Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Take five

These two (the duck and gourd-turned-lucky bamboo) were the last pieces of 2017. I like that I got to make art from the start to finish of the year. I think part of my crabbiness this year already is that I haven't made anything yet.
New year, new soap! This is from my Australia trip, made by a friend of my lovely hostess Sharon.
This reservoir east of me was home to at least two kitesurfers this weekend. Here is one of them, to the right. The other one had a red kite. I have no idea if they were also ice fishing but they were out for a while.
The fifth year of my Oberlin intensive is underway! I thought the first day of fiber processing would go quickly but I was wrong. The milkweed took ALL DAY to strip. Granted, we were down one person, but still...however, now everyone has beautiful milkweed paper.
This year I got earplugs for students because beating is so noisy in this echo chamber.
I may have gone overboard by providing so many fibers this year: Thai kozo, Cleveland kozo (plus chiri that they scraped), Philippine gampi, and Michigan milkweed. This was the cleanest white bark of all, which I think was due to the extra step of rinsing the scraped inner bark before cooking.
Sheet forming—this is the cooler (but darker) room. The other room where the actual shower heads are feels like a sauna.
Mostly white bark from paper mulberry hand scraped (by FOUR lefties!! Can you believe that half of the class is left-handed? It's a miracle), and milkweed.
This time I decided to have a communal bark lace piece, which they can cut from if they want to embed between sheets. I don't know why I didn't think of this as a group project before.
Yesterday was their field trip to Cleveland to visit the Morgan and dye paper,
followed by a visit to Zygote. Liz gave the tour even though she is outgoing to start her new art adventures; always great to see her, and to witness her energy as well as the way she draws everyone into her talks. Jane, the new and fabulous ED (in classes), had started that very day! I was happy to meet her and think she'll do a great job.
Rebekah, the shop manager, was trained extensively in green printmaking to transform the studio into a safer working environment. For the new litho press coming in, thanks to Tom Balbo, she is using vinegar to de-rust pieces. The containers are full of water to raise the level of vinegar.
Letterpress shop with lots of food for thought.
We are running out of drybox space, so I had one of my students board onto the tiles in the shower room. Let's see which actually stick (that room is so overheated that they started peeling away pretty soon after they were brushed on). Tomorrow, the pulp painting mania begins!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

This year's gifts

A basket is a reminder
 either way
 Luminous and simple
 This is the start
We used to go to water

A challenging year, which yielded gorgeous fruit. The fortnight home in NY has whizzed by, along with a shoot by the ever reliable and wonderful Stefan (an open secret!). I'll post all of the books above soon on my site but for now, finishing up the final dinner of 2017 and praying that next year brings similarly fabulous gifts, with slightly less agony. Cheers!

Friday, December 15, 2017

And there it went

Of course my fantasy of making all kinds of new work in the last two weeks I had to do so this year (before I fly off to see family and friends) shattered when I spent 10x as much time making new duck stands. Big takeaways:
1. If you do the work yourself, you'll remember how to do it better than if a man swoops in and insists that he does it instead
2. If you don't remember how you did it but know what you're doing right now is NOT that, take a little more time to jog your memory before using the blowtorch
3. It's great to work in a shop where people are nice and helpful
4. Endless sanding and filing are not always the answer
5. Thank Prometheus for fire!!
This is the first book I bound in Albion, and though I got the first page started there, I never finished it. Until now!
When you are pressed for time, you make lots of different decisions.
This was the second book, where I made different decisions. Both of these books were a couple years in the making. Paper has to sit and age for a while before it can talk to you about what it would like to become.
This is the third of the book batch, but it was conceived differently, so it was able to talk to me very quickly. I made all of this paper in Albion and had it ready to bind but didn't have time to do the final sewing until I got home, before I headed to Kalamazoo.
I am indebted to Velma for writing a perfect poem about her cold right about when I was re-reading a David Whyte book about work that contains lots of wisdom from lots of different people (like Rilke, Joseph Campbell, and Iris Murdoch). Those two inspirations propelled me back into a less precious place and a way to simplify. Now I have more work done, with more ahead in the less than two days that remain before flying.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

This year's last show, teaching, and driving

My Kalamazoo show and opening went well, though I was of course so tired from all the prep that I found every chance I could to lean on tables instead of standing on the floor. It's the best not having to hang and take down shows. This one is up through the first week of January.
The workshops were also great, and wonderfully low-key. It's such a luxury to have good, calm, happy students. Shawn made the trip again all the way from Chicago to take my hanji making class! Friends are so nice and generous. 
On the way home, I spent one last night in Concord. I photographed more of Tim's tools. He had offered earlier to slide the insulated wood closed over the windows for better shots, but I love the view of the trees too much to do that. Though I was impressed by those extra 'doors' that slide right over the windows to keep out cold at night and in the winter. Everything is elegant and simple and made well here. An excellent goal for all of us!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Back pats

I haven't figured out how to organize yet in a way that I can travel with these (it requires a labeling system and a binding system. Both need to not disturb the papers too much but also has to keep them from flying around) but it was deeply satisfying to see the array of hanji that I made this fall in Albion. It's not every batch, but a lot of them. Reminds me that I was always happy with natural colors—the range available without dye is fantastic. Mulberry, gampi, abaca, cotton, milkweed, yucca, whee!

See you in Kalamazoo this weekend.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Already time to return west

The holiday was FULL of food and friends and family and fun. I tried to recover by going vegan this morning for breakfast.
Thursday, I drive back to Michigan for my last gigs of the year. Opening a show in Kalamazoo and teaching two workshops. Here is a tiny dress that will come with me to NYC for photography.
This one, too. Made a fistful of cords today while avoiding a giant task list. It's always necessary to have that kind of break. But at night the workload looks even more daunting. Though the trip involves lots of work, it will be good to drive again—this time with a repaired car (feels like new!)—and relax into the open road.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Changes again

I've lost track of time completely! My residency is over, though I have one more Michigan trip next week before the year ends. Which must be why I still feel like I'm in between places. My last batch of hanji used Japanese gampi that required A LOT of cleaning.
Three days of cleaning! Which made me so impatient that I didn't beat for long enough, and underestimated the stubbornness of the tough strands. That last batch of paper contained a huge learning curve and tons of surprises and I am grateful for all of it.
I also had a last minute Dye Something Messy Already moment, which led to last minute orders of tannin and mordant, for more brazilwood fun.
I came home with wonderful gifts of prints. This is from Batoul, a hardworking and inspired student. She's learning all kinds of wonderful techniques in her printmaking class with Anne.
And a treasure from Pati! Milkweed print on milkweed hanji. I have another version on uncleaned milkweed hanji. Getting packed and back home with many other stops in the Ann Arbor vicinity and then unpacked was all quite energy consuming but the big items are now finally out of my car and my home doesn't look so much like a disaster zone. Just in time to pack again for next week's Kalamazoo gigs!