Thursday, September 30, 2010

Last day!

Caron left me a story yesterday and I sketched it out last night. This morning, I drew it into two books. One for me, one for her.

Pogo is great to have around. She gives things that no human could, plus she makes me run up the hill a lot, so I am grateful for the cardio.

Denise is responsible for our delicious dinners and is probably delighted to be done cooking for us since we don't do a great job keeping the kitchen neat, but she's SO much fun to be around.

Brooke is the most dedicated runner I've ever met at a residency. Every day, without fail! Judy was just saying the same thing to her at this very moment.

Denise, Daniel, Ryan, Caron before dinner. I was ravenous but had to restrain myself. So tonight is my last night of overeating! Wohoo! I started packing already even though I told myself I'd do it in the morning. I think I will beeswax some bark hanji and then I can do a full-on pack. SO much work awaits me, which I'm not looking forward to, but it has been a fabulous month. Thank you, Connie.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The thing about paper

is that it all flies away when it's windy! Which is why it's tricky balancing cross ventilation for air circulation with laying lots of tiny scraps out all over the studio. Last night after dinner, I printed up a new poem for a set of four books. Somehow, I thought I would sew them all that night.

HA! I got one done and went to bed. This morning, I thought I'd finish all three before lunch. HA! I ended up talking to Judy for a while and it was good b/c she looked at one of the books and I realized that the placement of one word was bad b/c it was right where a reader would naturally place her thumb, and thus, never read the word. I finally finished the whole batch after lunch and this is the scene of the crime.

They're so lovely all together that it will be sad when they part ways. One for sure will go to Velma for a trade.

The book refers to a famous 16th-century Korean kisaeng and poet. I had been stuck last night writing, b/c I was using a difficult form and riding on negative energy. Once I pulled away from both the form and the content, it all came together. Meanwhile, I'm still coming to terms with the fact that I made no BIG work here as I had planned. I didn't know I was going to make a billion books. But I guess that is that. I wrapped up a few paper samples instead of making my usual obsessive sample books, just so the paper is saved, and am trying not to overexert myself or force work that isn't ready.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Rain and sauna

This is a very satisfying stack of books. I have to tie them up or they spring open and are very unruly. But I'm SO glad that they're all bound. The content is still a mystery for all six of them but I'll deal with that later. The on the on the very top is a 3-in-1 book.

I made this edition of two books from concrete paper I made in Cleveland this summer. I had been on the fence about doing it and then last night I just cut down all the paper for it. This morning, before my massage, I sewed them up, and afterwards did the glue and text and so on. They're very satisfying, too, and I am so glad that I finally found a use for this paper.

The massage was lovely. It's been a low-key day in that I haven't exercised, ate too much rich food, and napped. But I also did my best in facing an old demon, printed Robert Motherwell images onto hanji, and let the ideas fly. Just a couple more days, so we're all hunkering down in our studios.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Open, and now back on task

Today's open studios were lovely, though of course I got all nervous about losing so much time. We stayed in for dinner and cooked up a storm and then I moved all of my stuff back to where it was (yes, I tidied up and swept and made everything presentable). Tons of people came and they were lovely and enjoyed our work and we had some of the best readings I've ever heard. Go, us! I was able to bind a few more woven books and hopefully soon I can shoot them and share. But for now, a little more work before I fall into bed.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

My hands are tired

I was thinking today about a scene in Korea when some man noted how strong my hands were. I can't remember how he knew this, but I was probably doing something that tipped him off, like weaving. I scurried to the Ithaca Farmers Market this morning when I knew I needed to give my hands a break. It was lovely and I indulged in things that smell heavenly. I tried to take pictures of the gorgeous drop and scenery on the drive home but failed miserably. I don't know how drivers take pictures while driving without the driving or shooting suffering considerably.

I sewed these up yesterday morning. Still waiting to see what the content will be but at least it's an edition of four! It took me an entire day just to weave covers for three of them. I sat outside for a while today to weave, just to get outdoors, but it was too cold to stay out for long. I also had a very deep nap that clued me into how tired I was. Then I had a fantastic hike on the blue trail (I always take the red trail b/c I can't navigate through open meadow--no blue blazes!!) and enjoyed myself thoroughly. The temperature had dropped and the foliage is reckless in how quickly and beautifully it is changing. Later, Caron and I hung out with Judy, who does amazing animal noises (tree frogs, foxes, turkey vultures, raccoons, and more!) and then went for a walk on the road. Ryan passed us on his bike and the she broke off for a run. I turned back and then Brooke passed me on her run, and I picked up rubbing compound from Joe and it worked like a charm! We all showered and had staggered dinner. Caron and I had our usual Saturday soup and extras (she does soup, I do extras) and now we are ALL hard at work preparing for tomorrow's open studio.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Sedentary and hot

Whoa, sudden heat! I didn't even think about how hot it was getting and thought I would do some dye tests again this morning, only to find that my bath had gone to mold. SO SAD. To be safe, I did a big cleanup with bleach, which I hate, and then got it all over my clothes. My apron was right behind me but I was too frantic to put it on in time. The utility sink is now remarkably clean.

At least I was able to bind five books before it got too hot to do that kind of work. I wove all day and night and I should stop but I want to get ALL of the dyed cords woven and out of my hair. I just took a walk down the hill to the mailbox since I got no exercise at all today, and it was lovely to be in moonlight in and out of the clouds.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Just now, for a moment

I still woke up upset and funky so I tried to escape by going to the wildflower gardens and arboretum of the Cornell Plantations but I didn't last long b/c I had to pee and was too tired and cranky to 1. find a good facility and 2. use a porta potty. There was lots of morning pretty, though.

I drove past Flat Rock not quite knowing what to look for or how to get there but then I had a great visit with Judy and got the scoop on a few places in case I need more getaways in the coming week.

I tried to hike off the grouchies but it was hot and still and buggy in the woods so that didn't work. I DID weave a bunch today as well as yesterday and don't have much to show for it but hopefully the books will all come together before I'm done here. Though I'm itching to work on the huge hanji project I had in mind, too.

Oh, and cochineal dye has been neglected and probably the vat has been contaminated by my sloppiness/fear of hard water in rinsing. So I'm not sure yet how I feel about these tests, half cochineal, half persimmon. Maybe if I mix dyes the result will be more satisfying? Dunno. But I finally got the worst of the worst out and will just keep on weaving tonight. And I'll look for the full moon, which is rising, and I saw it for an instant before the clouds ate it again.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Funky and humid

This morning, I saw birds fly across the sky. Fast! Other than my walk to the mailbox, no exercise, just weaving hanji ALL DAY. I have so very to show for it. It's amazing how hard you can work and yet it looks like you've done nothing. But my hands are feeling it. Tonight we went to Denise's house for dinner, which was such a treat. Gorgeous log cabin, property, all of it. Judy was there and so was Bill and his wife Sadie. He's the board prez and a super painter as well. I was the designated driver and feeling super cranky for a whole host of reasons but I will blame it on the full moon arriving tomorrow in Aries. Hopefully it passes soon!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Skinny atlas

Today's big field trip was a drive north with Caron to the Bixler press and foundry. Hot metal type!

We were guests of the letterpress class at Wells, and I'm not quite sure that these undergrads understand how AMAZING it is to have this opportunity in college. Or ever, for that matter.

While the students were picking ornaments that Michael cast for them to take home, Caron and I peeked at the amazing books that he had pulled out, like a letterpressed edition of Ulysses and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

[Molten metal! It's spurting out of that little thing sticking out--I know, I have no vocab for this shop.] I left a couple samples of hanji for them--one from my teacher in Korea and one from Cleveland. We got to meet a few of the championship dogs, too. Then we drove to the village and walked around and got to see the gorgeous Skaneateles Lake. I treated myself to potato chips and chocolate and the drive was mostly pretty.

I love this quote and also love that I got to see Ruskin's home back in the UK this spring. I kept looking at the knives on the roll for Michael's new hollander beater...it is going to be a beauty. Oh, and via Velma, a nice slide show in Michael's own words about what he does is here.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Oh, sunny Monday

This morning was a bit of a struggle but my daily walk to the mailbox was breathtaking. Once the cleaning service pulled in, I rushed to grab Brooke and drive away, to the post office (this is the one I go to b/c it's close and does the job. Plus they have the best array of stamps). We tried to find a gorge off of Route 79 but failed miserably. Though the walk was nice.

This book was all fits and starts today but I finally finished this afternoon. Just in time for

Red meat by Ryan! Yu-um. We felt like superheroes afterwards. This is what happens when you are not a vegetarian but are fed vegetarian meals.

I've been thinking a lot (and doing a fair share of agonizing) about luck, the randomness of the lives we are born into, family, gratitude, guilt, and my trajectory. While walking with Brooke, I finally verbalized what people are trying to hammer into my head these days: the way to repay generosity is to work my ass off. The way to honor my gifts is to USE them. I saw the sun coming into my paper recycling bag and thought about how I try to make every studio I inhabit a beautiful, open place, and that maybe I finally have gotten to that place I imagined in my head when I first started to commit to my artwork. The place where I have a studio that I love to work in and greet every morning, a place for magic.

It's funny how those things creep up on you. Becoming something you never though you could be. I know I'll never be a master dyer, though! These are from fooling around w/cochineal. It brings out all the secrets in the cords--suddenly you can see which batch was what paper, and how tight you corded. One jiseung book is bound as of today but the other is still a long ways away. Which makes sense, since I'm being pulled in a million directions so it's hard to just sit and weave continuously. In fact, I think it's high time for a nap.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Studio Sunday with lemon rice

This book has been in the works since Belfast. I finally just took a pen to it last night and finished it.

This was a broadside I made six years ago that I got tired of staring at. So I cut it into bits to make a few books and mail art.

Like the pages of this wee one.

And the cover of this one. Last night's dinner went well even though it took a while to fire up the grill, so I threw the salmon in the broiler instead and it came out beautifully. Today I chugged along in the studio, delivered milkweed paper to a neighbor, did a hike on a looped trail thru the woods, and made yummy rice to accompany Caron's dinner, which we shared. I was going to watch "Stand By Me" but ended up only seeing one scene after getting my laundry--too much knitting and weaving calling me back to the studio. The best kind of day.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

In search of a good gorge

I hadn't seen a gorge yet in Ithaca, which is kind of hard to do, so I was determined to see one today. I tried first to see one downtown but the entrance I tried was closed and I hadn't written down the other one, so I headed to the Robert Treman State Park, which Daniel had recommended.

I did the full 4.5-mile hike one way and back, mostly on the gorge trail. I had wanted to do the rim trail but couldn't expend the energy at the start to figure out where it started. Thank goodness, b/c I might have fallen dead on it since I'm not in great shape and was sore from last night's hike. But I'm so glad I went.

[This is obviously a Melissa photo, but none of them turned out quite in focus. I was squatting to shoot and heard kids behind me, one saying, "Hey! There's your photo!" and then when I turned around, a tiny blonde girl in glasses was behind me w/camera in hand.] Every time I climbed steps, I would think of how grateful I was to the people who work for the park who installed them, even though they were arduous. That was my mantra for today: I am grateful. Amidst all of the other head noise (which is even louder when spending two hours in the woods), I thought about how lucky I have been with my lot and how to balance the guilt I have about that luck with work.

Lots of food for thought all around. And milkweed paper! Today after the hike, I got home and had a huge lunch and then collapsed into a nap. After I woke up and tried to remember where I was, I decided I HAD to cook my cochineal today or I'd never do it. I had gotten distilled water on the way to the park, so I started the cook and then was horrified b/c I had forgotten about the acrid smell. Ryan scolded me but helped strategically place a fan so most of the odor departed.

Also, I heard that the paper show in NYC that opened yesterday went well. Maria (who has returned from her own very successful western tour for her performance project) attended and sent a super photo of her and Grace in front of my big piece. You can guess which two are mine in this batch of pics. I better get to the kitchen and help w/dinner prep now or be forever banished!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Late night woods

Today's batch of milkweed was more challenging since I had overcooked it and it didn't cook down properly. It was clogging a lot in the blender and I had to take a break after the first batch, try to do other things, shower, eat lunch, and take a nap before I tried again. Which is great, b/c it means I learned from the last debacle: stop and get distance when cranky and tired and frustrated and overwhelmed.

I was able to figure out a better way of trimming the rest of the fiber (knife, not scissors) and then made the rest of the sheets before dinner, over 80. Caron came over and made a sheet, too, which was fun. After dinner, I ironed the rest of my paper and was going to tackle more of the mess I have sprawled all over the studio (I dunked gourds in persimmon juice today), but then heard Brooke and Caron downstairs in Ryan's studio.

[Kitchen banter on the milkweed pot.] They wanted to do a nighttime hike thru the woods, so we geared up for the chill and dew and I was so thankful that I had a headlamp (on one of my first residencies, two other artists had them and I was so jealous that I asked for one for Christmas). And also for the company and exercise and nature and fresh air and all that. Being here is wonderful.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Whoomp! The exhaustion sets in

I got up today and went to the mailbox when it was still gorgeous and sunny. After breakfast, I got some photo equipment from Daniel's darkroom (it's amazing how photographers and papermakers could be the same people based on some of the equipment. It's BRILLIANT having a darkroom here--saves me a trip to the thrift store), and then got to it. I first thought I had way too much in the first batch to want to cook a second, but after I saw how beautiful the paper was, I stopped beefing it up w/re-pulped hanji and when I was impatient I ironed dry.

I tried to approach the work as work and not be like, 'why am I not doing OTHER work now??' and went about trimming ALL the burnt ends of the second batch of milkweed. That's 70 stalks cut into 4 or 5 pieces each, with the potential of all of them being burned on one end, and then trimming after they were stripped. I pretended it was like when we were kids and my mom had us help her snap the tails off of bean sprouts before she cooked them. It was fun then, even though the bags were big. That batch is on the burner now while I continue cleaning up my computer's road to recovery.

Oh, forgot to say: I have two pieces (this and that) in a show opening tomorrow in Manhattan. Here's the info. Enjoy the opening, since I can't!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Can't burn both ends

I steamed/burned my next batch of milkweed and stripping was a nightmare since it wasn't done properly. My hands reek of burnt milkweed and are in a lot of pain but at least that part is over. I cooked the first batch tonight and will see how it blends up tomorrow before I cook the next batch. I'm a little horrified by how little time I am spending in my studio (since I'm babysitting pots in the kitchen and so on) but I have to remind myself that it's normal to only get a certain amount of work done when doing other things.

On the other side of the world, IAPMA had their annual congress, and it was in Wonju. I had wanted to be there, which is why I almost turned down this residency, but I decided this would be better for me. But I got word today that Asao Shimura, a master papermaker who lives in the Philippines, finally got to visit my hanji teacher's mill in Korea! I was so delighted to hear the news, since Asao and I have been in close contact ever since I got to Korea and have been sharing our research and work and samples and whatnot. I had wanted to visit him in the Phil when I was in Korea but never got around to it. I still want to someday. But I adore this pic of him and my teacher's father in their hanji inventory space.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Snail-slow goal reaching

I felt horrible this morning (a cold? allergies?) but got up at 6:30am and was entranced by the thick mist and fog that covered everything and made all of the huge spider webs jump out. I tried to steam milkweed to strip today but the burner I borrowed from Ryan doesn't get it hot enough. I will have to trim them all and try them in the kitchen on a gas flame and do intense babysitting.

I would have done it today, but I had a date to visit the lovely Wells College Book Arts Center. Nancy Gil gave me a tour and I was so impressed by how clean and tidy and organized everything is. The shiniest printshop I've seen to date, I think. This is b/c they have Michael Bixler teaching letterpress.

He made this vat that has been stored in the greenhouse. The craftsmanship is amazing. He also gave me pointers on how to make an even better vat than the one I did in Cleveland this summer. He said the first time is for mistakes and learning, and the second time things always turn out better. I'm going to go up with his class next week to visit his studio in Skaneateles, which I've been wanting to do for months.

Students learn calligraphy here! The teacher comes once a week all the way from Rochester. Walking into the classroom is like a dream, all these drafting tables and all this huge lettering on the board. I got to go home w/three broadsides, too.

The drive was gorgeous even though I got mixed up at the end on the way home. I realize my weakness now as a driver: I get sleepy and zoned out. The car is a great daydreaming vehicle for me. I have to do something to stop doing that. For now, I'm going to just lay down to nap before dinner and before the great milkweed steaming redux.