep and food, so after lunch, I unpacked the show and called Tim and Pati to come help me. Not only was I unloading the show, but leaving my hanji vat and assorted tools for my residency that starts after Labor Day.
Thank goodness!!! They worked so hard with me for four hours and the whole thing was up. Over 70 pieces. It's amazing to be in such good hands and trust people 100% because they are skilled artists and tool people. I got to see their gorgeous home and studios and spend the night peacefully before pushing off for the final haul home. I leave in 20 minutes for a museum papermaking demo, and the rest of the week is full of fun things like car and body maintenance. One more papermaking workshop this weekend, and then I have a week to pack for a semester in Michigan!