Saturday, November 30, 2013

Not so cold at all

Velma did the best recap of our time together, and I was sad to run off afterwards, though happy to visit Open Studio and spend some time with Pamela after having met her in Cleveland for a beautiful exhibit of hers last month. Thank goodness for the chocolate goodies I got to tide me through the rest of the day, which involved seeing the paper studio for pre-class assessment, and then a quick visit to the hanji store in the Korean neighborhood.
This morning, I felt like I finally got a good grip of the public transportation system, which is super low key, on the way to work. The studio was lovely in the morning light.

A great group of very nice students! We whizzed through a ton of material and I was especially amazed that Greta brought everyone banana chocolate chip muffins. Emily posted a few pics via the Paperhouse site.

They are located in an old school, and I didn't notice it as much in the beginning, but it's a really lovely rehab of the building. Emily and I had a drink and munchies afterwards, which made me realize how much less stressful eating out is now that I am temporarily vegetarian. It's actually something of a joy. Just one more day and then the 2013 book tour is over! And given the fact that we only have about 30 books left in stock, I think I've done a good job. Get your first edition while you can!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Serious Canadian thanks on Velma's birthday

Where am I? OCAD, Toronto.
Drove in after ALL sorts of stormy threats from Cleveland to Buffalo, only to find gorgeous scenic roads, clear and clean and just fine. Tired upon arrival but amazed at how the sky opened right up after crossing the border to Canada. And then, finding out that our American treasure, Amos Kennedy, would be right there when I was!
I could not have been more delighted. It's not actually that cold, though I had a massive scare after reading the temperature mistakenly in centigrade.
The first time I heard of and met Amos was in Chicago, and he is just as joyful and wonderful as always, except that now he is in Detroit instead of Alabama.
TWO FAVORITE PEOPLE!! And it's her birthday!! We both printed one of these after a lovely group lunch hosted by Wendy Cain, who is one of the nicest and kindest ever. Not just papermaker, but all around person lovely. Yes, I'm aware I'm not making any sense at all.
Walking back to the school before my lecture after wandering the streets for a pharmacy. A good walk, a good city walk, a good winter walk.
The lecture went just fine, and it was so nice to just walk in with a flash drive and not worry about all about hauling my computer or dongles or anything. Sold the usual number of books (amazing to think I have figured out a number! It only took a year, and the first edition is nearly out of print. Maybe 30-40 left at the distributor? Don't worry, the second impression is being printed now).
Velma and I mostly just talked at the textile museum, while she tolerated me as I stripped off a top layer (to take me down to three) and two bottom layers (to take me down to two). People always psych me out about it being cold. Not just here, but every cold place I have ever lived. And I've always been fine, but succumb to the panic. I'm happy to be here but better get to bed; tomorrow is FULL and Saturday and Sunday are FULL and nothing is empty after that. Joy and love flying around everywhere and I kept forgetting it was Thanksgiving but am thankful I am missing it for this. Emily escorted me almost all the way home, and the night ended with the most beautiful poem on the bus by George Johnston.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Briefly, kudos

Still feeling behind on prep for Toronto, but just found out that my marvelously talented sister was nominated for the new category of Independent Spirit Awards for film editing! So proud; she has deserved something like this for years. Sad that I'll miss her in NYC when she goes to California for the awards ceremony in March, but I have my gig and she has hers.

Back to work and over the moon that I get to see Velma so very soon!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Crunch time again already

A quick blurry shot from the Cleveland Flea this past weekend, the holiday edition, which I pushed the Morgan to participate in. Sales were decent! I think with some more prep, it could be great next year. I picked up a great gift for my host and one for my new home (if all the paperwork ever gets sorted out). Meanwhile, this trip to Canada is already upon me. All I can say after a mad flurry of work and logistic maneuvering is that it better not ice storm/blizzard on me during the drive.

Come if you can! Lecture on Thursday at 7pm in Toronto at OCAD, play with Velma, wander the city, and teach all weekend for CBBAG.

Friday, November 22, 2013

What awaits

SO MUCH KOZO (and a little mulberry on top, can barely see in the glare).
And on the other side, the tiny dent we made in scraping even after many, many hands put in many hours during the harvest. I'm now in the mode of mobilizing our staff and creating a real work plan for this new studio/center. The task seems gargantuan, but we had a good meeting of the core group and it feels doable as long as we all share the weight.
This Monday, I came out of the bath in San Francisco with a terrible case of the hives on my back. I kept hoping they would go away, but I can't deny anymore that it's another bout of the allergic reaction I had 14 years ago. Very uncomfortable, especially in hot showers, and requires oatmeal baths. The biggest question is the food trigger. I have a feeling I know what it is, and hope that if I am careful with diet, it will fade (of course, I arrived to an office kitchen full of donuts, which I'm sure doesn't help with the histamine reaction).
After meeting upon meeting, I finally got a chance to marble paper with Tom. It was a necessary break from the non-art madness swirling around me (I signed a sublease yesterday, but am disappointed to find that the new apt is a smoking building. At least I know for sure I will be moving again in five months, but prospects always seem daunting). If I get my act together enough, I'll make a tiny bit more paper before Toronto!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

At the end of the day

I arrived at the Asian Art Museum early, not knowing I was supposed to come through the side entrance. But it was fun anyhow watching the free day sign go up right before opening.
Sunday was a zoo! The museum hosted over 3,000 visitors, and I have never had such large crowds so eager to learn about hanji. I gave my slide lecture twice in four hours, did a demo that was then taught by volunteers over the entire afternoon to visitors, and entertained an insane amount of questions and conversations and so on. I was so busy that I didn't even get the chance to say hi to Alex and his girls, but was grateful for his attendance, as well as Tam and Brian, and a whole host of other people in the area that I know. In the end, this is what was left and then swept away.
Tam was kind enough to let us stay in the vicinity of my hotel for dinner (Indonesian!). I wanted to hang out longer but really needed to lay down after being on my feet and being ON for so many hours. The feedback I liked best was that apparently, visitors told the staff that I was very funny in my talk.
Monday morning, I had my last breakfast at my new/old favorite place, my last bath, and then packed so that Barbara could whisk me away to her amazing home. No words can adequately describe the view, the artwork inside, the care in creating a beautiful environment in which to live and share space. I was so grateful for her hospitality, and had a lovely time at the tea she hosted for kindred spirits: artists, weavers, spinners, musicians, people who work with their hands. Then, Richard came to whisk me away to Marin to see his collection of Korean paper baskets. !!! I was dumbfounded when he gifted me with one, along with an old Korean pot scrubber. I'm surprised I made it through dinner without screaming for joy.
Oh, and I also heard yesterday that the Morgan got its full ask of nearly $50K for the Cuyahoga Arts & Culture grant that I helped write. This Eastern paper center is really happening, and I will really have my dream job and get paid for it, doing exactly what I want to do. We had the highest score of any organization and were the only org to get its full ask. After a lovely breakfast with Barbara, I walked to the bus terminal to cross the bay to Mills College. I had a great lunch with Moya, and then set up to teach the paper workshop to Julie's book art class.
What a fabulous group! This one in particular did not want to stop making paper, even in the cold, wet rain. This is the first real rain of the season. I'll pretend that I'm the good luck charm, and hope for continued grace from the universe on my long, long journey back home tomorrow. So long for now, California!

Saturday, November 16, 2013


This is one of my favorites at SFO, at the BART station. Hard to see, but thousands of metal discs fluttering in the wind. I landed yesterday (was it only yesterday??) after a whole day of travel that routed me stupidly east to go west, and was immediately re-seduced by San Francisco. The sun, the mountains, the enormous Asian population, the bustling streets. As soon as I arrived and dumped my things, I was out the door again to meet Carl, and proceeded to immediately imbibe the wrong cocktail entirely. And then I remembered why I never stayed in this city, as beautiful and enticing as it is. It's so different from my relationship with New York, which I love and will always love.
The jet lag has been marked, and I woke up early after only a handful of sleep hours. I decided to walk in search of a place I had found with an ex over two years ago with simple and cheap breakfast run by a Chinese couple. I walked all over, in circles, and passed it twice before realizing what I had done. I was delirious with hunger and toxin-processing and hiking hills sweat (recall how flat Ohio is) by then and inhaled that very necessary meal. Then, I proceeded to walk in the wrong direction for a LONG TIME before figuring out how to make it back to the hotel so that I could draw a bath and try to rest, if not sleep, before tonight's lecture. SFCB has a gorgeous new location and the crowd was so very pleasant. I wavered in and out of consciousness while giving the talk, but was touched by the friends and fans that came out to see me (Tam made a surprise entrance!). And then, an amazing Indian dinner with Paulette and David.

I think that tonight, I'll sleep. In less than twelve hours, the Asian Art Museum has a special free day to celebrate Korean culture, and you can come joomchi with me!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


We did the final bundling of kozo (and a little bit of actual mulberry, too, though we didn't get as much as we steamed because no one was around to steam on that awfully cold and rainy night when Tom was outside alone taking care of the fire. So the mulberry shrunk back to unstrippable)—yesterday. As much as I'd LOVE to think people will scrape fiber while Tom and I are away this long weekend/week, I'm not holding my breath, and am not interested in harboring mold! It's a lovely sight, though I wish there was more white bark and less of the raw.
John Seyfried shot this at the ICA annual meeting last week. Jamye is a paper conservator, Morgan advisor, and all around great colleague. I love how smart, responsive, friendly, and professional she is. I had been running up and down the halls of the penthouse where the meeting was held and was about to run out to my next nighttime engagement when John insisted I be photographed (he was my very first photographer, 14 years ago, and shot my first set of slides ever). It made me think about how I've met so very many people in the few months I've been here, and the map I keep fleshing out as I continue to meet people.
I have lots of introverted tendencies but also plenty of the opposite, and when I wondered about that to a friend, she reminded me that relationships are very important to me. This is Ana, Tom, and her husband Ivan. I met Ana in the summer at the Case farm, which she directs. While telling her about the Morgan and Tom, she exclaimed, "Tommy?!" because Ivan used to play soccer with him. It had been years and years since they last met, so I insisted they come out for the harvest. It was ridiculous, because as soon as I saw them, I went RUNNING to find Tom, shrieking. What a touching reunion. I am positive that this was a million times more exciting for me than anyone else.

Today was a catch-up day, plus Morgan meetings, and then a great studio visit with Lauren. Another person here that I really like: smart, engaged, committed to her work and being here, always working towards more growth, and amazing with people. I am endlessly pleased by the relationships I've been nurturing here on so many levels, though I will have to take a break on Friday to head west and see friends in the Bay for my second Cali leg of the book tour:

Sat, Nov 16, 6:30pm: Hanji lecture
San Francisco Center for the Book, SF, CA

Sun, Nov 17, 12 - 4pm: Joomchi drop-in workshop (family friendly, no registration required)
Korean Cultural Day @ Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, CA

Mon, Nov 18, 2pm: Private tea hosted by Barbara Shapiro

Tues, Nov 19, 1 - 4pm: Papermaking workshop
Mills College, Oakland, CA (for Intro to Book Art students)

VERY happy about flying into temperatures twice what we have here.

Monday, November 11, 2013


I still haven't recovered the file with scrapers from day one, but day two was good. We still have WAY more unscraped than scraped bark, but it was good to be back to the work and the reality of the situation. We're going to have some beautiful green/black bark paper this year; I'm saving every last bit of the strongest 'discards.'
We had a couple visitors on the second day from Detroit, who have taken Morgan classes before (including my own), so they were REALLY excited to help us do another big-ass sheet in the Paul Robbert deckle box, a brilliant piece of equipment we are so lucky to have here.

I'm still in recovery but managed to bake chocolate chip coconut macadamia nut cookies this morning before heading to the studio. If you can, support MCBA in their fundraising efforts in the Twin Cities! I hope to keep my head here somewhat as I slog through the backlog of work as well as prep for my second California book tour leg this weekend. Dates here. Also, for those of you who know Asao in the Philippines, he is safe and sound. Our thoughts are with those who were not so fortunate.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Harvest day one!

The kozo harvest has begun in earnest! Julie made a surprise visit from Iowa, and we picked her up from the airport last night. Wohoo! We came early to start everything up for the harvest, so this is not a very accurate image of what was going on. I just accidentally deleted the picture of the many MANY people scraping bark so I will have to jump through technology hoops to recover them, but I was amazed.
So many people came! Locally, out of state, new to the Morgan, old friends, wonderful group. I was shocked by the number of people willing to scrape.
Though, of course, hanging out with the fire and stripping bark is always fun, and easy in comparison. 
Jared and the new ax. Tom is watching.
Charred but still delicious sweet potatoes (though the Korean ones are better! I don't know where yet to find them in this town). 
 Mason loves to eat.
 Julie makes hosta paper. Tom stripped that little wee kozo branch.
The Morgan family! My finger, Tom, Julie, Kirstin, Mason, and a big-ass sheet of paper (abaca, kozo, hosta). Join us tomorrow for more fun! The chili is delicious and the company divine. Can't guarantee as wonderful of weather, but we make up for it in personality.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Fire, water, wood, earth, air

Today Tom cleaned out and prepared the outdoor pit so that we could cook the hostas he harvested from his garden. I was very proud to have been able to start the fire. My first of the season!
They're still going right now, the fire strong even with rain coming down, and the hostas are boiling. But I need to find a better tool for turning these suckers, something long and strong enough.
I had to tell Tom to stop putting his hands in the water at first because I had already added the soda ash.
Then we started to cut down kozo! The Morgan tries to get a bunch cut and steamed even before the weekend harvest event, because there are so many stages to the work and so much to get done. Kirstin and Steph are great at this kind of work. I used knee pads after a while because I walked into my bed frame last night and messed up one of my knees.
I cleared the left side and they did the right. Still a LONG ways to go (at least twice as much area to clear as what is pictured), but great work for one of our last warmish days. I love smelling like smoke and pulling out the work gloves!

Monday, November 04, 2013

Call for Interns: Cleveland Eastern Paper Center Launch

Join us as we launch the first Eastern Paper Center in Ohio, led by prominent hanji scholar and practitioner Aimee Lee!

The Morgan Art of Papermaking Conservatory & Educational Foundation, home of the only Korean papermaking studio in North America, will start a new Center devoted to the production of high-quality eastern-style papers. The Center will comprise workshops, staff and intern training, related exhibitions, and community outreach and partnerships.

We seek two to four interns who will train with Aimee and the Morgan staff for six months, from February to July (with the option to continue through August). This is an unpaid position for three days a week (specific days can be negotiated), seven hours a day, with lunch included. The content of this program is equivalent to a semester of college-level study. Interns will

• Learn how to process fibers from the paper mulberry tree into fine, strong, handmade papers in various weights, sizes, and colors
• Learn about Eastern paper traditions through the Morgan library that includes books, videos, periodicals, and paper objects
• Train in traditional Korean papermaking at the only hanji facility on this continent •• Discover the inner workings of a fully-outfitted paper mill
• Have access to bindery, letterpress, and communal studios, and
• Benefit from mentorship by Tom Balbo, Artistic Director; Aimee Lee, noted paper artist and hanji expert; and other working artists affiliated with the Morgan.

Ours is a unique, authentic program. Candidates must be highly motivated, able to work independently and as part of a team, unafraid of cold, wet, and heavy lifting, manual labor, and physically capable of standing for long periods with hands submerged in cold water. Ideal candidates will have excellent hand skills and attention to detail. They must be interested in learning about the historic and cultural impact of paper not only in East Asia but around the world, and able to commit to the full internship period. You need not be a papermaker to apply. A sense of humor combined with strong work ethic make for the best Morganites.

The Morgan will do everything possible to assist with relocation and finding resources in the Cleveland metro area, but cannot guarantee financial compensation. Having access to a car is fairly important as the public transportation system is not as strong as in other major cities. The Morgan is happy to provide paperwork for those using internship hours (500 total hours) for college credit, or to help procure outside funding.

Please submit a cover letter that details your interest and related experience and a 1-page resume to Aimee Lee at aimeeslee[at]gmail[dot]com by December 15, 2013 for full consideration. The top candidates will be called for phone interviews and final notification made by January 3, 2014. For more information, contact Aimee.

Friends everywhere

With Sidney in Jami's hotel room in Cleveland during her drive through to Iowa City. Tomorrow she visits with my old grad school buddy Joseph and his fam. It's nice to hang out with a dog who can't overpower me on a leash (the dog I live with is easily bigger than me). Jami is on her burnout tour AKA paperback tour and we had so much to commiserate about, having been promoting our books and hustling forever, it seems. Her perspective is always exactly what I need to hear when I see her, because she is smart and caring and honest and knows me. The rest of the day flanked by viewing apartments and a brief but cold Morgan visit. Things are changing at the speed of light and I am hoping I make it to the other side of this month in one piece.

Kozo harvest this weekend!