Thursday, May 17, 2018

Digging out

I'm finally feeling a little more hopeful about being able to get good work done at home. I keep moving around my numerous sawhorses and door blanks and vat pieces to rearrange work surfaces as I learn the limitations and potential of each given space + how well I can work in each. I wish I could have concrete window well bits like Angela does at home. But I still haven't been able to deal with any of the landscaping (to solve water problems), so this is still far from reality.
The rhododendron has been unhappy since I arrived, but the Japanese maple leafed out to be the most beautiful thing on my property! This will be good motivation to get up early and work in the front room when the light is best.
Yesterday I released two of these from failed embedding in paper and made four more so I could include them in an edition that hopefully will be done in a couple of weeks. I realize I may only have physically started to put it together now, but it has been years in the making.
Rough sketch of one spread that will obviously be my favorite.
And another one later on. So many wheels finally turning! Just in time, as I have less than a month until I travel around the world.

Friday, May 11, 2018


To spare us all the boredom of what is going on in my house-addled life, I thought I'd look back on past mid-Mays. Last May, I was working in NYC and visiting David Reina's shop to conduct interviews for my book research.
Two Mays ago, I was getting ready to go to PBI (where my dear friend Velma will soon be teaching, alongside so many other beloved colleagues). Before leaving, I was able to look at Shanna's knife prototypes (see? Even before I knew the second book would be happening, I was getting nerdy about tools).
Three Mays ago, I was dealing with large hanji vat repairs, watching a new hanji vat by Julie being born from a distance, and looking at the wood pieces meant to wedge into my large hanji bal teul.
Four Mays ago, I was getting ready to transplant hibiscus seedlings, hanging out with the mayor of Cleveland while demoing papermaking at an Asian festival, and getting ready to teach at Penland (this October, I return to teach a week-long papermaking class!).
Five Mays ago, I was still living in New York but happened to be in Cleveland for big vat training and teaching. It's a relief to look back and see how much I've been invested into the paper world all this time. Often I feel I work enough because I'm caught up in endless admin. Right now, I'm still working on my milkweed book. To be reasonable, I should probably not expect to have it ready for sale until I return from Tasmania/New Zealand next month, but who knows? Anything is possible.

Saturday, May 05, 2018

Way back

I forgot about my Oberlin lecture last month as it happened immediately after my move. Here I am with a couple of the students in the Book in East Asia class, the East Asian Studies librarian Runxiao (with the lovely brooch), and our wonderful Special Collections librarian Ed. A little bit of hanji in the foreground, and Professor Ann Sherif behind the camera.
Here is the newest plant (laying down) with the first two as my guides. The second two are in Australia for the "Beyond the Seam" exhibit that opens later this month. I also dropped off a new duck to Still Point Gallery, where I got to meet Grace Chin, a local jeweler. Such a lovely afternoon.
Though I am still consumed by the house, I am slightly calmer (emphasis on slightly!) and am trying to get back to doing a little work, my work. Fortunately, after my Oberlin lecture, I was able to see both the fabulous Rembrandt show at the art museum, as well as an amazing show of Japanese prints from the collection. The print above is Blue Jar (1965) by Mabuchi Toru (1920–1994).

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Life changes

Oh, my. Like Velma says, it's too easy to forget to blog these days. Here is the view of the house and lot across the street from my first house. This alone would be enough to take over my life (which it has).
That garage disappointed me after moving in because I realized it's not dry at all (I bought the house in snow season). Below grade, and grade is not even doing well (that shady spot to the left is a swamp). The evergreen next to it will be gone soon, along with a giant silver maple behind the whole thing. Let's not even start with the driveway.
I have been 100% derailed from work but have tried lately to weave a few rows at a time so that I can stay 1% sane while researching and calling for estimates for one thing or another. All of this was thrown to the wayside after a big loss in my beloved's family. I never knew how exhausting the emotional toll would be, but am grateful for the time that I can make available. The days include lots of stress eating interspersed with staring out the window to see the birds living in a tree branch and rabbits chasing each other on the lawn, and considering buying tools like rakes and shovels but not actually doing anything at all. Ready to lay down again!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

All over the place

I can't believe how quickly time has flown since coming back from Chicago and moving to a new house. My first! As in, one that I own. I am woefully behind in terms of when I do the adult things in chronological time but here I am on this roller coaster, already having hit the highs and lows in less than a week of actually sleeping in my little brick building. Before the movers came (since I did many loads myself, not trusting anyone else with my paper, artwork, and whatnot), I was able to go to the opening of this wonderful show at Praxis!
The show features work by Pam and Yuko, two dear friends who make beautiful work using paper, thread, textiles, silk, carrier rods, and so on. They were part of the handful of friends I have here that made me want to stay rather than move away.
I have to remember to not obsess over house things (whether large or small, like standing water or pretty curtains) because the whole reason I did this was to be able to have the space to make more art, to WORK.
These two have a really regular art practice while juggling work, family, health, and life obligations. I have to remember that if they can work so diligently, the only reason I can't is because I am making too many excuses for myself. So, after I take the trash out to the curb (very strange behavior to me; I have almost 100% of my life used communal dumpsters), I'll turn up the heat so that I can do something productive that is NOT related to the structure all around me.

Saturday, April 07, 2018

Chicago via hanji

This past week I took my last road trip until June (miracle of miracles! To have over a month at home is something I haven't experienced for almost two years). It was a return to Chicago and packed with goodies, like the recent Kerry James Marshall mural on the side of the cultural center, which Shawn was sure to route us by on the way to catching up. He made me feel slightly less panicked about home ownership, given he's been at it for a while.
I saw him the day after I flew in and got started with a workshop, which included a little of everything: joomchi, thread making, and jiseung cords. There are Danny and Myungah rolling in more tables. I love that this classroom (and others at SAIC) has a built in long ledge.
Korean mills willing to make the donation provided a bunch of hanji, so we had lots of options to play with. This is how things were set up when I thought we'd have about 18 students.
I was wrong! We had a LOT more students, across majors, grad/undergrad, staff/faculty, and so on. It was a wild two hours, packing in tons of info and techniques, and lots of fun. I always forget that there are more people in the world who don't know about hanji than those who do. Right away, the questions came over and over: where can I buy hanji? I also keep forgetting, because I make it and know where to buy it, that it's not as easy to source as other common art materials for students.
After studio visits and lunch the next day, we had a tour of the fiber facilities, which includes a paper studio shared with another classroom, made possible by the mighty Andrea, who was my first paper teacher and continues to teach and inspire students in Chicago and beyond.
There was very little time for anything outside of work, but my hosts were wonderful and I enjoyed the views before running over to see Eric, having a final lunch with Myungah, and then paying a house visit to Melissa. The perfect mix of old and new friends from all walks of life, from barely being out of toddlerhood to just a few years ago. Walking in a city where I lived for 3 years made me wonder if I never really inhabited it, reminding me of the last thing I forget often: how conversations sound with places you've been or lived, then leave, and then return to. Certainly I am focused on the people that I meet, but there is so much to learn from taking in how places evolve—since people have such a big hand in that as well.

Monday, April 02, 2018

Community paper studio open in NYC

Last year, I helped Dieu Donné as they were preparing a new community studio, a place that artists who already know how to make paper could rent on a monthly basis. It's finally up and running! Includes access to a 2-lb Reina beater, a powerful hydraulic press, tools (like moulds by Bob Walp), materials, and discounts on other goods and services that DD offers.
If you are interested in becoming a member/renter, contact Sarika at and read more about the studio here. If you want to sponsor a NYC papermaker, I'm sure they'd be happy to entertain your generosity. These kinds of spaces are hard to come by, even in big cities, because they are such specialized studios. A ton of hard work and expertise went into creating a space amenable to creative paper folks, so I hope it can sustain itself over the long run.