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.

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.

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.

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!