Thursday, September 20, 2018

Long game

Now that my schedule is broken up into small pieces with teaching, PT, and all the pieces flying around, I don't have the stretches of time I usually like to have for making work. Yesterday afternoon I spent a while cutting up an square linen piece that I bought in 2010 in Northern Ireland that was clearly marked to eventually become nine napkins. I used it as a table cloth for years while waiting for a time when I'd actually be ready to cut the whole thing up. After weeks and months of wanting cloth napkins for my house, I realized they were here already! Just not in their final form.
Last night I took a Korean art fellow from the local museum out to dinner, and had a lot of beef for the first time in a long time (I've been off it for a while now for a bunch of reasons, mostly that my body is not really built for it). I had a hard time sleeping and even did some sleepwalking that I have no recollection of but saw the effects of (no injuries, just wide open windows). At 4-something, I worried about old things I hadn't worried about for a while. At 5am, I got up to start doing something. After doing some prep for my class tomorrow, I finally finished this dress! It had been in pieces for months and I'm relieved to finally have it done.
I still get scolded at PT about a lack of exercise, so I tried to walk at the local park nearby, only to find that there was a massive construction project that is going to pave and regrade walking paths. A sign would have been nice. I also wished I had a wheelbarrow so I could take this torn-up grass turf home to my yard, which has lots of languishing grass patches (probably because I never water anything).
The old duck is supervising the new duck birth. I am trying to take my time because, again, I get lots of scolding at PT about how my work wrecks my body. Also, things hurt! Lots of breaks. I forgot to share this lovely review that one of my book dealers wrote about my latest book, which is almost sold out. I've been so honored by the collections that have chosen to buy it, especially after hearing about a very special donor for one of the later copies.

Today is the start of a 3-day craft symposium in town!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018


I finally made a duck for this funny stand that I've wanted to use for a while. Done and done! Two more jiseung pieces in a the works: another duck, and a vase based on one I saw in the Korean gallery at the art museum last week.
I doubt I can get it as perfectly tilted as this one (and that could have been a mistake, who knows!).
I also went to see the William Morris show. The background wallpaper and faux rug on the floor were a little bit overkill for me, but otherwise I loved that textiles and books were all in one show.
The Fabergé and Tiffany galleries apparently had been redone a while back, so I stepped in and loved the Fabergé crystal 'water' in these tiny flower pieces.
In April, I had seen the Kerry James Marshall mural on the back of the Chicago Cultural Center. His show here was not as big but given the size of the gallery, this piece made from giant woodcuts was monumental.
My timed ticket for the Kusama show was the last slot, which is why I had plenty of time to see what else was going on in the museum. What else, besides locking myself out of my house 2x in less than a month and learning about the gunk that builds up in washing machines? [1. Thank goodness for friends with spare keys and 2. Ew!] One of my book dealers wrote a very thoughtful review of my latest artists' book. It's always a gift when you know someone has spent a lot of time handling, looking at, and reading your work. Thanks, Alicia!

Before I forget: the closing reception for my solo show at the Orange Art Center is this Friday (along with pretty much every other opening in town)—see you for the artist talk and refreshments!

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

September = school

I got started on these baskets last week or maybe a little before that. I'm still not done with the second one but am going a little crazy not being done, so I may stay up doing that tonight. I've been sidetracked with the start of school, which means getting a zillion documents ready. Not only the syllabus, but bibliography, resources, handouts, assignments, projects, books to pull from the library ... it's amazing how challenging it can be to envision the best way to get the info in my body into other humans! And soon, I'll also be a student: in a few weeks, I begin a jewelry class. Very excited to learn a whole new set of skills with materials foreign to me, and enjoy the luxury of being a pupil.
This is sometimes the downside of teaching. I had this needle for years, and it got left behind in a class. I foolishly entrusted the site to mail it back to me, warning them to tape it to a board or something (I thought everyone also knew that you could go to the post office to hand stamp these things rather than sending through the machines, but I assume too many things). It arrived broken, but thankfully, Velma had mailed me a good needle so that I could keep working. I also reached out to my tool contacts for advice, and a bunch of new needles are in transit so that I have options when I teach, rather than letting students use my tools. I still have so much to learn!

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Spin spin spin

In New York, I went through lots and lots of old sketchbooks and journals to see what I could recycle (and destroy!). My sketchbooks made of hanji were easy to take apart and slice up to make more thread.
I tried to make netting and thought I had it figured out but upon spending some time earlier today taking mine apart, I obviously didn't exactly get it. But at least I have the tools now!
Can you guess which one was a 10-year-old sample I found in an old book versus the ones I made in the last few days?
And Velma's generous way of trying to change my life: a table loom! I shot from the back because otherwise you'd see my shoes at the front door. Bill helped me get it going but I still need to figure out a few more things before I get started. And spin a lot more thread! And get books to help me. Next week, the fall semester starts: I'll be teaching an artists' books class on Fridays. I even signed up for a jewelry class as I am long overdue for learning more about a new medium. Plus at least three trips out of town, all requiring airplanes. It may be 90 degrees next week but summer is in its long farewell.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Speak for themselves

I'm amazed that I was on two massive trips, both for work, this summer, and still managed to produce a smidgen of work. Last week I got to see Stefan for an in-person shoot, which is always the best way to go (though NYC summer was fairly unbearable, weather-wise, this time around).
This dress was YEARS in the making. I had started folding these price tags around 2001, maybe earlier. I sewed them to paper thread at Haystack in 2008. One of those things that has followed me around to many different homes and studios until now.
Finally! I had been wanting to make this edition for well over a year. There are three things going on, an homage to instructional dressmaking manuals, another homage to commonplace books, and then the usual narrative that I write woven in between.
I have a particular way of taking notes of everything I read, and have been doing that since grad school about 15 years ago. They come in handy for all kinds of things, like having good quotes on hand (with the bibliographic citation in full) when you have to write a book, for inspiration, and for when you are finally making the artists' book you've wanted to make but wasn't ready until now.
Of course this is a favorite spread. This is partly why the edition is limited to ten copies.
And the tip-ins are all different, so of course it had to be a variable edition (the hanji pages also vary as I had to cull from different batches. Learned a lot about which hanji wants to go into the printer and which DOES NOT). Doing the former makes printing easy and pleasurable and nearly instantaneous. The latter makes life awful.
This is the first time, maybe ever, that I've felt 100% great about a book that I've made. It's because I have the right tools (experience, technical skills, confidence) in the right combination.
All of those failed prints turned into new dresses.

Artists' books,
Hanji dresses,
Hanji ducks.

Meanwhile, finally back home for a bit and back to nesting. I was a little cranky at first, but did a bunch of housecleaning and laundry today, enjoying the NOT humid summer here, and glad to have the big driving of the year done.

Friday, July 27, 2018

A beautiful week for hanji

I should be sleeping so I can drive a TON tomorrow but wanted to do this sooner than later—about to leave Wells College in the morning. Here are Nancy and James board drying hanji.
We started out in REALLY wet and rainy weather. All of the wet work happened outdoors.
Our first post had deep drip marks from the leaking tent.
On Thursday, the sun finally came out and the rain said goodbye! Jane is pulling while intern Willa is watching.
Emily is looking at her beautiful bark lace in the trees.
Heather and Willa did a great job getting their bark lace type high to make a printed edition (2 more runs after this one).
This is the highest post any of my hanji students have ever managed (the final post, maybe #4?).
Always looking for places to board: Nancy and Willa at work.
When we started, we only had basement space, and I worried so much about how we'd pull it all off. When the rain started flooding the floors, it was time to find space upstairs even though we had no A/C.
We boarded onto every indoor window on the 2nd and 3rd floor. It's always a toss up about old glass; sometimes the release is not good. So I had them do it on the textured side, with flower patterns.
These in the top window were a test and I was relieved when they released.
The gallery install (there was also another short wall and a table). These students did fabulous work.
Emily took the picture so she's not in it, but we are goofing off on the vat as it dries. I was so grateful to have such a hard-working, resilient, and non-complaining group. Often I like to take a break from my students during meals but this week I was happy to spend all of my time with them. More pictures here. Hitting the road in the morning!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Triple booking

Today was show install for my new local exhibit at the Orange Art Center. It's the first time I think that I am using Korean words in the title that are not "hanji" so it kind of freaked out the spell check functions in their computers. It's a risk but seemed like a good idea at the time.
Emmalyn and Amalia were there to help the entire time and did a GREAT job hanging much of the show. Charity came over to help, and I felt super supported and grateful that I could hang back and let them do most of the work.
The entire show spans three rooms, and it was great in the end how well the sightlines work so that you can see work from one space to the next and it all pulls you through the gallery.
I felt a lot of deja vu to my Albion show when Tim and Pati came to help me hang the show (basically, Pati curated the entire thing and Tim hung it, because I was so delirious from not sleeping enough while teaching for a week in the woods). I didn't have a zillion pedestals to float in the main room today, but was perfectly content to let everyone else decide where things would go.
I had fun hanging that dress in the corner and using the monofilament guard line trick to keep it from spinning in a circle. It's always so satisfying to have the work out of my house and out in the world, with more space to breathe. It was my first load/unload/return while living in my new digs and I am over the moon to not have to climb so many stairs to load my car. This is easy to say when the weather is good and not raining (my garage is detached, so check back with me when the weather turns).
The final exciting news (for me only) is that I actually finished my book edition! I didn't think I would, but yesterday got revved up and printed the final three copies and glued up the spine pieces for three more covers. This is my pile through number 7, and 8, 9, and 10 were born tonight. Just in time to sleep and get up early tomorrow to see the doctor, PT, and mechanic. Back to body maintenance after an unfortunate taxi crash (I am okay but it definitely messed with me—all I was doing was sitting in the back seat of a taxi after flying around the world), and car maintenance to make sure it is ready to drive east this weekend to teach hanji in the beautiful Finger Lakes region of NYS.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

The final work vacation before vacation's end

I am trying to get all caught up so I can feel good about getting back to work at home tomorrow. In case you thought I flew all the way back home and then stayed home, HA HA HA. I got home the night of the first day of July, and could barely unpack before leaving the next morning for Ann Arbor. I went to pick up artwork from a show that had closed so I can open a new one in a couple weeks, to get more of my books from my publisher, and to meet a very important papermaker. Above (and the next two pictures): an exhibit of Japanese miniatures at the Toledo Museum of Art.
Fortunately, my dear one was the driver for this trip, so I didn't have to worry about being behind the wheel of my car in my jet lagged state. His alma mater is in Ann Arbor, so he was delighted to plan this trip, because his old college friend was the one who made the VIP meeting possible: his late mother was friends with Laurence Barker! I was very excited to meet him, after having read his articles and seen his art and known his name in the paper world. Laurence, who taught printmaking for a long time at nearby Cranbrook (and set up papermaking there, the first such studio in the country in an academic setting) was wonderful and shared lots of great stories and details from his long career and fascinating life in the art and paper worlds.
It's also always a pleasure to see my publisher and catch up with her latest research, which is remarkable. I can't wait for her to publish it though I know there's lots more to do before we get a book in hand. She and I had returned to the U.S. from overseas work journeys on the same day.
On the way home, we stopped at the Toledo Museum of Art and of course visited the glass pavilion (that was kind of the whole point). This award-winning piece was hand cut but actually broke the first time and they had to re-make the whole thing in time for the 1904 World's Fair.
There's the picture of a man polishing the punch bowl. This show even had dresses and a parasol made from spun glass, which are apparently too heavy to wear anymore or display upright. The glass cuts the thread that has woven it together so it's quite delicate.
What I liked best were the ancient pieces of glass, which may have been the medium in which marbling began. I've been slow to get back to a full work schedule but have also been reminded that it's okay not to do that! Even though I only have two weeks before the next trip. I'm hoping to get back to the important work ASAP: making new art.

Cali jewels

It felt slightly over the top, but I agreed to a hanji event at Caltech for the night after I arrived back in the U.S. (after a New Zealand to Australia flight, then Australia to LAX). My flyer is in the top right corner here.
I'm so glad I did! I saw very little of campus and probably none of the rest of Pasadena, but what I saw was GORGEOUS. I can't believe all of these genius students and teachers get to work and study on such a beautiful campus.
I kept looking for similarities between the plants in SoCal and down under.
The architecture is stunning, and I love all the colors and textures. The landscaping is also incredible and it was so nice to walk by scented blossoms.
This is one of my favorite buildings, with tile work that feels so subtle to me. Apparently when it was built, it was considered way too out there, so they didn't do the same tile pattern on the other sides of the building as originally planned.
This is where I stayed, which was so lovely and comfy. I also spent most of my downtime talking to Velma in the shade while looking at the building and finally wised up to stand around barefoot in the grass to get grounded.
My hosts at CWC set up a gorgeous spread outside the lecture hall with fresh flowers, Korean tea and cookies (flown back a day prior by the wife of the person who got this whole thing rolling), and refreshments.
They have a turtle pond that I didn't know about until later in the day. Taking advantage of the hot midday, they come out to sun themselves. I love the way Cali evenings cool down.
This was the side of the tiled building earlier. I didn't take my phone in to see one of the newer buildings, with an art installation inside and architecture that refers to the destruction of the atom to create more energy. I love that a lot of the old architecture was preserved here, and wondered if the students appreciate it at all. I assumed that places where people study such hard sciences would not be so gorgeous, so this was a wonderful treat for 24 hours.
I got to see two old friends in SoCal, one that I met in nursery school and the other in kindergarten. Frustratingly, I got into a taxi at LAX to meet one friend and the cab driver smashed his car into another vehicle just minutes away from her house, so that's car crash #4 in the last three years that I've been in (with four different drivers). Agh! It wasn't as serious as #1, though serious enough to start the rounds again with massage, acupuncture, PT, and a doctor's visit. I know what to do now and finally have the network of practitioners that I trust who can help. I need to research rituals to get rid of my bad juju around cars.
I got to meet four new kids (new to me!) of these friends and hang out in beautiful weather. This may be Laguna Beach but I've already forgotten (the first ocean pic definitely is).
This is in San Clemente and there were so many people out, including lots of them fishing on the pier. It was so nice to relax with old friends and catch up. I had eaten SO much down under and was trying to cut back, but people here are just as generous, so I was stuffed silly again.
I ended the trip the way I had started, right near the water. Looking at the pictures makes me want to swim but I know it's cold (as was the sea in Tasmania). I got to fly back to the middle end of a heat wave but home is still home even when it's hot.