Monday, January 14, 2019

Gentle on awry plans

It's so hard to break out of my old habit of beating up myself when things don't go as planned, so I am trying to remember that things usually never go as planned. Jan was supposed to be my month of only making. HAHAHA! Almost no studio work except making paper. Why I don't consider that studio work is a whole other issue. You can see here that I ran out of drying boards so my fridge is working hard.
I have never used a dishwasher in my own home so this appliance is now finally being useful to me!
Downstairs, the washer is doing the same.
My bal is drying on top of the bal teul that Bob Walp did a small fix for me on a few years ago and it's all working great. I realized working with it that I so prefer the Korean-made ones to the ones we try to replicate here. Even with metal support bars!
Another piece of equipment I got and never dealt with for likely over a year: my drying system. It's hard to see, but the boards on the floor have hanji brushed onto them (they are also my press boards). I still need to get blotters (you see the cardboards on the bottom, then the butter boards above). But it was a feat to get them out of storage, transported to the basement, and then unwrapped.
I tested Amy Richard's Florida kozo and it is SO lovely to work with. I definitely could have beat longer but didn't want to (I even used it one night when I was angry/upset: I came home from dinner and whacked away for about an hour to help me digest everything). It may look not as well stirred because I added internal sizing, and that always messes with the fiber (but makes it much nicer for dyeing later).
I also figured out a way to do suminagashi in my kitchen, right on top of my sink. You can see the edge of a piece of hanji that was coated a few times with kakishibu and then marbled. I had to run so I threw it on the edge and left for a bit before coming back to take care of it.
A dried sheet! A pound was a nice amount to work with at once, both for beating and pulling. It cooks so much more easily than the Thai kozo and is pretty clean. I should have picked before beating (I'm lazy so often pick while beating; makes for lots of excuses to stop beating but is very inefficient).
I tested these bad sheets (always the first few of the post) to see how the ink would stay on—I always forget if they prefer sized or unsized paper but it seems to work fine on both. I had to do half a sheet at the time because my tray is small, which is why you see that blank white bit in the middle of the right sheet. Now, let's see if I get any good dry studio work done this week!

Friday, January 04, 2019

New new new

Hello, 2019! As much as I really do not enjoy end-of-year mania around "holidays," I really do enjoy the chance to start over, even if it's just like everything else that is made up. Yesterday, I mailed a lovely selection of books to my dealer. This is one where Velma did almost all of the papermaking. A good resolution should be: giving up control of some things.
This is another that I made at Penland but finished afterwards. I was a little embarrassed that these were the only two books I had for Stefan to shoot last month, but that was the reality of my fall. I forget how teaching can quickly take over my ability to be productive because my attention gets chopped up and I get overwrought about how to present and transfer knowledge.
My last research trip of 2018 was to Boston, where I got to see Lee McDonald in his shop and brand-new home! I have to go back because this visit confirmed the fact that I really cannot continue without a real camera (I reverted to my cell phone camera after my last camera died and was too lazy/poor to get a new one. That was foolish). So many ideas, stories, stuff to sort through, and that would be the bigger reason to return for a follow-up interview.
My favorite shot was this: Lee told me that with his very first paycheck from being a Twinrocker apprentice, after they got funding to pay the apprentices, he bought a knife and pot, still in use in the kitchen! In the recent move and settling into their new house, Lee and Anne Marie couldn't find the lids of their tupperware (which is really annoying, right?). But when he jumped into the kitchen to show me the knife and wondered where the pot was, he rooted around and not only found the pot, but all the lids INSIDE of it. Hooray! I've been a grateful guest at many homes but always worry I am a huge burden, so it felt good to be part of a solution.
I also got a gander at the papermaking studio at Wellesley College, which is shared with a screenprinting shop (it's behind me in the photo, and there's a shower curtain-type system that separates some of the major machinery.
This is their beater closet, with a nice Reina. Their Reina drying system is in a closet down the hall.
When I finally got home on New Year's Eve, I opened a package from the Korean consulate in Chicago to find beautiful generosity. I love the puffed rice ones the most, so this was a great surprise. Yes, I've probably eaten through the one layer already—under this is another set of sweets, all different. I'm still getting settled back at home, so things feel a bit all over the place, but I am optimistic and excited for the year to come.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Final bits

I've been getting lots of pressure from my PT (and my body!) to exercise more. With the break in the bitter cold, I took a brief walk before going back home to greet a new teenage raker (he raked those leaves so fast! I forget how much more energy a young teenage boy has than I do—all I managed this morning was to rake about a third of my front lawn before calling it quits). I was so happy during my walk to be greeted by milkweed. About a mile from home is a park that is slowly being changed from a golf course back to forest, wetlands, and so on. Which is good, because across the street where there used to be woods from a wealthy estate is now a huge outdoor mall. All the deer that used to live there now are regular guests at my house.
Last week my students presented their final projects for class: an edition of five, with several prompts that led to some grumbling (like having to use their handmade paper in some way, even if it's as small as a title dropped into a well on the cover). The theme was gifting. Maddy did this one about reciprocity and had been inspired by Robbin's book in the library collection. She was also taken by the process of making paper thread, which I taught them about a month ago. Robbin was my inspiration for starting to make paper thread, and had shown me shifu by Asao about 12 years ago, so it's always great to see others inspired by the path that I took.
50 books by 10 students, now scattered out into the world with a little more awareness of books than when I met them on the last day of August. This is a preview of gifts that some people will be getting over the holidays, which is always a good direction for early editions.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Start stop start stop

For months and months, I had wanted to get this wee book done. All papers except for the endsheets are by Velma, who so generously supplied the stash for my last edition tip-ins. I managed to squeeze two editions out of the papers I had left.
I was not thrilled about the paper thread I ended up bridling the book with, but now I know better, and am aware that I should keep silk thread in inventory (rather than trying to always find ways to use it because it's so lovely to use).
That's the tape graveyard for the next book I worked on once the little ones were done.
I had made the book at Penland but wanted to add text. I work super low-tech and do a lot of literal cutting & pasting. I never did that well in advanced math because I did trial & error for everything.
In the end, it turned out not as well as I wanted, sadly! But now I know better (even though I knew better before I tipped in all the text: not a great idea to mix typefaces, and it has to be heavy enough to compete with the milkweed and kozo bits all over the pages.
Also, always test the prints on the actual paper before committing. This was a case of done over perfect. I wanted to have at least one more piece done before I left for the East Coast but I don't think it will happen, because of life (laundry, packing, etc.). I wish I could keep working but work and family responsibilities are crowing loudly. Boston on Wed, New York after that. The quiet end of year days are over!

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.