Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sun's farewell

My last day! Instead of working on the big piece last night, I wove this (well, it started out as something else, came out dreadfully, and I had to undo it).

I have a huge water blister from doing it. When Ben called last night and I confessed to weaving while watching trashy TV, he said, "I thought you said you were going to stop weaving once you left Korea." But, like Terttu told me a few weeks ago: "this is something you can do now that you couldn't do before!!" It's like anything else - if I can do it, and I feel like it, I will. Which must be why I joomchi-ed my scraps from weaving to make a picture book and a cover.

Today I realized that my stomachaches of late have come from one culprit: granola. So I am banning it from the diet for a good long while, which is fine. I survived for well over a year without it, so I can do it again. All I have have left to appease my sweet tooth now is cranberry juice and seltzer.

The sun came out today! It started out foggy, but then I was shocked when sun peeped into my studio. I took another long walk close to noon and tried two new roads that hooked up exactly the way I expected, so that boosted my confidence in my ability to navigate. Then I came back and proceeded to not work on the big piece again.

Instead, I made 64 of these. I still haven't figured out how to put them together, but it's right on the tip of my brain. I gave up my afternoon nap (and for a moment, it felt, my eyesight! Though it's nice to be able to do it w/o a needle b/c the bark is tough enough) to do this, though I'm tempted to lay down before dinner.

I've been preparing to pack since the morning. In many ways, I'm itching to get out of here. But in others, I know that the madness of my fall schedule will begin the moment I leave tomorrow morning, and soon I will be pining for solitary summer studio days.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Cold hands

Brr. The weather has turned and I am not prepared in any way at all. I just spent an hour on the air mattress, bundled in every last piece of clothing I could find that isn't totally filthy, reading and wondering if I should walk the 3 miles for a bag of chips. I'm craving crunchy food = stressy.

Here are the tracks of the mystery visitor. After being supremely lazy for days (maybe even longer), I finally got myself out the door and walked for an hour in the rain.

This line runs across someone's property. I'm not sure why. My batteries died before I could shoot the six different colored balls next to the soccer net in some other yard. The nice thing about walking in the rain is that the allergies are pretty much erased.

I like anything that says "CLP" b/c I can figure out myself that it stands for Connecticut Light and Power. Light and power, good things to have.

I came back to the studio and wondered why my brush pens are black and green, and so are my ball points. The same green! I have no answers.

Words of gratitude

I got a message yesterday from Ravikumar Kashi, an Indian artist, thanking me for helping make possible a residency for him to make paper at my hanji teacher's mill. The InKo Centre will be funding his fall stay at the mill, where he will learn to make hanji and then apply that to his work when he returns to India. I'm excited to see how it all works out! Since this time it will be all learning w/o knowing the Korean language. I personally think this mill would be a faboo place for an ongoing residency program, but that would take tons of admin, which no one is ready to shoulder right now.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Rain rain don't go away

It's been raining all day, and grey, which makes for a great quiet day - ramping down and being reasonable about what I'll do for the last couple days. I think I need to write. I also indulged in waxing some bark paper w/Velma's beeswax, which I can't get enough of. I should just make a face mask of paper so I can inhale the aroma all day.

Instead, I sewed a crown. I got an unwanted visitor today (and saw the muddy tracks of some other visitor who must have come around last night on the porch!!) but was able to re-work a piece into something for the show opening next weekend. I sewed up a little pilot book and will see now if I can fill it. I did these cords last night while watching silly TV and getting caught in the act: Ben called, finally in a normal state of being. He's getting sent home a day earlier than scheduled! Thank goodness. That training sounded worse than hell.

Looking forward to a quiet evening, if all goes as planned.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


[My favorite kind of installations pack up easily.] All done w/the studio visit. But now I'm all kinds of tired. I did get up the nerve to make a new piece (success!) and edit an older piece (it's WAY easier when you do it right in the beginning. Fixing sucks). My fibers teacher from Haystack, Mi-Kyoung Lee, has a show opening at the Craft Alliance tomorrow. See the site and click thru for more images. She is so gorgeous I can hardly stand it.

The good thing about having the open studio is that I just taped up big pieces on the sloped walls in front of windows and found that the backlighting TOTALLY makes the pieces. So this is good information to have. It'll be a nightmare to hang and light in Miami, I'm sure, but I've been told that the installer is top notch.

I couldn't sleep last night, thinking about everything I didn't say or forgot to or was distracted from or what have you during the lecture. But mostly I have been thinking today about how crazy the two full-time jobs are: being an artist, and being the PR firm. I'd be perfectly happy NOT setting up ridiculous tripod/self-timer shots of me "working" so that I could simply work. But it's not that kind of world anymore.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tick tick tick

There are so few days left, and I barely get anything done lately. But this morning, I did spin this rope from a failed paper experiment. I used it to rig my hanji samples at tonight's presentation - it was the perfect length.

This was also salvaged from the experiment but much less successful than the rope. No, I'm not going into business making paper flowers for weddings. Though I should if I want to make a killing, from what I hear about the wedding paper flower trend.

I turned this other failed joomchi piece into a book, which finally helped me get rid of my random tiny woven pieces. Now it's a sample book! Since I am obsessed with making sample books. They're so stress-free, and educational, and straightforward, and fun to make. I made three tiny books also while waiting for my ride to the library.

Today would have been a gorgeous day to work all day, with a great breeze, but I had to stop halfway and shower and then install my work at the library. I swear I had the camera in my hands to shoot it, but the moment I turned it on, a friend walked thru the door so I had to put it away. Tonight went really well - I went on and on about hanji in a very rambly way, yet people seemed for the most part to pay attention and not fall asleep! We had a great turnout - I would have needed all my fingers AND toes to count the audience, and they loved the work I brought. The only thing was that I was inundated by curious questions before and after, so I couldn't even get CLOSE to the food table. But the ED was kind enough when she picked me up to bring some fresh farmers market goodies. We drove past the lemonade stand but the kids had ran out - one of the boys drank it all.

Tomorrow is my open studio for the park employees! Then I have three days left to work. Yeeeee...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Panties in a pot. Not thrilled about dye tests. I was thinking today that I have too much crap in the studio to play with. So I might just put this away for later.

This, too, the greased hanji. I did a piece with it today and showed it to my sister, who said it looked "rinky-dink," so that definitely is not going to happen. She said that my work this morning looked wholly uninspired. She's right.

Last night I stayed up late (I think I've become afraid to go to sleep here) and wove this out of mulberry bark. Today I dunked it in the dye bath. It's all that comforts me in this time of massive stress, keeping my hands busy w/random tiny bits of bark and hanji. I feel like I have to crank out work like a robot, which would be FINE if I actually WAS a robot. But I'm not. So this human being is going to see how she feels after taking a shower and cooking dinner. I am hoping that tonight will be a good work night. Or at least a good admin night - the galleries are breathing down my neck for a million things, of course all due yesterday, even though I only get notice now. My admin priority is prepping my presentation for tomorrow at the library. The rest will have to wait!

An aside

Kelsey sent me this article that was written about KDJ by overseas adoptees. Scroll down for the English.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Cooling off

Thank goodness the humidity and heat have finally subsided a little! I went to bed last night feeling like I had been drinking all day, so the morning was a little slow, but I finally managed to finish this book. I was upset about some mistakes I made, but they're not bad enough to ruin it and I don't have time (or desire) to re-do it. I visited the library today to scope it out for my presentation on Wednesday. I'm bringing hanji and stuff I've made, so there better be more people than I have fingers on one hand. Then Jen took me to the store and I got some green peppers, which are my new favorite thing to cook.

This morning, I cleaned the bathroom and washed the studio floor. There is a certain kind of roach-like bug that has been crawling out into the middle of my studio floor and dying, legs up, the same spot. I hope it doesn't happen tonight b/c I have nine sheets of hanji that I glued together today on the floor. And b/c it's creepy! The bugs are coming out in full force, which makes me squeamish, but I don't really have time to be squeamish. I cooked dinner while I was preparing my cochineal dye bath. We'll see how it goes tomorrow. I didn't have pantyhose or mesh, so I wrapped up the ground bugs in a panties. I'm pretending that I intended to dye them.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Too much pizza is real

To counter my incredibly humid and unproductive Saturday, I ran off today to New Haven to see Terttu (who shot this photo)! It was great. I was totally unprepared for the intense sun (I thought they forecasted rain!) but it was great to see her new grad school (and possibly the ugliest school of art I have ever seen, ever), her new apt, hit a block party, and EAT.

Block party? Oh, yes. Terttu was modeling for a friend in a driveway fashion show, so we got to hang for a while and eat food perfect for a Sunday. [the house colors in this town are pretty amazing!]

[I don't even try to tame the hair in this kind of weather.] This was after I met her in the morning at the train station and we walked to a ridiculously huge organic brunch. I had been craving huevos rancheros forEVER, so as soon as I spotted it on the menu, it was all over. Terttu had eggs florentine and we gorged ourselves, then walked a bunch and finally to her place, where we re-hydrated and then basically collapsed for a nap. Once we came to, I ground up cochineal bugs (there is no blender here) and we did a photo shoot to Beyonce's "Halo" before rushing out to the block party.

The designer, the MC, the DJ. Good times, great music!

After stopping at the health food store, we went home for snacks and then headed back out to another part of town for Italian ices. There were crazy lines for pizza at the two popular joints, so we went back downtown to get an eggplant / basil / spinach white pizza at Bar, which we ate in a "park" (dozens of benches strewn around on bricks and concrete with a few pathetic trees) until it started to rain. We walked to the station and hung until my train left. I was super lucky and got a ride home from the interim ED and her husband, which was a relief - I had brought my headlamp to do the hike, but it would have been dangerous w/the dark, fog, and winding roads that cars like to speed on. I only realized once I got of the train that I had one slice too many, but it was totally worth it. Terttu is the best meds for my soul!

Friday, August 21, 2009

One more day

I hear that we'll get rain today, and that it will last for days, and then the heat will go away. Of course, that means then I'll get cranky about all the rain. But hopefully I will at least be able to work, instead of giving all my good hours to blogging or making brownies. Today's morning walk was going to the store and hiking back while having two tofutti cuties for breakfast and then doing a big batch of brownies to bring over to the park service staff. I've been here for almost three weeks and haven't introduced myself, out of a mix of being antisocial / shy / busy. Also, I tend to prefer not knowing the people who have the greatest chance of seeing me naked when I am in here. It turned out that almost no one was at the kitchen for lunch, so I was able to leave the treats and not meet anyone new.

I undid and respun some dyed cords to sew and map out the big book for Miami. I'm still unsure of how the content will live inside of it, but I prepped all the sheets last night in the dark, which was tricky since I was grinding ink and couldn't tell what was black and what was grey. But it was too hot for lights.

This is where most of my sewing things go. It's sandwich tupperware that my mom had given me years ago. Later, she would wonder where it was when wanting to pack sandwiches and was not too pleased that I was not using it for food. It reminds me of how I had my panty book in a show while I was in Korea, and when the show ended, it was mailed home. My dad had put it away and one day my sister came for an overnight visit. She was looking for extra underwear, and my mom was like, oh, Aimee has a ton! and then pulls out the book and proceeds to try and rip the underwear apart. Luckily, my dad caught her before she ruined the French link stitch, saying, "that's ART!!!"

As Ching-In says, I've trained my family well. Quitting a stable career and zeroing out my savings while simultaneously going into debt so that I could commit to being a full-time artist was not a popular decision years back. But now my dad can tell the difference between ART panties and regular panties! My mom will take more work, clearly. But seriously, I've been thinking almost every day since I've arrived here how thankful and lucky I am to have such a supportive family, and solid friends. Otherwise, I'd still be wearing clean clothes that were different every day and constantly redecorating a cubicle while bickering with coworkers about database management.

Time for another brownie.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

One big puddle

NO letting up w/this heat and humidity!! I'm doing my best to stay upstairs as long as possible today b/c last night I hardly slept - the mildew or whatever weirdness is downstairs really got to me. But it's basically like staying in a sauna all day. Which means very small movements at all times.

I had a realization that I don't have to cut down and cord all of my colored hanji for my installation. I can slice instead. But I am not even going to touch the stuff until the weather breaks. Sadly, I am running out of food, but it's still too hot for me to even think about walking to get more.

In my attempt to do something w/scraps and sit very still, I made this additional interpretation of one of my knit books. Very pleased.

Last night, I finished my incredibly lopsided bark thread basket. I marvel at how completely unable I am at making anything that is NOT lopsided when I weave. But now I think it would be nice if books had baskets as homes instead of boxes and cases. I mean, not all the time, but sometimes they might like it.

I worked on another big ink piece and touched up another, and made a new one of these (works way better than the very first). So that leaves me at six big pieces, two mediums, and six smaller ones. I am totally stumped as to exactly how I will rig them to hang. But can't think about that until my brain regains its solid state.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Still too hot

I got up too early today and had to lay down at 9:30am or so but had a good work session in the morning, which was a nice treat. I didn't think I would, b/c I was foolish enough last night to have green tea after dinner, and got a big jolt of second wind to work in the studio at night. Which felt great. I got nice news from my cousin, who said his son was born at 3.5 kg, a big-eyed, handsome boy.

Today, I have no idea what I did b/c I'm delirious from the heat and humidity. We are waiting for storms to come in and break this weather, but in the meantime, I spent the afternoon weaving bark thread and then Christopher came over to help me shoot some things outside. I suddenly have a big load of admin work to do tonight, so I guess that will be my excuse to stay downstairs where it is cool. Though I think my brain has already melted away.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Chugging along

[Kitchen window.] Hot today, but not as oppressive as yesterday. I think the humidity dropped and the breeze picked up. Jen was SO kind today to take my dirty laundry, wash it, hang it on the line, and bring it back folded when she came back in the afternoon for us to hit the art supply store. So some things are taken care of, but new problems have arisen. This always happens. But at least I have fresh blades.

I did two new big pieces today and liked this one but was not happy about the oil stains from the floor. I'm not a painter so I don't understand how it gets all over the floor. I knew better! I had washed part of the floor but was working on an unwashed part. The price to pay for haste in work, trying to beat the time and avoid the hot parts of the day.

I also went back and tore off hanji I had already felted onto a smaller pieces. I don't know why I do this, make lots of work for myself and then get rid of it, but I guess it's all part of the learning curve. At least I'm getting better at grinding ink. I've worked in silence today after hearing the news, my little bit of processing.

Death and life

My great uncle, Kim Dae-jung, former president of South Korea, passed away in Seoul on Tuesday (today but yesterday if you calculate it in Korean time). Three hours later, in the same hospital, my cousin's wife gave birth to their first son. We had been waiting for both of these events; KDJ was very ill in the hospital for a while and the baby was due this past weekend.

It's very strange to be so far from it all, getting ready to make a new piece while a park service worker is weed wacking outside. I won't be the family rep to go back and pay respects, but will be thinking of everyone in mourning and am relieved that he is at peace after working his whole life for it.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Derailed by heat

[Milkweed on the side of the road. Ahead, they touched up the crosswalk from the parking lot to the visitor center.] I have lately been eaten up by fear, fear of all sorts, so I decided this morning to do what I usually do when this happens (well, usually, I just avoid everything that is scaring me. But I do have this one tactic): do something that REALLY scares me.

So I finally took the trails from the national park land into the preserve that is managed by the Nature Conservancy. I don't have appropriate clothing, but even in my paranoia about ticks, I essentially RAN through the woods w/my ankles and arms exposed. A mosquito bit my forehead, but otherwise I came out unscathed. I was following the blazes on the trees but ran into a bunch of fallen trees and at one point, a stream, so I had to backtrack a lot. I came out the main entrance and walked past Jen's house (the volunteer in charge of me), and back home for a shower. I'm not really sure that I did anything but run through my fear with my fear, but it's done.

I finally put this together but didn't have the right rigging for it, which means that possibly it will take more work to FIX it than to make it. I wish wish wish I was better at rigging, but I am woefully bad. I need some PVC piping but that is NOT something I can find in the woods, so I will have to just fix the piece when it gets installed.

If it actually ever gets finished!! It's hot as blazes today and I am surprised I lasted as long as I did (until 3:30pm) in my sauna of a studio. The top is not a fashion statement: that's how I rigged having a pocket to hold the pieces of hanji cord to tie off all of the colored cords. I felt the whole time like I was just making a ginormous basketball net. Well, maybe I am.

[Eventually, I ended up just working in my underwear.] I quit in the afternoon b/c I got a ways down and realized that the whole thing needs to be longer, which means I have to cut down and spin more hanji, which makes me want to throw a tantrum b/c that will take another 2 days at least. Plus, that prep work is brutal. So I took a nap in the a/c, read about female soldiers, talked to Terttu, and looked at the final report for Guapa, the residency program I did in Mexico in 2007. Their call for applications is up - apply! It's due Sept 15 and I think the dates in Feb next year will be around when the monarch butterflies do their migration.

Also, Marian Runk, an alumna from both my almae matres, has a new Etsy shop. She does great comics; I had fun reading her books when they were in Seoul. Oh, and one more shout out to Doug Collins, who is a printmaker back in NYC who helped inspire the conceptual framework behind my word ruler book. Now, back to brave the studio...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

I have no idea what is going on

Last night as I was trying to sleep, I realized that I wanted to use up my ink tests on the Chinese-made paper I bought in Korea for calligraphy practice. I had intended first to combine it w/hanji, but I'm too spoiled now. The vast gulf in quality makes it impossible for me to mix the two since the Chinese stuff falls apart. It's so fragile that it won't take my glue tape; it just rips and sticks to the tape, instead of letting the tape stick to it. So I made this today instead: Chinese paper on Chinese paper. I sat on it the whole time that I made it. I really enjoy sitting on and stepping on my work. Maybe this is related to Korean culture being a floor culture, or maybe I was a rug dealer in a past life. I honestly have no idea what I am doing lately with all this joomchi and collage work, which makes it doubly hard for me to be alone here since I have no outside eye to give me feedback. They photograph badly, so I can't share here.

As for all the torn paper, I think that I still have this in my system and haven't channeled it out yet. I only started getting it out of my system last year in Maine, but didn't get a chance to continue in Korea. The good news is that I spun all the cut-down hanji, showered, and gave the cottage a once over w/the highly-functioning vacuum cleaner! This prepares me at the halfway mark, when I need to focus on what I'll get done in the next (final!) two weeks. Of course, instead of working, I walked three miles for pizza and chocolate granola (and eggs and veggies), thought about a welcome home party in NYC, agreed to more time-consuming non-studio work, napped, and watched a supremely bad basketball movie while spinning paper. But isn't that what Sundays are for?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Dirty fingernails

I ground so much ink yesterday that I balked at the thought of doing any more hardcore work with it today. Instead, I washed some clothing since I can't hold out any longer - laundry won't happen until possibly Tuesday. At least it was hot and sunny today so everything dried quickly.

This piece turned out better in the morning than when I left it last night, though I wish I hadn't gotten a hole in it. There are lots of holes in these pieces but there's really no way around it. Paper is only so strong...

I've been doing so much of this studio work that I have neglected my sketchbook work. I still haven't come up with much, though. But look at this amazing pic by Elizabeth! As I was taking my daily morning walk today, I realized that it seems like I am not showing you any scenery. It's not that there isn't any, it's just that I prefer walking in the morning w/o my camera. Plus, it's eerie: these mansions all have basketball hoops, soccer nets, trampolines, tree swings, swing sets, treehouses, hammocks, etc., but NO signs of children. It's still summer, right? Where ARE they?

I cut these down today. Last night, after finally figuring out that I could switch off track lights so I didn't fry to a crisp at night in the studio, I did the first cut down into triangles. This morning, I went out on the porch and did the strips, since it causes so much paper fuzz/dust and I am tired of vacuuming. It took me a whole movie to spin four colors, and there are at least three films worth of spinning left. Maybe tonight's goal will be one more movie's worth...