Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Tools tools tools

Weather has been the driving force for this entire trip: inclement weather that was predicted forced me to change my flight earlier (which meant I packed in a last minute haze that left a few things behind unintentionally), and it has been cold (which makes me want to curl up and sleep). But class went well over the weekend with a nice group and then I was free to start research interviews for my toolmaker book. Yesterday morning I met Serge Picard, a Belgian mould maker who has inherited Ron MacDonald's amazing loom for backings and facings of English moulds in the Amies tradition. He was delivering a wove and laid mould each to donate to the Hand Papermaking auction this spring! I was astounded by his generosity.
Tatiana was kind enough to let me sit in on this meeting at Dieu Donne's new location at the Brooklyn Navy Yard so it was an adventure to get there and look around. Still a big work in progress, with concrete drilling going on during the entire day. Here she is with Serge, looking at a huge Tim Moore mould. She let me transcribe my notes after he left to visit Carriage House and I was amazed by how quickly the time went. I needed to head back to Manhattan and way uptown for my next meeting, but managed to navigate with her excellent directions.
Jeff Peachey had moved since the last time I visited his studio several years ago. I knew I absolutely needed to spend time with him for this book even though I am focusing on papermaking toolmakers and he makes book tools, because he is the Tool Guy. The real deal.
He showed me so many things and shared so much knowledge that I'm positive that most of it has fallen out of my head because of the sheer quantity and depth of it all. But I was really happy to hang out for five hours (eventually moving to dinner) and be schooled in a way that reminds me how fortunate I am to be working on this project.
This was part of the journey home at night. I was very happy to be free of meetings today during the snow and wind but tomorrow I head out again for family stuff. Still need to write up a ton of notes and get back to the regular work as well, but excited about what's to come, including another interview this week before the flight home.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017


While avoiding admin on Monday afternoon, made this wee one.
On Tuesday, I went back to think[box] to work with a great volunteer, John, who helped me solder my copper stands. I spent the evening sanding each one by hand.
Otherwise, they would have looked like this (which is okay in some situations, but once I got home and started sanding, I preferred a more refined finish).
Voila! Of course there are things I still want to tweak, and I will return tomorrow if I am prepared enough for NY to use up the last bits of copper so I have the maximum number of stands possible. It only took 7 months to figure out the solution, but now I know how! Which made it very satisfying to read Barbara Kingsolver's Animal Dreams where Loyd says,
“The important thing isn’t the house. It’s the ability to make it. You carry that in your brain and in your hands, wherever you go."
and also,
"Once you know how, you can always do that, no matter what. You won’t forget."
Oberlin's communications office did a fun project in January, traveling campus to document all the things people were doing during Winter Term. If you scroll down to 10:20am, you'll see my hands teaching a book structure; at 10:50pm and later, you'll see a former student marbling.

My paper dress show is doing well, with consistent sales—so gratifying! Here is a post from one of the companies that made a pattern that I used. Now, back to admin.

Monday, March 06, 2017


The opening went great! Sales went well and people came out in the cold to visit and they affirmed what a lovely community I have here. I gave two talks and was so pleased not only to see my cousin and her friends, but a few of my Oberlin students, who were delighted to see and understand the show on a different level now that they know how to make and dye paper.
I brought these new ones for my talk and then coated them the next day, when I was hugely exhausted.
Yet I couldn't stay idle or even nap, so I made this one as well! Hoping to get one more of these done before I head to NYC to teach this weekend.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

This week: Install, Whirlwind, Opening

After feverishly sewing as many garments as possible, I went to the gallery on Monday to start hanging the show. I was SO pleased that they actually hire a pro to do the work, which meant that all I needed to do was re-rig my hanging devices (AKA dowels/sticks and monofilament), take a look at placement, and fluff dresses.
I like leaving the math of it all to other people. Geoff and Joe are such pros and it was a real luxury to not have to figure it all out myself.
This is only one view of the show but it was on the second day when I brought in the large piece in the back to hang above the reception desk. I am so glad this one gets another chance to see the light, after it debuted in Miami years ago.
The large hanbok (Korean dress) anchored the center and then everything fanned out from there. The only reason I climbed the ladder was to re-tie the jacket and make sure the skirt was tied to match the jacket.
On a regular hanger, you'd never see the hood on this one!
Five of the small dresses are on pedestals.
 The rest are on the opposite wall.
Some of my favorites: my milkweed two piece!
Suminagashi jacket and woodblock print skirt
This one was inspired by Joe, who showed me a picture of a movie starring Elvis that he saw: he took a picture of the screen because he so loved the 60s jacket on the woman playing opposite him. I took that as inspiration and changed the design, which is much more obvious on the backside:
This make the front a different color IF you hang the dress in the light rather than on a wall. So much fun to make!

The show opens Friday at Still Point Gallery, and I'll give a talk (with props!) at 6:30 and 7:30pm. Here's all the info.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Back to right now

While in this wonderful in-between state where I wake up very early and go to bed at a healthy hour, I have been sewing and working like a maniac. Lots of hanbok (Korean dress).
This is one of the most successful, a child size 4, using all kinds of paper from all kinds of adventures in the North Country, Cleveland, and Vienna, along with good hanji from my teacher's mill, and the ever beloved persimmon juice.
I've also had fun doing mini-skirt versions of the traditional long skirt, and have gotten very fast at making bias tape with paper.
In between, I've visited think[box] at Case Western Reserve University to attempt more duck stands at a much more reasonable price. Once I get the right solder and a hammer for decorative work, I will be even closer to the finish line.
The two small hanbok to the right are my favorite. The black jacket was hard to make because sumi ink makes paper so brittle and weak, but it was the fourth one I made to try and match the skirt. The one in the middle looks funny now but is better when I arrange the skirt and jacket just so. It's a patchwork of teaching samples and gold gift wrapping (handmade paper, of course).
These are so easy and fun in light and small hanji. They are a beast to make with thicker handmade paper that is human sized. I have an adult version and it really tested my hand muscles when pleating. But at least it can stand up on its own; I've run out of wall space.
This was supposed to be a circle skirt and then morphed into this funny thing that I really enjoy.
This was supposed to have a different top but then I took the skirt in too much so I had to make anew version.
This top was the first thing I made yesterday and the bottom was the last, and in the morning today I look and they STILL don't work together. I'll figure it out, though I only have a few days until I hang my show. One of the women who made a dress pattern that I used for my show that opens next Friday wrote a nice blog post about my work here. I had a studio visit this week for another solo show that will open at the end of June, more dresses, so this year promises to be more intense than ever!

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.