Friday, June 23, 2017

Another easy install

This is the nook where I'll teach an outdoor papermaking class for the Cleveland Museum of Art at the end of August. Fingers crossed for good weather! I've attempted to get as much prep done now so that when I get back into town and it's a steamy summer, most of the heavy lifting will be done (aside from the actual heavy lifting of transporting everything to the museum for the class).
My show opens tonight at Heights Arts and I went thinking that I had to hang the whole thing. I was wrong! All I had to do was deliver art, mask it, and leave the able curators to do it themselves. This is my favorite scenario. I'm done with a lot of packing but there's now the personal items to consider as I learn what winter in Australia actually feels like (I think it will feel great!).

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Airborne in a week

Priscilla was the set designer hired to hang and arrange all of the artwork I had shipped from D.C. to NYC for this CNN shoot. We had one morning in the studio in Bushwick to unpack, hang, and shoot before I had to get back to work.
The crew was trying to figure out if I could sit on a pedestal as well, so you see Patrick sitting on the shortest one. When I finally got placed, we found that the noise from planes, trucks, forklifts, etc. was so bad that we couldn't capture the interview/audio at this location so we just did a lot of visuals of me holding art and making cords and dunking hanji in water.
The next morning we shot in Fort Greene Park. My phone went into the bowels of the rig once I got my violin out so there are no more pictures from that day. I played violin for hours that morning, even a little after a park official came and said we weren't supposed to film without a permit. After that, there was a lot of walking up and down streets before we wrapped and headed into horrible traffic to the closest downtown Brooklyn FedEx.
The producer helped me fill out a bunch of shipping labels but I was kind of mortified by the packing job. Fingers still crossed that everything makes it back safely. I gave all kinds of written and in-person instructions on how everything had to be packed, which were almost all ignored. Let's hope there's no additional billing for damage once everything arrives.
Our final (early) day was in the paper studio. I had spent the week prepping kozo (soaking in lime, cooking in soda ash, rinsing, beating, and even bringing out a different type of fiber plus all of the raw materials—which we never even needed!). We had hoped it would be more quiet, but then all the noise started to kick in: loading dock, freight elevator, rolling dollies above, and the vibration of some powerful tool upstairs. The crew was so frustrated that they went from our floor (6) to look for the source and found a table saw on 10 being used to renovate the entire floor. They begged to turn it off for a bit so we had 30 minutes to wrap up the whole interview before it started up again.
The shoot for papermaking was really less work than I expected, and I made a dozen little sheets that dried by the time the day was over. The lime and soda ash combo really killed the crispness of the fiber but at the same time it was much more even and cleaner than prior batches of Thai kozo.
After the shoot, I had a few hours to finish up my work for Dieu Donné. This was the last package that I accepted and unpacked for them. Somehow I managed to get all my stuff packed, on my back, and to the street to get a car home to start the massive pack. In the end, I probably could have flown home with everything, but left a few things with my family to ship later because I got a strange wrist injury halfway through the month that makes it hard for me to do certain things (like heavy lifting).
I flew back Saturday and already saw three dear friends, including these happy kozo plants at Oberlin. I went yesterday for a couple of errands and my car was grateful for the highway miles. My suitcase is emptied and ready for the next journey: Western Australia via California!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Spot the squeegee

I haven't been taking pictures of anything but there are several things I did to help in this photo: measuring cups and spoons and funnels (in the shelving nearly at the top - the red and white behind it are cups), stainless work table with casters, four new big vats, and a new 24" broom to divert water to the drains (given the grit in the epoxy, the brooms work better than squeegees).
On this side, there's a new hose and nozzle, rust abatement and new coats of enamel paint on the black press, and a brand new hydraulic lift table! It has to get as high as that press, so it was tricky to find the double scissors in a somewhat affordable fashion. Now I just need to find strainers with holes as fine as the ones next to the drain.

Three days left! That includes video shoots each day and work each day and off-site work each day. Thankfully, the worst of the heatwave will hopefully be abating so I won't be a puddle of sweat the whole time. I haven't seen everyone, but I have seen more friends than I usually get to, including Jami! She had lots of wisdom for me, which will help steer my future. Very excited for that.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

One more week

The time has flown, of course, and by this time next week I will be back home, frantically unpacking and setting up for the next exhibit, my California teaching, and my Australian adventure. I'm not sure how this poor one ended up on the floor of the subway but I relate.
More cooked and bleached kozo, drying. The bits of making (or really, prep work) are scattered very sparsely between work and recovery but I did as much as possible that requires heat before the heatwave arrived.
Dyed with yellow onion skins
 Drying after the mordant/final dye rinse
My visit to the Big Reuse in Gowanus, which is very dusty. I was breaking out into hives but I imagine that is normal. Not convinced that this is the solution but I really think one used fridge is better than nothing, especially with the summer coming. Pulp gets stinky very quickly.
None of the sinks were right because we need industrial things but these are the adventures that help confirm that I did the right thing by ordering the sink that arrived last week. I did panic at 2:30am yesterday morning worried that I ordered one with no legs but of course I got one with legs. Then again, I will only rest assured once I see the legs tomorrow.
I had started pigmenting this giant batch of cotton for Amy because she has a zillion other things to do but I stepped back as soon as the thing started to foam (not as much as this, but close). I was worried the retention agent was just foaming and not actually staying in the slurry so I walked away and left it for her.
She did an amazing job the following day because she's the expert, and wasn't as afraid of the foam as I was. We were very glad that interns finally arrived for the summer because this was a BIG cleanup job. What's left for me next week is a workload unreasonable by any standards, but that's because it's many jobs rolled into one: orders, estimates, juggling bids, waterproofing, soundproofing, violin practice, fiber prep, video shoots in three different locations, and several in-person pickups of equipment during a heatwave. On the side of that: packing and shipping logistics, my regular workload, and a desperate attempt to finish reading ONE of the books I brought for research.

Trying to 1. breathe and 2. only think about one thing at a time.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

One tracked

I knew it would be ridiculous to even think I could do more than this job this month, but of course I brought two books for research (and ordered two more), a bunch of articles to read, and onion skins for dye. I did manage to make cords from the bundles of hanji strips I brought, though, so that feels like a small triumph. While I am only minutes away from David Reina, I wanted to follow up on my interview with him in the winter and take pictures at his shop. You can glimpse him through the window of his Land Rover.
Here are two beautiful machines all done and ready to be crated: a dry box, and a beater with a washer. He is so generous with his time and a wonderful host. I was taking pictures and later looked at them, thinking about how little I know. The shop is crammed full of tools, equipment, parts, cars, and so on, and it reminded me of how when I took pictures in Korea during my hanji research year, I knew some but not a ton. Later, as I learned more, each picture revealed more answers and questions hiding in plain sight.
I'm going to test Carriage House's cooked and bleached kozo, maybe in Australia. Though I've never liked the super bright whites from chemical bleaching, I am curious. To reduce weight, I'm drying it all out for easy transport. Of course I say I'm only doing this job, but this fiber test is also part of a bigger project I took on for the month as well, my first corporate exposure. This year continues to be full of surprises. Wed night is our big studio warming party—hope to see you there!

Monday, May 29, 2017

About face

Everything has turned upside down again for a moment. Before I left town, I took a gift from Therese and made pea flower ice cubes so that when I return (and I assume it will be HOT then and I'll want iced water) I have a little party waiting for me.
Pam had told me about a beautiful show at the art museum that showed work by Atelier 17 artists. So much inspiration! This is a print of a wire sculpture on handmade paper by Claire Falkenstein. I wanted to find out who made the paper but didn't have time before I left to really go into it.
Apparently this is the only known sculpture that she used for printing that is still extant.
I've been in NYC for the past week helping out Dieu Donné with outfitting their studios more completely. And next week there will be a studio warming party on June 7! RSVP's necessary (because we have to send you visitor passes to access to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, where the org now lives).
I'm spending my days trying to get quotes and bids and do research on all kinds of studio equipment, from basic (buckets, strainers) to fancy (hydraulic lifts, beaters). There is also another major project in the works so my days are full!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

New feature from D.C. exhibit



The feature about me for Voice of America was published today. Read here or watch above!

I'm only days away now from flying to NYC to start a month-long project to help get a paper studio off the ground. More on that once I finish up all the last-minute prep.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Library treasures

On my one day off in D.C. from exhibit prep and promo, I got to visit the Library of Congress to view some Korean maps that I knew about from a paper written by LOC's Claire Dekle, their senior rare book conservator.
This first one was rebound (you can see holes from prior bindings to the left) into an almost drum leaf type binding. Each spread is a different map.
I love how evident the hand is on each page, and how the water is just painted in without any concern of making it look smooth or even.
This set of maps bound into a book has much bigger spreads that fold out, but they aren't all the same size.
I love the way that the islands are drawn. The water here is not as strong a blue but the style is similar, hasty filling in of water.
This is not as old as the other two and was under plastic so hard to shoot, but showed an are that is currently in North Korea, with Japanese and Chinese settlements marked in English, and north not being at the top of the map. I asked if these were power lines and she said likely telegraph lines.
This was the real stunner, the one I really wanted to see after reading the paper (and seeing Claire's presentation of it in Seoul three years ago). A map on a fan! Gorgeous, and a huge feat of conservation work. My colleague Minah worked on this Korean map project back when she lived in Philly and it is really remarkable to see (or not be able to see) the hours of work that went into all of these objects).
Claire also pulled for me a Chinese map showing parts of Korea, huge, woodblock printed, and beautiful. There she is with the proceedings from the seminar we were part of in Korea. We were in the maps division, which explains the globes (there are many more). Such a delight!

Monday, May 08, 2017

One full circle

The show came together beautifully, even with last minute art deliveries and paint jobs. I was so proud of how it all ended up, and was so happy to share the experience in person with Sammy and Steph.
You can see Adam's, Steph's, and my work in this gallery, at the right side when coming up the stairs to the second floor.
I love these pieces by a Korean artist, bronze pillows, on the way up the stairs.
These are three of Bandana Pottery's pieces, by Michael Hunt and Naomi Dalglish. I wish we could have used all of their work but there were some space limitations. If I had known earlier that three smaller pieces would have been pulled, I would have asked for prices and likely have gone home with something!
Adam's pots arrived just in the nick of time and we all breathed easy afterwards. I wished that the ceramic artists could have joined us but they are all very busy and in demand potters.
I did manage a lot of walking around during my one free day between install and opening, when I visited old Korean maps at the Library of Congress and the Paper Sample Collection at the National Gallery of Art. Such a full day with people who really get the process of making, and the intricacies of paper!
Finally, my generous and kind host Kelsey, who hosted me for the entire stay and brought a copy of my book to be able to show the reporter who was covering the entire event. We met in Korea almost a decade ago now and she has been steady in her support. I was delighted to be able to meet her husband and dog on this visit, who all took excellent care of me.

This was a big labor of love, to create a space for Americans who pull inspiration from Korean traditions, techniques, and materials. I was so glad to share this show with former students who are now good friends and colleagues. More pictures here!

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Perfect weather for a smooth install

I really had no idea how beautiful D.C. can be. After my brief NYC visit, I was amazed to drive into the city along water, and drive through a beautiful national park right inside of the city to get to my hosts after delivering a carload of art.
Today I managed after very little sleep to commute via rail. The walk along embassy row was so pleasant and this is the Korean Cultural Center (Korean flag a bit limp).
The gallery is on the second floor of this lovely structure. I really enjoyed the Korean bronze sculptures in the windows, small pillows in stacks.
I wasn't sure what to expect when told that two interns would be available all day to install. They were amazing! All I had to do was ask (or not even) and they would do it. Here, I recommended that they string a taut line of monofilament behind the big hanji hanging so that it didn't blow all the way back in the ventilation wind.
See how good they are at working together and getting into the ceiling? Ji Young, our fabulous curator, is in black, and you can see Sammy's back—she's the artist who made this gorgeous piece out of hanji. I love how she labels all of her joomchi work, calling the materials "hanji and water." So poetic and true.
These garments made the cut. I really liked that the curator asked to have the large hanbok displayed with one arm down, not the typical T.
Though I wish I could get backlighting, it won't happen for the big pieces. But I love the little duck corner.
Framed hanji pieces. I'm amazed by how much the color has deepened on the far left. Pomegranate!
I wished that I had teflon folders for them to use on the vinyl but they make do with any tools available, really good sports with a great attitude.
Even though my install was done early, I stayed late for an interview with Voice of America reporter June Soh. She is a consummate professional and it wasn't until hours later that I remembered: right, I am in the nation's capital right now. I had a bit of a difficult commute back because of a fatality on the tracks earlier in the day and have hours ahead of admin prep but wanted to share the process while I still have a bit of steam.

Please come Friday night to the opening, even if it rains! I've seen half the show installed already and it's only going to get better once Steph (who popped in to deliver work at the end of the day with her precious new baby) installs and Adam's pots arrive.