Thursday, July 02, 2015

Vintage at five

I have been trying to search for photos from my hanji classes a year ago, with very little success. But I did find this wonderful out-of-focus shot of my very first hanji workshop when the studio was born. I just counted on my fingers, and it will be five years old this summer! Five years isn't that long, but this picture already feels so old. So much has changed, I've learned a ton, so much has stayed the same, and I still have even more to learn.

On a slow day

I finally got a few shots of the butterflies that have been feasting in the Morgan's garden this summer. They are plentiful and happy. Seems like so much more insect life than in past summers, but we have definitely had tons of rain. The kozo is also happy with rain and fertilizer.
The milkweed is especially abundant and fragrant this year and the butterflies are taking advantage on every nice day.
Tom had a handful of leaves he had pulled off some palms outside when I came in this morning. He told me to go make something.
So I did.
She wanted in.
Who's to say no? Pressing hanji right at the moment, fingers crossed for a smooth parting and drying afternoon. I'm low on energy but hoping these sheets behave.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Back to the vat

I nearly drowned in work the past couple of weeks and realized after talking to some friends that I need to correct course and get back to what's important. I'm soaking a few years of hanji scraps from weaving right now. It's only a half pound and will probably give me just a handful of big hanji sheets, but I want to experiment with a tiny bit of gold leaf.
She's helping us press almost 50 sheets of hanji that I made with Kirstin bringing up the rear (I got SO tired after over 30) today. Tom soaked Japanese kozo on Sunday, I cooked on Monday, the interns helped rinse, pick, and beat on Tuesday, and we did a bit more hand beating this morning before brushing in the naginata and prepping the vat. This is also the middle of a three-day photo shoot for the local paper. The sheets are so much nicer now that we've switched entirely to Japanese kozo for production, instead of tough and stringy Thai kozo.
Soaking to beat tomorrow or Friday. The verdict will come in once we press, part, and dry the sheets tomorrow. Thank goodness for this brief respite from the summer heat! Perfect for this quick production run.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Evening reading

The new issue of Hand Papermaking Magazine is out and it's great, as usual. What I love is that many of my favorite people contributed to it in ways that suit them perfectly: Shawn, Melissa, Velma, my publisher. And then there was another highlight: seeing Anne Covell's research on historic Japanese book covers. I had met her and her collaborator, Kazuko Hioki, at the Book in East Asia Workshop at Oberlin in 2012. They had just begun this process of figuring out how to replicate book covers that were made of recycled papers. The article is an excellent story of the various tests they went through to figure out how they were made in the past (Anne talks about the process on her blog as well). This kind of research is so important, and of course she's an Iowa grad, because they ALL do that kind of meticulous and serious work. The tipped-in samples are particularly special.

I love seeing up-and-coming paper folks doing such exciting work! Here's another: May Babcock put together an impressive map of papermaking around the world on her Paperslurry site. I'm inspired to see how people serve the field.

But back to birds: Shawn's contribution was a pop-up, and his write-up was particularly touching. He talked about how awful it was to read last year that over half the bird species in North America were being harmed by climate change, about how he and his people love birds. We humans will always be compelled by these (mostly) flying creatures. I spotted some fishing on the choppy ocean in Maine, and came back to New York, surprised by the ones singing songs that mimicked car alarms. They adapt remarkably well, but I wish that we weren't forcing them to adapt too much too fast.

I've overworked myself more than usual but am determined this weekend to take at least one duck out for some air and new sights, and to sleep as much as possible!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Ocean receding too fast

I left Haystack less than two weeks ago but already it's so distant. It's remarkable, though, when I see these pictures again of the rocks and everything else that my heart immediately calmed a bit, soothed.
We all liked to justify overeating by the number of steps we had to take. Well, I did.
Carolanne had this as a funny piece on the ledge where she worked in the clay studio. I liked her so much and liked finding excuses to talk to her. When a lot of pieces came out of the kiln broken and not so happy, I overheard her say, "They're of us but not us, like hair or fingernails, so we have to let them go."
Naomi gave me the rest of her soy wax and advice on where to shop for an electric skillet. BEST ROOMMATE EVER.
This was the meal where I overate the most. We all felt pretty bad afterwards, but how can you not overeat when there are at least 10 kinds of pizza and huge bowls of cream, berries, and chocolate?
Priscilla was right behind me in the fibers studio and the best studio neighbor I could ask for. She's from Ohio and has lots of Oberlin connections (parent and child alums) and this amazingly well-rounded life where she teaches, plays music, cycles, has lots of friends, makes art, and just moved to a home with more land. She started to make these little sewn pockets and we were all smitten immediately. I was hooked by the very first three, and then they ballooned to LOTS.
Kelly, our fibers tech, wove some gorgeous samples while helping everyone and feeding our indigo habit. She dyed this yarn in the indigo vat and ooooh.

After Maine, I did a week and change in New York to see family and friends, work, and not get as much sleep as I wanted or expected. I took one of my ducks with me. Immediately, someone thought she was real. I mean, she is real, but he thought she was a live one.
We visited the Met, for work and play, mostly play to catch up with a bunch of colleagues and even meet some people I had either met in the past in a different capacity, or only known over email.
It threatened rain all day, spitting a bit, but we saw the big China exhibit and a few other things.

Who doesn't love a moon jar?

I conducted interviews and offered a ride to one for an in-person interview at the Morgan. He took me up on my offer, so I drove us back all day Sunday, saw my very patient sweetie afterwards, and then spent the entire last two days hosting and touring and explaining and driving and going nonstop. We had a MASSIVE thunderstorm that woke me up at 4am, but all is calm now. The candidate is on a flight back to NYC, I've had a ton of meetings and conversations and transactions back at the Morgan, and am slightly less inbox-heavy.

My pro shot my newest ducks, so you can see Stefan's handiwork starting here. Helen Hiebert also shared my ducks on her Sunday Paper. I try to travel with them almost everywhere I go because they bring nothing but 100% joy. I'm all for 100% joy.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Quackers

Yoko threw this cup of mixed clay and asked people to help decorate them. Of course I put ducks on mine. While I take care of NYC business this week, I won't be able to do as much Haystack reminiscing as I'd like, but at least the duck pictures are up here!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Ways to measure growth

I'm back, or I left. Back to 'real life' and the 'real world' while leaving Haystack and Maine. What an incredible fortnight, which nourished me exactly as I needed. This is duck #1.
I didn't bring dyestuff, I don't know why. Maybe to avoid the jinx of overconfidence that I would need it? So I bought walnut ink at the store, which gave a nice color but entirely the wrong finish—too dull.
So I dunked it into the indigo vat (there seems always to be one when I am at Haystack, and this time, the entire campus was in it!). I still didn't like how lifeless the brown was, though I enjoyed the two tones, so that ended soon.
The midnight tone was rich because of the walnut underneath, and then a friend came by in the shape of duck #2. Pre-dyed persimmon cords: his tail is spot-persimmon-dyed washi from Paper Connection that was corded and his face is made from cords persimmon dyed and unwound in Korea.
Desserts were rich and plentiful. The pumpkin chip cookies at lunch were my favorite.
Yoko was an incredible technical assistant in the clay studio and encouraged me to do it for the first time! I found some wonderful people there, including one I had met last summer at Penland. No surprise, we had two metal folks from Penland in the group as well.
Saturday is always lobster picnic on the rocks. I loved watching people pound their dinner on the rocks to access.
The weather had been dreadful for the first few days, very cold and rainy, but this day and evening were ideal.
A domesticated duck, solo, swam out to say hello. My fabulous roommate Naomi pointed it out while we were eating and we all laughed.
On Sunday, we saw a very intense show by Wendy Maruyama at the winter office about the Japanese internment in this country. I could barely stay in the gallery because of how heavy the emotion was.
We were driving away when Yoko exclaimed, "A luna moth!" She has hawk eyes: it was just on a stick in the windy wind on the side of the road. Carolanne turned her car around so we could say hello.
The real duck inspired duck #3 (she's at the very right) and I finished duck #4 (indigo-dyed cords, unwound, plus a bit of Korean persimmon cords on the head) just in time to relax my hands a bit on the final day. Big ideas brewing, really big. My fingertips got so hard from weaving that my phone no longer recognized them as fingers and I had to use the softer part of my finger pads. Though the reception was so poor that I was fortunate to be fairly shielded from even needing electronic devices for communication.

More as I get my head and body together, as there is so much to share. In the meantime, huge gratitude to Haystack for making this gem of a residency. And it's here to stay, so be sure to apply next year!

Monday, June 01, 2015

Quack

First prototype coming along at Haystack, where I plan to hide my computer from myself and only work with my hands. Send a letter if you want to say hi because I won't be on email until I leave: Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, 89 Haystack School Drive, Deer Isle, ME 04627 (to arrive no later than June 12).

Like someone said today: "I came for the ocean."