Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Weedy packing

[Ellen at WSW's ArtFarm, helping to curb the spread of burdock.] About half the trunk of my car is full of paper and I've thrown out plenty, but a LOT remains to be packed, or loaded. Heavy things, and I haven't even touched my bookshelf! But I think I've made respectable progress, even if I don't feel far progressed.

Friday, July 26, 2013

The end, almost

We did what you can only do in a well-equipped paper studio: emptied vats into a big deckle box. So much more fun and satisfying than draining vats and ending up w/a tiny bit of pulp to throw in the fridge or freezer only to stay there forever and get stinky. Grateful for strong sun that dried our papers before the end of the day.
Susan really wanted to do another batch of milkweed, so we harvested again and this time steamed before stripping to make life easier. She and Penny did two big deckle box sheets, all that they would really yield, and they were pretty pretty. Lots of packing to do but I think everyone was satisfied. I had a wonderful dinner at Ann and Tana's with Chris and Ellen last night, delicious food and lively company. I drove Heather to a train station near home so the ride home was also nice. I wish I could be home forever but in just a few days, I'm off to Cleveland. I hope I have it in me to teach one more big class. The trick about a lime water soak after cooking in soda ash will make prep SO much easier.

Also, Susan from my Oregon class last month did a great write-up of it; enjoy!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Nearing the end, suddenly

I met this wee one (tiny, tiny!) one of my first nights here. I nearly squashed it with a sugeta accidentally but thank goodness I didn't.
Caroline, our fabulous intern, scrubs pellons. Something I need to get my students to do more of themselves.

Beating more fiber, at the tall people's table. I have three tall students and it surprised me. I don't know why.
We did a mini milkweed harvest. If I had more time and energy, I would have done a much bigger harvest because they were BIG plants.
The cook smelled a bit latex-y because we didn't have time to drain the milky sap.
Just enough for a handful to beat in two shifts, super green.
Chris explains some of the features and future of the art farm, where they grow plants for paper, dye, and food.
Marigolds, dyeing.
Happy indigo, dyeing.
Chris' chickens!
Heather's work, admiring her kakishibu-coated paper with the shiny side that had stuck to the drying surface. We only have a bit of papermaking left to do in the morning, then a big clean, and drive home. It has been so lovely to be away from most work, my phone off (no service here), living on top of the studio, and not hearing the drone of the city or a/c at all times. The pace will shift dramatically in just 24 hours, so I'm enjoying what I can now.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Hump day

I love this new lime bath trick after the soda ash cook (combat sodium with calcium or something like that). All that slipperiness, gone!
Linda cleans up her pellon. I caved and pigmented two vats because people always like colors. It was like an immediate flocking to those vats when I first unveiled them.
The best is when your students learn enough, quickly, to teach your other students. Heather is helping Ellen with the whole concept behind the bobbin winder and making paper yarn/thread.
Susan combined her paper with the big hanji. It lit up the window and made me think about how handy deep windowsills are.
If we harvest in the next two days, pruning shears.
Ellen's bark lace bits, and the house across the way under renovation, which will eventually become an expansion here at WSW.
These were here even before I arrived. Paper cups, for real!
And always, what keeps us alive. The magic green stuff. Class is going well, lots of new ideas and techniques and hum of work. If only my body let me sleep in longer and erased my nightmares, which are just stress dreams. Otherwise, no complaints, and a pleasure to teach this group.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Morning to night, full

We made paper, started joomchi, and got into paper yarn. We'll probably have to cook another pound of kozo tomorrow because this is a real papermaking group. A good thing! But makes me thankful for helpers. I gave my last lecture tonight for the summer season and am happy to get a break. Made some more goo tonight of various types and tomorrow will cook up some paste. Amazed to think of how much we have done in just two days and hoping the next three will be just as rich.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Numbers confound

The most confusing part of going from one class straight to the next one day after another is that I keep waiting to herd twelve students only to realize that this class has seven. So far, so good. I have an INTERN, which is an amazing and wonderful luxury. Especially because the WSW interns are really, really good. Everyone knows that, and every former intern I've met from here has been a great papermaker and goes onto success in the field. Here is Susan with a big piece of bark lace.
This pile of hanji is always a telltale sign that I am teaching jiseung cords somewhere in the world.
How lucky am I that there is a hook in the ceiling right above the big vat? This means that it's possible to set up modified webal tteugi, rather than doing straight ssangbal tteugi in this class. It would be the first place I've taught webal outside of Cleveland, though I do demo it in Boston when I teach there. The first demo two years ago was not great, but the one I did this year convinced me that it's worth continuing to test this student size.
Ellen is making a set of cords with relative ease. This is always a hard piece but a good thing to do while cooking or waiting for other things to happen. This morning we beat outside, thanks to my Boston students who didn't feel like making as much paper as I thought, so I had plenty of kozo cooked and rinsed to complement the kozo we cooked and rinsed today. I tested a lime water bath directly after the cook, which worked GREAT to remove soda ash residue quite quickly. I'm still distracted by a terrible health insurance/billing nightmare that has been going on for almost a year, but I'm hoping by tomorrow, I will be much more focused.

Sunday, July 21, 2013


The new digs for the week at WSW (haven't taken the camera downstairs to the studios). Just this morning I uploaded all of the photos I took of my students' books in Vermont. Gigs that are much closer to home feel like just heading over to someone else's house for a bit, nothing as daunting as the out-of-state and longer drives where drowsiness goes on forever, dangerously, behind the wheel. I'm having lots of stress dreams about the large looming transitions but for now: time to set up shop in a place that truly knows paper.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

It really does pour when it rains

While riding the elevator, I saw this in the corner, on the floor. It came true. Today was our last full day of class, followed by a big clean and then open studios. I was floored as I went around with my camera to shoot while everyone else was at dinner. My students made an enormous number of books across an enormous range of material and voice and with enormous enthusiasm. I had no idea what they were up to during all of those long and hot days and nights until I saw the full output today (and that's not even full output, it's just what they chose to display). All I could feel was incredible pride and surprise: when did they manage to do all this work, and WHO taught them all of this? Because it certainly wasn't me. At least that's not how it felt. So, a selection:

Naomi makes hilarious books with amazing comic timing. Loads of talent, an art teacher in my hometown, the younger sister of my drawing/painting professor back in undergrad. So many connections, such a pleasure to work with.

Ania had impeccable books, so many, so gorgeous and touching. She has so much love for people and art and what she does and was incredibly enthusiastic EVERY DAY ALL THE TIME. She pumped out models of my models like wildfire and has some serious skills, plus lovely sensitivity.

Marty has been like a rock, supportive of me during the hardest days, and so eager to learn. She has this luminous touch with her books and they are all radiant, quiet, and carefully and lovingly made.

Martha is one of those silent but deadly students: barely a word out of her, a petite woman who worked solidly, constantly, standing in heat without a single complaint. Her set of books is a deep exploration of form, content, structural play and experimentation, powerful and concise graphics, and a strong grasp of the technical and conceptual aspects of her work.

I was laughing out loud at Barbara's first book, though she followed it (all text) with a series with almost no words at all. Process, fragmentation, reintroduction to new places and homes and pockets. She kept at all of the work even when it was a struggle, no surrender.

I loved the four things tacked up on Susan's wall: a bit of bark lace, a paste paper gingko leaf, a photocopy with tiny images of cows, and a stem of still green curled-up leaves. She added such balance to the class with her insightful and genuine input and willingness to help, mad paste paper skills, and rich, thoughtful books.

Irene came in like daylight each morning, dressed beautifully, always in a cheery mood. Her work was as strong as her generosity and positivity, and I loved the way she knew exactly how much to take on, how to challenge herself but not overwhelm herself, and how to pace a story to touch the reader. You can smell that first book from here.

Bob was our lone man in the class, and somehow survived all of the chatter around him by working diligently and consistently on his books, knowing exactly what he wanted but not quite how. He'd then sit there for hours and days figuring out the answers with models and study and lots of excellent questions. I didn't get the last book until now, finally, when I got the time to browse through all of these images.

Eleanne makes the most beautiful magic with paper, layered, torn, and rendered painterly. She also loves thread and was always working, ALWAYS. She wrote me one of the most hilarious papers for her credit requirements, which was such a pleasure to read because she is usually quiet save her questions on structure. Dogged in getting the exact effect she wants.

Good god, Rebecca completely floored me when I saw her set of books. Most of her assignments had been dummies because they weren't ready for crit, so I had no idea what awaited me. The reason they were that way is because she goes through real drafts of books, mapping out the pace and engineering. She figured out pop-ups that I didn't even teach, and refused to let her mistakes lie. She is a masterful storyteller and with ambitious scale and heft to her work. 
Franny was still working when I was shooting, and I didn't get a chance to shoot her books during open studios, but she was so wonderful to teach. There was that anxiety about being able to get the work done, but she never ever complained, and worked like a maniac on top of her 1.5-hour commute each way, daily. Lots of energy, so much politeness, and excited about embarking on this whole new adventure with books.

I don't have images of Sally's books, either, but she was another gem. She knew exactly what she needed and had a really strong background in books already. I so appreciated how she kept us on track but not ever in a pushy or impatient way. So diplomatic, so intelligent, always listening to music as she worked. And funny to have another Oberlin connection: I used to work with her daughter, who was a couple years ahead of me in college!

Super impressed, so gratifying to see the culmination of this week. Of course, after nonstop days of searing sun and humidity and heat, once open studios ended, I walked out into a night lit up with constant lighting and then the winds and rain came through. For the first time, I feel cold air. Tomorrow, crit, pack, and drive home for less than 24 hours before the next class. Hoping for enough sleep to keep me awake on the road!