Sunday, February 19, 2017

Vienna: All over again, at last

After the first five days of teaching, I started over again and taught the first two workshops again for different groupings of students. Here's papermaking, round two (all very enthusiastic beaters! With such nice fiber, it didn't take long to get this to a lovely state for nice sheets).
George, the biology professor, took all of the pics with a more orange cast. It was SUCH a treat to have a scientist, serious artists, and serious papermakers.
So hard to avoid the magic of paper prototypes when working from raw fiber, and a good way to have another thing for students to do when not sheet forming but working wet.
Lydia, Christian, Michal. I was not crazy about the formation aid and it was revealed to be polyethylene glycol AKA PEG AKA PEO AKA absolutely not what I consider to be formation aid at all. No wonder both classes had some trouble with formation. But everyone soldiered on.
Ai Weiwei's zodiac heads are now in Vienna!!! I had no idea, and some students mentioned it was in town when talking to me about the different museums in town. It wasn't until I walked with another papermaker to the Belvedere Palace grounds that we saw them. I first saw them in Cleveland at the art museum years ago and it was so comforting to see them again.
After that brief walk, which was close to the studio, I walked much further to the museum district and could only pick one to visit that was open late because I only had so much steam in me. I chose the Leopold Museum, because I have always been an Egon Schiele fan, and very much enjoyed it. This is a horse toy that he owned that showed up in his work.
Next day, back to papermaking! Pia, Tatiana, and Lydia were great and all stayed on to take the class afterwards, so it was nice to have that continuity. My stretcher bar sugeta remained the favorite of all. I will probably need to construct some more in certain dimensions for future travel.
George and Tatiana using up the last of the fiber (plus some mitsumata that came in sheets from Beatrix's store) in floating moulds. Very nice way to empty vats.
We survived (well, Lydia went home sick a bit early)!
The last two days took me back to teaching variations of paper thread and cord. Annette, a textile designer from Bavaria, took SO very quickly to everything and was a huge help because she demystified the drop spindle for the rest of the class (I've never had the majority of students prefer that to the bobbin winder).
Susan is also a textile designer and a quick study, also fantastic to have in class. And can you believe, Elisabeth in the background, far left, spent five years living in the US, in Cleveland? Small, small world. She worked and studied there and will be returning in May for a visit to see an old friend. All the circles close somehow.

Once teaching was over, I packed and left gifts for Beatrix and Linda of PaperPhine before attempting to sleep for the final night. It was indeed an unusual travel plan, to only fly in and out to teach and not sightsee or relax or travel to neighboring countries, but this was an unusual set of circumstances. Hoping that future trips are more leisurely, and grateful for all the new connections. After weeks, I may finally be out of the grips of jet lag!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Vienna: More courses

St. Stephen's Cathedral on a misty night, all incense-y inside and dark and candles everywhere.
I was amazed by the fortitude of these women who cut and corded and twined over two days (and at least half the class had already taken two days of papermaking, so we were all tired). They said the weaving was more exhausting in some ways than the papermaking.
Beatrix is in the blue on the left and then I never managed another picture because she was in and out and then very ill with a nasty virus making the rounds. Maya and Michaela worked quietly on this end of the classroom; I really loved having them in both classes.
Then, my teaching Day 5 was the third class: joomchi! Again, lots of repeat students that I was quite fond of. Evelyn in the foreground told me on the first day about her trips to Japan and her work in tourism (guess who is going to get a call for my next trip there? It would be nice to see the sights in the daylight). 
Beatrix had a ton of paper from Korea as well, so students were very happy with all of the options on that day, and repeaters were relieved to have such a simple technique to practice all day after the intensity and quantity of info that they got the previous days.
After a Tuesday night trip to the MAK Museum to see a craft show (how appropriate!), a kind student showed me where she had dined the previous night, at a well known cafe. We did the thing that all tourists are encouraged to do: eat wiener schnitzel. I was more taken by the pickled veggies and now feel tremendous guilt for eating calves but it was a really nice change from cooking for myself in the studio.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Vienna: First class

I saw these musicians on a long walk to St. Stephen's Cathedral when I still didn't know how to ride the very easy and convenient public transportation system. I arrived on a Thursday morning and was immediately put to work in the studio to prep for class, as well as on Friday (kozo cooking!), and then classes began Saturday. They ran 9am - 5pm and I did all kinds of prep before and cleanup after, so that did not leave me a lot of time to get out. When I did, it was dark, but fortunately I didn't feel unsafe walking alone at night.
The first class was a 2-day papermaking course full of wonderful women who bonded very well. I liked them a lot and they were so eager to learn.
Fortunately, given the fact that we could only run enough vats for half the students at a time, they REALLY took to working with bark. Lots of lace, lots of amate. I have to say that I was so impressed by the fiber, which was Thai kozo, but a million times more wonderful than what we have been receiving in the US. Guess who is scheming a way to get that stuff instead? Thanks to John Gerard for providing such a wonderful service to Europeans.
Bark lace everywhere! Michaela was with me for 5 days straight instead of taking a vacation. I really enjoyed taking lunch with her each day.
Beatrix, our host, is very aware of the value of providing a good coffee service. Note the brand of the chocolate chip cookies (much better than the ones actually from America). I had an accident with this electric stovetop near the end of my stay before a class. I was trying to cook kon'nyaku on a back burner while also making eggs for breakfast on a front burner, but accidentally had the wrong burner on. It scorched this plate and melted the coffee pot cable, which happened to be resting on the stove surface. I smelled something and by the time I found the problem and moved the cable, it exploded in my face (no injuries thank goodness) and all the power went out in the entire studio. The first student who arrived for class helped switch the fuse box off and on and then we were fine.
In my calculations about no power, I realized I could still run an Asian papermaking class with no electricity. Beatrix had five sugetas from Korea but the sewing was raised so high on the edgesticks that initial release on couching was very hard. My handmade one with paint stretcher bars was by far the favorite tool in both papermaking classes (we ran the same class 2x by popular demand).
I was grateful to have lots and lots of drying boards. And I forgot to take a picture of it, but Beatrix has a beautiful huge old screw press. What a treat, because it's quite hard to over-press with one of those. It's also much more straightforward than hydraulic ones, and I didn't have to worry about students working on their own with the press.
The windows to the studio look directly onto the street and I got a sill and a half to display objects—for the class but also for passersby. Beatrix provides an amazing space and resources for people not just in Vienna but in the entire region, and I was glad to finally get the chance to visit.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Vienna: Prelude

This was my second night in town, before I began teaching. Of course there was a demonstration in this central area that night so that I was stopped by police barricades before I could get to the Hofburg, but I was able to see it another night.
Sigrid made this in the first class, the wetness coming from kon'nyaku along her sewn edge. I had zero wifi while I was there, so I'll try to summarize as I wade through jet lag—just returned last night to so much going on in the families of my loved ones (and myself).
Maya flew from Switzerland to take my classes. Other students traveled up to 10 hours by rail from different parts of Germany, by bus from the Czech Republic, by plane from Berlin, and of course from Austria. Such lovely, kind, generous, hardworking students!
I made it only to the insides of two museums but they were just right. The second was where I found this wonderful horse that was meaningful to Egon Schiele, at the Leopold Museum.

More on this very intense adventure once I get my bearings!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

How to avoid packing

I could barely vacuum today because I had paper all over the floor and have had paper all over the floor for a week, maybe more.
I worked on this toddler-sized hoodie over the weekend, and had a nice break at the end when I had to walk outside to the store to find buttons (this took much longer than I expected).
I tried to do this in one night but needed another day to finish it because my eyes wear out so quickly at night now. I may be in denial about what is happening as my eyes age but they send pretty clear messages when they are done working.
I started this piece last night and my eyes were screaming at me to stop so I waited and pounced on it while doing laundry and pretending like I'm not leaving the country tomorrow. I've wanted for a while to do a Korean-style garment and this is a child's version, the skirt done in hanji dyed in a light wash of persimmon and then some onion over it that probably didn't do anything but it was a good way to feel like I was using up my dye.
The colors are ALL off in the photo because it was dusk by the time I finished it, but I am very happy with the whole thing. The jacket is mostly all milkweed papers. I would have liked to do a contrasting tie but it was easiest to use some hanji that I made under Velma's good graces, and that Korean bark gave me a color closer to the milkweed.

Now I have no excuse to not pack (aside from not wanting to) but am already tempted to cut pieces for the adult-sized version of this dress. I barely feel like Vienna is happening tomorrow because my layover in Newark is close to the length of my flight to Europe. Hello, February!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

It's a wrap

We made it! The cases are full of beautiful books and paper, and my students took to heart my lecture about how important thank you notes are by showering me with them in book form (I swear I was not fishing for them; I was trying to teach professional and personal development). Another fantastic way of starting the year: a month of teaching newbies how to make paper and books!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

One more day



There are books and paper all over the classroom, every inch of it. Tomorrow is the final day of class: one more morning to work, then we clean up and install the show! Meanwhile, I'm in a bit of paralysis as the rest of the year comes rushing up into my face, but found this booklet about making art during fascism helpful (visit this site and use the contact form to get the free pdf version). I have to remember that it's like a big wave crashing down and that bracing myself isn't as useful as swimming into it.