Friday, December 07, 2018

Underground hanji making

I'm suspect about what is in my basement because it makes my eyes water and it better not be radon. I'm not convinced that this is the solution to my temporary problem of the slowest hanji studio to get off the ground, but it's something! Now I know I can do it. And I probably hold a world record for number of temporary hanji studios built.
Devie came all the way from Texas to spend nearly the whole week in snowy Ohio, after winning a Hand Papermaking auction this year to have a home studio experience with me. I had a sketch of the days that she would be here and checked everything off the list! We cooked two pounds of paper mulberry bark on Day 1 + thread making and a visit from museum folks. Day 2 was rinsing and beating fiber, setting up the vat and couching station, making hanji, pressing, parting, and boarding. Day 3 I had to run to my final jewelry class in the morning.
When I got back, Devie had already pulled, pressed, parted, and boarded her FIRST batch of hanji, and had started a new post by herself! We broke for lunch and then did more drop spindle work with paper thread and brought some boards upstairs to dry faster before she left. I finished up the vat as best I could (I was barely standing by then), pressed, and brought the post upstairs with more boards to part and board in a warmer and cozier setting. This morning, I woke up like xmas morning and rushed downstairs to peel away sheets. Instead of having her brave the annoying traffic to my place, I met her at the Verne Gallery to deliver her dry hanji and show her Yuko's beautiful work.

I underestimated how much this would take out of me, so I did a lot of crawling into bed early and laying there for a long time even if I didn't sleep. I'm glad I did it and my basement looks much nicer, but I don't want to spend long hours down there! I can't help it; my animal self recoils from underground time. This afternoon we had SUN and I napped. This weekend I'll rest so that I can get back to studio work before I fly to Boston in a week+.

Sunday, December 02, 2018

Final steps

This was my relaxing piece that I made out of hanji during my Chicago trip when I was too wound up to nap but had some quiet time to myself.
I don't have a good picture of it, but also made a trash can out of hanji and then used the bits leftover to weave (and then paste the ends of) these weird hanji balls.
Also practiced a bunch of the structures from Hedi's and Ulla's new wonderful book.
The huge undertaking for the past almost two weeks has been preparing my neglected basement for a hanji student arriving on Tuesday. Eeee!! This was my paint job and then there was a lot of cleaning, carrying things from place to place, getting help from Bill to move my heavy press from one building to here, and shopping for new basement items to make it functional as a studio. I still need to replace the stair covers but it's not the end of the world if it doesn't happen tomorrow, I hope!

Monday, November 19, 2018

What have I done

The Chicago trip, like all the rest, fades so quickly into the past as I wrangle with the things at home. This is usually the first step, learning to handle one sheet.
Making thread is like unlocking some kind of mystery that was so obvious and yet so obscure when you stare at a sheet of paper.
This was the final workshop, where they actually treated the paper before slicing.
I came home and frantically tried to get a new piece off the ground, but it's slow going.
On the road, it's easy to look up.
At home, I was sad to see my very favorite tree drop its beautiful coat.
Always know you're in Chicago when you see a Nick Cave suit. But I wish I had something like this to hide in to prepare for what was about to happen at home.
The first day that I expected to have a quiet work day at home, I saw men marking the utilities. I wondered why, because they had already ripped up this road for the leaking water main a few months ago. This time: sewer lines.
As contractors are wont to do, they hit the brand-new water line and the hole filled with water as my home was emptied of it. Argh!! In the last week, the noise of the metal plates that people drive over 24/7 has been a huge nuisance (also, it's very difficult to squeeze in and out of the driveway, so I've been trying not to leave—except for when I have to because they turn my water off without telling me). Now, they are slowly preparing the hole for a patch (which, will has to be dug up again in the spring for the final fix, as we are in freezing temps now). I'm trying to stay okay about my home ownership here but it's a challenge. Now I know! Valuable information.

Now, time to prepare for a private student who wants to learn to make hanji in my basement. My basement terrifies me, so this is going to be another information-filled process.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Daily teaching

The day I flew to Chicago, I taught my Cleveland students how to make paper and they came alive, which was fun to see. It's such a physical experience, even small sheets, so it activates the body—plus, it was nice to be in a different setting.
Then I flew, and the next morning got a ride to SAIC for the first workshop in the morning. We had a good crowd given it was Saturday morning, and then had a nice Korean catered lunch.
This was from the morning joomchi session. After lunch, we had a jiseung workshop, and it was great to have access to different hanji (all of it was donated from Jeonju) than I usually use, because the colored sheets worked fine for both.
The next day, I went south to the University of Chicago to speak to audiences brought in by the Center for East Asian Studies. Such a treat to talk to people who are a lot more informed about the things that I usually share.
Then we moved all of the food and my things down to the second floor in the Logan Center to begin the workshop. We covered joomchi techniques, and made thread, and in general had a great time. The group was really varied and it was great to see people who had nothing to do with art or paper come together to play with hanji.
The following day was my slightly freer day, and I was able to wander around the Chicago Cultural Center to see a bunch of great exhibits. This was one of my favorites, all made from salvaged wood that artist Faheem Majeed found in his South Shore neighborhood.

I was delighted to be back in Preston Bradley Hall to see chamber music performance (music by James Stephenson, a living composer, standing in front to introduce his clarinet sonata, performed by Steve Cohen and Kay Kim). It has been almost 15 years since I performed there and the hall is as beautiful and well kept as ever.
I had to visit the Korean objects in the Art Institute, and loved this bird ewer where you pour water into the guy's basket and then pour it out of the bird's mouth.
This is a contemporary ceramic piece by Choi Sungjae—see the birds drawn with his fingers through the slip?
The Korean section is tiny (I wouldn't even call it a gallery; it's more of a hallway) so I wandered off to find baskets and textiles as best I could. This is a Pomo wedding basket from the late 19th century. My phone camera is clearly terrible but the piece is stunning.
And in the basement, a textile show that included this Samoan tapa cloth made from paper mulberry. After all that, I was able to meet up with an old music camp friend; we haven't seen each other since we were teenagers and now she is an SAIC professor! It was barely enough time but joyful, and then we headed off to our respective work obligations. I got a ride to UIC, where I gave a lecture and demo on making cord, so the students had a hearty catered Korean dinner and went home with hanji bracelets.

Today: wind, cold, voting (I took care of my bit early), and a workshop. Plus a few other things thrown in for good measure.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Indiana to Chicago

I returned late last night from a road trip to Indiana for research interviews. So honored to stay with the Clarks of Twinrocker, and to visit Andrea and Jon of Hook Pottery Paper. I also saw the exquisite exhibit on Twinrocker and the incredible artwork made on their paper in Lafayette—highly recommended if you are able to visit! Now I have just enough time to do laundry before flying to Chicago on Friday for a whirlwind of hanji events, sponsored by Korean Consulate of Chicago & Hanji Society of Chicago, with many other hosts and supporters:

Nov 3: SAIC workshop (SAIC students only)
Nov 4: U of C lecture & workshop (12-5pm) - lecture open to public
Nov 5: UIC lecture & demo (6-8pm)
Nov 6: SAIC workshop (SAIC students only)
Nov 7: SAIC lecture (4:30pm) - open to public
Nov 8: U of C Dept of Visual Arts (U of C students only)

I got an avalanche of information over the last few days and won't have time to properly digest before I leave, but am so grateful to my generous hosts for helping me see and learn more accurately the shape of hand papermaking in this country.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Wiggle room

Diana took some fun pictures from Penland; I asked her to do this one because I don't have a lot of me working with Charity.
I like this one because all the students are pictured while also giving a realistic depiction of the fact that we were working in a construction zone. Here are all of the Penland pics!
While I was away, Stefan worked on a new batch of photos for me. Somehow in my packing of my art in an exhausted daze before I flew out early the following day, a dress got misplaced. But these made it to him in NYC!
These are ready for this weekend's show (which I still need to build shelving for...).
This is not exactly as I had planned, but I was down to the last minute on this, absolutely finished right before I packed to ship.
The medium ducks are much more rare than the large and small, so I was glad to replenish stock.
This skirt used to be a totally different color. After coming back faded from a show, I hit it with brazilwood and then indigo powder in funori. It was good to finally get a top for it.
Pants! There's one more not included here but I have so many website sections that it's hard to see; visit now that it's updated. I had a crazy recovery day or so after flying back late this weekend and then tried to relax yesterday for the birthday. Best gifts: a sunny fall day, cake from a dear local friend, a bone needle from a dear faraway friend, an afternoon nap! I have been very bad about scheduling enough time in between gigs but someday I'll figure it out.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Beautiful week

Sarah Rose gave us the safety tour right before dinner on our first night. So proud of her—she has come so far so quickly, not only in her job work, but in her artwork. I was too fried to take pictures at the gallery opening Friday night, but her work is diverse and exquisite.
Charity was kind enough to haul my milkweed harvest to Penland, and we had a big steaming and stripping session on Monday. It goes so much faster with nine more people!
We separated green from black milkweed so that we could have two different batches.
Lots of beating implements, from Penland's and my stashes. Everyone has a different favorite weapon of choice.
This was milkweed beating Tuesday after a cook and a long morning of beating paper mulberry on Monday. They were real troopers and did lots of beating with no complaining.
This garage door separates the inside from the weird 'outside' space (it's not really outside but has no glass windows in the window holes, just screens. It's very weird. But for our purposes, the extra drying surfaces were so helpful!
The boards were tons of plastic folding tables. A little unwieldy to carry but so necessary. We dried onto the tops of the stainless tables as well.
And onto glass in the doors, of course. This leads to the magic drying room, which is climate controlled to remove humidity. It must cost a fortune in terms of energy use, but made drying in humid weather (and the hurricane remnants that blew through rain and rain and rain and rain) actually possible. We had all kinds of things in there at different times, like aprons and boots and raincoats. Felts and pellons dried quickly on the back lines and there are horizontal drying racks for non-restraint drying.
We'd board onto the tables in the classroom and then carry them into the drying room. They got really into the socialist papermaking, and made so much for each other rather than claiming the many sheets they made individually. What a fantastic group of students!
Joanne was determined to figure out the jiseung process (not just cording, but twining after that), and it was easier after she dyed her cords to make a little yellow basket. It wasn't officially part of the class, but I liked them so much that I cooked up batches of dyestuff I brought in case: brazilwood, onion skins (Sarah Rose ran to the kitchen to get us fresh yellow AND red ones!), and persimmon.
Sarah was so quiet during class but was always working. She had a gifted drop spindle that she was on seemingly constantly, and wove a lot of things. Very prolific. Near the end of class, I demoed a couple basic book structures as well. They were all so eager to learn everything; it was such a pleasure to teach people who were excited to be exposed to so many techniques.
Dianne was wonderful to have in class and kept us in the loop about local things as she lives part of the year nearby and the rest of the year in sunnier climates. She is originally from the Caribbean, so it was so reassuring to hear her speak and we shared lots of stories. After the rain, we missed her one morning because the water had risen so much that it wasn't safe for her to come in until they receded. It's always a good sign when everyone looks out for each other and notices (and worries) when they aren't in class.
Joanne had done western papermaking but none of what I had covered, and was in the studio every night working to get a good grasp of techniques so that she could continue at home. This was her second Penland papermaking class since the new studio opened! That's dedication, to come down twice for these intensives.
Wendy was also in the studio all the time, until late, and was a delight to have in class. She tried almost everything and is trained as a woodworker and sculptor, so I loved talking to her about tools and ways that things could be built or improved. She took measurements for the most popular beating mallets; I am trying to now encourage everyone even slightly inclined to make papermaking tools to do so. Then we'll have more good tools!
Sally was in the studio in the mornings before I was even awake, and stayed late alongside Wendy—they have been friends since college! She was the most papermaking student in class by far, and I was so impressed by how deeply she committed to each process. She would never beat a little and walk away; she would beat fiber longer than I expected anyone to, and enjoyed it (well, at least it seemed like she did). She was so generous with all of the paper, making tons for everyone, and was always trying something new.
Diana was one of my studio assistants, and we had met when she was a scholarship student at Ox-Bow in my hanji class last year. She was a trooper despite all of the stink bugs in her room and somehow made it through many sleepless nights plus jet lag (she's from the west coast). She'd always do grunt work for the class before she did any of her own, which was terribly generous.
Charity was my other studio assistant, and I really wanted her to have a chance to be back in the paper studio, as well as get a break from her job so that she could do studio work. I love that she did all of her bark lace textured rather than laying flat. She and Diana were great about all of the extra work they had to do to clean the studio after construction (concrete dust was EVERYWHERE from grinding the floors).
Kristen was still working when we went upstairs to set up the show and tell. She was trying to finish a binding before bringing her things, and had so much energy to do the physical work that most people run away from. She also lives in the area and was a core fellow a decade ago, so it was fun for her to be able to be in a class again at a place that she loves so much.
Bill was also in class but couldn't do the show and tell because he and his wife Deb, who was teaching the photography class, had to leave right away to drive to Charlotte for their flight back home to Montana. He was fascinated by the historical, personal, and technical details of lots of my research, and was so kind at the end when he thanked me for class. He really understood that I approach my work in a way that involves a ton of scholarship as well as technique, and it was nice to have that affirmation at the end. Cat, the third teacher (only three of us taught the one-week courses because the rest of the studios were full of eight-week concentration courses already underway) was teaching sand casting in the jewelry studio and we traded a lot of info, and pieces. The biggest thing for me is that we talked about plying cord, and when I asked him about 3-ply cord, he said it is definitely done all at once (not 2 plied with 1). So I went back to the studio and tried it. He's right! It was a question that came up from a student five years ago, so I'm glad to finally have an answer.

I know, you'd think I would have tried to figure it out myself five years ago, but everything takes more time then I'd like. It was only a week but it felt like a month. These students went really deep and I felt good about all that they had accomplished and experienced. It's always luck of the draw, who shows up to these classes, so I'm grateful for yet another fabulous group. Travel home last night was hard and I returned to a house that I have to heat (when I left, it was warm), but my fall plants survived my rushed transplanting. And we all know that nothing beats getting to sleep in your own bed after being away.