Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Here, there, everywhere

Reminiscing, already: this was after I taught one class, drove an hour, took a tiny nap, and rolled into another class to demo paste papers. I'm not sure I'm actually awake here.

I love these pics that Ed took of one of the days where I was out and his letterpress class visited my papermaking class and exactly what he said would happen happened: students taught each other. Love this phenomenon, especially as my students had only been making paper for about a week at this point.
I hung my show all day today. Thank goodness for Pam and Steph, who helped me in the morning and afternoon, and made the process so much more enjoyable (and possible!). It's almost done, and it looks great. I have a monster job of making the map of the show, as I decided against labels. I kept forgetting things and had to go home twice. On my second return, I was told that there was someone I had to meet, a board member. And it turns out it was my friend's husband's college buddy that I had met in the street in Portland this past spring, who was kind enough to take me to dinner with his wife and another couple before I made the decision to move here, to make a case for moving here.

Booked my flight today for San Antonio in three weeks. Tell your friends in case they want to take a weekend workshop with me! It will be fabulous because I will be so happy to be in that climate. And maybe tomorrow I'll get around to booking my NYC flight for the following weekend.

Tomorrow: more hanging, more teaching, more meetings at the Morgan, Tom's opening! No end in sight, especially as I have been assigned three articles to write for three different publications, all due in a month. Someday, I'll get to just hang out in a rocking chair and read a book. I hope that day happens sometime this year.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Sweet sorrow mixed up with beeswax

They moved like lighting today, our final day. I had no party or treats or formal evaluations or anything for them, but we did debrief a bit and the whole day the room had that sweet, sweet smell of melting wax. Wax I had bought from Jim Croft last summer. Somehow, I managed to pack up and my best helpers, two students, helped haul it all downstairs from the house to my car. I was sad to go, but ready, too. Just like when I graduated! This was a wonderful class, and despite all the things I would have done differently to make it better, I know it was good.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The noise of brain parts falling away is loud

There is the postcard I designed for my show that opens next Saturday. WHAT?! The opening is in a couple weeks and I am in complete denial. I don't even have my Cleveland mailing list in order. My priorities are completely jumbled as I sit here near midnight with piles of papers all around me, things in plastic bins all around Cleveland and Oberlin and who knows where else.
Today at Oberlin was a total comedy of errors that came from me doubting my own organizational prowess. Three students came early to help me load things from the gym/where we made paper into my car, and then I drove us to the library loading dock to unload all the bookmaking equipment and supplies. I parked, and then came up to unpack. I suddenly panicked, thinking I had left one bag of paper in my trunk, so I sent Student #1 with my keys to fetch them from my car.
Then, we needed another table, so I sent Student #2 and #3 to the gym to get one. Then, I realized that I had indeed brought the paper, so I sent Student #4 to intercept Student #1. Except she went to the wrong parking lot. Then, I thought that the table fetchers needed my keys, so I sent Student #1 to the gym, where she waited and waited and finally called me. Then I called the others, who had found each other and were already lugging the table across campus. The disaster didn't end there, because I forgot to get my keys back, so I was locked out of the classroom and couldn't call for my keys for a while, finally called, waited to get them, and rushed back to my apt to swap out supplies and load my car to get to Cleveland tonight. And eat lunch. AND find out that I had miscommunicated with someone who was expecting me for a meeting that I did not make.
At least my students seem not to be exceedingly perturbed by all the things falling out of my head. I did make it back to Cleveland in time to unload my car, put away the things that had come back to the Morgan a day earlier via van, and pick up mail. Then I got to meet with our fabulous blacksmith to review our bark scraping prototype, which gave me all kinds of ideas about including him in educating all of us about tools. Kirstin was cleaning out her food in the fridge, and was going to trash two old bananas, but I took them from her and calmed down tonight by baking banana chocolate chip oatmeal coconut pecan muffins. I'm still terribly behind, but at least it smelled nice for a while.

Friday, January 17, 2014

A snowy TGIF

Visited the Nature Center yesterday to see the space where I will have my solo show, opening in just two weeks. I got some milkweed, just a bit, to show to my students at Oberlin. I walked a bit, but it was brrr, so mostly I stayed inside in front of the fire.
Alchemy : seed : silk : stem : leaf opens Feb 1, with a reception on Fri, Feb 7 (5:30-7:30pm). I'll be there and will do a demo at 6:30pm with plant papermaking. If I can harvest enough to do so!
I was so wiped out yesterday from teaching printmaking, three meetings, a dinner, admin, and class prep, that I decided to stay in Cleveland one more night and then just head to Oberlin early today. Extreme anxiety caused me to rise at 6am, get gas, and hit the road in darkness. It was beautiful, actually. The moon was just right. Today: more marbling.

They are all really so much better at this than I will ever be (mostly because my interests are elsewhere).
Three ladies helped me with the milkweed (in the tiny pot on the floor). It amazes me to no end how quickly work is done with many hands.
After cleaning up the space and reconfiguring, we started a bit of book stuff. Paper, grain, folding, cutting, three structures. Lots of yawning, which made me realize that we have been so very physical and moving and on our feet. Very little sitting in chairs. I wonder if we would all learn better with less sitting in chairs.
I was completely wiped out and could barely even throw my samples into my car, but managed to crawl out of bed after relaxing for a bit so that I could see Liora's swim meet. I'm so glad I went! It was endlessly inspiring, and always fun to see half naked, very fit athletes working hard. All my recent excessive worrying fell away and I felt like I was watching people as they were: fish.
I walked to the gym and back, as it has been snowing, and because I don't exercise anymore. Recently, a friend in the Cleveland area was attacked and beaten badly by two men. That makes me even more grateful for nights like this in Oberlin where I can run through the quiet snow, eat some, and make it home unscathed. A long weekend ahead, of art making.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Fall down, get up, repeat

On Sunday, I took my first walk of the year. Awful that I walk SO LITTLE, and, of course, I got about 40 paces out before I wiped out on an icy patch of sidewalk and fell on my ass. I hit the same injury site from earlier in the week, and I could have just turned around to lay down but I had to walk. And am so glad I continued! It was amazing that I got to places I had never, ever visited when I was at Oberlin as a student, as close as they are (now they seem close. Then, anything off campus seemed so terribly far away).
I of course saw this and wandered further in.
And wished I met a sign like this earlier on my walk!
I got around the entire tiny reservoir on an icy path but this one around the second reservoir, I skipped. I was so grateful for a Sunday all to myself (Saturday I opened up the studio in the afternoon for a few students), and made a new piece that I am very happy about.
Come Monday, we retired the kozo and they are now in a bucket labeled KOZO BALLS.
This is my first week of crazy shuttling back and forth between Cleveland and Oberlin, but here are some paste papers that my students managed in less than an hour after I hurried back from my first printmaking class at Notre Dame. Tomorrow, a full day of papermaking, lunch with a friend in town, and a board meeting presentation at the Morgan. Plus a work dinner. We unfortunately had two of our accepted interns decline, but I'm still very happy with the two we have slated to begin in a couple of weeks. Would be happier with more sleep and less commuting, but it's always good to meet promising students everywhere.

Friday, January 10, 2014

A pulpy TGIF!

I survived my first full week at Oberlin! And everyone else, too. Next week will be the real test, as I juggle this class with another one over an hour away. I pigmented kozo today for students and couldn't stop laughing as they struggled with the PMP vs retention aid battle of coagulation. All good lessons, always. Bella is in the corner beating away. She rinsed both batches of Morgan fiber: scraped, and black/green bark. Then, she beat both batches. So quiet, so methodical.
But it was well worth it! She was so very pleased with both batches. The scraped bark gives a pleasing green tone and the super bark-y paper is a lot of fun, too (she is starting that vat here).
Liora and Elizabeth in simultaneous couching mode. Thank goodness for the PVC table risers that Betsy shared with us.
We've sprawled into the entire locker room beyond the small gang shower and changing room space that we are occupying for Winter Term. Because there is no extinguisher in place anymore, I told my students to go ahead and dry onto this door as well. They are so into the papermaking that they asked for weekend time. If I had nothing else to do, I'd give them full weekend days, but trying to be reasonable to my own workload, I agreed to open up for them in the afternoon.

In the meantime, I heard that the classroom where I'm slated to teach next week in South Euclid had a pipe burst and flood and ceiling replacement. !!! There goes the semester schedule, even before it starts. The good news is that we accepted some fabulous interns for the EPS program, and they are as excited as we are to welcome them in February. The best news is I got to take a nap today after class. I am terribly excited for a weekend at Oberlin to make work, catch up on work, and make work.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Cleveland day

I was so busy today that I completely forgot to snap some shots while my Oberlin class visited the Morgan. They met Seth, our local blacksmith, who joined us for the tour that I conducted. Then I took them into the bindery to show them my hanji display, and jumped into joomchi demos. After lunch (when a student helped me empty the two pots of Morgan kozo, white and bark, that I cooked in the morning before they arrived), I did a clamp dyeing demo with kakishibu, onion skins, hand-ground ink, and water-based colors. And then it was already time to pack up, load pulp and papermaking equipment for next week's Western segment, and visit Zygote. Eric so kindly invited us to visit the amazing wood engraving show that opens tomorrow for a sneak peek. He did a quick tour of the space plus a lovely intro on wood engraving before I had to run back to the Morgan to conduct two more interviews for our new apprentice program. Then I had the task of cleaning up and sorting all of the (mostly) dry work by my students, packing everything to head back to Oberlin, and then getting trapped inside for a while. This is the second night in a row where I have been locked into the Morgan because of the icy door. Yikes. I finally managed to escape and get through the new snow to unload at least four trips from the car to my Oberlin apt, make an order for my printmaking class that starts next week at Notre Dame, and erase half my inbox (though I know it will grow back with a vengeance in no time).

Tomorrow: one more intense teaching day, and then a breather from teaching, though I'll have to dive right into prep for a new semester starting and tackling solo show artwork! Among other things, like a bit of sleep.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Papermaking at Oberlin, at last!

I love firsts. As much as we have to constantly move furniture around, I am so delighted with the setup in the old gang shower/changing room at Hales Gymnasium (no longer used as such, but still in use by a many different groups and people. I'm fairly certain that this is the first time this space has been set up to make paper. I was a little worried on the first morning when hooking up the hoses, and thought for a good long time that the shower was very dirty but later realized that these pipes have not been used in YEARS and years. So the whole talk about, "Rinse the fiber until the water runs clear," doesn't work here. The water is very decidedly .... not clear. Our PMP is yellow orangey. But it all still works.
I never, ever get to do this for classes, so it was a good experiment: I brought two soaked pounds of Morgan kozo, harvested in November, for them to scrape. And scrape they did! Even with the poor ergonomics and terrible knives, I heard nothing but quiet as they worked at this.
The women went straight to scraping as the men went straight to beating (there's one station in the other room). These two showed me why the tables were totally wrong for a certain height. I am so bad at remembering these things: people are taller and shorter than me, and not everyone likes to stand and work.
Luckily, Betsy, who is in charge of the intramural athletics and recreation in the building, came by and noticed the issue. She left us table risers in the morning on Day 2, so we were able to rig one table for our taller students.

[Pre-rising.] The shower room ends up feeling like a steam sauna: there are windows that let in tons of sunlight, and there is a very strong heater right on the ceiling. It's hilarious to me that we're purposely doing this class in the winter but actually the conditions are like summertime. But we're not complaining, especially after severe lows that caused Oberlin to stay closed until noon today, pushing our class time later into the day. I felt so badly for the students who walk (which would be all but one). But they amaze me because they Don't Complain.
This is after Betsy came down and told me about chairs I could snag upstairs. I hadn't even THOUGHT about chairs. I am so used to being in spaces with chairs somewhere, and just figured everyone had to stand and work all day every day. But that's not true at all! And today, I had the students take all of the scraping platforms and use them more like bench hooks, so they were scraping on flat 2x4s. This platform is based on a Korean model, and Koreans sit on the floor with the platform. No Americans do that, so all we need are planks of wood.
Day 1 involved scraping, rinsing, and beating. They only made paper in the last two hours or so, but got right to work. This is when I realized I needed more tables and probably more vats. And pellons. And so on. Which is why I scheduled their Morgan field trip for the first week, so we can pick up the other things we need. I am so excited about them getting to see the space, as cold as it will be. I'll bring their scraped Morgan kozo + green/black bark so we can cook it there where the water is less orange, and then bring it back on Friday to have the satisfaction of processing local fiber that was scraped so arduously!
Day 1. I am always amazed by the caliber of Oberlin students. I know that this is something that faculty say all the time, about why they stay here, or live in a tiny town in the middle of cornfields, or any of it. But every time I return and get to interact with the students, I feel so proud of my alma mater. They are smart, polite, helpful, proactive, intense, and serious. I showed them how to clean things yesterday, and today, they would just start cleaning without even being prompted. This probably says more about the kinds of students I usually teach than anything else, but after only two days with 8 current students and 1 alumnus, I am already terribly fond of them.
The windows are all covered with paper, the restraint dryer is full, three clothelines are full of pellons and drying paper, and the whole place is clean. It's such luxury to have this extended time to do all of these steps (though admittedly, the beating is hard to tolerate in these acoustics). Two more days of straight eastern + a field trip, and next week we go to western formation. I like it this way, instead of the usual west to east curriculum. The two of us with cars shuttled the rest home tonight, and I was shocked when one student told me that it would be 65 degrees by Sunday or Monday. As long as we get out of the Risk To One's Life To Be Outdoors For More Than Five Minutes temperatures, I'm happy. I've never been so excited for it to be 4 degrees.

Oh! The info for my March 1 gig in NYC is live now: Experience Korea at the American Museum of Natural History.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

New digs

Growing up in apartment buildings and generally being averse to this kind of work means that I had never shoveled snow until last Friday at the Morgan. I thought I would be kind and make it easier for Mason and Kirstin to help me load a van full of rental equipment headed to Oberlin. The real cold settling upon us means that, finally, it's warmer inside of the Morgan (heaters are set at 45 degrees F) than it is outside.
I insisted on treating the Morganites to lunch at the Feve after unloading the paper mill into the basement of the old gym here. I'll be teaching a 3-week paper/book intensive for Oberlin students in the old gang shower area of a locker room. A Grand Experiment!
Because of the scary storm and cold headed our way today, I dashed out of Cleveland as soon as I got packed this morning, and had an easy drive to Oberlin. This is Shansi House, where I am so graciously being housed for the duration of my class. I immediately felt an enormous wave of peace once I hauled everything to my second-floor apartment, like all the stress that has been building up for the last few months fell away. I am only realizing now that this is what I had become very accustomed to: leaving for residencies where everything is taken care of for me. This is familiar ground, something I thought I had to give up to settle down in Cleveland. Now I have both, reminiscent of my new year's in Korea, where I had the love motel in the boonies and my apt in Seoul. Someday, maybe, I'll figure out to have it all in one location. Because it's getting hard to have so many sets of travel toiletries....
These were directly responsible for most of my freshman 15 all those years ago. I will probably relive it, but like Velma says, it's okay if I gain weight this winter. I am over the moon to be in walking distance of everything I need. Some students are stranded in their hometowns, unable to fly as planned today because they route through Chicago, which is getting slammed. But now that I'm in zen mode, I'm not worried about it.
I came here twice to run errands and laughed at this. I didn't lose my phone in it (my sweetheart managed to get my phone out of the piano just in time for 2014, thank goodness, though I found out that a friend called me on purpose while it was trapped inside, just because he thought it would be funny to know that a piano was ringing somewhere in the world). But because of my excessive workload, many things have fallen out of my brain. I lost the headphones to my phone and have no idea where they might be. Today, I bought sharpies for class, opened the package, and promptly threw the pens away. Then I spent the next few hours looking for them until I realized what did. I called security to let me into the old gym to unload the rest of the stuff in my car, and left the heaviest buckets in the backseat because I was in a rush. The lists are endless.

But for now, I have a cup of tea, four bedroom windows, and beautiful textiles from all over Asia hanging in the living spaces. Life has calmed for a moment, just in time!