Monday, January 16, 2017

Honor justice

On Friday, my class visited the letterpress class, where Bob (in the apron) is guiding a big group of students through the process of designing and printing a book. This year, they have written about the election aftermath through the parable of the gingerbread man, and are in the midst of carving blocks and setting type.
I think my greatest challenge is not falling into despair, which happens mostly in solitude. I'm learning more and more about the dangers of isolation—whether letting your mind run off with its worst thoughts, or sequestering yourself only with people who provide echo chambers. Today is a good day to remember our resolve to do right even when inconvenient and difficult. Above: the latest paper adventures over the last two weeks.

And Joanne B Kaar, one of my very favorite artists, had a lovely interview come out yesterday. It's long but worth the read because it reviews lots of different projects she's been involved in over time. Her work is about place, time, labor, history, nature, and people. Important truths!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Beyond me

1. Hanji was certified in Italy as a material suitable for restoration and used in doing just that for valuable cultural treasures.

2. I'm not able to go to D.C. for the Women's March next weekend but have donated. Please do if you can to help the cause (to cover things like being able to use a restroom!).

3. Vamp & Tramp sent their yearly mailing and it was wonderful as always, so thoughtful and genuine. One of the many nuggets was their concern about saying "no problem" as opposed to "you're welcome" because it centers me (as in, "no problem FOR ME") rather than you (YOU are welcome). I don't know when I started to use the former and have tried to stop. Cultural forces that demand, "memememe" are so hard to counteract, but even the subtle changes, and language, make a difference.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

When students become teachers

I was really looking forward to today, set aside for paper decoration. It's a nice break from papermaking and a whole new way of approaching paper. But the biggest reason is that one of my students who took this class two years ago was returning to teach marbling!
Jones (appropriately lit like an angel here) took my class as a first year and was almost totally silent the entire month. It was clear, though, that he was incredibly gifted and I insisted that he continue making things after the class ended. He went on to take the library letterpress course, where he met Steve Pittelkow, a master marbler. He was so impressed by Steve's demo at Oberlin that he ended up taking his next January term class in Florida, learning everything that Steve could throw at him in a month (which was A LOT).
Now, Jones has his own setup to work on his own, the knowledge to learn on his own in self-directed ways, and impressive papers for sale not only through his shop but the Morgan's. You can see his papers on Instagram and see a video of him working online as well. He's a natural teacher and of course my students fell in love with the whole process. It's also incredibly powerful to be taught by a peer, and they were engaged and excited in a whole different way.
These were the papers they made yesterday, and it will be interesting to see what they end up making tomorrow after having all kinds of new ideas through paper decoration.
Cori completely loves marbling already

Even the most reserved students were all smiles today.
What I enjoyed most was how Jones threw them all into the deep end from the start, showing difficult patterns and offering to teach them whatever they wanted to learn based on his images online. That's the beauty of being open to everything and not afraid of challenges. Everything is possible at this time in their lives!
They also learned how to make paste papers, and that made the usual grand old mess, but plenty of fun papers and fun painting.
And we had suminagashi going as well so that everyone could keep busy since we only had two marbling tanks and a limited amount of carrageenan.
So many papers on the line! A particularly good day to receive visitors, of which we had a couple.

So proud of all of my students, and glad to play assistant for a while. One student has a family member in hospice and she made a marbled piece as a gift that looked like outer space because she said, "I want to give him the universe."

Monday, January 09, 2017

Hearty breakfasts

Now that I am on a M-F teaching schedule, I have to bone up in the morning with more food than I usually eat. We ended last week with a field trip to Cleveland, visiting two studios and dyeing papers. Today we begin western papermaking with cotton and abaca pulps, plus pulp painting. I can already tell this group is going to love it all.

Speaking of paper teaching, Helen Hiebert is launching a new on-line class on illuminated paper! I am always impressed by how active she is in testing and figuring out new ways to reach people and spread interest in paper arts, from writing to teaching out of her studio and on the road to collaborations with other artists and so on. I envy all of her energy, even as someone who works similarly (which reminds me that I probably would have more if I exercised more...)!

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

New year means new paper

It's that time of year! Oberlin students learn to make paper. They scraped the bark off of the kozo so quickly that I didn't even get to take a picture of it happening. Yesterday they beat Thai kozo and today beat the Cleveland kozo. A biology professor is participating and very kindly brought some ear muffs to help us cope with the Very Loud noises.
Yesterday, after unloading the van and setting up studio, scraping, and beating, they each made a sheet as an intro. Today they got into it full force and made a LOT of paper. And it's all socialist paper, so no name tags!
The Thai stuff is hopelessly stringy but they will enjoy the better material tomorrow.
Drying took a while and a good portion never made it into the dryboxes. Lots of cockling and speedy drying on boards in the overheated shower rooms, but a good lesson. More fun planned for tomorrow.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

It's almost here

I made this box before I left for the holiday and am still pleased with using up paper I had laying around for a while. There are still many, many loose ends but I've done about as much as I can before I head out for the night.

What about next year? If you want to be in nature in a very solo kind of way, apply to Montello! The deadline is at the end of January. In the meantime, hold yourself and your loved ones close and stay healthy! We need to stay strong for everything that is to come.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Whoa like we're riding

I want the horse to slow down! This is Stefan's shot, much better than mine. I was supposed to be back home today (as of yesterday) but got so horrifically sick over the holiday that I had to change my flight. This has never happened: two different illnesses in the span of a month, over holidays, causing major travel/work disruption, and making me question why I'm so susceptible.

Then again, even the hardiest of us have moments. Our beloved Bridget of Cave Paper has suffered from a staph infection but is out of surgery and back home. As soon as the paper community got wind, they stepped up, and now the book community is in on the action. I am gratified to see how well we take care of each other. Some wonderful things never change about human nature!