Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Daily teaching

The day I flew to Chicago, I taught my Cleveland students how to make paper and they came alive, which was fun to see. It's such a physical experience, even small sheets, so it activates the body—plus, it was nice to be in a different setting.
Then I flew, and the next morning got a ride to SAIC for the first workshop in the morning. We had a good crowd given it was Saturday morning, and then had a nice Korean catered lunch.
This was from the morning joomchi session. After lunch, we had a jiseung workshop, and it was great to have access to different hanji (all of it was donated from Jeonju) than I usually use, because the colored sheets worked fine for both.
The next day, I went south to the University of Chicago to speak to audiences brought in by the Center for East Asian Studies. Such a treat to talk to people who are a lot more informed about the things that I usually share.
Then we moved all of the food and my things down to the second floor in the Logan Center to begin the workshop. We covered joomchi techniques, and made thread, and in general had a great time. The group was really varied and it was great to see people who had nothing to do with art or paper come together to play with hanji.
The following day was my slightly freer day, and I was able to wander around the Chicago Cultural Center to see a bunch of great exhibits. This was one of my favorites, all made from salvaged wood that artist Faheem Majeed found in his South Shore neighborhood.

I was delighted to be back in Preston Bradley Hall to see chamber music performance (music by James Stephenson, a living composer, standing in front to introduce his clarinet sonata, performed by Steve Cohen and Kay Kim). It has been almost 15 years since I performed there and the hall is as beautiful and well kept as ever.
I had to visit the Korean objects in the Art Institute, and loved this bird ewer where you pour water into the guy's basket and then pour it out of the bird's mouth.
This is a contemporary ceramic piece by Choi Sungjae—see the birds drawn with his fingers through the slip?
The Korean section is tiny (I wouldn't even call it a gallery; it's more of a hallway) so I wandered off to find baskets and textiles as best I could. This is a Pomo wedding basket from the late 19th century. My phone camera is clearly terrible but the piece is stunning.
And in the basement, a textile show that included this Samoan tapa cloth made from paper mulberry. After all that, I was able to meet up with an old music camp friend; we haven't seen each other since we were teenagers and now she is an SAIC professor! It was barely enough time but joyful, and then we headed off to our respective work obligations. I got a ride to UIC, where I gave a lecture and demo on making cord, so the students had a hearty catered Korean dinner and went home with hanji bracelets.

Today: wind, cold, voting (I took care of my bit early), and a workshop. Plus a few other things thrown in for good measure.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Indiana to Chicago

I returned late last night from a road trip to Indiana for research interviews. So honored to stay with the Clarks of Twinrocker, and to visit Andrea and Jon of Hook Pottery Paper. I also saw the exquisite exhibit on Twinrocker and the incredible artwork made on their paper in Lafayette—highly recommended if you are able to visit! Now I have just enough time to do laundry before flying to Chicago on Friday for a whirlwind of hanji events, sponsored by Korean Consulate of Chicago & Hanji Society of Chicago, with many other hosts and supporters:

Nov 3: SAIC workshop (SAIC students only)
Nov 4: U of C lecture & workshop (12-5pm) - lecture open to public
Nov 5: UIC lecture & demo (6-8pm)
Nov 6: SAIC workshop (SAIC students only)
Nov 7: SAIC lecture (4:30pm) - open to public
Nov 8: U of C Dept of Visual Arts (U of C students only)

I got an avalanche of information over the last few days and won't have time to properly digest before I leave, but am so grateful to my generous hosts for helping me see and learn more accurately the shape of hand papermaking in this country.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Wiggle room

Diana took some fun pictures from Penland; I asked her to do this one because I don't have a lot of me working with Charity.
I like this one because all the students are pictured while also giving a realistic depiction of the fact that we were working in a construction zone. Here are all of the Penland pics!
While I was away, Stefan worked on a new batch of photos for me. Somehow in my packing of my art in an exhausted daze before I flew out early the following day, a dress got misplaced. But these made it to him in NYC!
These are ready for this weekend's show (which I still need to build shelving for...).
This is not exactly as I had planned, but I was down to the last minute on this, absolutely finished right before I packed to ship.
The medium ducks are much more rare than the large and small, so I was glad to replenish stock.
This skirt used to be a totally different color. After coming back faded from a show, I hit it with brazilwood and then indigo powder in funori. It was good to finally get a top for it.
Pants! There's one more not included here but I have so many website sections that it's hard to see; visit now that it's updated. I had a crazy recovery day or so after flying back late this weekend and then tried to relax yesterday for the birthday. Best gifts: a sunny fall day, cake from a dear local friend, a bone needle from a dear faraway friend, an afternoon nap! I have been very bad about scheduling enough time in between gigs but someday I'll figure it out.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Beautiful week

Sarah Rose gave us the safety tour right before dinner on our first night. So proud of her—she has come so far so quickly, not only in her job work, but in her artwork. I was too fried to take pictures at the gallery opening Friday night, but her work is diverse and exquisite.
Charity was kind enough to haul my milkweed harvest to Penland, and we had a big steaming and stripping session on Monday. It goes so much faster with nine more people!
We separated green from black milkweed so that we could have two different batches.
Lots of beating implements, from Penland's and my stashes. Everyone has a different favorite weapon of choice.
This was milkweed beating Tuesday after a cook and a long morning of beating paper mulberry on Monday. They were real troopers and did lots of beating with no complaining.
This garage door separates the inside from the weird 'outside' space (it's not really outside but has no glass windows in the window holes, just screens. It's very weird. But for our purposes, the extra drying surfaces were so helpful!
The boards were tons of plastic folding tables. A little unwieldy to carry but so necessary. We dried onto the tops of the stainless tables as well.
And onto glass in the doors, of course. This leads to the magic drying room, which is climate controlled to remove humidity. It must cost a fortune in terms of energy use, but made drying in humid weather (and the hurricane remnants that blew through rain and rain and rain and rain) actually possible. We had all kinds of things in there at different times, like aprons and boots and raincoats. Felts and pellons dried quickly on the back lines and there are horizontal drying racks for non-restraint drying.
We'd board onto the tables in the classroom and then carry them into the drying room. They got really into the socialist papermaking, and made so much for each other rather than claiming the many sheets they made individually. What a fantastic group of students!
Joanne was determined to figure out the jiseung process (not just cording, but twining after that), and it was easier after she dyed her cords to make a little yellow basket. It wasn't officially part of the class, but I liked them so much that I cooked up batches of dyestuff I brought in case: brazilwood, onion skins (Sarah Rose ran to the kitchen to get us fresh yellow AND red ones!), and persimmon.
Sarah was so quiet during class but was always working. She had a gifted drop spindle that she was on seemingly constantly, and wove a lot of things. Very prolific. Near the end of class, I demoed a couple basic book structures as well. They were all so eager to learn everything; it was such a pleasure to teach people who were excited to be exposed to so many techniques.
Dianne was wonderful to have in class and kept us in the loop about local things as she lives part of the year nearby and the rest of the year in sunnier climates. She is originally from the Caribbean, so it was so reassuring to hear her speak and we shared lots of stories. After the rain, we missed her one morning because the water had risen so much that it wasn't safe for her to come in until they receded. It's always a good sign when everyone looks out for each other and notices (and worries) when they aren't in class.
Joanne had done western papermaking but none of what I had covered, and was in the studio every night working to get a good grasp of techniques so that she could continue at home. This was her second Penland papermaking class since the new studio opened! That's dedication, to come down twice for these intensives.
Wendy was also in the studio all the time, until late, and was a delight to have in class. She tried almost everything and is trained as a woodworker and sculptor, so I loved talking to her about tools and ways that things could be built or improved. She took measurements for the most popular beating mallets; I am trying to now encourage everyone even slightly inclined to make papermaking tools to do so. Then we'll have more good tools!
Sally was in the studio in the mornings before I was even awake, and stayed late alongside Wendy—they have been friends since college! She was the most papermaking student in class by far, and I was so impressed by how deeply she committed to each process. She would never beat a little and walk away; she would beat fiber longer than I expected anyone to, and enjoyed it (well, at least it seemed like she did). She was so generous with all of the paper, making tons for everyone, and was always trying something new.
Diana was one of my studio assistants, and we had met when she was a scholarship student at Ox-Bow in my hanji class last year. She was a trooper despite all of the stink bugs in her room and somehow made it through many sleepless nights plus jet lag (she's from the west coast). She'd always do grunt work for the class before she did any of her own, which was terribly generous.
Charity was my other studio assistant, and I really wanted her to have a chance to be back in the paper studio, as well as get a break from her job so that she could do studio work. I love that she did all of her bark lace textured rather than laying flat. She and Diana were great about all of the extra work they had to do to clean the studio after construction (concrete dust was EVERYWHERE from grinding the floors).
Kristen was still working when we went upstairs to set up the show and tell. She was trying to finish a binding before bringing her things, and had so much energy to do the physical work that most people run away from. She also lives in the area and was a core fellow a decade ago, so it was fun for her to be able to be in a class again at a place that she loves so much.
Bill was also in class but couldn't do the show and tell because he and his wife Deb, who was teaching the photography class, had to leave right away to drive to Charlotte for their flight back home to Montana. He was fascinated by the historical, personal, and technical details of lots of my research, and was so kind at the end when he thanked me for class. He really understood that I approach my work in a way that involves a ton of scholarship as well as technique, and it was nice to have that affirmation at the end. Cat, the third teacher (only three of us taught the one-week courses because the rest of the studios were full of eight-week concentration courses already underway) was teaching sand casting in the jewelry studio and we traded a lot of info, and pieces. The biggest thing for me is that we talked about plying cord, and when I asked him about 3-ply cord, he said it is definitely done all at once (not 2 plied with 1). So I went back to the studio and tried it. He's right! It was a question that came up from a student five years ago, so I'm glad to finally have an answer.

I know, you'd think I would have tried to figure it out myself five years ago, but everything takes more time then I'd like. It was only a week but it felt like a month. These students went really deep and I felt good about all that they had accomplished and experienced. It's always luck of the draw, who shows up to these classes, so I'm grateful for yet another fabulous group. Travel home last night was hard and I returned to a house that I have to heat (when I left, it was warm), but my fall plants survived my rushed transplanting. And we all know that nothing beats getting to sleep in your own bed after being away.

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Cooking with all burners

Arrived to Penland! As seen and heard, the brand-new paper studio is beautiful. Dusty from all the floor surfacing, but gorgeous.
This is the 'outdoor' space (the windows to the side and behind me are screens, not glass), equipped with a huge gas heater above so that winter papermaking can continue.
Speaking of GAS, wonderful industrial strength burners are ALL going (that third one is having some oxygen issues but eventually got up to a boil). They are so strong that they started roiling almost immediately! The industrial strength vent hood is so strong that there is zero kozo cooking smell inside (which we miss)—it all vents outdoors. So we have to out there for that fix.
The wet studio indoors (the wood table is about where the 'dry' area starts).
My view of the front door from the station I set up. I took over four tables and even then I don't have enough room for all the samples! I got carried away, but this is the right place to get carried away.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Time to pack again

I started a jewelry class a few days ago and started to saw brass,
drill holes,
and cut some more. Even though I'll be missing a few classes throughout the fall, I wanted to try something new, material- and technique-wise. Also, being a student is a total luxury!
Melissa reminded me about harvesting milkweed after the equinox, so I had a ridiculous session of rushing over to a paper conservator's garden in the pouring rain to cut down almost 20 stalks. The yield is tiny but here we are, even a bit of coma! I'm drying the scraped bast fiber now and starting to pack for Penland—a one week class making paper with some of my favorite people!

Before that, I've scheduled another harvest and other things (PT, being a student, being a teacher, prepping for shows and workshops and whatnot). Friday, I'll give a lecture on hanji (that includes free pizza). Let's hope that I'm ready to leave the following morning!

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!