Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Weaving in sanity

Lots of loose ends everywhere, while I scramble to tie them all up (knowing that I can't, and yet part of me still thinks that it's worth the effort). After Saturday's baskets were done, I had tiny bark bits leftover. I didn't think I could do anything with them but Velma was up to very inspiring studio work, so on Monday, I made this baby!
These two are now headed west in case someone wants to buy them in Oregon next month. I stopped by the Verne Gallery to see Yuko and deliver cookies before I hit the road and Michael asked if it was exhausting to live like this. He knows that it looks and sounds glamorous (travel to work), but that a stable life is also desirable. I love both: staying home and traveling. Balance is the trick, I think.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

A doozy

After completely overdoing it at the start of the week (compounded by not resting enough before that and forgetting that I'm not physically 22 anymore), I got sick. I tried working through some of it, and was demanded at a couple of evening events, so it's gone longer than I'd like, but I still managed to make a few big deckle box sheets with failed kozo.
This one dried outside while we had sun while the others dried inside on slate or under a fan. I was hugely disappointed by the dyed kozo that failed miserably in the hanji vat (I dyed rather than pigmented and yet it still never dispersed well in the vat + was too chunky for even formation and couching). This was my last stab after big hanji and side-by-side washi.
3.5 x 7 feet sheets with huge variation in thickness. All the laying in bed, going through tissues, and not breathing much took me away from preparing for my big trip next week. The car also needs to go into the shop in a couple days to make sure I don't lose any parts on the long haul. I am behind on everything but will continue to put things off for one more day (or two!) because I need to do little finger work (as opposed to big apron, boot, heavy lifting, wet vac-ing papermill work) for some sanity recovery.
Making a bigger basket than the last and maybe the two will have a relationship. Seeing how far the rest of my kaki-dyed kozo goes, and enjoying NOT leaving the house.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Still in the studio

The pictures are all out of order but I am so exhausted from consecutive studio days that I can't do much more after work (though today was an exception, a whirlwind of tasks at home and outside and back—reminded me of younger days. I can only exert this much energy on Mondays, and then go back to more human workloads for the rest of the week). One of today's tasks was drying the post of paper I made, over 30 sheets over the weekend.
Another task: dye and rinse fiber that I had bleached last week after it was left to rot for two months. I am very excited to see how it pulls tomorrow.
An endless task: hand beating kozo. These are all the dregs, a lot more after I instituted the rule that we have to pick Thai kozo to some extent. This means that we lose about a quarter to a third of the fiber, but it makes a huge difference. Like everyone has always said for 100s of years, fiber prep is the key to good papermaking! But what is left is still viable fiber. This has been collecting over batches, and must be at least 3 lbs. I want to run it through a Hollander and attempt cut-fiber big sheets (and may dye it as well).
In the meantime, I think the rope is as long as I need it to be before shipping it to my partner in crime. I get to have an instant use for all the bad sheets and it's terribly satisfying.
Before pressing and parting and drying,
and after! Lots to wrap up this week, my final full week before I hit the road again. So very grateful that we'll have another respite from hot/humid this week. It will make it much easier to do the important work.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

100% studio

I did a total off day on Sunday before returning to the studio Monday to finish fiber prep (picking, hand beating, naginata brushing, draining fiber, storing for the next day). All afternoon, Tom and I scrubbed ALMOST every bucket that had piled up since last year. This is the downside to not enough studio hands and no consequences for not doing work. We left some for people to do but they're still sitting there.
Yesterday, I cooked four more pounds of kozo, taped the drain of the vat (we don't have a good stopper, so water and fiber gets trapped in the plumbing and contaminates the entire batch, so I plugged it), cleaned the vat, and filled it with water with one hand while eating lunch balanced on the corner of the vat with the other hand. It took me a while to finally find a clamp to hold the nozzle down so I wasn't tethered. We can use way less water than we have been and I need to mark a water line before it gets overfilled again. I patched the couching stand after Tom screwed the surface back onto the base and tested a fruit cart as an alternate couching stand (works fine, maybe even better). I finally pulled big sheets in the afternoon, and all was well—like coming home. Good fiber prep really makes all the difference.

This morning, I started a slow press on the post while rinsing and picking kozo, weeding, and learning which weeds were what from Tom while Ed came to dig up baby kozo to take back to Oberlin to plant. After lunch, I parted the sheets; the new ribbon system for parting works fabulously well, though the heat dryer is too hot in certain corners. I set everything up so Kirstin could pull sheets today while I dried, and she will find out tomorrow if her sheets + mine = enough for an order to ship as soon as possible.

I keep forgetting to take pictures of the papermaking but it is happening. The best part is weather compliance: I started the vat on our first cold day after the hot/humid blaze. Hoping to keep the vat full for less than two weeks and the patch job seems to be working. I can't stay vertical for long when I get home these days, but it's an excellent kind of tired.

Saturday, May 09, 2015


This is what I worked on last weekend at Yuko's house. Still many more baskets to make. I just saw these incredible clogs, wow. And before I forget: Julie Sirek is looking for clothing/textile donations for her newest work.

I've been busy in the studio. Today, I picked and beat and beat and beat and my body is screaming from all of that standing and picking and beating. I also gave a tour of the Morgan to a lovely family and got great news from everywhere. Like what you see above: Julie set up her own small hanji vat in Iowa!!! And the sheet formation is going great. This is the first official hanji sprout that came out of the Morgan's hanji studio, almost five years after its maiden voyage. Not only that, but another one is near completion at the University of Iowa, at the hands of two of their students.
I finally found these wedges that go into the sides of the hanji bal teul to secure the top and bottom braces. I had promised this image to an Iowa student in March, and then had it on my to do list until now. She emailed me to ask again for them (I never have to be prompted for these things, but now I am that person), and I started to look for them. Not in any of the places I thought they were. I was afraid this would be another case of me losing track of something that turns up a few months to a few years later (I am also now that person), but finally found it in the fifth spot I checked!

I insist on this being a good omen for the rest of the weekend. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Light rope

Another long day at the Morgan. Hardly any studio work, but now that spring is here (or summer, whatever it is, this sudden rush from cold to too hot), I figured I should get out more, interact with humans. Especially after so much writing! Charity saw the rope and said it looks like rope but when you pick it up, so light!
 Leftovers from yesterday. I couldn't resist.
 Growing inside the bindery!
Finalizing the freebees I'm sending for gifts bags for the book arts conference out in Oregon this summer. Jim Croft may carry some of my little hanji weavings, so you can look out for them as well if you attend. The last thing that kept me here longer, just to listen, was finding this recent podcast about the Japanese paper balloon bombs! I've read so much about them and have a piece of the paper, but on the radio it comes alive, turns into so many other fascinating stories. I don't like that they say washi is made out of "wood" but I also didn't realize that schoolgirls also had to make the paper (I thought it was just papermakers pressed into overdrive and unusual dimensions).

Really hoping that I get to make paper soon!

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

May days

Charity and Mason both had birthdays today! Today was his last day but we'll still see him when he comes to teach workshops. You never leave the Morgan forever. See the pretzel container of wadded up hanji? That was full to the brim after Kristin filled it with failed sheets. I had a plan for a while but didn't get a chance to execute until today.
I unwadded the paper and organized as best I could so I could start cording. I'm trying to make a long, thick rope. It's so much easier cording thin, wrinkled paper. And always fun to make fat rope.
Very uneven, and I haven't trimmed the bits where I made joins (and I may never!), but it's about half as long as I needed. The little bits are what was left from the stash, too small to do much with.

Eventually it will be the length of the longest gallery wall here. Today was my first full day here since last year! I never even left for lunch because so many people brought in donuts and pastries for Mason's farewell. I hit the road at the end of this month so I'm getting all my ducks in a row: the permanent crown is in place, the car goes to the shop next week, and I can finally do something other than my report on Japan research because it's done. Big, happy sigh.