Friday, February 17, 2017

Vienna: First class

I saw these musicians on a long walk to St. Stephen's Cathedral when I still didn't know how to ride the very easy and convenient public transportation system. I arrived on a Thursday morning and was immediately put to work in the studio to prep for class, as well as on Friday (kozo cooking!), and then classes began Saturday. They ran 9am - 5pm and I did all kinds of prep before and cleanup after, so that did not leave me a lot of time to get out. When I did, it was dark, but fortunately I didn't feel unsafe walking alone at night.
The first class was a 2-day papermaking course full of wonderful women who bonded very well. I liked them a lot and they were so eager to learn.
Fortunately, given the fact that we could only run enough vats for half the students at a time, they REALLY took to working with bark. Lots of lace, lots of amate. I have to say that I was so impressed by the fiber, which was Thai kozo, but a million times more wonderful than what we have been receiving in the US. Guess who is scheming a way to get that stuff instead? Thanks to John Gerard for providing such a wonderful service to Europeans.
Bark lace everywhere! Michaela was with me for 5 days straight instead of taking a vacation. I really enjoyed taking lunch with her each day.
Beatrix, our host, is very aware of the value of providing a good coffee service. Note the brand of the chocolate chip cookies (much better than the ones actually from America). I had an accident with this electric stovetop near the end of my stay before a class. I was trying to cook kon'nyaku on a back burner while also making eggs for breakfast on a front burner, but accidentally had the wrong burner on. It scorched this plate and melted the coffee pot cable, which happened to be resting on the stove surface. I smelled something and by the time I found the problem and moved the cable, it exploded in my face (no injuries thank goodness) and all the power went out in the entire studio. The first student who arrived for class helped switch the fuse box off and on and then we were fine.
In my calculations about no power, I realized I could still run an Asian papermaking class with no electricity. Beatrix had five sugetas from Korea but the sewing was raised so high on the edgesticks that initial release on couching was very hard. My handmade one with paint stretcher bars was by far the favorite tool in both papermaking classes (we ran the same class 2x by popular demand).
I was grateful to have lots and lots of drying boards. And I forgot to take a picture of it, but Beatrix has a beautiful huge old screw press. What a treat, because it's quite hard to over-press with one of those. It's also much more straightforward than hydraulic ones, and I didn't have to worry about students working on their own with the press.
The windows to the studio look directly onto the street and I got a sill and a half to display objects—for the class but also for passersby. Beatrix provides an amazing space and resources for people not just in Vienna but in the entire region, and I was glad to finally get the chance to visit.


  1. i can't believe how much of your stuff (work and equipment) you hauled to vienna. lucky students!

  2. ...and glad you found a better source for the thai kozo.


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