Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ucky

Yesterday was full of drama, the worst kind (involving companies that don't care about customers, screw them over, destroy their property, and waste their time). So I didn't get to find a place to print my manuscript. Instead, I kept my hands busy. I hauled out the sewing machine, took apart an old joomchi piece, sewed it together again, and then joomchied it again. The jury is still out on how it holds together in its new version. I also watched a sweet video on tying scarves. SO FUN. Today, more errands, lots of knitting, and hoping the storm passes quickly (while testing new scarf knots and twists).

Monday, November 28, 2011

Paper Jewellery, the book

I had submitted to this book last year but was never quite sure I had made the cut, even though I got the email that I did. It has finally been published, but took a while to get from the UK. I like that my work is on the same page as a Japanese artist doing something very similar to what I started to do a few months ago. Meanwhile, I'm starting the cusp week (Nov/Dec!) with a strong cup of green tea, sad from the news of another death. Since this summer, I had been supporting one friend through her mother's terminal cancer battle, and reading about another. A few weeks ago, the mother passed. Yesterday, a father. This has been a long, hard year.

This weekend, I spent time with my sister/bro-in-law and an old friend from grad school in Chicago. I haven't seen her in years, and it was so good to see her. I feel grateful that my friends stay true to what they believe, despite health issues, life changes, and whatever personal drama we all experience.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

It can't all go in at once

This is the combination of poor sheet formation plus poor parting plus WAY too much external sizing, leading to paper that can't take ink. I went overboard with the rice paste, and it went beyond permeating and coating the hanji. But it makes me think of this process I'm in now, writing this book. I thought I was near the end of the rough draft, and I am, but as I cull my past words more carefully, I realize that I can't put it all in one book, or in this one. There's so much I could add, but I'm not sure this is the time to talk about my Korean language teacher, crazy cabbies, or all the things you can do with raw egg yolks. I'm astounded by the things I survived, and feel even more deeply what everyone else said about it taking years to process.

For now, maybe another hour of work, trying not to cram it all in. I want a nicely sized book, not one that slumps over because it's overloaded.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Shaping the future

I am not a fan of the holiday season; I don't like all the slowing down, constant eating, dark days, gathering, and strange behavior. I don't like to feel like a pile of wet clothes, because it's hard to continue working at the clip that I label "fast enough." But even if this year is a bust, maybe next year will be better. Maybe I will spend less days contemplating my death and more days living my life. And I'll teach again, as soon as February in NYC at the Center for Book Arts. It will be nice to have a class not so far from home. No driving or flying necessary!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pushing through molasses

[Barens are so expensive. Here I am, trying to rig something on my own. Likely failure, but I can't not try.] It's hard to keep the energy up now that the furor of "holiday" season is bearing down. I'm in what I hope is the last 'hardest' part of the writing, but it's slo o o o o ow. I did get to go over some simple bindings today with Terttu that made me wonder what it would be like to teach private lessons in books. Would it be less stressful than teaching private lessons in violin? Probably.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Tagging along

After reading Melissa's blog last night and Velma's today, I got very itchy in a baby sister kind of way and went out to get the last bits of the "golden hour" of sun and work on rubbings for a book for a friend. I'm grateful for the good influences that got me out a tiny bit.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Guess and check

I had a funny conversation with my sister about if I had mis-shot in my career aspirations, and that if I had only been better at math, I wouldn't have veered off into music. I failed to get into a summer math camp (I know, that sounds ridiculous) b/c all I did was use trial-and-error to solve the problems on the application. I had a great calculus teacher, but I was awful at it. I had a fantastic orchestra teacher, and it made me want to make music with other people (even though I had a very grumpy violin teacher that made me reluctant to go to lessons and relieved when they were over). Reading this brain book made me realize I lucked out with a great violin teacher in college, who already knew everything in the book, and taught me to about mental practice (SO hard and more exhausting than physically practicing). He also promised that as long as I could move my fingers in SOME manner at the fastest vibration possible in my body, it would transfer to my loose and slow vibrato. So we practiced trills. I still have a motion-sickness-inducing vibrato, but I think if I had more time with that last teacher, I might have been able to disable the years of less targeted learning (AND the erosion of self-esteem + belief I could never get a tight, "acceptable" technique).

All to say that someday, SOMEDAY, I swear I will get back to my instrument. Or another one. And a few languages. In the meantime, I am grappling with woodblock printing, and last night I performed another comedy of errors in class. I tried to test five different papers, one guaranteed by my teacher, and the rest ones that I had made or bought in Korea or Cleveland. Well. Predictably, his paper was just fine while mine were a whole array of okay to omgwtf?? So I have a stack of potato-chip paper that is NOT going to work for printmaking, which is fine, since I learned a lot about external sizing. And stacks of other papers that are a variety of too thin, too fuzzy, too stretchy. They will all go into the "later" bin while I get back to writing.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

How quickly they fire and wire


I am SO loving this book that I am reading about the brain. It's kind of hilarious (and sad and typical all at the same time) that for so long, scientists considered the brain more of a machine, while now the view is shifting to seeing it more like a living creature. HELLO! We are animals! Of course our organs are like animals, too. Anyhow, Julie had recommended it to me since it offers possibilities for a recovery that has eluded her for years. Yesterday I had to keep my hands working, so I sized paper (first failing miserably and then doing a little better) and at night carved this tiny block! In line with the way that the brain shifts and learns and changes, I was amazed by how just a month ago I was quite averse to carving wood, but already I miss doing it and am itching to do more.

Silly me, in my excitement about woodblocks, I forgot to say that the PR is up now for my April class next year in Asheville, NC!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Edits to the routine

While having family and then sister time this weekend, we browsed Korean shops and I HAD to buy this because it was just too perfect. I may never use the notebook to write in but will certainly use the cover to show concise design.

This morning, I finally sent off work for this month's big deadlines, for which I had purposely changed my writing schedule (I was writing, but something else). And then, with the excuse that I had to pull hanji to test with more external sizing, I suddenly was surrounded by a sea of hanji and next thing you know, I'm on the floor on plastic sheeting, banging on a new piece that I had wanted to make since early October. It will reveal itself when dry but for now I am very happy I did that. I know that I can't sustain regular making of things with my hands while I am typing with my fingers, but I can only go so long without making anything at all.

Less is more

I got to see Jami this weekend, which was a big treat, because

1. She is brilliant and funny and an excellent cheerleader. And picks places with yummy food.

2. She always greets me with books, which I forget until I see her and she pulls books out for me. And this was great timing, because I had finished my "homework reading" (AKA things I assign myself so I can learn things I imagine that I should know, rather than things I stumble upon or are recommended to me). AND they are all stories, which is exactly what I can handle right now, in between my "fun reading" about neuroplasticity and animal training.

3. I haven't seen her in forever.

While killing time before our date, I saw these worry dolls and could not NOT buy them. A schooldays acquaintance had given me a hairpin back when I was maybe an early teenager, with these glued on, and I loved it. I doubt I will lay in bed and tell them my worries, since there are too many cracks near my bed into which they could fall, but I am fascinated by seeing them now and realizing that I am more interested in figuring out how to make them. And I can figure it out now, which might not have been the case decades ago. Meanwhile, I am back to work after a few days off and away from home, and decided to forgo another residency application. It's strange to not apply to everything under the sun, to be more thoughtful about my selections, but it's good practice for a shift away from frantic behavior.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Nothing according to plan

This week has been supremely funky, and I haven't been able to get a toehold into any of my various projects, including the most important and pressing task of writing. But I'm trying to not get too upset about it. Yesterday I had a lovely lunch and walk through Central Park w/an old friend and then stayed in the studio for hours until class. I found out that I had OVERcarved and also that I'm fine at carving. Not the disaster I feared. This is one of four proofs from last night, three blocks. You can see the registration issues, but the final edition will be different. It was nice to start pulling proofs, though, after weeks of carving. I also got the chance to extol the virtues of teflon folders and paper cutting knives to my classmates, so I was happy to spread the word of cutting down by hand (the paper cutter in the studio is VERY suspect).

I was going to write now before meeting another friend for lunch today but I think I will draw instead (for a deadline). Sunlight like this is precious these days. Besides, today is a date full of ones, so it might as well begin new practices.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Crackles and pops

It's noisy tonight with all of this hanji coated in rice paste snapping off of the plexi that is not really restraining it. I'll experiment with it when I actually get to printing, but that may be far off. I've carved wood for two weeks and am not as far along as I'd like, but decided to stop before losing all fine detail so I can consult with my teacher first and improve my technique.

I did just have a lovely phone call with an artist who has been knitting paper long before I started, and grew up knitting scarves for British soldiers in WWII. Hopefully we get to meet before the year is out. It was a nice change of pace--I've been in a weird stuck place but maybe it's only the growing moon and after tomorrow, I'll get back to work.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Long break

At least, that's how the weekend felt, though work was still sitting in the front of my brain, the throne of stress. The respite I had was with Terttu at the Noguchi Museum. What a beautiful, wordless space.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Steady

Working, somewhat like a turtle. Writing, carving, writing, post office trips, and a tiny commission in between. The job much easier with my bday gift from Melissa: double blades. This one is persimmon dye on mitsumata paper made in Boston.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

The last days of light

The corner registration for my paper on this block.

I'm only very, very slowly carving. The top ply on this board is super thin, and I'm starting with that so I can see where I need to cut away wood. The ply underneath that will be harder to carve, and with a different grain, so that goes into the "later" pile of work. Yesterday's cookies were perfect: carrot / blueberry / oatmeal / walnut. I'm still writing, realizing this is my last week before we lose light and enter real dark days, inspired by the example of my friend Jami, who celebrates a big birthday today!

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Scarier than ghouls

Today is the deadline to comment publicly to the Dept of Health and Human Services before they decide if women can purchase private health insurance that covers abortion services. You can do that here or via PP: "Take a moment right now to contact HHS and tell them to protect women's access to the private health insurance that covers all their needs before the October 31 deadline: http://ppaction.org/hhsfb"