Monday, April 24, 2017

Fresh week

I don't remember how many weeks ago I finally got around to my flax paper impregnated with beeswax (with embedded dyed paper thread). It was a great idea but the process of turning the whole thing inside out changed it a bit. This is why I prefer working with more flexible paper, though it's always nice to have a change here and there.
Trying to remember this mantra as I enter another flurry of travel/show prep. I've been getting a lot of acupuncture from someone a friend recommended and he has been so helpful because he actually listens to me and explains things. I've learned so much, which explains years of discomfort, pain, mysterious conditions, etc. But it requires lifestyle changes that of course are challenging when still highly plugged into the old lifestyle.

I enjoyed the gathering to close my show and finally took some pictures of the whole thing before taking it down. Today has been a mix of fixing old pieces, finding boxes for things, packing, making lists, and constructing new student sugetas for summer teaching. I also discovered that the buy I made on a whim was a great one: I am converted to this line of canned fish! Could easily have it every day. Now, time for tea and trying to reconfigure a new dress.

Friday, April 21, 2017

The in-between times

It took days to catch up on work after Atlanta. I finally got back to making things a few days ago but had a lot of interruptions and have been preparing for a road trip that begins next week. Here is a silly thing that was supposed to be something else but now is another problem to solve.
This was a wonderful pleasure, to visit the museum and see this woven hanji tray in objects storage. Amazing! I also got to see the Korean gallery that I hadn't visited in a while and its new rotation of objects.
Their new acquisition is gorgeous, painted by a famous regent and scholar when he was 79 years old of orchids. The moon jar was back out and I loved looking at the garments more closely, and a headpiece made of gilded paper!
Having fun making new garments based on a slightly different Korean style. I will probably take them for show and tell tomorrow for my show's closing reception. See you there!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Two down!

My Atlanta show is up (here are some pictures)! That means the second of six shows this year is finally installed. This one is up for a while, which makes it worth all the work getting it there.
This is the view upon entering the main gallery.
This was when we had to corral lots of tall guys to help us place a huge case cover onto the case without damaging the Korean bal and bal teul. This is the moment where Chris and Jerry were yelling that they needed help. Everyone paused before jumping in because we knew that the case had already been polished and no one was wearing gloves. But it was easier to place it first before raising it again to polish fingerprints inside.
This is a shot of the back gallery from the back of the room. We all got a lot of exercise getting everything ready. Walking, lifting, polishing, hammering, carrying, climbing, crawling, and so on. Juan, the preparator/installer, had retired months ago and the position was still vacant so I did a ton of double duty even though I've never made museum mounts before. Now I know a lot more about how this kind of show gets made, and appreciate these behind the scenes people SO MUCH MORE. Fortunately, Juan came on the second day to help install TV screens and more, which was an enormous help.
He hung these cases as well and was really kind about staying a long time, well into bad traffic time (remember, there was a huge highway bridge collapse due to careless arson) and WELL past lunchtime. Our lunches got pushed later and later each day, while arrival times got earlier each day and departures later. I brought hundreds of hanji strips to cord in the evenings, thinking I'd have relaxing long evenings, but I didn't touch a single one.
But in the end, the show looks great and I feel like I accomplished something that I've wanted to do forever: a comprehensive show about hanji that includes how to, history, still and moving images, things to touch, and lots of art. The catering spread at the opening was beautiful and we had a mention on NPR in the morning! I was wrung dry but grateful for the chance to show at this amazing facility. I had a fantasy that I'd finish install early so that I could spend time with the collection—whoa, was I silly to think I'd finish early. But someday I'll go back on a more relaxed trip to see this incredible collection.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Cleats conquered

I landed in Atlanta last night and slept HARD before today's first day of install. This is a big show, lots of work, but it's also at a museum that has so many resources. I am dying to get the show hung just so I can spend the rest of my time looking at their collection. WOW. See those two panels in the corner? They were the first ones I hung to practice doing this with French cleats.
I was daunted at first, but lined these all up: nine panels about how to make hanji. And then did lots of measuring to get started. Since it was an odd number, it was easy to start with the middle one to hang. I was slow and confused at first but eventually figured out exactly what I needed to do and which extra steps I could drop.
After lunch, I came back and hung the rest so quickly! Then, because I was alone, I went over to the other wall with six panels that contrast my color photos from the 2000s and Dard Hunter's black and white photos from the 1930s. I designed 17 panels in all and it's so nice to see them in this form. I've wanted to do a show like this for YEARS.
I knew that the person helping me hang these was not as into the task as I had gotten, so I hung the last four, whee! We moved tables and cases and all kinds of things to try and clear out the front gallery. Tomorrow we'll get help installing the TV screens for the videos, and then I can commit to where the art on those walls goes. We'll pull out the big hanji bal and balteul from Dard Hunter's visit 84 years ago, which will be VERY exciting to see. And then there's the entire back room to install as well. Fortunately, we budgeted a nice window of time to do this so I'm optimistic.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

A matter of scale

This used to be a teaching sample that was crude and not useful, so I had taken it out of rotation years ago. I finally took apart the kozo bark thread (it was dyed with cochineal but obviously not mordanted!) and then re-wove it into what began as a basket and now is a button. Very curious about what garment it will eventually grace.
I have been so fortunate to meet Stephen Yusko, a fantastic metal artist and blacksmith who has a long professional career in making museum mounts. After he made some excellent duck stand prototypes for me, I had a sudden realization that he could make a mount for my hanji lamp that for years has never made sense to people. This is because the last bit of it was missing: the candle inside that proves it was an ancient flashlight for palace guards. My teacher had a metalworker in Korea make a rough one for me but I was so NOT taken by it that I left it behind. I showed Stephen pictures and explained what I needed, and he did the job quickly even when he has a million other things on his plate. It's beautiful! Granted, we won't light the candle in the museum display, but now it makes sense.

I leave soon for Atlanta to install and open my show (next Thursday is the magic day).

Also, someone wrote up a nice piece on joomchi artists. Always nice to see people put things in context. Now that the whirlwind of shipping my Atlanta art is over, and I'm hopefully on the recovery end of a sudden spring cold, I'm back to work on art for D.C. and planning the next bit of travel. Though I have to admit that the travel never really ends.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Next batch

Getting rolling on more art for my next show. This is all milkweed paper inside of the grids, and then the rest is hanji.
This is all made of different scraps and was so delightful to make. It originally started as the front (or back) half of a pair of shorts but I didn't have enough paper to finish it so now it's this.
This was a huge experiment that initially failed and had to be washed and cut up. I think I managed to salvage the pieces, though, and it was my final piece done before midnight.
I tried to work on this last night but my eyes were too tired, so it got shifted to lunchtime and also makes use of scraps that didn't work for a different piece. Today I got to see a ton of water main work (there is a massive hole in the road outside my home) and a bunch of friends I haven't seen for a while—always a wonderful treat!

Saturday, March 25, 2017


Home was a whirlwind and getting back threw me into action again, to all the spinning plates. First, I picked up stand prototypes from Stephen, so professional! Love working with people who really know how to fabricate, plus he has made museum mounts for years.
I also needed to use the rest of my copper pieces, so I went back to make the rest of the stands. Glad to have both options. Now I have more stands than ducks, which is great! Means I can now focus on making ducks.
I also needed to get more garments done, and decided to do more hand stitching because people respond so much to that. Here is the piece I spent all day on (lighting poor because it's nighttime by now), and it took a while for me to take a breath and do what I intended: pleat and sew it up into a skirt. Always tempting to leave as is.

So fun in the end! My hands very tired from stitching paper, but I took a day off before starting it again.
Almost done. This is my weekend pleasure, and will eventually get into a larger garment. Less than two weeks before I ship all the art to my next show, so it's time to get stitching.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Tools tools tools

Weather has been the driving force for this entire trip: inclement weather that was predicted forced me to change my flight earlier (which meant I packed in a last minute haze that left a few things behind unintentionally), and it has been cold (which makes me want to curl up and sleep). But class went well over the weekend with a nice group and then I was free to start research interviews for my toolmaker book. Yesterday morning I met Serge Picard, a Belgian mould maker who has inherited Ron MacDonald's amazing loom for backings and facings of English moulds in the Amies tradition. He was delivering a wove and laid mould each to donate to the Hand Papermaking auction this spring! I was astounded by his generosity.
Tatiana was kind enough to let me sit in on this meeting at Dieu Donne's new location at the Brooklyn Navy Yard so it was an adventure to get there and look around. Still a big work in progress, with concrete drilling going on during the entire day. Here she is with Serge, looking at a huge Tim Moore mould. She let me transcribe my notes after he left to visit Carriage House and I was amazed by how quickly the time went. I needed to head back to Manhattan and way uptown for my next meeting, but managed to navigate with her excellent directions.
Jeff Peachey had moved since the last time I visited his studio several years ago. I knew I absolutely needed to spend time with him for this book even though I am focusing on papermaking toolmakers and he makes book tools, because he is the Tool Guy. The real deal.
He showed me so many things and shared so much knowledge that I'm positive that most of it has fallen out of my head because of the sheer quantity and depth of it all. But I was really happy to hang out for five hours (eventually moving to dinner) and be schooled in a way that reminds me how fortunate I am to be working on this project.
This was part of the journey home at night. I was very happy to be free of meetings today during the snow and wind but tomorrow I head out again for family stuff. Still need to write up a ton of notes and get back to the regular work as well, but excited about what's to come, including another interview this week before the flight home.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017


While avoiding admin on Monday afternoon, made this wee one.
On Tuesday, I went back to think[box] to work with a great volunteer, John, who helped me solder my copper stands. I spent the evening sanding each one by hand.
Otherwise, they would have looked like this (which is okay in some situations, but once I got home and started sanding, I preferred a more refined finish).
Voila! Of course there are things I still want to tweak, and I will return tomorrow if I am prepared enough for NY to use up the last bits of copper so I have the maximum number of stands possible. It only took 7 months to figure out the solution, but now I know how! Which made it very satisfying to read Barbara Kingsolver's Animal Dreams where Loyd says,
“The important thing isn’t the house. It’s the ability to make it. You carry that in your brain and in your hands, wherever you go."
and also,
"Once you know how, you can always do that, no matter what. You won’t forget."
Oberlin's communications office did a fun project in January, traveling campus to document all the things people were doing during Winter Term. If you scroll down to 10:20am, you'll see my hands teaching a book structure; at 10:50pm and later, you'll see a former student marbling.

My paper dress show is doing well, with consistent sales—so gratifying! Here is a post from one of the companies that made a pattern that I used. Now, back to admin.

Monday, March 06, 2017


The opening went great! Sales went well and people came out in the cold to visit and they affirmed what a lovely community I have here. I gave two talks and was so pleased not only to see my cousin and her friends, but a few of my Oberlin students, who were delighted to see and understand the show on a different level now that they know how to make and dye paper.
I brought these new ones for my talk and then coated them the next day, when I was hugely exhausted.
Yet I couldn't stay idle or even nap, so I made this one as well! Hoping to get one more of these done before I head to NYC to teach this weekend.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

This week: Install, Whirlwind, Opening

After feverishly sewing as many garments as possible, I went to the gallery on Monday to start hanging the show. I was SO pleased that they actually hire a pro to do the work, which meant that all I needed to do was re-rig my hanging devices (AKA dowels/sticks and monofilament), take a look at placement, and fluff dresses.
I like leaving the math of it all to other people. Geoff and Joe are such pros and it was a real luxury to not have to figure it all out myself.
This is only one view of the show but it was on the second day when I brought in the large piece in the back to hang above the reception desk. I am so glad this one gets another chance to see the light, after it debuted in Miami years ago.
The large hanbok (Korean dress) anchored the center and then everything fanned out from there. The only reason I climbed the ladder was to re-tie the jacket and make sure the skirt was tied to match the jacket.
On a regular hanger, you'd never see the hood on this one!
Five of the small dresses are on pedestals.
 The rest are on the opposite wall.
Some of my favorites: my milkweed two piece!
Suminagashi jacket and woodblock print skirt
This one was inspired by Joe, who showed me a picture of a movie starring Elvis that he saw: he took a picture of the screen because he so loved the 60s jacket on the woman playing opposite him. I took that as inspiration and changed the design, which is much more obvious on the backside:
This make the front a different color IF you hang the dress in the light rather than on a wall. So much fun to make!

The show opens Friday at Still Point Gallery, and I'll give a talk (with props!) at 6:30 and 7:30pm. Here's all the info.