Saturday, May 31, 2014

Here, non-studio

 I adore all of the irises here. ALL.

Hard to see, but a tall white costumed figure at the top of the hill, for a painting/performance class. It's the weekend and everyone here is pooped, so the morning is going slowly. I like that. Just five crits/meetings with students, and then I'm free until Monday. I'll be in the studio, of course, but the hectic class pace will lift for a bit. We've cooked 10 pounds of Thai kozo, 2 pounds of mitsumata, and two batches of Morgan kozo (scraped only, and scraped and picked). All processing is by hand, off the grid. All drying so far is on boards, off the grid. The fog is heavy and probably will yield to more rain. Not great for drying paper, but we still have plenty to keep us busy!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Hardly a hump day

The dry studio (aka book studio) where everyone, including me, gets their own work table. The center tables are for demos and my samples. I still have not been making anything at my table but it's very nice to have one!
The outdoor area, for cooking and beating and scraping and papermaking and rinsing and all that.
Jessica's creped joomchied hanji (the spray bottle is no longer underneath it!).
Hellen's mobius strip of bark lace drying on a rigged spray bottle (such useful tools).
We started making paper yesterday and they're nice sheets because they've beaten so much more than the usual 20-30 min for short workshops!
The PNS-making demo (we have a tiny bit of PMP and then PEO, my nemesis).
Drying boards everywhere! Glad to be in the first session: not too much heat, not too much humidity. Today we'll make more paper, cook mitsumata, pigment fibers, learn to cord, and learn to felt.

Sunday, May 25, 2014


Mason drove the entire ten hours and I got to do a lot of laying in the back seat. Here is my daily walk to breakfast/campus.
Sleeping home for the next two weeks.
Studio home for the next two weeks.
The hole I fell into my first morning here. Because I am me, Mason and I were looking for a shortcut to a building and walking across grass. I saw a piece of slate on the grass and as I am still transitioning from city to country, decided to step on it, like a little sliver of sidewalk. Except it broke immediately and my foot went down into the hole it was covering. Ow. But now I know where the first aid kits are in two separate studios, and I got my first injury out of the way. My assistants have been working a TON to get the studio ready (I feel guilty, because other studio assistants were done so early they got to do things like visit Asheville and tour other studios. But mostly I feel so grateful that I get to have two assistants).

Almost ready to start class tonight!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Slick or fuzzy?

This experiment with papers that are not good for jiseung was a good excuse to try and go lopsided again. Still don't have the hang of it but ended up inadvertently making, in 3D hanji form, the "Is it a rabbit or is it a duck?" illusion. Mason and I drive south tomorrow, and not a day too soon—Penland, here we come!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Prep week

David started to set up our mini garden because we, alas, will not have raised beds this year. Here are our dahlias, marigolds, and hibiscus, with room left for tororo later (the seedlings are still inside). I have no idea how we're going to deal with the indigo.
[Can't get enough of Panda Beating Fiber.] I did an early morning run to big box stores running around looking for a window unit in hopes of avoiding the rush once it gets really hot. But the elevator at home is broken so I haven't walked it upstairs yet. I'll have to do another run tomorrow to get polyurethane for some studio projects and rubbing compound for my poor scratched-up car. The process of packing for Penland has begun and whoa! This is going to be an adventure.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Festival aftermath

I completely forgot to tell everyone about the Cleveland Asian Festival that just happened this past weekend. I'm officially in the time of my life where I only realize after life events happen that they have happened. We saw lots of mascots at the festival, but only one came over to help us beat fiber!
The mayor also came by our booth and seemed to have a similar reaction to most people who came by our booth, shocked by how much work goes into papermaking. I think I scared some people because of how much labor was involved (and we only had a few of the steps in the demo—beating, picking, scraping, sheet formation, and couching. We didn't even show pressing, parting, drying, cooking, harvesting, stripping...). One woman said, "This must be your passion. No, more than a passion!" Another man said, "I'm really overwhelmed right now." I'm pretty sure lots of people walked away convinced that I was insane. But at least we had a nice weather day on Sunday, a respite from Saturday's cold, wind, and rain. I ate way too much festival food, but that can't be helped.

An article I wrote for Another Escape has finally come out in print! Here is the new issue (scroll down for a peek at the images for it).

Thursday, May 15, 2014


Things are ramping up much too quickly now that I am just about a week away from leaving for Penland. Aaaahhhh!!! Talas now carries hanji, wohoo (though I think it's mostly conservation stuff)! Some people think this is bad for us at the Morgan, but I think it's great in general that the major paper retailers are all realizing that it's important to carry hanji. They can compete with each other.

I corded a bunch of new hanji samples yesterday, but not impressed. Made good big hanji yesterday, hoping it parts today!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Avalanche Monday

 Big hanji
 Rigging the vat for both types
 Smaller hanji
And being so delighted by a free package of zinnia seeds that came with rubber gloves when I was frantic with moving. I didn't think they'd sprout and then they surprised me! We are acclimating the tororo to the outdoors before we plant them. Roll them outside, roll them back inside, and so on.
After pulling hanji in two sizes on Friday (Japanese kozo, hand picked by four of us!), I dried all day Saturday. Learned yet some more about how much to press, and my theory worked. It is better to let the whole post sit for a while even if you think you overcranked, rather than releasing pressure right away. Paper can get used to a lot of pressure. Parted beautifully, though still softer than I'd like (makes me wonder also if the heat drying is giving us softer sheets).
I got a really silly lecture last week about 'making an ass of you and me' and all I can say is that I'm glad that I have this one from a dear friend. He gave it to me years ago and only now have I been able to situate it properly in my home.
I also had set certain deadlines that were all missed, and to relieve the pressure from my back (though my lower back is still killing me), I shipped samples today to a major paper supplier. DONE. I also met with people today from Oberlin about a solo show for next year, talked about the same in Cleveland with someone else, had two friends visit and one buy more paper that she loves to print onto, and had a wonderful surprise visit from Greta and her husband! She took my Toronto class last fall and decided to make the stop to Cleveland while driving south. Neither have ever been here, and they chose to visit us! She teaches book history so she recognized a lot of our equipment straightaway and her husband even helped fix our gutter pipe temporarily (we had another flood today, boooo) and gave me lots of pointers on different things ranging from power tools to soundproofing solutions). And then she sorted through our stacks and stacks of paper and bought a bunch to support the new studio. Terribly gratifying. Worth the lack of papermaking today (besides, now my left wrist is out).

The lightning has passed, so I'm hoping for a peaceful night.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Robots or plants

This arrived to delight me to no end. Still have no time to use it on the entire new home but at least I feel like a real adult with a real...what is it? The first guesses I got from Morganites were: sandwich press, George Foreman grill, and robot.
After literally YEARS of the Morgan talking and thinking and charging interns after interns with researching a dye garden, I got incredibly impatient and just went to get a few plants to start it. This is obviously nowhere near enough for much color, but it will give us a bit to experiment with. Hardly room for failure, but it's so important that we learn to fail in real life with real tangible things in our hands instead of all this talk and thought. During these trying times, I realize that most of our suffering comes from each other: humans are crazy making! No wonder people love to garden (I have never done it because that's how I grew up; didn't know any better or worse). Spending time with dirt and plants is so much more satisfying and enriching and involves slightly less drama.

However, I got these at the end of the work day yesterday, thinking I'd store them in my car until this morning. But halfway home, I saw a HUGE mosquito in the car and decided there was no way I could harbor any more. The first devil of the season! I was pulling paper yesterday after a long hiatus due to injury and body unwillingness, and was so so so happy to get back to the vat (though now that it's warm enough to be in the studio without winter coats, people are coming to interrupt me more and more. That's what I miss about winter papermaking: the real quiet). But I know it's only a matter of time before those awful mosquitoes return.

Good news about our naginata beater progress: the blades were cut a while back by a water jet company, and the stainless tub and stand will hopefully be done by the end of the month! Machines, another class of creatures to turn to for solace.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Always starting over

This afternoon I rushed out, abandoning my blue hanji to be parted another day, to get the rest of my dresses down from Shaker Lakes. This one has a brand new frame now that the trees are green again! It has been gratifying to have so many people over the months say how much they have enjoyed the exhibit and most of all, to hear the staff repeat how much they loved having it and will miss it. But I am excited for what comes next.
A lot of the woes from last week were effectively drowned in delicious vegan ice cream yesterday as well as a lovely Sunday full of pleasant errands like browsing plants and figuring out what herbs had popped up in a friend's garden. I had a consultation today with someone who does lots of gardening for dyeing and came to the Morgan to gift us with a big bag of Japanese indigo seed!!! I felt like I had been given a pot of gold. This may be the first year of my life that I have had intentional and real consciousness about spring bringing plants that affect me and my work (aside from springtime in Korea five years back when I saw people flock to the mountains before dawn to harvest edibles). It's a wonderful feeling.

Saturday, May 03, 2014


A hard week—it was really bad for lots of very close friends (we suspect an eclipse effect), and I was feeling like I was spared until a very ugly day yesterday. I tried to feel better by making paper today but I swear, SWEAR, that PEO is absolutely NOT formation aid and no one is going to convince me that it's any better or even close to PMP. The blue hanji is sitting in a forlorn pile right now under mild weights. I deinstalled my Shaker Lakes show and I'll show the 2D pieces to folks that want to give me a show next year. In the meantime, I had a wonderful chill evening yesterday watching a brilliant artist cook at his lovely cafe in Little Italy. Tonight, I pack a box of paper and scraps and all sorts of goodies so I can create real tangible correspondence tomorrow. That always, always makes me feel better.