Tuesday, November 23, 2021


I was going to say no to this show I'll be in early next year. But then I said yes. I also picked a Chinese zodiac animal that would be a challenge and then put it aside for a while until the due date got closer.
I ripped it out about three or four times as I tried to figure out the best way to get the protruding bits designed. There are so many approaches and then I realized, why not pretend it's functional by using the handle idea, but twisted, for the comb?
By the time the hard part was over, I had run out of the right color cords, so I had to take a break to dye some more with onion skins.
Each side looks different, of course.

The cork padding under the brass stand is drying under weights now. It goes into the mail tomorrow so my photog can shoot it before it goes to PA for the show. I am so glad to be able to focus on what's next, though my inkjet printer decided to torture me today by teasing me with multiple "empty" cartridges after I had gone to the store to get one replacement. Very whac-a-mole with the yellow empty, so I get that only to come home to black saying it's empty, and the magenta claiming the same!

My semester-long teaching turned into a special kind of torture this year, which made me think a lot about why students who get mad at teachers for marking them tardy when they are late grow up to be adults who refuse to believe the news or election results or any number of things that go against This Is How I Want The World To Be. Fortunately, after being dragged to the dean for marking students tardy when they are late, I got a wonderful email from a past Penland student.

Not in her 20s, Hellen was very focused and hardworking during class, a math person, and kept in touch with me over the years with very practical questions because she was actually continuing the work at home. Most recently, she got my milkweed zine and made milkweed paper. She shows her process very clearly, credits me, and admits she used a blender when I said not to for certain parts. But that was part of her learning, and she was only breaking her own blender's metal blades, not mine, not other students' tools. This reminded me that aside from the wonderful students I have had in class this semester, I have also had so many more throughout the years that I remain grateful for having met. So I will try to enter the holiday with that in mind and not just eat my feelings.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

A magical mould

I meant to share about my glorious milkweed residency in Michigan but have already been swallowed up by life back home. Before diving back into the workload I want to share this auction again, because it's one of the last times you'll get a chance to buy an impeccably-made papermaking mould and deckle by Tim Moore. He is the most modest toolmaker I've met so we have to toot his horn for him: this mould is still way under retail value.

Tim is hands down the best mouldmaker in the country but retired from making them! He only did it to document in great detail the process of making them. The documentation alone is gift enough to us (along with his appendix in Tim B's book). But if you can get your hands on this, you will not regret it. No one parts with their Moore moulds, it's one of those pry-out-of-my-dead-cold-hands tools. Good luck bidding!

Tuesday, November 02, 2021

A whole lot of everything

I didn't know these two things would happen at once: a new driveway + new tree on the tree lawn. I have never had so many men out here scurrying around. It has been extremely disruptive even though I know it's supposed to make my life better.
In the studio, I have continued to neglect refinishing my beater because I don't have the energy to sand. My right arm/shoulder/pecs are blown out in a way that became alarming a year ago and I don't have any good treatment plans yet because the doctor/PTs are too busy working on other parts of my body. So for now I've tried to avoid the work that would make it hurt more. Like this!
I tried to set up in my temporary fashion to have a guest because I figured if I had a friend come over for a takeout dinner, then I'd be forced to go and work. I steamed and stripped milkweed and convinced her to help at the end. I haven't been back to work but did dust a fraction of the walls (contractor had the floors ground after painting, so the walls are very dusty). Also got a little shelving from the industrial surplus but still need to get tables.
Last week, I took my students on a field trip to the Morgan to make paper and they seemed for the most part to enjoy themselves.
It was probably the first time they ever expressed in the moment that they were enjoying themselves, and the first time they ever thanked me for what we've done in class.
It was also the first group in four years to want to pull sheets to the end. Usually they peter out early and then we go through the pressing, blotting, and loading of the dry box. This time, they pulled and pulled (likely too thin sheets but there's only so much damage control I can do) and then we pressed and did some basic blotting before leaving.

The JEONG Portfolio (I am part of the deluxe edition) is now available for sale. I got my version recently and took my time this past weekend to savor it. It's rich and varied, moving and poetic, and makes me glad to be part of this effort. If you are a newsletter subscriber, they sent out discount codes that expire this Thurs. Let me know if you are interested and I can share more info.

This Thurs, a gorgeous mould and deckle by Tim Moore will go on sale as part of a fundraiser for the University of Iowa Center for the Book. More info here. I don't know anything about cars but this is the Rolls Royce of paper tools. Or Cadillac? What I mean, it's an incredible tool by the best American mouldmaker around. I'll be excited to finally visit him and Pati this Friday to resume my annual Milkweed Residency! Just in time for Michigan/midwest cold.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Mostly blue and gold

I don't know if I've ever felt so discombobulated in the fall, as usually it feels more grounding than this time around. A couple weekends back I decided to visit the museum to reconnect to things outside of myself and my regular concerns.
The Korean gallery had a wonderful rotation focused on gold. The centerpiece was this Translated Vase by Yee Sookyung. These are ceramic fragments gathered from other studios and connected, with 24-karat gold leaf to fill the cracks (an old tradition).
It's different from every angle, and I was so happy to see this work temporarily installed.
In the Chinese galleries is a wonderful show on rubbings. They had images of people preparing paper for large ones, which is very instructive, and the center case was full of the tools and materials necessary for the process.
I keep forgetting to tell my students to visit this show but in a way I wonder why I would bother because they never go above and beyond what is assigned.
Was so excited as well to see the Flower Garland Sutra (Avatamsaka Sutra No. 78). This is from the Goryeo period and this version dated to the 1200s–1300s.
So much work in the papermaking, indigo dyeing, and calligraphy.
300–100 BCE painted clamshells from China. I will never not love paintings and drawings into bone, shell, and any other number of portable canvases that nature provides in spades.
475–221 BCE lacquered wood from China, cranes and serpents that potentially were made to hang a drum in the central gap. I have to get started on a major new bird and feel a little nervous that I haven't even chosen cords to begin.
After the museum, I headed to the hospital to see a lovely cyanotype show featuring lots of friends and colleagues. Lisa Schonberg did this one and is one of the most prolific printers that I've met in town. She works tirelessly and is a great teacher as well. I covered one of her printmaking classes when I first moved here and was amazed by the studio she had set up in a space not originally built for printing.
My images are weird only because I was taking them partly to show the track hanging system to someone else. But these are by Paula Zinsmeister, a friend who also makes a ton of work given that she has a regular job. She always works with plants and natural elements in her signature way and has always been a generous resource for me. I think she took my very first hanji class, ever!
Steven Mastroianni works at CIA and has helped me check out tons of stuff all the time for teaching, so nice about it. Also a CIA alum, he was trained in photography and built a whole greenhouse in his backyard to make cyanotypes (and grow plants, of course). I loved the scale of these and the different effects he used for his imagery.
This is another one of his pieces and overall the whole show is a fun and soothing combination. I enjoyed seeing all of the different takes on cyanotypes by a wide range of artists, but mostly was glad that I've only EVER been to that hospital to look at art, not for medical care.
On the studio front, the glass door next to the space (still part of the building I'm in) was shattered by a city mishap and it took months for the glass to arrive because of supply chain blahblah. Glad that is taken care of and relieved it wasn't on my side but a reminder of why I would never have chosen full glass exterior doors if it was up to me.
On the home front, the new tree lawn trees were delivered today. I was shocked several weeks ago when the stump grinder was hauled in to tear up the tree lawn and remove the giant silver maple stump that had been there for at least two years.
I checked the tag after the guys left and it's a frontier elm. I was surprised any elms could go in at all but it looks like this one is fairly resistant to Dutch elm disease. It looks exactly like a bad art installation right now, just hanging out on an angle with its future stake and protector on the ground where I hadn't watered the grass seed at all.
The unseasonably warm weather finally snapped into fall so today I popped off some more marigold heads. For the studio, I think I want to plant a zillion marigolds—for dye, but also for tea. I saw so much marigold tea in Korea and had plenty as well, since they say it's good for your eyes. Pam had asked for pomegranate peels recently so I gave her a bunch of mine that I had dried and saved from at least a year ago, if not more. She returned with more fruit, so I have been eating seeds and peeling fruit for days. It's like storing future gold and sunshine for when I'll really need it.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Ducks and stands

Things have felt relentless since arriving back home in July, but this time with mostly not very exciting things to report. Yesterday I had a wonderful day with the fearless and powerful Kim Baxter, a metalsmith who founded Flux Metal Arts. For the last month or so I've been working on a duck commission that required that I move aside a ton of my regular work. The ducks were one thing, but then the stands....
This was where I worked yesterday and am so glad that a friend told me about Flux, because I was able to book private time with Kim to get more guidance on these dang stands that began in 2016 and have taken on many different lives of their own. I've been fortunate to meet great jewelry folks this way, from Damon Thompson who made the first stand at Haystack, to Deb Rosen and Grace Chin who taught me at the Orange Art Center, and then last week Lyanne Torres, the excellent technical specialist in jewelry and metals at the Cleveland Institute of Art. If the ducks could stand on their own, fine, but these metal stands really help, and while I've also hired out for steel versions, the very strong part of myself that insists on a certain degree of self-sufficiency and control demands that I get a little better at doing them myself.
In a panic, I ordered copper discs from three different vendors in NJ, Mexico, and England. NJ ones arrived just in time to work with Lyanne and England in time to work with Kim. Mexico shipment close but hasn't arrived yet! Kim is great with all of the pandemic protocols and the shop is very well set up and stocked. Everything you need is there either for use through the studio rental or for very reasonable prices through the store. She even set up a little table on the side patio so I could have lunch in the gorgeous weather. The front of the space is devoted to gallery space of their instructors and local artists.
We talked so much shop and that included commiserating about adjunct life (and breaking away from it), creating studios that don't feed into the non-profit industrial complex, finding what you need from every source possible—like this mix of cases! The black-based ones were from an industrial resale place that I need to hit up soon for my own studio, and the skinny-legged ones were inherited from a colleague.
It's true that once you know the work that goes into just finding equipment, lighting, etc., you see so much more than the jewelry. Talking to Kim made me realize how long it has been that I've been able to meet and connect with local artists, and how valuable and precious it is to continue to do so. Even when it feels much easier to crawl into a shell.
Learning from her also reminded me of how students probably walk into my classrooms and how I could probably cut them some slack in certain ways, but will always hold myself to a certain standard. The larger stands in the front I did with Lyanne and then the smaller ones in the back with Kim.
New ducks, new stands, now packed. There are three other new ducks not pictured. I will be SO glad to get these on their way so that I can get back to the work I had intended to do this fall. Aside from this job, the other major detour was my kitchen ceiling/leak that ate three months of my life/sanity. Thank goodness for Bill, who came over to do repairs after the plumber did his thing. He was so patient and never complained, coming over countless days over weeks to do the various layers of patching, mud, and primer. Then it was up to me to finish priming and painting, which was yet another comedy of errors. But after really pushing through last weekend, I'm done!
I made this book maybe a month ago and still need to properly photograph it. But am glad to have one more rhodie book done, this likely being the last one. It's called Steady.
At the end of this week, I fly to NY for family stuff for a bit, and then the agenda: make more books, figure out how to weave a rooster out of hanji, and write. I've been approved for occupancy and passed fire inspection for the studio, so fingers crossed I can have a real opening by year's end. It probably will be snowing by then but it's just a matter of time.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Slow grow

More marigolds appeared! Seeds sown in July and very intermittently watered. Good to know that these work while the other seeds totally failed.
Over two weeks, I worked on a new set of ducks for a commission. Here's a review of the paper show my ducks are in, in Columbus.

I tend to make more than ordered so that I can choose the best selection for shipment. These are going overseas as soon as I can make more copper stands. Under the fabric full of chickens (from Youngmin) are lots of bamboo splints from my trip to Korea that already feels like it never happened. Funny how that works.
I also sowed these seeds in July and while the zinnias came up quickly, the flowering has been the slowest of them all. One poked out to say hello in the last day. After talking yesterday to Velma about how it's okay to only get a few plants out of many, many starters, I feel doubly grateful for this one pink face.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Time and change

Working on ducks while listening to this far-ranging and deep story about the UN Conference Against Racism that ended only days before this day, 20 years ago, by a brilliant journalist that NPR was so lucky to have, Shereen Marisol Meraji. Tears, for sure.