Saturday, July 30, 2011

Here, nightfall

This is just a sliver of the ginormous studio classroom for this week's book class at Art New England. Bennington is lovely, of course, and I found a tree swing on my night walk back to my somewhat exposed wing (since I'm trying to ventilate, I can't avoid the hall light that is always on). I saw a vending machine in the arts bldg full of "healthy" junk food. This one night is the quiet before everything begins, but the crickets are busy.

Friday, July 29, 2011


[Now instead of sewing on my text, I can tie it directly to the pages! My last sample book taught me to do that.] It's raining, finally. The whole first half of the day was humidity getting higher and higher. I'm stuck to the seat.

I finished this double book, finally, though it's not quite perfect. The printer literally ate a sheet of hanji with a blue tape leader on it. I have no idea how to take the thing apart (usually, you can see where it's stuck), and it keeps printing other sheets, no problem. I can't believe it just took my paper hostage! After many unsuccessful attempts, too. I figure I can wait until later today to pack, and I'll still be fine to travel tomorrow.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Fried eyes

Less than two days left before I leave for Vermont, and the workload feels heavier each hour. I finally booked the longest car rental of my life last night, and am resigned to all the driving and parking and driving and parking. I've also never traveled with as much stuff before, nor have I had the opportunity to have it in a million different pieces, making it that much harder to carry to and from home to car to rental to VT to rental to Boston to rental to NY and so on. I've started the piles in my head, and a few in real life, but mostly I have been on the computer all day, doing last-minute things. Funny how applications you never considered suddenly rise up days before you leave. I don't feel particularly accomplished after 2.5 months, but I've survived. And I did the laundry! Small feats, nothing to sniff at.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

More rain!

This is my kind of weather, more clouds than sun.

Bark samples, of dak.

I was going to do a quickie comic about Wendy, the border collie, but then got very much carried away. A research foray onto Velma's blog became prep for a digitally-designed book. A few hours later, I haven't done anything but. At least I'll have a bound sample soon, which will need to be shuffled up on the computer before I can send it to print for real.

Monday, July 25, 2011


Wow. That was no fun, the heatwave. My brain melted for days, and it's amazing I survived teaching last week in a non-air-conditioned studio all day. By the end, we all looked like we had been crawling through the desert. It was very windy that day, and some of my samples blew away, never to be found again.

I've been making more bark thread to replace the last batch. All I could manage in the heat was laying in an outdoor recliner, indoors (the sofa was too hot to sit on), reading Barry Lopez. I also got clobbered in two games of Scrabble, but that's because I'm terrible at games. I have less than a week before I teach for two weeks in a row, so I'm doing prep every day and finding that logistics are harder than I had expected. I may have to do a long round-trip car rental rather than three one-way rentals. I'd rather pick bark.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Mail art call - Spain

[Paper samples, l to r: cochineal-dyed hanji, gampi, slippery elm + hanji scraps, gampi + slight coat of kakishibu, slippery elm on bottom. All are coated in kon'nyaku.] Elizabeth put out a call for mail art related to "outsider," as you define it. Her call is online in both Spanish and English--the documentation of whatever fits in the envelope will be uploaded and the actual mail art eventually exhibited.

Last night, I sorted cooked dak and marveled again at how lovely the fiber is. The bark is SO long and lustrous. I hope tomorrow's students enjoy it as much as I do. I'll be teaching in upstate NY at the Thousand Islands Arts Center (during a heatwave, ugh). It will be good to get out and work the teaching chops again.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I had to say

Today rocked! I made books, and wrote, and did hardcore admin, and went to the post office twice, and ate gelato and ice cream. I even cooked some dak, read about wolves, and napped hard. But I had to share the book that I finished, a new comic about healing with Velma.

Elizabeth had asked what the point was of having private photos, so I finally let go of my misgivings and put up 2011 work. There's still plenty that is private, but I can live with this balance.

Yet another countdown

Last night, I assembled samples to mail to Canada to a friend's friend, who was generous and helpful on email when I asked questions. We live in a time where people feel entitled to free information, which I'm not completely on board with. I try whenever possible to give back, if not in money, then in something perhaps useful or pleasing.

Yesterday I was in a flurry of late afternoon tests. Kon'nyaku (granulated), coagulated kakishibu, handmade paper all over the windowsills. Today I attempt to dry the most stubborn of the batch.

Never stop weaving!

Somewhere between here and the next activity, I read Ching-In's manifesto, which was a collaborative effort. You won't know which words are mine, but they're there.

In less than two weeks, I leave again, for New England. I can't say I've completely made peace here, but I'm much calmer than I've been since I arrived in May. Took longer than I'd like, but it always does.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Slow and sunny

I'll never forget when Melissa told me in our first meeting years ago that people on a committee hesitated when seeing my work because it was so small. This week, I was seeking comfort in people's voices that I trusted because I trusted their words: Barry Lopez, Terry Tempest Williams, Gretel Ehrlich. The last said that dog sledding was wonderful because dog speed (4 mph) is similar to human speed (3 mph), so you are going fast enough to feel you are getting somewhere, yet slow enough to take in what you are passing. While I sewed up this tiny book, I thought of that, and what my 7th grade health teacher said to me: "You could be a surgeon, with those fingers," after telling us that doctors who operated on infants' hearts had to practice with their fingers inside of matchboxes.

Today was an early start, doctor's appointment, visit to the library (how I LOVE libraries, and this one has a lot of green inside, which has been a favorite color for a few years), an outdoor lunch, and other meanderings. I finished reading a basketball book and napped in between. It's Friday, for sure.

Two years ago, I bought this on Jeju Island at a contemporary art museum gift shop, alongside a master persimmon dyer who spotted it first. Velma was drawn to it, too. Still no idea exactly what it is, but it is perfect. I need to fill a few books, and I could only hope for them to be even a sliver of how perfect this wee bit of silk and stitching is. Meanwhile, I am scheming for the three workshops left to teach this summer: how best to share magic? I'm still confounded to find myself in this place, where I get to decide how class unfolds. Trying to hold Lopez's word while I plan: reverence.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sweaty work day

Done as of this morning! Some of it loosened up when I dunked it in kon'nyaku, but I'll glue it up once it's dry.

Covered in the corm starch and drying. That dried the fastest. Now, just to figure out what to turn it into.

The third accordion folder (cochineal dyed hanji on fusible cotton interfacing, sewn with pigmented green hanji thread). Now I've done three different kinds. All good for when you want to get rid of stuff laying around but have it be useful. Keeping it in the family of stuff, which I like to keep small, but the family keeps growing...

From outside to in! I brushed the goo onto the big hanji sheets against the patio door so they wouldn't blow away in the wind. Everything is dry enough to be back indoors, but I'm glad to have found the hook for a hanging plant from a prior tenant. If it was the smoker, she gets a grace point for making it possible to rig a line from the hook to the outdoor light. Which we never use. A mosquito bit me outside--it could probably smell me from afar.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Slow recovery

That's enough flying for now. It's easier to do all the planes and airports and layovers with someone else, but it's still not that fun (and the food is the worst). I'm trying to regain some semblance of normalcy, and finally unpacked my things from my stay with Velma. Of course, that led to knitting, sewing up a sample book of knitted hanji, researching dyes, giving cloth a vinegar bath, finishing a re-read of Barry Lopez' Winter Count, watching an old interview with him, and starting a new woven patch. Almost none of these were on the "supposed to do" list, but maybe I'll feel more dutiful tomorrow.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Miss I miss

I love the seemingly haphazard abundance of Velma's garden. The blue teapot gave up its handle and now,

the handle is printed onto a silk scarf. It's amazing where I was just a week ago, and now, I'm in the south. In a state that has "south" in its name. How strange. Being here is scary for me, for a million reasons. I am sore from playing tennis yesterday evening, barefoot for half the time. I haven't played in almost twenty years. I still make all the same mistakes I did as a teenager. Funny how those things stay with you, imprinted into your body.

The good tacket is closer to my hand. The other tacket un-plies too easily and is less attractive. So I made notes to myself: sew towards or away from myself? I already forget, which is why I make notes. But then I forget where the notes are since there are so many books in my life. I was writing to Elizabeth and she talked about deep waters, how we cross them. After a beach afternoon, crouching down near the sand so much so that my legs were tired the next day from being crab-legged, I realized I often do that: I twist down into shallow water and get frightened by the big waves crashing over my head, which would just be foam if I stood up. But I trick myself into thinking I'm in deep water, and panic accordingly. Like she said, storms in a glass of water.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

It really IS the best residency around

Velma's bundle in the slippery elm extravaganza.

Something she found in another pot from a while back. Love it!

She's not really giving me the finger.

My random stash from the slippery elm pot.

My unrolled bundle from the pot.

Ice flowers cooked in vinegar and water in a copper pot on silk, under Velma's tutelage!

A mix of leftover hanji and slippery elm.

I can't believe how long it took for me to sew an accordion pocket thingy. Thank goodness Velma was there to coach me through it, mistakes and all. I hate to leave!