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.

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