Saturday, June 30, 2012


I finished the lid last night and then enjoyed wine and molasses cookies and chips and salsa. Whoops, too much food! But the company was nice. Now that I look again at the whole piece, I can see where the major errors are, but my hands are done for now. No more repeats! This will be a very good teaching piece, where I can point out all the errors.

I then devoted the rest of the day to getting rid of all the offcuts. My poor fingers! I had a laugh doing this one, a silver ball for Vagner. This was fun.
This was less fun, and is so different from what I imagined, but it was good practice doing another double-layered piece. All I can think of is using it to hold change.
The final piece was another gourd, with the tiniest possible pieces. The rest all got tied up into new necklaces. Now it's 7pm on the last day of June and I am free! I hope to make good use of the freedom.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Another transition

Though I wasn't happy about it at first, now I'm glad that I ripped out the mistake and did the lid right.
Open studios went well and we had way more people (and dogs) attend than last month. Here is Ellen's studio, and
There she is in the skirt. She already took off this morning and I saw her and her fiance, Phil, while they were loading the car. I was having breakfast in the studio and felt like a camp kid all over again, everyone leaving while I stay behind. I already miss seeing her in the living space at the computers.
Here is Vagner and Rita in his studio, most likely at the moment where she talked about how much she liked his self-portrait, which he gave to her. I've learned a lot just from seeing him draw and paint and experiment.
Here is Phil in Cobi's studio, and
 Here is Cobi!
I was so busy talking to people in my studio that I didn't realize that everyone else had already started and almost finished their dinner, a communal one. I grabbed a plate and talked for a while with Steve, who just arrived as a visiting artist with his wife. It was good to articulate the place I feel I am right now in my life, wanting a big transition, but knowing it will take a lot of time and energy to make it happen just right. Almost like manually steering an enormous jet.
I stayed up late watching comedy and weaving. If I do well today, I might finish tonight. This morning, I woke up knowing I would skip the gym, and was so happy to have lunch with Vagner and his friend Mike, who will drive back with him to Detroit in a few days, and Cobi and Rita. I stuffed myself full of fish tacos and iced tea and was feeling horrid after overeating for many, many days in a row. That's the downside of going through so many farewells each month.
At least I managed to wash linens as a break from weaving, and Rita invited me for an evening walk, which was ambitious for my foot but excellent for my spirit. I'll miss her a bunch. Then I had dinner in moderation and was very pleased with the salad I made for myself. Strawberries and blueberries and red cabbage and apples and arugula. It doesn't take much to take care of myself, if I put my mind to it.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Shifts, big and small

I have been strangely exhausted the past few days, so yesterday I asked Vagner to accompany me while I found some red meat to eat (I hate cooking meat at home and almost never do). We went to Tune Up Cafe, which a friend had recommended to me months ago, and I had all sorts of food. Yum. Then we browsed for shoes in the plaza but I didn't see anything affordable enough for me to buy. After getting cold drinks, we headed back.
I had to do the very hard thing and rip out most of my lid. It was clear, as I progressed, that if I finished it as is, it would not fit the chamber pot. That increased the grumpiness quotient, but I know I'm doing the right, mature thing. Then I headed out to the store for apples and red cabbage. I miss home cooking so I did a dish that my mom learned from our Armenian piano teacher years ago, and then the residents all had a sweet cookout/potluck/final meal together (without staff--tonight we'll have open studios and dinner afterwards with more people). It was a late night, but I managed to rise early and had all this energy to take care of a few emails before heading to the gym (part of it was being so thankful that I didn't drink last night and thus had no hangover). The radio is usually super loud there and I can hear it over my headphones, so I heard something about the health care mandate being struck down and was so horrified that I (against the rules) turned down the volume. But then the guy in charge of the gym was so sweet and showed me how to hook up my mp3 player to the stereo and even closed the door so I could have privacy while stretching. TOTALLY made my morning. Small gestures of kindness are a big deal.

Once Vagner and I walked back from our workouts, I headed straight for the iPad to confirm the news, and almost started crying when I saw that I had heard wrong (or they were saying ridiculous things on morning radio, which is more likely). Being someone on Medicaid and otherwise having no affordable options for healthcare had made me very testy around this whole debacle. Vagner came to my studio just now to see if I had heard the news and we were both so relieved. His friends actually cried. I may later.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Even though I told myself I wouldn't make any more dresses, I prepped more hanji last night for one more and today cut the pieces, this time for a dress with sleeves. For practice. But I was unhappy with how thick these sheets were (from drying errors made months ago), so I tried to delaminate them and was successful! The trouble now is that I have another front for yet another dress since I separated the sheets after cutting. Well, okay.
I had tried to do this whole chamber pot from memory, no notes, no referring to photos. But since this lid has been so tricky, I peeked at pictures and yikes! I splayed out too early. But I'm going to try and remedy the error on the second layer. It may not work but my hands and fingers are too tired to undo it. I made it to the gym again today but I'm not sure how smart that was. Also, I've been exceedingly tired all day. I think that means it's time to try and turn in early tonight. 8pm early, if possible.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sluggish Sunday

This morning I met Laura and Steve, friends of Tam, for breakfast. Kindred spirits, migas, cinnamon toast, story swapping, yay! But the rest of the day I was insanely exhausted. My hands and wrists hurt too much from weaving and knitting so I had to break from that, but was not in the mood to do admin. I glued more cones but couldn't finish the piece. I sorted milkweed paper. I thought about a lot about shifts, shifting away from language and books and performance and being an artist. Or maybe the heat and smoke from nearby fires are getting to my head. I had fun conversations with Ellen and the only piece I was able to finish was related to one of her hilarious stories about her childhood (see above). Vagner and I took a break from the studio and headed out for pizza, which was delicious, but then we noticed that an old man at the next table was exposing himself to us. Ugh. We left and got some dessert to bring back and then made lots of jokes about balls on the way home. Now I am back in the studio, hoping to get something done. Even something very small.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Successful procrastination

I am over the top OCD about using every last scrap of everything. These will eventually become another scarf. The paper is all cut from the remnants of paper after I cut out dress patterns.
This is the scarf I finished from remnants plus more. I started at midnight last night and am now done. I have avoided doing everything else I was supposed to do (grant apps, make a new book, try a new big drawing, work on my book book, etc.). I even organized sheer indulgence for Vagner, Rita, and Ellen--we went for more sweets at a local bakery. I'm hoping I can get a few real things done before I call it a night.

I saw a road runner today

[Made from scraps from the dresses, since there is paper left over from cutting patterns, and cord offcuts from the chamber pot.] I love being at ground floor windows because I can see what is going on at ground level. I saw the bird today, my first ever! A road runner that went too quickly for me to photograph, though I scrawled it into my sketchbook later.
This lid is hard to figure out and I keep ripping out, weaving, ripping out, calculating, estimating. I hope I'm on the right track, though I had to take a break from it because my hands hurt too much. I am in a strange mood, and even acupuncture today didn't help. But I did what I could, render scraps into paper yarn, make a tiny piece inspired by Vagner's silver work, little things. I ate too much ice cream and worried about the weight gain that comes from not being able to be as mobile as I usually am, but was happy to go out with Marisa and Vagner tonight (though we were all so exhausted) to a new media opening and to a gay bar. I was happy to be the DD, which along with my foot excused me from imbibing and dancing. Now I'm perked up, played a few notes on my violin, and wonder what will come in the studio before I eventually crash for the night. I love the silent times, the solitude, knowing most everyone else is turned in for the day.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Chugging along

I LOVE having a huge lightbox table. Makes this project much, much easier (now that I realized I need to sew cones on BEFORE piecing the dress).
The back.
The front.
Finally, the trio is done! I'm happy. I woke up feeling funky but it was great to just sew all day. Took longer than I expected, of course, but at least I finished right before the big party here started. Time to head back out to see what the rest of the artists are up to since I can hear the DJ is still hard at work.


All I did today in the studio was admire the things I did the night before in the sunlight. I got a pdf of the article I wrote about building the hanji studio at the Morgan; it's funny to see the fruits of something I worked on seemingly so long ago. I am a little confounded by the progress of my lid, so that has been on and off again today. Otherwise, nothing else. Acupuncture, trying to sort through retirement funds, going through photos with Rita and Vagner to get outside input on good cover and frontispiece images, eating, making brownies a la mode with Vagner for the group, chilling. I'm hoping that tomorrow will be a real studio day.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Working through

The lid is slowly starting. I had to force myself to stop around 11am, and it was only prompted by a visit from the residency director about something. I'm working with thinner cords this time and they are shorter. The joins are the hardest on my hands and this means I've increased the number of joins by using short cords (but I really just wanted to get rid of them). The problem is that I realized about this far in that they won't match the thicker cords I used for the outer layer of the pot. It's not awful, and I suppose a good teaching tool once it's all done.
It's so rare that I get pen pals who do things like use typewriters. I took a break this afternoon to compose a letter (only the greeting was embroidered!). I get to do it so rarely that now I realize how helpful it is, how soothing. Then I went to make dinner and got angry b/c it was so gross, which upset my stomach (on top of a few too many cheese cubes--I was being lazy and snacking on whatever was around). But I was able to keep working, skipping the farewell dinner for Charlie at my favorite restaurant so far in the area. Cobi came by to say hi on a brief break from studio work, and it felt nice to know that he was also forgoing socializing for work.
The first dress was meh. The second, I realized before it was too late that I could glue the cones to place them rather than pin them or hope that they stayed still as I sewed (that last strategy is akin to herding cats). Duh! Paper to paper, easy peas. I switched from sewing them all with one long thread to tying off each knot per cone. This first way of going sew, cut, knot was not a good method.
I know now for dress #3 that I will sew the cones on BEFORE piecing the dress together.
This takes longer, but not much, and works much better than using one thread.
I knew it was a good idea to do more than one, since the first was not quite right. My tummy still aches but my head is clearer.

Monday, June 18, 2012

One closure

FINALLY! I finished up this morning. I am very glad that I stopped myself last night, because this required a lot more concentration than I would have had last night. I descended too quickly at the bottom, so the inner layer has gotten hugged in and the floor is bulging up, but that can all be fudged later during the rice paste coat. For now, whew! Six weeks of on and off work for this pot.
Of course, the painful part is that I'm not done yet! It needs a lid. Less weaving, but much more engineering, since it has to fit the pot perfectly (and yet with a hair to spare to account for coats and finishes). My hands and fingers insisted that I stop and break for lunch, and then I went to acupuncture.
What a session! I asked for more attention to my right side b/c the overcompensation has been taking its toll. I ended up knocked out for a LONG time. At least, it felt like forever. I think an hour an a half. It was a scorching ride home (the car is black and was not in shade and the A/C was not really working) but it was so wonderful to come back to this piece of mail from Cheryl and Joe! I lay down to rest and hang out with Vagner in the A/C that we usually curse for its chilliness, and then started to sew things to the blue dress. Not convinced, but at least the work has started. In a bit, we run off to a lecture by a visiting artist who is in the studio next to mine. And I keep massaging the pot.

In and out of order

Not in sequence: tonight, the last image of the evening, at IAIA, after seeing Charlie's work at the dome.
Saturday afternoon, visiting the Railyard district and some fine galleries.
They're not sewn on yet; I chickened out today but I think I can only begin once the pot part of the pot is done.
Carrot and coconut cupcakes from Dulce, after too much walking and heat yesterday. Vagner had his own (chocolate and red velvet) but we shared and also had iced hibiscus tea. YUM on all counts.
 This was where I was yesterday, I think. It was before we went to see a cute movie at CCA.
To prepare myself for sewing onto the blue dress, I made another dress yesterday so that I would not feel as bad if I screwed up the first.
Today, I was getting closer and closer.
And closer and closer! But after all the good advice about slowing down and listening to my body, I heard myself talk to myself in my head: "What would you tell your students? You'd say, the end of a piece is the most treacherous part b/c you get so excited about seeing the light at the end of the tunnel that you rush and lunge towards it, only to fall on your face and ruin the whole thing. So take your time." Unlike the bike incident, I stopped while I was ahead. But you KNOW I will get this closed up tomorrow.
I also stopped b/c it was time to eat before visiting the Digital Dome at IAIA, where Charlie is preparing a big show for the fall. It's the only one of its kind in the world, fully articulating, where you can project (six projectors, I think) and also use surround sound. The audience lays on the floor on beanbags or high tech chairs that look like car seats crossed with Wall-E. This is before we left: I was laying down and shooting up to Marisa and Vagner, who were standing.
This is when we first arrived, the same two.
And this is with some of Charlie's projections (it's a metal mesh, not fabric or anything like that). I'm hoping for a good night's sleep after a FULL day. Groceries, cooking, studio work, meeting new artists, talking with my publisher, calling home, chatting with Velma, sharing candy with Cobi, eating more gelato, and navigating with not very good GPS on my phone. Guess who is going to sleep a lot at acupuncture tomorrow, too?