Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Slow prep

I know this is how I'll feel over the next few days (including today): spent! I got to work early, caught up with Mason, and started rinsing fiber. This took all morning.
For the first time since I've built the studio, I finally took the time to sit and pull apart the kozo that was no good for beating/sheet formation. I was amazed by how strongly the sun bleached the stuff I worked on out in the garden this afternoon (rather than the ones I dried inside with less direct sun). Makes me wonder about future sun bleaching.
I always scrub pots after cooking. Got all but that speck up there on the lid cleaned.
Red: gampi. Blue: kozo. One more garbage pail not in the frame with the last bit of kozo. I lost count of how many batches I beat but I started after lunch and was done before 3. Maybe even before 2:30pm. Lots of labor, but not as much as if I hand beat.
I love this little workhorse. The folks here don't use it often, and the paint inside is chipping (plus you can see the one blade with the mangled corner), but I was very grateful for it. Checked PMP from last fall's Watermarks conference: it's STILL gooey! So I just mixed up one pail of PEO in case it all goes bad by tomorrow, straightened out threads, and half-heartedly prepped for tomorrow. By the late afternoon, my feet get cranky on all the concrete.

Tomorrow: fill the big vat, get to the real work.

Monday, April 29, 2013

My heart is home

Tom pointed out the tulips. The Morgan has never had any, so it was so heartening to see them right there, hanging out, watching the slow kozo (this has a been a cold spring, the opposite of last year).
Part of this week's grand experiment: adding Philippine gampi to the mix. 3 : 1, kozo : gampi. The latter is much easier to cook.
The old standby, Thai kozo. Two of four pounds cooked today. I'm going to attempt a small batch to save my body (I didn't get around to a lot of weight training before this trip so I'm not in great shape for the week, so I'm aiming for 1 or 2 days of hard core sheet formation, only).
 Hello, you!
Black-eyed Susan in a crucible from a foundry.
Where the Morgan kozo is steamed for the fall harvests.
 NEW BAL. !!!!
 Old bal, shamefully clogged with fibers.
Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand witnessed my Sisyphean task for the hours of the afternoon.
This morning I got hugs and "I love you" and studio visits! Rebecca gave me this absolutely gorgeous and perfect dyed and hand-drawn silk scarf and Claudio gave me prints. Between the two of them, they reminded me of what I have been quietly proclaiming as my Plan B for the year (which is rapidly becoming The Plan): this fall, I move to Cleveland. No home, no job, but Bright Eyes, Full Hearts, Can't Lose, right?

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Done! Ohio relax.

All blurry, and no sign of the noise. I've never had such an enthusiastic group of joomchi students: no fear! It was great to work with Obies today and then have dinner with Rebecca. I only have a week in Cleveland so I decided: I will only do what I want to do. Tonight, that means a donut from the local place that I frequented as a student, and kicking back for lots and lots of sleep.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

"Enter to Learn Go Forth to Serve"

So says the banner under the seal of the NY Police Academy. I had no idea that would be the view from SVA, where I gave a talk on jiseung for the NY Guild of Handweavers. But it's a good slogan. The turnout was great, even on such a gorgeous day, and I was happy to be amidst weavers who were nearly jumping out of their shoes to handle shifu and other hanji goodies. It was the first time I was with a group of people who knew the names I mentioned, like Velma Bolyard and Jean Betts. Either they read their blogs or have seen their work or are signed up for their classes. I love carrying samples of their work in my teaching stash.

Tomorrow is my last teaching date for the month. Then, I gratefully begin my one month devoid of public engagements! Which kicks off with wet hands and feet at the Morgan.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Happy people

I couldn't help myself from using the offcuts from the shoe-in-progress (and only one for now! I'll see how it goes and then decide if I can brave a second). Now that it's done, there are no more excuses to avoid computer work. I have to recommend this film about a topiary artist in Bishopville. I love his mission and vision and attitude: nothing comes from negative thinking!
Yesterday, I finally was able to catch up with BĂ©atrice, with whom I have been playing tag for a few years. We keep missing each other at the various places where we teach and show, so I was delighted to visit her studio. I love being reminded of how much laughter lives inside of her and how much energy she has and how open she is to everything out there. It was great to see her latest projects, from the papercuts to the mobile apps to the 3D animated short. We talked potential collaborations and shared stories—hers were identical to mine (damaged art, missing art, difficult people to work with, the whole nine yards), and it made me feel a little less alone in this life's work.

I'll be back on the road soon, but you can see a quick recap-type blog post here at the WSW blog.

And Saturday afternoon at 1pm in Manhattan, I'll do a jiseung talk for the NY Guild of Handweavers. Sunday, off to Ohio!

Monday, April 22, 2013


Finished the top one this weekend, and both are patiently waiting to be filled. A mix of hanji, washi, and lokta paper.
It's like a giant paper insect, took FOREVER to get this base done, and it's not anywhere close to perfect, but at least I can move onto another kind of hanji.
Looks more like what it's supposed to be, or maybe not at all. I learned that I will never become a very good shoemaker in this process. It's going to look strange, but hopefully I'll finish it before the year is up.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Up there

[If I had my camera on me, I wouldn't have used my phone.] I have been in a daze, not grounded at all. But yesterday was a treat, heading to the Met to see the show on Islamic art and conservation and lunch with Mindy and Yukari who work in book conservation. The more conservators I meet, the more I realize how very many there are in the world. Afterwards, I headed downtown to visit Jeff Peachey, another conservator but also tool maker and researcher and teacher and collector of all sorts of things, like books and needles. I thought it would be nice to see him before we both teach at FOBA, especially after hearing about his classes at NBSS. SO much great information, fun and honest, smart and totally backed-up with experience and serious research. He has an essay about beating signatures of books in my publisher's newest publication, so we got to take a look at each others books and compare notes. Plus, he shared his article on Vietnamese papermaking from a sold-out issue of Hand Papermaking; I always like to read these kinds of stories.

My head overflowing with new insights and information, I dove into the family portion of the weekend. Caretaking, birthdays, feasting, spent, the usual. I'm hoping now for a stretch of work days, and am inspired ALWAYS by Joanne's string dogs. Always!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Couch day

I had so many good intentions for industrious-looking work, but found that what I really needed was a veg on the couch day. Because of new neighbors, I now am woken up at around 6:40am each weekday, and am slowly learning to start early with a relatively positive attitude rather than cursing angrily. With the shifting daylight, this schedule is doable, and I decided to shirk almost all of my computer-based work in favor of jiseung-ing. I made lots of balls, so two new necklaces are done. The mail brought a great book review in Korean Quarterly! Libby Pomroy wrote it and you could easily stop after reading her first sentence: "I love this book." The only error I want to fix is the publication city, which is Ann Arbor. I appreciate the fact that she actually read the book and outlines it well.

The other good news: my workshop in Minneapolis this June will run, though there are still slots available (search for my name or hanji; there's no direct link to the specific class). One note: it is NOT a papermaking class, and prior papermaking experience is NOT required, like it says on the website! If you want to actually make paper with me, then sign up for:

Korean Papermaking at MassArt (July 9-12)
Eastern Papermaking and Sculptural Techniques at Women’s Studio Workshop (July 22-26)
Korean Papermaking and Hanji Crafts at the Morgan Conservatory (Aug 3-4)

Now, back to balls. It looks like I'm doing nothing but my hands are feeling it.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

One slow day

I got almost nothing done today, which was such a luxury. Julie and Velma separately advised me to take a walk, so I did. Perfect weather: sun, a little breeze, blue jays. I laughed today thinking about my Providence class when I did my quick cord-making demo. One student, who was a more scientific type, said to another, "It's like the DNA double helix." I'm not quite sure this would explain all of the twisting and plying of making cordage but it was a new way of thinking about it, and new perspectives are so vital when teaching the same thing over and over.

Only two slots left in my June 26-28 special 3-day workshop in Oregon! And I'll talk more about it later, but there are still a few spots left in my July 22-26 very special 5-day workshop at Women's Studio Workshop: not just everything you'd learn in the hanji manipulation class, but actual papermaking with eastern techniques PLUS using western fibers as well as traditional kozo (now that I think of it, we might as well add some Philippine gampi while we're at it). I'm terribly excited to have more time for these workshops; weekend intensives are great, but living and learning in the same place together is a real luxury!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The best kind of circular stories

Velma was asking about the slip and slide. It's very hard to see in this book because it's knitted and randomly colored. But it's a great easy binding if you have the patience to knit the spines differently (I often don't have this patience, which is why my stuff looks like potholders and scarves). One folio slides into the other folio's gaping hole in its spine. I think I picked up the title in a book but it could be one of many, as I learned last week. The single-page book that I never learned with a proper name (some would say star, though it's not THAT star book, and Joseph called it a onesie) is called a poncho book by Laurie. Speaking of books, the Focus on Book Arts Conference now is on Facebook, unlike me, so take a look via the link on their homepage. They REALLY want me to drum up more students, so pass the word along if you know of anyone who wants to spend three days handling hanji in more ways than you could imagine at the end of June, not far from Portland.
Today was my first somewhat grounding day in a LONG time, meaning that I got to use my hands doing something other than class prep and typing and swiping screens. I had made an order of itajime for a class that didn't run, so now I have all of these colors to myself, besides the ones I gave away in various classes so that students could see how much weaker dyed and buffered-with-short-fibers washi was in comparison to 100% dak hanji. These are hard to cord with because of the breakage, but still manageable with just the right amount of handling (as in, hardly any! No tugging or yanking). I also sorted through prints from the first two months of this year and decided on which get gifted, recycled, framed, archived, and sent to the samples collection for teaching. I also sketched a new idea for more paper jewelry. TOO fun.

But out of the Boston area was where I got the best lift, despite how much tragedy has shaken the city and beyond: a conservator who attended my lecture in Boston a couple weeks back and ordered my book told me that her colleague, who took my Boston workshop, is already at work making hanji cords to rebind Korean books that he treats at the Harvard-Yenching Library. He had showed me an old brown cord in class and sent pictures of another to ask about 3-ply possibilities, and was one of the very few students I have ever taught who needed no further instruction beyond my demo to successfully make both regular cords and continuous ones. I was thinking this morning about how someone a long time ago made hanji cord in Korea, which was used to bind a book, and this book ended up in Cambridge, landed in the care of a non-Korean American, who took a class from a Korean American, who learned jiseung from a Korean in Korea. It's not a perfect circle but I like it.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Monday resumes

Admin central! Here are photos from my and Minah's Boston workshop two weekends ago, and then photos from this past weekend in Providence. I'd rather be handling snakes in the Nature Lab. Did you know this about turtles not chewing? I bet we could spend the rest of our lives in that place and still have more to learn.

If only every Monday could start this way

My publisher sent me the good news, a welcome sight for still-not-caught-up-on-sleep eyes: my book was a finalist for a special award for debut authors! I had been skeptical, thinking because it was about something so obscure that it would be easily passed over, so I am doubly grateful. A friend mentioned something about an interview I did last week: "you've been spotted!" That's how I feel now, and it feels nice.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Second breath comes near midnight

The sun finally came out after my first walk! And I made it to the wondrous Nature Lab. WOW. I am terribly glad that Chandler recommended that I visit.
A guy came in while I was in the lab to borrow a skeleton and got help rolling it over to the elevator. The student worker was cleaning one of the tanks that house live animals in the center of the room.
I was drawn to the milkweed immediately (first to the fluff contained in a box, and then this one, where each stalk is carefully labeled. ENTIRELY too much to take in all at once, but a wonderful thing to feast my eyes on before heading to work. I did stop at the student art fair in the street and I bought a beautiful ash rolling pin from a furniture major that I used right away in workshop for the joomchi demo!
This is the start of that demo, which I repeated because the students were working in waves, some at the vats and some doing joomchi. It was a great group of women, very engaged and on top of it. I was glad to be able to break out my real sugeta for the first time in this teaching season; always a treat to share that.
The class was billed as a papermaking + joomchi one, but of course I bring so many other props that tease the students. One really wanted to know how the jiseung cords were made, so I climbed up to do that demo (too lazy to take off the apron first). I was SHOCKED by how creaky I felt getting up there! But I've been working so many days straight that my body has aged prematurely. The class went really well despite my exhaustion (it was so bad that I introduced myself and then said that I was tired. How ridiculous of a teacher am I??), and the Watts folks even bought two of my books in advance, one to raffle off to a lucky student. How fun. Now, a bit of sleep before the drive home.

Update: Wessel & Lieberman in Seattle is carrying my book! Visit and enjoy.

One breath: trees and buildings

For the first time since winter snow, I took my first walk with no purpose except walking in fresh air this morning. I am slowly learning to guard my "free" time carefully. 
People love gates! Especially old academic institutions. But a tree made it in.
Also a sculpture.
This is located somewhere around the top of my head.
This was further down, maybe my waist? But I like the plate/lettering better.
WHERE?! I want to go!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Another chill

[Blurry Boston from last weekend, feeling the wind now in Providence, just less nippy but more wet.] I drove through torrential rain for my entire trip to Providence. Exhausting to stay awake while terrified because of the very low visibility and the very scary numbers of cars not using headlights. Plus, I was silly enough to leave my water in the trunk and bring no snacks and tried to listen to a book about economics on the way up. But I was delighted to finally let the parking attendant take care of my borrowed car and perfectly happy to wait in the computer room while my room was being prepared. I even got lunch brought to me and got to watch a silly talk show (but covering not silly things about women's self defense). I had a wonderful meeting at RISD's special collections where I showed Laurie some of my things, hanji- and book-ish, and then Laurie showed me books she pulled just for me, all using handmade paper. Really gorgeous work, and such a treat because I think all of them were books I had not ever seen, though I knew of most of the makers.

Lauren also joined us, and is opening Paper Connection for a special hanji lover's day tomorrow (Saturday) from 10am to 2pm. Go if you can! They are one of only three U.S. outlets for hanji. After a much-needed nap at 5pm, I drove in circles and finally unloaded and parked so that I could cook kozo and get ready for tomorrow's workshop. It's always a challenge to sort out things in unfamiliar paper studios, but I think most everything that I can do is done. Thank goodness I ran out to NYC yesterday to a couple of art supply stores to construct two more sets of student sugetas, because the large vat that I was told would be ready looks quite unready. Which means the two student bal/balteul shipped all the way from Cleveland will NOT work. But Lauren has endless resources up her sleeves, so tomorrow may surprise us.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Follow the leader

Who, in this case, is Velma. A mix of hanji, spun and knitted + lokta paper, the same. Almost all things I learned from her: spinning on a bobbin winder, using the Hedi Kyle slip & slide binding. The purple-y hanji is thigh spun. I've been making a very orderly list of things to do for the next four days. Two days of prep, and two days of travel, and one day of teaching. They're all mixed together and hopefully will become a beautiful visit to Providence.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

"We were taught to be humble"

[Paste that I had finished straining and thinning for Minah so that our students could paste their paper nails and their paste downs. Martha said it was the most beautiful paste she had ever seen.] I was able to grab Velma on the phone yesterday when we were both in zombie mode from excess travel and sleep deprivation. We talked about how it's hard to talk ourselves up; our habit is to go in the opposite direction. Somehow, how we were raised now seems completely antiquated, nothing like how people behave nowadays. This shocks me on a regular basis because I am not terribly old but I have felt cranky about poor manners and bad behavior for years. Yet I still try to make my way in the world while being bewildered by its occupants. That includes me.

In two days, I hit the road again. Today, I booked a flight for my Ohio trip in two more weeks. There are still supplies I'd like to order and tools I'd like to construct and classes I'd like to restructure and so much more. But every night I have to remember to go to sleep.