Tuesday, February 03, 2009


I'm not sure why I continue to plan days or expect things to go as I imagine. I thought today would be nice and calm, just finishing up a book, making wheat paste, and taking final measurements of equipment. I didn't realize that revealing my bookbinding prowess was going to stress all of us out. I finished the book this morning for the father, but then he kept asking about the French link exposed binding I did for his son, so I made him his own. He watched the whole time and actually sewed two sections by himself. But I hadn't brought my PVA and the paste wasn't strong enough for the lacquer-treated paper. Then, he suddenly brings in a HUGE stack of sheets and tells his youngest son to cut them down - they had been cut down previously, but the edges weren't straight, the paper wasn't square, and nothing was the same size. I had cut down 100 sheets last night for the book I bound, but was not about to touch this stack.

Needless to say, the son was unhappy about the task. And my teacher wasn't able to finish teaching me a stab binding b/c I was at the mercy of his father. It's just as well - I got cranky when he told me to cut down sheets from one of my best batches of paper for a stab binding. I hate stabs. Maybe that is too harsh. But I have never been fond of them, and now I'm going to have a huge one with paper I'd rather have used for installation or costume work. But then he showed me a really cool paper nail technique and picked gorgeous oiled paper for the covers, so I'm calmer about it and hopefully will do it justice tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I have all my gift books done for the family and workers here. The second son arrived recently and has started pulling paper. Kind of a prodigal son story but kind of not. He's actually the best of the four at making paper, but he hadn't been interested in working here. I don't know why he's back; he hardly speaks. But he looks just like his father. Makes sense that he would have his papermaking talent, too. Today was kind of amazing, seeing three brothers in the mill - one helping me, another at the vat, and another at the drying station (the 3rd son is not in the business; he's in the city w/his family). Later, I walk outside and the mother is picking through garbage b/c she thinks that people throw things away that shouldn't be - she pulled out a toy and laughed as she played with it, saying, "this is fun! Why trash this?"

It's spring weather. I'm sure the cold will return. But for now, I see all this ground beneath me that was ice for the last month. Or cement remaining from the footprint of the former mill. Tonight I pack. Tomorrow I finish up the binding frenzy, and we'll hit the road after lunch. I'll have dinner w/my teacher and his teacher (and hope that I remember how to behave; I haven't met a new Korean person for a while) and then my mom's friend will drive me and my heavy load of paper goodies back "home." I haven't spent enough time there for it to feel that way. Working all day at the mill, working all night at the motel, and laying in bed reading Barry Lopez on artic mammals feels much more like home to me.

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