Thursday, March 31, 2016

The long slog of catch up

The bigger dress was the one I did last year. The little one I just sewed up this week, a size 5 for a child, to use up the last of the interfaced hanji from the first one. I can't stand having leftovers. Though this one ALSO left scraps, so I guess a set of doll's dresses must be next on the agenda (unless I hide them well enough in my flat files so that I forget about the scraps for a while).
The front is finished with a hand-carved wood button by Jim Croft.
It took forever to find the right buttons for the back, and I was looking at the wrong pattern so first I bought only 4. I walked back to get 2 more, only to find I needed 7 total. Oh, well! It's going to be a button short, which doesn't matter because this is really only for display and not for wearing. Thank goodness for my three friends with sewing machines; it takes a village, always.
Meanwhile, my other piece that has been SLOW going because of all my traveling, is finally moving along. I began the teapot in hopes of bringing it finished to Michigan. That didn't happen.
But the problem with stopping and starting a piece is that things get really wonky. This is a teapot trying to become a pumpkin or something else entirely.
It almost killed me but I finished the spout last night before I went out for dinner.
You'd think I was done, but I still have to make the lid! The agony of these pieces means that the next piece I make must be 100% no expectations and 200% fun. The bad news from my PT is that the weird band in my hand is not a tight muscle but scar tissue. I must have torn something, probably while cording or twining. Next week I'll ask the physical medicine doctor for more insight. I'm not crazy about this season of endless doctor and PT visits, but I feel fortunate to finally have enough coverage that it's even an option to seek help!

Monday, March 28, 2016


I saw this yesterday (too warm! I am so unnerved by this "winter" we just had) and thought, well, nature really fights hard to survive. Life insists on living.

I was corresponding with Alice about a book and then found this wonderful video she made of her trip to Japan last year—indigo dyeing paper at Awagami! It's lovely, with the color and the sounds of water, and delightful Alice herself in the factory. But my favorite part (watch for it) is the frog.

Friday, March 25, 2016

One end and many beginnings

This was the back of the library conservation lab in Michigan when I did hands-on joomchi after some cording with my publisher's colleagues. Conservators are exceedingly well mannered and curious, along with being responsible and on top of things. I always like meeting them.
This is what has begun (or is underway) back home: a new dress pattern to piece, a teapot to finish (I've reached the dreaded spout), a Serizawa calendar on washi that is missing bits, which will become thread or cord, and lots of tools and instructions for home PT exercises. Now that my parts aren't popping out of alignment all the time, I've finally graduated to strengthening! Though it's way more work, I can't wait to get back into shape and be able to support my body and work.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Wrapping up Michigan trip #1

After so many events, we got this down to a system. What to pack, which bins and boxes and bags, and a whole minivan for transport.
I was boiling in this room at the university museum but loved that they had a sink hidden in one of the closets! This was the first event on Saturday, a gallery talk + study room visit to look at Korean art up close + lecture + joomchi + jiseung cording. Local media did a nice story on the event here.
After lunch with the curator of Asian art and her daughter, we walked to the Ann Arbor District Library to their massive secret lab to teach about 100 people basic joomchi. We had a huge range of ages and I was so impressed by what that library offers to its community.
On Sunday, we went to the Detroit Institute of Arts for another hands on joomchi event, all ages.
Another big room and great help from both hosting staffs/volunteers (as in, both the museum and the Nam Center for Korean Studies at the University of Michigan—the latter being my main host).
Detroit artwork.
Monday morning: fibers class = lecture + single-sheet joomchi + fusing joomchi + thread making demo + cording demo.
After lunch on North Campus (a drive away from the main campus/es), it was time to set up for the watercolor class = lecture + inky single-sheet joomchi + fused joomchi. I liked the vibe in this class of non majors.
Even though I don't like teaching messy classes, I like being hosted in them because no one is scared of getting their hands dirty and making a mess. We used both waterproof and non waterproof inks.
They were super quiet and focused.
 Demo sheet
After that, we shuttled back to the School of Social Work building so I could talk to the undergraduate fellows of the Nam Center, a lively and super diverse (the majors were all over the place!) group of students who liked the fused joomchi best. After that, a final dinner with the Nam Center director and administrator.

Today involves massive amounts of loading my car in two different locations, a visit to my publisher and her conservation colleagues, and hopefully a smooth ride home. And that's it until I gear up to teach in Michigan in May for PBI!

Friday, March 18, 2016

One after the next after the next

I knew this Michigan trip would be intense. I knew it would be. I wish I could take my eyeballs out and rest them while inserting new ones to do my catch up work.
Yesterday, I gave a lecture for the Center for Japanese Studies on campus about my research in Japan. It was so fun and gratifying to share these stories this way after getting the report done last year. This is NOT me giving that lecture.
After lunch with a Japanese studies grad student, I was driven (so luxurious!) to Detroit so I could get ready for my next lecture that night. Vagner came out to meet me and we had a few hours to play before I had to get serious. We are looking at the artwork in the men's and women's bathrooms at Wasserman Projects in the Eastern Market.
This is the letterpress shop, Signal-Return, where I had my talk. Beautiful space! Lots of light and square footage and prints and printers.
Even the ink comes in bigger containers!
Fun (inflatable art behind us)...
Last night was a bit of a long night but I managed to sleep a little more than the previous one, making me less insane for today's adventures. I drove over to see Karen O'Neal and her Out of hand papermaking studio, and Jane Kramer, a photographer who has been getting into invasive plant papermaking and printing images on the papers. What a treat!
Karen has a stamper!
This is a garbage disposal she uses for recycling papers.
Of course, every paper studio's workhorse.
Even though it's not a perfect surface, I love how the platens look.
The original papermakers' paper.
I ADORE this tool, usually used in cooking in Nepal (Karen's daughter has a lot of connections there and has traveled there a ton since she was in college)—simply a plant!
The requisite old fridge. And, a picture of Tim Barrett long ago doing a demo in Michigan.
I still laugh SO MUCH and out loud at this cartoon, next to Karen's guest book.
Bye, says my hand!
After we shared lunch, Jane and Karen walked me south one block to the Residential College for the one papermaking workshop I agreed to do during this residency. It was not easy, given the fact that they didn't have any equipment and I had to bring everything and cook ahead of time, but we managed really well. Quick learning group of students with a fantastic teacher (at far right in black t-shirt), Ana Fernandez.
Students dried their sheets on the glass-topped tables in the printmaking studio.
I was shocked by how well this team of teacher, student assistant, and Nam Center staff and student worker cleaned up the whole setup so that we were out of there 15 minutes after class ended. Usually, cleanup is at least one hour. We were so compact by the end, just what is around me, and then walked it back to the School of Social Work building where the International Institute is.
Thank goodness this was the first big event, because now we have time to dry everything before I leave next week. Also, TGIF because no one needs the conference room over the weekend.
The next four of five events to come. They are so organized! I love it. Tomorrow: public events at the art museum and library. The first is full with a waiting list, so come at 3pm to the Ann Arbor District Library and play joomchi with us! OR, come do the same in Detroit at 2pm at the DIA!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

A new state, new city

Drove to Ann Arbor today. Here is the art museum on campus. SO WINDY all day.
Made a beeline for the Korean gallery and guess what I found?
This wee phoenix, love. She is funerary ware.
Kozo is soaking in the shower while I wrangle with my computer to prep for tomorrow's lecture at noon at the Center for Japanese Studies. I get very annoyed when computers make my life more difficult. First thing tomorrow, I cook kozo. After that, my lecture and lunch with CJS students. Then I hired a driver to take me to Detroit for my 7pm lecture at Signal-Return. This is my built-in time to sleep, as I am too wound up to do it at night (last night my sleepiness was interrupted because I had to do a phone interview on live Korean radio). And I'll sleep on the way back to Ann Arbor, too, I hope!

Monday, March 14, 2016

A hanji hurricane

These two flags are outside the Korean Cultural Service. I looked for them on Saturday but they come down for the weekend. I think I took a grand total of 14 photos (4 are pictures of my delightful niece) all week. I have lost all ability document every step of my journeys, but this one was so fast-paced that there was no time to do anything but the task at hand.
Right before I my first TV interview for YTN (Korea's version of CNN), I managed to get ONE shot of my artwork in the gallery. There are also two small walls inside the space, each with my hanji videos on loop, and a section of the show outlines the history and process of making hanji (including my tools and materials). The TV interview went right up to the lecture start time, and then I gave my talk, set up for the workshop, inhaled a sandwich, and taught the workshop. Afterwards, I had to give Part 2 of this interview and was fairly certain that my legs were going to fall off of my body.
This is the NYT spread that includes highlights of this year's Asia Week. I had first only seen the online version, and then only the page containing the article during a visit from the wife of the UN Secretary General and her colleagues (this visit was after I gave a talk and hands-on demo to a group of 40 high school students from NJ). But my dad said that there was another duck in an adjacent advertisement.
Do you see it? Hilarious. Someone had fun laying this out. I barely slept that Friday, which saw not only the NYT mention, but a great feature in a major Korean newspaper. This reporter had noted some of the things I said in my talk during the opening, and followed up with an extensive phone interview.
The first workshop on Saturday was full and lively. In two hours, we covered single-sheet texturing, crepe paper, joomchi to fuse papers, making thread on the thigh and with a bobbin winder, cutting strips for cords, and making cords. Stefan came by to pick up my pieces going to Michigan this week so he could shoot them quickly before I flew to Cleveland today. I was not happy about losing an hour of sleep, but was so grateful to my parents for driving me on Sunday, picking up artwork from my photographer, and best of all, bringing my niece to the show one last time to say goodbye!
Sunday's workshop was slightly less frantic, and I had a lot of repeat students from Saturday who were happy to join us again. Ursula Mitra, pictured here, is a book conservator and made a beautiful hanji scarf. I met another conservator who is going to be at Paper Book Intensive this May. Over the week, it was also really touching to meet people who had done research and cited my book, or had researched my work, or otherwise wanted to express their admiration. I am always one to wait for the other shoe to fall, but this visit was fabulous (the only weird incident was being duped by a reporter impersonator who walked off with my book and tricked me into all kinds of photo ops. Note to self: anyone who lunges at you to shove your glasses up your face and touch your hair without asking, more than once, is probably not a real reporter).
This was when I tried to shoot a selfie for the real Korean reporter for her feature, but it apparently missed the print deadline. I don't mind, because I was out of my mind beat when I shot this. This morning's flight was uneventful, and I am so happy to be home for less than 48 hours before my next trip. Tomorrow night, I'll do a live radio interview for KBS World Radio, airing at 10am Korean time this Wednesday. To get coverage from print, TV, and radio all in the span of a week has been surreal, but the best part has been the platform to share my hanji work with friends, family, and a very energetic community. The team at the Korean Cultural Service was outstanding; the University of Michigan and friends have a hard act to follow this week!

I'll leave you with this wonderful short video about the Incan bridge in Peru that is rebuilt each year with cords and ropes of grass that a student shared with me. I absolutely love seeing the women cord grass exactly the way I do hanji.