Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Little, bits, round and round

I tried to have less ridiculous expectations for what I could get done today. So I got one thing done for sure that had to get done, and a few other things. Otherwise, nada. I made this bracelet at the end of last week, partly on a tape loom from Velma, the rest in between my fingers because I got impatient. White hanji I made in Korea, green washi from NY Central Art Supply. I try to spin a bit of paper each morning to try and not go crazy.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


I woke up fine but right after sitting meditation, my neck and shoulders went out and now I can't really turn or move my head, so forgive the picture quality. It has to be stress-related, because I am feeling overwhelmed and it's not even February! These two are paper litho tests on joomchi-ed paper, to see how they hold up in the etching press. They hold up JUST FINE.
This one is a shifu base at top, and a cheap hanji base at bottom. It's too bad that the toner lifted away so much, but they're still nice prints. I haven't updated the printmaking section of my website in years because somehow I always think of it as a total side/play aspect of what I do, not worth documenting. But I should probably keep track instead of stashing them in the bottoms of museum boxes.
This is an image from Velma, of her shifu squares. Instead of trying to do intense color mixing and inking, the color comes completely from chine collé, little pieces of colored paper glued and left to dry, and then sent through the press with the base sheet during printing.
The top left image is another exercise in chine collé that almost killed me (as you can see from the cutting mat squares, the bits of paper are VERY small, and they get everywhere, and don't always want to stay where they are laid, because they prefer to stick to your fingers or fall to the floor). The top right is more chine collé but with a big silver sheet cut to cover all areas of the greenhouse (doesn't translate well in this photo but it looks very nice in person). The bottom is just the straight print onto blue hanji-ish.
More of Velma's images and artwork, with various chine collé tests and then one print onto shifu in the bottom right corner.
I went to see Tim speak on Saturday to a huge crowd of book/paper geeks like me about paper through time, mostly about 15th century European paper. It was nice to see new and old friendly faces before running downtown to drop off an artists' book and my hanji book at the Center for Book Arts, which will host my artist talk and workshop in a month. Then, some much needed sister time, shared over errands. I made a delicious soup for dinner and even more scrumptious scones (my first!) for breakfast, trying something new for the latter: following the recipe. I also got to talk with Minah; we haven't caught up for a while, and she talked about writing a review for my book along with our usual hanji geeking out. Yesterday I had another great class with Fumiko and then ran through the "wintry mix" aka nasty weather to meet Woo and hear about the progress of her film.

I think the stress has caught up to my neck, but now I can say that most of the registration for my workshops this year are live. Some options (or, if you are reading through a feed, go to my blog and view the sidebar for "Upcoming"):

Feb: NYC
March: Tacoma
April: Boston and Silver Spring
June: Forest Grove
July: Bennington and Rosendale

Sit tight for a Cleveland summer date, but these are all hosted by wonderful organizations and people. And this list doesn't include all of the talks and demos, just the workshops. I'd go lay down, but I can't.

Friday, January 25, 2013


I forgot to work on a new collagraph plate for class in the excitement of the bobbin winder and distractions of life. But I was so pleased to get wonderful mail two days in a row: treats from Ronnie yesterday, and then a box of special edition books that my publisher's printer was so kind to bind with endsheets of the hanji I made in Korea! Each morning, to stay calm, I've been winding away and now the trouble is, what to do with all the paper thread? If only all I had to do everyday was make it and then make things out of it.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

"January is like a long Monday"

[It's waving!] Elizabeth put it well, about January. This week has been very challenging, lots of anger at the shoddy construction that put a hole in our floor to the outside (during the coldest spell of the winter) and then an unsealed pipe. So all the cold air rushed up to ice the floors and erase any hopes of getting work and sleep done. But after lots of butting heads, just enough quiet for me to get back to work. This morning, testing "cheap" hanji. Doesn't spin great but it does something.
The problem is that it's impossible to photograph the process w/o a tripod, and I'm too lazy to drag out the tripod and screw on the piece to my camera. Maybe after a little more thawing out? In the meantime, here is one end of the paper taped to the shaft of the winder. Also, take a look at the work of a very fine artist that Velma turned me onto: Mary Ann McKellar Schwarcz.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


These were poor copies to start but you can see the difference: front, and
back (the shifu pieces more obvious than the hanji ones).
The involuntary construction has been a pain in the arse, especially in this cold, with holes in the floor. It's like walking on ice all day (this is a no-shoes home, so poor feet!). But amidst noise and soldering and workers only coming over an hour after promised, a package from Sweden arrived with my long-coveted bobbin winder!!! The hanji I made in Korea, very strong. The green washi from the store, not (but to be expected b/c it's the cheap kind mixed with wood pulp). Very dangerous, because I could end up doing this all day and night, instead of Things I Should Be Doing. But thank Velma for enlightening me to the wonders of the antique bobbin winder (pics in daylight to come, maybe tomorrow).

Monday, January 21, 2013


Near the end of class, paper litho (see the "plate" in the foreground: a xerox covered in gum arabic, water, and ink. You can only discern the water, but see how it's being repelled in a few spots? The ink sticks to wherever the xerox toner is). I was glad to leave the stinky home (some major and involuntary construction going on that involves sealant that smells like a mix of epoxy and nail polish remover. It can only be bad for you) and head to class, though of course there are a host of other things to smell there. Somehow, the familiar toxins are a little less scary than new ones.
I had spent a good deal of last night cutting and gluing tiny pieces of paper for chine collé. Fumiko thought it would be more interesting if I had all the bits scattered on the print, rather than in the places where I had sized them to fit into the image. Though I agreed with her, I still put everything in their place because I couldn't bear the thought of having cut everything to size, glued it (see the end of the green glue bottle again!), let it dry, transported it, put it all together again, only to scatter it in the wind (aka press). Maybe some other day.
Velma's postcard image (in reverse, because I wanted to test it on a xerox machine; the laser printer I was using had toner that kept being lifted off), printed onto Asao's shifu! Very nice.
On my walk yesterday, I noticed all these nice wind chimes in one spot. Seemingly made of bamboo, apparently they are actually plastic. Sigh. But a more pleasant and less scary sound than tinkly chimes.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Looking, then stepping away

I am about to go take a walk to get out of the sick house. This is what has been going on this weekend.
Zoom: bits of paper thread from Asao's shifu that I didn't unravel, but which fell off of the edges when I was binding my books with shifu covers. I carefully stored them in a pink box, and then took them out, knotted them end to end, and knitted a sample.
Zoom: bits left over from chine collé from my last two printmaking classes. I'm hoping to prep more pieces before class tomorrow with glue (that's what the green tube with yellow cap is for): glue a very thin layer, let dry, cut up.
Zoom: plaited paper! Can't get enough.
Zoom: all ready for tomorrow, xeroxes of Velma's postcards. Each image copied with two different lightness settings. I'll test them as plates in paper lithography and am excited to see how they turn out!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

At last!

To placate my hands (this week has been a bust), I made mini plaited paper baskets. They're on top of a piece I did a week or two ago with Morgan hanji and Melissa paper, both using kozo. The scraps from both baskets are inside the left one.
Hisako's book has been a revelation. From page one, it was like meeting a kindred spirit, only she had done all the hard work to make things easier for all of us. This is the kind of book that I could imagine, but would never make myself, because it's VERY hard. Why the star?
LOOK!!! I must have known there was a reason that I never ever made these diagrams myself for cording paper. Why reinvent the wheel? Her instructions, though, make me want to go back to the drawing board to see if I have been separating steps all along. But what I absolutely love are these dotted lines, so you can imagine how the strands feel between your hands. Even when I teach, I mention x-ray vision, the V in between that we can't see, and wish that all of our right hands were transparent. VERY happy to have found this before this year's teaching season. Thank you, Velma!!

Friday, January 18, 2013


Based on the recommendation of a new friend, I watched "Departures" (Japanese title: "Okuribito"). I highly recommend it if you don't mind tearjerkers and humor and all-out seriousness and public baths and music and stones. Before that, Velma had recommended Hisako Sekijima's Basketry book and it has been a revelation. It follows my usual path where everything I do comes from wildness, with no context, and then I work backwards to find origins and structure and tradition and the rest. Before that, Tam had surprised me by sending the most perfect lovey mittens that she had knitted, with conductive thread on the thumbs for my touch phone and slots for my index fingers to poke out for more touch screen action. Today, Melissa coached me. Yesterday, Marci bolstered me. The day before, Paulette called with affirmations. And earlier in the week, Jean confirmed my doubts (which affirmed my instincts). These are days where I feel frustrated almost daily, but thank goodness for the solid support of friendship.

p.s. - One of my books will be shown by the Center for Book Arts at CODEX next month in California!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Not sharp

[Blurry b/c that's how I feel; the paper yarn and to-be paper yarn stash. Jean's weaving behind, on the new stand/table setup.] I wanted to tear my clothes off and run outside screaming because writing these pieces of job applications feels like having a terrible disease. So I didn't get as far as I'd like. If you're looking for a way to kill hours, you can either watch the documentary about Occupy that my sister cut on Hulu (free!) or listen to me ramble on about writing and the Morgan and who knows what else on Bookbinding Now.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Ecosystems of illness

When people are sick in communities from two and up, everyone is affected. So my hopes for a quiet work day, dashed. Instead, I moved furniture, did new and old projects while the sewing machine was upright, and reorganized (it's like pushing paper except I was pushing textiles and supplies and toolboxes and materials and shipping containers and all the rest). I also put these away under a newly unfolded work table after trimming the ghastly fringes: my samplers from the weekend. You can see we used two different threading patterns. The light patch in the middle next to the dark indigo are both Habu paper yarns. They were LOVELY to weave with (this was before the warp went rogue). Why did I not go and stock up during their annual sale?! I had purposely stayed away but that may have been a miscalculation in hindsight—the heart and the pocketbook at odds, again.

Update: see, I forgot because I didn't write it down: a podcast of an interview I did with Susan Mills is now live!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Hot to cold

[Chine collé test with photo litho using all hanji bits and base sheet. I had cut out and glued sooo many little bits of hanji but realized afterwards that I had reversed them all my entire original vision was shot. BEST way to learn never to do that again!] I'm still processing the weekend class, which I see as a big lesson in educational choices (in my head, ticking "not satisfied" box in the non-existent evaluation of an organization that is growing too quickly for its infrastructure). I learned that the more I teach, the more sensitive I am to being taught. I remember when I started to teach violin lessons and then went back to taking lessons briefly with a master teacher. Every hour of those lessons were crammed full of information, though it didn't feel onerous in the moment. But because she was so skilled, those few hours were transformative. Ever since I was 18, I took notes in class and then went home to transcribe them all. I heard about the technique somewhere and liked that 1. the final product was a set of legible notes, 2. I could scrawl away in class as messily as I liked, 3. it helped reinforce what I had just learned, and 4. once computers became ubiquitous, I had a digital record of everything (eventually, I switched to typing out my scrawls). When working with that violin teacher, I came home and wrote and wrote and wrote so much. Those were the days when I could actually retain lots of information in an hour without writing (violin lessons don't afford you note-taking time), and then come home and get it out. Recall is less good now.
[Two more tests, from my first class, complete and utter play. Wholly satisfactory. Colors in the image are hard to read, but the middle sections are a weird green from my last hanji session in Cleveland.] Although I didn't get enough sleep, I was glad to be back in Fumiko's studio for class. She said it was amazing that after such a frustrating weekend intensive, I would then do such intensive printmaking work (I spent at least an hour cutting and trimming and tearing tiny bits of colored hanji for three extensive tests). I could do that because I felt so much calmer and at ease, in good hands. Then, I got to catch up with an old friend over dinner and a movie before walking through rain to visit my sister. Today I finally met Rachel, who was in town with a friend, all orchestrated by Terttu. It was so nice to meet someone I've only known through blogs/email for several years. She was taller than I expected and an excellent hugger. Probably the best I've experienced, ever! Near the end of our meal, a woman at an adjacent table leaned over and mentioned that she was a photographer who was doing a project on artists in their apartments. She had ascertained that we were artists based on our conversation and what sealed the deal was when she saw me pull out a crocheted pink bag full of paper yarn. One of my classmates in printmaking class saw the same bag and said, "You are living my dream!" when I told her that I had made the bag and some of the paper inside of it. I'm happy to live other people's dreams but the goal is to live mine. Getting there, slowly.

Sunday, January 13, 2013


Too exhausted and work swamped for much besides: today was HARD. My warp was a complete nightmare. This is when I was in good enough spirits to think I could keep going, even with all the breakage. A little later, I kept begging my teacher to just cut it all off. She finally let me but insisted I tie on what was left to at least end class with some continuous weaving.

Whew! Much, much, much to digest. But no time for now because tomorrow I return to printmaking class (though hopefully get enough studio time in the weaving studio to make a teeny tiny bit of shifu to print onto. Of course, the hanji still needs to get spun, so this may not happen as quickly as I'd like). January lull suddenly turned into something else entirely!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Entirely too enticing

For years, ever since I was little, I wondered about looms and weaving, though I didn't realize until I met more and more weavers much later in my life that this was a consistent wondering. There are some things I am content to wonder about forever (MANY years ago I tried to understand quantum physics; I don't mind leaving that alone). But I decided that in the January lull, I would treat myself to a weaving 101 weekend intensive. Eee! I'm a bit too tired from it all plus my regular trying to keep up with my workload to say much, but of COURSE our teacher went to Oberlin of all places (10 years after I did). Big circles that are completing in funny ways. One classmate is from Cleveland and in the film biz, so just a few degrees of separation, another a musician who has a subscription to the orchestra I used to work for, another went to the college on whose campus I teach in the summers, etc.

I am Very Happy even though I spelled almost all of the new vocabulary words wrong (for those who know and want to laugh, lee instead of lease, sleigh instead of sley, monkey instead of castle...just kidding about the last one). Today was prep and we all got up to do our "ow, ow, is there such thing as weaver's back?" stretches. Tomorrow we weave! I love being a student.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Reading vs. staring

I am trying at nights to stay away from screens (for my eyes' and sanity's sake), but I still end up staying up much too late reading. There are too many books already that are sitting around, waiting to be read. I finished Ship Fever by Andrea Barrett last night, whose stories I thoroughly enjoyed. I love how they are set in times where there are still huge things to be discovered, because it feels so differently from our days. I pulled this quote from the end:
What had he been doing these past years? What had he been so worried about? Fussing and struggling to build a practice, continue his research, establish himself—if he died now his life would have been only that, almost nothing, a chain of meaningless accomplishments and struggles. Why had he wasted so much time? When he was a boy, before his mother's death, he had understood the beauty of daily life. Somehow this had slipped his mind, and if he died now—but of course he would not die now, he was very sick but it was all right, he was young and strong and outside the sun shone on the meadows and gulls plunged into the river, emerging with fish in their beaks—if he died now it would be ridiculous, because all these years he had not been living but readying himself to live, stuffing himself with knowledge that would help him live later. All this time he'd been learning to live, and now he was ready to start his life.
Hits close to home. I should get on with my life now.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Itty bitty

There are only a handful of new images, but they are lovely. Go here and then scroll all the way down to see them.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Grounding by running

[If I can stand to do a slow reveal, I will: one of Stefan's shots. The bottom of a double-walled bowl of sorts that I think of as a coin dish.] Today was one of those overcompensation days, where I try to do a zillion things to make up for not being this busy over the holidaze. A fruitful morning blur of admin, building more custom protection for prints, getting stuck in an elevator, picking up and dropping off prints (and selling a book!), a fantastically fun and intimate and deeply satisfying printmaking class, rushing to meet a new book/paper friend, noodles and pancakes and a lovely film about retired musicians, and the usual dash to catch the train home.

The scales are tipping back into a more comfortable balance. Next week I'll have dry prints to show, which hopefully will tickle you as much as they did me. What I constantly take for granted in these classes is the paper part of the equation: I do this to test my own papers, as uneven as they may be. I thought I was going to buy some Arches but it was TOO FUN to play with Cleveland hanji the whole time, and I had lots of fun with colors and chine colle. I may even be brave enough next week to print onto shifu. Thank goodness for last year's bin organization, so that I know where the copper plates are. The work reminds me why I put up with all the other crap.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Night work

[Very grainy scan by very tired me.] Quickly, as I ride a wave of a second wind after a challenging weekend of simultaneously running away from and facing demons (a good cry helps): Jean did the most wonderful post about my book. Because she is such a skilled weaver, she did exactly that with jiseung bits that she has, and she managed to make the interhighway come alive in this marvelous way where she turned a webpage into a paper page into a learning experiment.

Also, I had a nice surprise on the train while heading to the shortest photo shoot ever on Friday (the new images are gorgeous; can't wait to show you Stefan's latest shots of my bitty baskets). I had just gotten the new alumni magazine from my beloved alma mater, and they did a sweet blub on my book. I had heard that it was being considered for the page that always includes five new alumni publications, but what perfect timing!

Thursday, January 03, 2013

New gifts

Everything is going very, very slowly, workwise. But slow and steady is okay, as long as I can accept that not everything will get done right away (and that not all of it will get done, ever, even by the time death rolls around). So I was overjoyed to hear the mailman and see the envelope from Velma and handle the WONDERFUL treats: a postcard that shows off her work perfectly, a knitted lokta snake, and dyed silk thread. Yay. So many more sprouts coming out of my head with ideas, which I will try to quiet by cleaning and cutting vegetables (aka making dinner aka getting away from the screen).