Friday, September 30, 2011

Struggles and blue

I'm still completely biased towards the Korean fiber. Everything else has been destroying me. Yesterday was especially hard, partly b/c more people have gotten to town and were at the Morgan, so there was a large audience for my failures. But we went blue! It was SO unnerving to pull, but today it was better. You get used to it. Parting is not happening but I'm still learning a lot. SO much.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


In response to Velma's comment, that this is exactly the work I'm to be doing. Too busy to catch a breath but I love that the kozo garden is now resulting in "weeds" - they're growing past their bounds.

Today was a great success! The dak pulled beautifully and more importantly, PARTED perfectly. To the point that a volunteer, Scott, was able to part like a pro on his first try. I am sooo happy about this. After talking to Tom about tints, I'm now also tempted to turn the vat blue, ever so slightly, now that we're down to Thai kozo. Yesterday: Japanese, today: Korean, tomorrow and the rest: Thai. We have plenty, so why not play?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Trying to dry

[A mural at Third World Co-op at Oberlin.] Today is still not over but I am waiting for a sheet of paper to dry and it takes at least five minutes per sheet on this useful but not very hot heat dryer. I pulled all three pounds of Japanese kozo today but the formation aid, again, did not set up, so I had to do a lot of technique modification to get sheets formed, period. I had to press twice b/c I was too conservative in the first round (and a little too aggressive in the second!). So my body is killing me. The sheets were insanely thin, which was a risk, and I'm paying for it now while drying. After trying to do one at a time (which are two sheets), I now am going two at a time (four sheets). I probably pulled over 100 sheets (meaning about 50 sheets, but now with these doubled-up ones, 25??) but will be lucky if I get enough to cut into 1,700 tiny samples for publication.

Long, hard day but still a lot of learning. Time to see if this sheet has dried yet!

Monday, September 26, 2011


This is at Oberlin, shot by Clyde Owan '79, when I was out in town enjoying the beautiful Saturday weather. Now I'm at the Morgan, and have already gotten bitten by a mosquito (it found a little exposed flesh at my neck so now my scarf is on). I think I may have already thrown out my back but Tom has done an amazing job helping prep a whole bunch of fiber for me. If it wasn't for that, I'd have WAY more manual labor ahead of me. It was great to drive in during the day yesterday to meet my beloved hosts; their home feels like a second home to me. So already, the week is off to a good start. Let's see how many bites I get by the end.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The whole world

I wish I got to play with the world like that when I was a kid.

Yesterday was rainy and grey, all day. Classic Oberlin weather. Today was sunny and gorgeous. Naturally, tons of students were walking around barefoot on both days, but more today than yesterday. I've been meeting people nonstop, but it was great to spend time here w/my mom, and yesterday's awards dinner went well. My heart was going to jump out of my chest leading up to, and during, my acceptance speech, but it went well. I'm grateful for all of it, and am hoping for the tiniest of naps before seeing Ira Glass speak. What a sweet trip.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Before the flight

Done Monday, finally.

Done Tuesday afternoon.

Done Tuesday night.

I can't tell what I love more: the weavings or the offcuts. I finally depleted my stash of dyed hanji cords. Dyed in Korea in 2009, corded in Belfast in 2010, woven in NY in 2011.

It took longer than I'd like, but I'm happy with the new family of things. Now it's time to pack and focus on the journey that begins tomorrow: Ohio!

Monday, September 19, 2011

The plans never pan out

The one in the middle is last night's. I realize now that this is what I did in Belfast last year: one little woven piece each day, to keep myself somewhat sane. It didn't assuage the disappointment in my inability to make bigger, more profound, more meaningful work, but at least I didn't leave empty handed. I don't know why I'm making these, but I'm still learning, so I'll keep doing it until I run out of cords or time or patience. I had a great talk the other night with Katherine about how impossible it is to see the trajectory of our lives and careers until we've actually lived and worked them for a while. I have a hard time appreciating the good and positive when the downers seem so convincing, but soon I won't have time to brood. I just have a couple days here before I'm off to another Ohio adventure.

Today's downer: the blender pen makes horrible transfers onto the paper I made and bound into books. Today's upper: I editioned it anyway, by hand. Every single one by hand in pencil. Oh, crap! Writing this, I realize this is ALSO what I did last year in Belfast: create a handmade paper edition of ten books with all hand-lettered text (and I'd hardly call it lettered, more scrawled). But hey, it's done. And what's the edition called? Resilience.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Recovery in a new season

I fell ill Friday, unexpectedly, in an response to the strange events happening all around me. It has passed but I was amazed by it, and my relationship to illness--having an inkling about what was happening but being too superstitious to name it, for fear it would morph into something worse. So that day was a wash. Yesterday I tried balance: a workout, library, legal dramas on TV, but at the end of the day HAD to make something to feel okay to be watching pure entertainment. So, #4. More learning! I will continue as long as I keep learning, plus the calluses are forming again.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


That was part of my I Ching reading today. So it was nice to go out tonight to support Maria at the Korea Society. She previewed her documentary in progress, and I was duly horrified by my hair in my interview clips and wanted to run out of the room. The good thing is that I sounded articulate and didn't make ugly faces, but I could barely pay attention to anything I said b/c my hair looked like it had been run over by a truck. This is the problem with being so careless about my presentation, so very un-Korean. Most people I know either have given up hope or still think I may, someday, grow up and learn how to make myself presentable. Regardless, I met lots of fascinating people, and even got to talk to an idol of sorts, to whom I gave this tiny gourd that I made today. I had it in my pocket to show my sister but never ended up seeing her, so when I thanked Dr. Kendall for responding to an email of mine a few years ago, I realized I was holding this tiny thing and gave it to her. I learned some new things from it, too, today in my hands. Practice really does help.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

9 to 5: not for me

Who was I kidding? Mostly, I was trying to ramp down on eye-intensive work late in the day. But the better idea is to go to an opthamologist. Since it's been so long that I can't remember the last time I've been. Two big shipments are off to Cleveland, and one more little thingy made. This time I learned a lot: when to reduce and why it affects trimming, why binding off always happens on the OUTSIDE of the piece, and, yes! it's possible to have the lid open the other direction.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The duplicate

I made another little lidded thingy and chained the off-cuts and it was not as satisfying as the first (for various technical reasons but also mostly b/c the first is always so exciting) but there was plenty more that I learned from doing it. That was my thing to do with my hands today. Qigong was my extra thing to do for my morning today. Writing a new chapter of the book was my finally what I am supposed to be doing, today. And somehow I stayed on top of the admin without exploding into frustration.

My sister also asked me a question last night that was so strange to me, but then I turned it over in my head and wondered, why not indeed? The question: Why can't you just work hours like regular people? I always assumed NO WAY, b/c every second of the day must be consumed with work or trying to, at least, until it's time to lay down to sleep. But maybe that's why I burn out so quickly in a given week. So, it's a nice idea. Seemingly a HUGE luxury: to have the evening for not working. I doubt it will stick, but it can't hurt to try.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Only to find I lost track again

I realized this evening that I spent a great deal of my day doing things for other people. And that I do that every day. So I spent the rest of the waning daylight hours and early evening doing something for myself. I finished the big heavy book I've been struggling to finish, and then walked to the book drop to return it, and THANK GOODNESS I did, because I got to see the harvest moon! I am still frustrated by how little work I did today that means anything to me but am hoping it's the usual housekeeping of a Monday. Not too long ago, I wrote "I feel a strong urge to protect my time and energy." India circled it and wrote, "This is important." Time to return to priority number one: self care.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sitting with anger

I did my meditation late today, since the morning was full of work. I wish I could take the weekend off, but not this one. I had a great meeting yesterday with a paper conservator who has done excellent research on hanji, so we geeked out for hours about that, all wrapped up with being Korean, being women, and so on. So much came out of that, ideas for the near and far future, but mostly I feel the work I have to do is that much more pressing.

But while sitting, I realized I was angry. All of the memorial stuff going on today and how much it has been ramped up in the days, weeks, months leading up to it. Of course it is important to memorialize and remember the innocent dead. But from that has been created a whole new species of the living dead. I am still ashamed of this country's response and am amazed to think that people would be okay with the post office being shut down but not a fraction of the defense budget. The post office!! It is NOT OKAY to even consider saying goodbye to it! Not to mention how many letters I sent to Afghanistan. It is NOT OKAY to keep sending people there the way we are, and have been.

I know how I "should" be feeling and how grateful I "should" be for many things, including my life. But how I really feel is angry. And that's fine, because it will pass.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Little by little

Practice doing a rectangular bottom, from last night. I got blisters immediately. But it feels almost like a castanet.

This morning's little book, made after the sun came out as a surprise. I thought it was just going to keep raining forever. Tonight I went to the Korea Society and then to Pace/MacGill, both for openings. Plus, I got to see Terttu again!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

If only

I want to only work! But only one kind of work. The making stuff with my hands kind. These are covers made with Velma this summer, thread from then, too, and hanji from Boston.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

A stir in the rubble

Maybe the worst is over? I certainly hope so. This weekend, as much as I tried to NOT take it off, ended up being, indeed, something of a holiday weekend. I got to see Breda and her family and most importantly, meet her beautiful baby girl, almost a year old. I did that two days in a row. I got to see an old college friend yesterday, too, and then had dinner with my sister and bro-in-law and spent the night.

Somehow, despite the poor subway service, rain, and cold, I made it back home to do a full workout. I only got a tiny meditation after a shower and wasn't able to mail my latest book (pictured above) to Velma (since it's all about her wonderful border collie Wendy). But the real treat? A visit from Terttu! Lots of tea, lots of looking at books, lots of catching up on a rainy day. Now that I am full up on love, I can start to labor again.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Splayed open

I'm SO TIRED of this year. Too many trials, too much character building, too many opportunities to draw upon great reserves of strength. A medically-induced coma sounds like a good idea. With this fine attitude, I finally got around to website updates. More like slash and burn, but adequate for now. There are two new books in the knitted books section (like the book you see above, covered in Velma's sister's pants), and a bunch more in the artists' books section. Oh, and I highly, highly recommend Linda Sue Park's A Single Shard. I'm so very grateful for the work she puts into the world.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Varied heartbreak

Today has been a trial, family matters. Elizabeth posted the mail art she has been getting for her Outsider project. Here's mine! And today I got to see Jeannie and sweep the Met and MAD. The first was wonderful, and the latter was depressing. Again, varied reasons, none to delve into now. Happy to have seen some good art, learned about camelids, and seen cut feathers.