Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Monday, November 26, 2012

The book trailer

Thanks to all of the people I met and learned from in Korea, who made the book possible! And to my sister, for editing the trailer (to view it at YouTube, here's the link).

The daze begins

Clyde sent me a CD full of images, wonderful pictures he had taken at Pyramid during my demo. I went through them and laughed, because I feel like I was using my hands more than the people who were interpreting my talk (one is beside me). I tried to take this weekend off, but wonder how much headway I'll make between now and next year. I feel so bombarded by the money- and guilt-driven "holiday spirit" that my eyes glaze over and I feel numb from the sheer loudness of all the artifice. Plus, food coma.
This made me realize that I have to schedule my next month very carefully if I want to get any work done. Book promo can easily take over my time, without any appreciable results, so I think mornings should be reserved for studio work. Even though I don't have one. I thought a lot this weekend about Julie Wagner, who is a remarkable artist that I met in El Rito while on my residency in Santa Fe in the summer. Her studio and artwork are beautiful and very real. She works in a way that I wish I could, that is rooted in place and discovery. She takes walks and notices things out in the world and then draws and writes and makes books about all of it. I hope I can visit her again someday, as hot and dusty as it is out there. The drive is stunning, kind of like this.
[I must have been telling the chamber pot story.] For today, I'll continue with book promo, and am grateful for those who support my book, like this blog post at Procured Design (the FB page is here). But first, I will cook up a batch of paste to coat four baskets. And if I'm very ambitious, a walk out into the world that is crunchy with leaves.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Remembering what I forgot

In the harried mess of "WHAT?! I have to cook how much how quickly?? Who is coming over?!!" I cleaved clean away from the spirit of this holiday. Luckily, I have wonderful friends who remind me almost daily to practice gratitude. So, to state the obvious: great gobstopper thanks to this book for somehow wriggling all around and finally out of my body. And everyone who helped lure it into this world.
To my teachers, my family, my friends, the zillions of adventures this life has afforded me (and a lot of those categories overlap). To you (again, categories may overlap)! To my work, which alternately sustains me and drains me but as long as the balance stays heavy on the former, I'll stay in the game.
To my health, as frail and tough as it always has been, and the accompanying (often whinging but trying not to) body that comes with the package. I keep hoping that I will learn better to care for both, and think I can. Even during my book tour, I heard whispers and heeded their warnings, like, "Don't try to carry both a heavy box of books and a heavy suitcase of props down the stairs by yourself. It's okay to put one down and come back for it later. Falling down the stairs really sucks."
To transitions. I know entirely too many people who recently have lost the most precious partners in life, whether human or canine or otherwise. They are mostly inconsolable now, and it is hard to know they are in so much pain and there is nothing to be done but to live it and begin to start a life where some lives are in one world and our lives are in this one.
Nine years ago, I sat on the floor of an ER while a dear friend died in a hospital bed after a two-year battle with leukemia. Next to me was a mutual friend, and flanking her were her father and boyfriend. I had turned 26 the prior month and she was supposed to do the same in the following month. From third grade to our final year of college we went to school together, and then she went all the way west and I ended up back east and then midwest. She taught me about exuberance, joy, risk, seeing the best in people, and living with a wide open heart. She was so energetic that I seemed like a corpse next to her. I hated that she was taken away from us, and remember running outside afterwards to scream into the darkness, the keening reserved for death, especially the kind that is unfair and incomprehensible (which would be about 99% of it if you ask most humans). I wish I could say that my heart opened more as a result, but instead I met more open-hearted folks, and for that I am utterly grateful. No one quite matches her antics, like ordering 100 frozen steaks and then realizing there isn't enough freezer space for them all, but she didn't make it past 25, so who knows how she would have grown. And now as I write that, I realize that my antics start to rival hers.

I am lucky to have been taught unconditional love at such a young age from a peer, and humbled to still be here to give thanks and to remember her smile. She still has a lot left to teach me, and I look forward to those lessons.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Miracles must have brought me here

[Clyde Owan, a wonderful spirit and Obie, came by my demo in Silver Spring and took lots of pictures. This is one of the table I had full of hanji goodies. I kept hearing, "Is this all paper?" I love saying yes. Aside from the bit of paper mulberry bark, of course.] WOW. I'm having a hard time articulating because I am so overwhelmed by generosity, abundance, and exhaustion. I got back home last night close to midnight after another whirlwind trip to the D.C. area. Though I usually sleep on buses, last night I was still so high from how successful my visit was that I stared at all the highway signs instead, trying not to throttle the woman behind me who felt compelled to make at least four phone calls, talking about the Very Long and Very Boring Bus Trip, Very Loudly. Even with headphones blaring music, I couldn't drown out the chatter of TMI.
[Jiseung cords and koyori from washi I made at Paper Connection in Providence on top of a wonderful print by Denise Bookwalter, screenprinted with cochineal dye mixed with potato starch to make ink! GREAT demo at Pyramid.] But aside from that, my trip was grand! I had a wonderful visit on Friday to the brand-new conservation lab of the Johns Hopkins library. I finally met Sonja, a strong supporter of hanji, John (research scientist and prof), Jocelyn (research fellow), and Victor, a student who was working on engineering a project to make recycled paper in Ethiopia. After giving Sonja all the wrong information about my itinerary, she finally steered me straight and drove me to Penn Station so I could catch a train to Union Station in D.C. Once there, almost done with buying a Metro ticket, I heard someone greet me and turned around to see Lee! I was delighted to see a familiar face after so much traveling. I was so relieved to get to my host's home and relax with tea and conversation. I love staying with Judy and also love being able to return to places I've been, that become second homes and an easy place to stay (there is always a "getting used to" period when staying in new places, no matter how homey or comfy).
After miraculously sleeping in on Saturday, Judy got us through horribly snarled traffic (due to the Silver Spring Thanksgiving parade) and I glanced at the Civic Center setup before walking to Pyramid Atlantic with Lee to set up for my demo. I have been so busy that I never noticed the lovely blog post they did about me (which is why Marty Ittner talked to me about Bugles, after seeing my hanji dress). I was early, so I was able to meet with lots of fun people and get excited by the energy of the demos that were already in progress. Mine was one of the best events I've done in a long time, with an audience that was even more engaged than those in Cleveland last month (if you can believe that!). I was amazed b/c I felt like a black hole, with people crowded around and physically leaning towards me for the entire 45 minutes. I sold a bunch of books, and then packed up to head back to the fair at the Civic Center with three more books in tow, just in case.

I headed straight to Shanna Leino's booth to buy a weight I had coveted ever since I saw Velma's. I've always been so impressed with Shanna's work and very much wanted to meet her in person. She was as energetic and fun as I imagined, and bought one of my books. Then I happened upon Erin Sweeney's books, a Hedi Kyle structure: the Chinese sewing box book. I have been wanting to figure out variations of this ever since seeing them in antique Korean sewing boxes and wallets, so this was a fun splurge for me (plus hers are all in fabric, which I think is a brilliant touch). Erin bought my book, too, leaving me one to take into D.C. for my friend Kelsey, who was there from Day One of my Fulbright year in Korea. She pointed out all sorts of things that only she could understand (like the map I drew in the front--doing that taught me how incredibly political and fraught mapmaking can be. It's not about the geography! It's ALL about the people).

The next day, I worried about the remaining four books, but sold them almost instantly, so I was able to enjoy more demos and then a celebratory drink with Lee. I had to catch a bus back home and now have a good sense of all of the bus companies that operate around here. I got the great news that an important wholesaler of Korean books ordered a bunch of mine, and I'm also included in the "Recently Published" section of Buddhist Art News. I think we've already moved over 20% of the first print run!

Now, onto catching up. With the most dire situation being that I was assigned to cook Thanksgiving dinner, but I did not realize until last night on the 3rd hour of the bus ride that it falls this week! I somehow thought that it was next week. Yikes!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Dashing through states

Work, work, work. I got to test three different types of washi at Paper Connection to see which worked best as hanji substitutes for jiseung. SO NICE to have time to do this. Grateful for a wonderful post by Susan, who took my Boston class. Also for an article on me and the book.
Lauren said that this plant waited for me to flower! Such a sweet greeting. I had a great time in Providence and can't even remember all that I did since my last post, but my talk last night went well, I got to see an old friend from Korea days (she is even in one of the pictures of my book, guess where, in Chapter Two), and the bus to NYC was uneventful. Tomorrow, I climb onto yet another bus and head down to Johns Hopkins, then D.C., so I can get ready for the Pyramid Atlantic Book Arts Fair in Silver Spring. I wish I could say it's going so fast I don't feel the exhaustion, but that's not true! The good news is that in my frantic unpacking/repacking this afternoon, I promised myself that I'd make some art in December. I don't make promises lightly.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Being provided for

[Joomchi] I really had no idea that my book tour would be so full, every minute. I have barely slept since I got up at 4:45am on Saturday morning to take the bus from NYC to Boston and teach. I was delighted to finally visit the Boston Paper Collective; great energy! Lots of goodies and equipment and sun. Melinda was a lovely host and I was so touched when I saw that Susan was one of my students (she's famous in the book arts world), as well as the wife of one of my Oberlin classmates! AND the administrator of one of my hanji classes last year. Zoe then came to whisk me away to her wonderful world, full of an outrageously wonderful potluck of acupuncture school classmates (they know how to cook and eat; it was like Thanksgiving times ten), audiobooks, dim sum, corn paper, a beautiful home in the trees, and such calm energy. She had very wise things to say about the different entry points for papermaking and why she was okay hosting me, a perfect stranger, because we were both papermakers. Turns out we are both snakes, too, of the same year.
[More joomchi] Then, Lauren came to whisk me away to the next adventure with Rona, who does beautiful Japanese calligraphy but is also a remarkable artist. Yet another beautiful, incredible home/studio. I feel so grateful to be able to walk into these strangers' homes and see the things they care about so clearly articulated in the way they choose what to live with. We poked around for a bit and then went out to eat dinner, and then came back for tea. SO MUCH to learn from these ladies! I suspected some similarities when I saw the way Rona lived and laid out her exquisite belongings, and was right: her birthday is one day away from mine, and she is also a snake (several decades older).
[Regina has a studio in the same building and went off to test her drop spindle on colored hanji. Works great!] Somehow, Lauren drove us back to Providence that night despite our mutual exhaustion. I get to stay here for a few more days until my Wed night talk in Pawtucket is over and I take the bus on Thurs back to NY (only to turn around on Fri and take the bus to Baltimore, then D.C.). Yet another home chock full of goodies. I have shifu behind me and paper curtains on the side and silk and baskets and bark and prints and fans and washi and and and and.
Maybe we got to bed at 2am, I don't know. I got up late and we slowly got to work so I could finally visit Paper Connection! It was fabulous. More paper, more goodies, more surprises, more delight. I met one of her employees, who ALSO has the same paper knife as I do. She is one of two other people I know in the world who have them for sure and cherishes it as much as I do. After a quick meal, we then entered the magical home of Jan and Mark. Mouth agape, again. Books, rocks, combs, furniture, textiles, gourds, WOW. She was so lovely and of tremendous kindness and hospitality. He named my knife and talked about similar metal equivalents to my corded paper bracelet. It really is such a privilege to be invited into these spaces and share tea. Lauren and I somehow made it to dinner and revived a bit over Cambodian soup before heading home for another night of exchange.

If I'm lucky, I'll get to bed at 1am. As Elizabeth says, let Providence provide for me!

Friday, November 09, 2012

The last drops

[I was using tiny offcuts, some only an inch long, to make this itty bitty basket. I get antsy about little bits left over, so I threw them together as best I could. When you have two millimeters at the end to grip (with needle-nose pliers), a rim finish becomes very un-suave. But it goes to show that you can still start without a knot, as evidenced from the bit of light coming through the center.] The bark for tomorrow's class in Boston is cooked and bagged, and not in the fridge (because the last time I did that, I forgot to take it the next morning). I was buoyed by a very kind blog post (it's almost embarrassing, because she was so kind) by Lauren of Paper Connection. They have been doing an incredible job promoting my talk on Wed, and I am excited to spend more time with her and her team in Providence.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Bottoms up

I went out in that squall last night to walk my book over to someone who has known me since I was 16. Though I went with all kinds of worries about my future, she reminded me that the space I need to make right now is for the book. This was a bit of a revelation to me (I have very bad amnesia, so no offense to those who have already told me the same thing), but became clearer this morning when I got an enthusiastic response from a stranger about my book. I realized that I don't have to blanket the world with the news all at once and that if I could let one new person every day know about it, that would be manageable.

I started to soak some paper mulberry bark for Saturday's class in Boston, and will get to packing now for that and my Providence event (actually, Pawtucket, but it's close enough). No more excuses, now that the storms and elections have passed!

Monday, November 05, 2012

Bright new week

I did my best to take the long weekend off, though now, it's hard to get back to work after a true break. I escaped to a part of NYC fairly unscathed by the storm (though I did see a tree that had almost flown away, the sidewalk at a steep angle from its norm) and celebrated birthdays with family. Now, I need to prepare for the brief fall leg of my book tour, even if my feet are groaning about more travel. Paper Connection has been a fantastic partner in helping me get the word out about my Boston and Rhode Island events. Thanks to the Watts Program at the John Carter Brown Library for doing such a nice blog post about the latter event.

This will all hopefully distract me from what looms tomorrow. This post about the newest Dead Feminists broadside, though, was a welcome addition to the crazy climate we now inhabit.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Mostly grateful

The rest, just weary. I'm almost done with the second wall of this basket but it's slow going. After walking around today, it seems things are still bad for most of the people who live here, three-quarters still being without power. Everything is upside down for now.

So a few little things: Helen has a wonderful DVD available on papermaking! (it's the studio guide on the left.) Also, I had been part of a book that Rachel pulled together, called Fifty Things. Heart warming, since it's so cold for so many right now!