Friday, August 29, 2014

On other continents

[I've taken to painting one pinky, just for fun. This was a class sample from I can't remember when: several layers of paper pasted together, scrunched up and dried, dyed with kakishibu. I had the urge yesterday to run the whole thing under the faucet and open it up again.]

Struggling with stress but attempting different priorities: yoga daily, more down time, allowing myself not to work. I keep forgetting to share my sadness at losing another in the paper family. I never had the chance to meet him, but he had reached out to me to try to help promote my book in Turkey. I was shocked to hear we had lost him so soon.

Also, I have been following with deep yearning Joanne Kaar's work. She is so truly rooted in place, culture, and handwork, and does remarkable research as well as artwork and collaborations. I loved one of her recent posts and the red socks linked from her blog. So terribly curious about nalbinding, as we enter this last summer holiday weekend. I hear it will be hot, steamy, and crowded, which is exactly not how I like the climate while teaching. But it will be good to share some papermaking joy to close August.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Letting go

Once fiber is cooked, I get super stressed, knowing that there's only so much time before it turns. This escalates in the summer, though the only reason I do summer cooks is for classes (and this year, for naginata tests). We do not have a pulp fridge (or at least a fridge roomy enough for several buckets—I miss this from Chicago, Saugatuck, Boston, and other days in facilities with big sturdy fridges), so every day that has gone by for the past few weeks has wound me up tighter and tighter.

In an ideal world, I'd make paper every day to use up the pulp straightaway, and process fresh stuff for this weekend's workshop. This morning, I had a revelation: I live in the real world! We'll just use stinky pulp—with a wash of OxiClean or a touch of bleach—AND my students get to play with my dye tests. So! The first hanji class got the extra bonus of flower dyes. This second hanji class will get the fiber reactive dyes. And I will let go of the worry. This frees up my entire week, so I can recover from yesterday's dental work (THE WORST) and finally work on my own studio and admin tasks, Korea prep, and coming back to yoga. Last night was my first class since the winter, and it's good to be back.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Work and play

This was one of Ivey's pieces from Melissa's class. The title is funny ("Orange you glad I didn't say banana?") and the little bit at top was still moving when I shot it. I worked alllllll day, between waking to sleep (aside from a 2-hour meeting at midday) on this bear of a grant. I am still in recovery now; it's remarkable how exhausting these things are, when it's not just you doing it, and when it's all last minute (not my preference, but I'm not in charge). I was happy at least to have caught up with Tatiana, who just finished teaching another great dye/paper class at WSW.
My new books arrived today; I sold out during my last class. The second printing was all shrink wrapped, so less worry about damage! When I felt it was safe to walk away from grant stuff, I pulled some dyed sheets before the studio gets rearranged again for Andrea's weekend class. We cooked what I thought was supposed to be gampi but it looks suspiciously like straw. Bad news because I really need it to be gampi for an order due very soon to head to Japan.
I felt weak all day so after I brushed all the sheets onto surfaces to dry, I sat down to tackle the horribly clogged bal. Tweezers never work well, so I pulled out the toothbrush that Charity had brought in months ago after she had the job of unclogging the screen. She had thought of it at the dentist's office, I think, and brought a new one for the studio! It works like a dream. Will make this job a lot less tedious and a lot faster. It's kind of like empty nesting without her and Ivey around, but I'll be leaving myself in about a month. Completely unprepared, but trying to take it one day at a time.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The perfect Monday

I was determined to make today as studio heavy as possible. Today was just Tom and me, which is always chill and a good way to start the week (and he was able to do big work because I was the extra set of hands). I got wet early so I had to change into new socks and boots. But I had good success with Melissa's leftover dyes on sized kozo (the blue pot), not great success on old, compacted, refrigerated sized gampi (the purple pot), and dreamy wonderfulness with the dahlias (orange pot). The first two I rinsed outside during the sunny afternoon (no sunscreen, Velma! You'd be proud) and the last I am leaving overnight to sit in the dye/alum bath before rinsing tomorrow. I could easily experiment like this for the rest of my life and be completely content.
[At home, after pulling sized kozo, beating and pulling Velma's late July milkweed harvest, and then adding non-fixed dyed kozo to the milkweed dregs, I moved my work table to face the trees and get better lighting.] I selected EPS inventory for an order for woodblock printing papers, cleaned lots of containers, put kozo out to dry (I went overboard and soaked 10 pounds for the weekend hanji class, but only cooked eight—five to six would have been fine), pressed / parted / dried all of the second day's small hanji for my students, collected hibiscus and dahlia flowers, removed dry Morgan kozo from the fence, fetched lunch, and ate a bunch.
I was too busy this past weekend teaching the hanji class to take pictures, but my students were fabulous! What a wonderful class: keeping the size small made my life sooooo much easier, and focusing only on papermaking was a nice treat (though the physical exhaustion was intense). I was able to run the naginata for the class, and was fortunate to have Sonora as a fabulously helpful and cheerful assistant.
Kirstin cleaned the beater on its second run, and Sonora did it for its third. We'll definitely be running it again soon, especially now that I want to make a fresh batch of kozo/gampi paper for moku hanga folks.
My student Angela's pulled the topmost three sheets on the first day and brush dyed them on the second with dahlias and marigolds. LOVE THESE. I put them on top my display of various Asian papers this morning because I love how they match the faux gold leafing.
Marigold left, dahlia right. I was lazy and left dye bowls out for DAYS, so they were super concentrated for class. I made it home in time to do laundry, vacuum, work on sample books and mail art and paper thread prep, cook for the next few days, and even watch two shows. I have NOT really dealt with admin, but like Velma reminded me: when you only have so much energy, you have to do the important things. I really needed this day—it has been months since I pulled paper just for me!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Flower power

Marigold, dahlia, hibiscus on sized gampi (run thru the naginata). Left side has no mordant and right side has alum as a mordant.
Same dyes and positions, on unsized gampi (run thru the Hollander). That weird blue corner is reading a false color from the inadequacies of the phone camera, not what is actually on the paper.
And on unsized Morgan kozo that has been hand picked and beaten. I am so surprised by the dahlias and really love what they are doing on these sheets and on my current test sheet (no pics yet). Makes me want to do dye drawings. Last night, a friend surprised me by stopping by and I showed her some of the books I've been making. I realized that they all originated from my class with Velma, and that there is a LOT of potential, if only I could get to making a thing or two. I'm finally having ideas now that my workload is slightly less insane and less outwardly driven—this is the time I get to process what we've been doing, consider successes and failures, and plan for where this boat sails in the near and far future. So it's appropriate that we are getting sunset colors!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Back to real work

Indigo is getting a little taller. Not sure we'll really get much out of these because it has been so cool and we have short hands. There are a few zinnias in the back (right corner) and purple basil that I thought was DEAD but Kirstin noticed one bit was coming back (back left corner)! AMAZING.
Yesterday was too mosquito-y to trim seedpods and flowers. Today was gorgeous, unexpectedly, and the strong breeze kept the buggers away. I left about 10 plants to go to seed and that will give us enough for next year.
I got tired of seeing so many empty buckets in the back so I scrubbed a bunch and decided to clear the milkweed that Velma harvested a few weeks back. I trimmed it to steam and strip. Ivey came by to see dyebaths and helped me strip—we dunked them in cold water to make it easier to handle, and because I had re-read some articles last night and apparently throwing cold water on kozo after steaming makes stripping easier. It's all rinsed now, nice and green, and ready for papermaking whenever I get the chance.
Today I started cooking 4 pounds of 10 (of Thai kozo) that I am prepping for this weekend's hanji class, but the main attraction today was processing some of our dye plants. The freezer was so full of flowers and we had run out of baggies, so I figured, now or never!
We did marigolds, dahlias, and hibiscus. I absolutely love the marigold smell while harvesting and it gets even stronger while cooking.
Here they are after the cook, cooling down a bit before I skimmed a little off the tops of each one to test.
I was surprised we got anything from hibiscus, because it isn't supposed to do well frozen. I love the dahlias, and it's clear that there is no need to mess with unsized paper (I didn't even bother taking pictures of those). This is sized gampi, and the right side has a little alum. The left side, nothing. Brushed on three times. A good way to not think about the root canal retreatment I started on Monday, and a good way to process all the choices I need to make these days.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Waves of gratitude

These weeks have been a blur because they have been so incredibly full. Full of friends from out of town (Melissa and Julie are still here as I write!), full of disappointment and frustration about future plans, full of constant teaching (we've wrapped up our apprentice stays and I am so proud of what we have accomplished in their half year with us—thousands of sheets of paper, and enough left in inventory to total thousands of dollars of sales—not to mention their full grasp of the whole process of making paper and cultivating the plants necessary to make and dye them), full of relief from certain work ending and new work beginning (I was just asked to be in a show in Nebraska with one of my watershed books), full of time with local friends (kakishibu in the kitchen!), and full of incredible gifts, which you can see above:

To best ascertain the quality and versatility of the papers we produced at the Eastern Paper Studio, I asked friendly colleagues who are skilled in various media to test our samples. They have returned the results to us, and I can't stop carrying them around to show everyone (the way people carry around photos of their children). Bill tested them for joomchi, Therese tested them for calligraphy, thread, dyes, and joomchi, and Takuji tested them for woodblock printing. A Crown Point Press printer is in town on a residency, and she is going to test them for screenprinting. It's clear in the samples what works for which process, and I love the idea of our papers going out into the world and into the hands of fantastic artists who turn them into things I could not even imagine.

This is SO MUCH MORE satisfying than beta testing apps or websites or digital whathaveyou. That interacting with the rest of the world is an enormous validation for all of the hard work we put into the quiet winter months in near solitude. Charity and I inventoried the papers this week and all these memories flooded back as I handled each batch, from February to August. Not only could we feel how the seasons change the paper, but we could see the improvement in sheet formation, and remember everything that went into several production runs. Ivey and Charity have scraped enough bark to get us off to an amazing start when winter production resumes, and have gotten so good at the hardest, most tedious tasks. The former is off to graduate school and the latter resumes her graduate studies closer to home but they'll always be family.

I'm still doing final reporting type work and next week will prep for my Pure Hanji class while starting a bunch of major dental work (groan). The class filled past max so quickly that we're going to run a second section on Labor Day weekend (I know, insane. But we already have two signed up and only need two more to run it). Spread the word to the unusual people who don't take a last hurrah vacation then!

Monday, August 04, 2014

Still reeling

[Liz and Lynette are testing out Liz's fringe twister (which unleashed a whole day of jokes).] I am not sure how I survived the last several days, or last seven months, or last two years of my life. Velma and I wrapped up a great four-day class at the Morgan, though I felt like a zombie almost the entire time because I am getting so little sleep these days. Too Much Work Of The Wrong Kind: admin, negotiating, sorting out what comes next. Laundry and basic life stuff have fallen by the wayside.

But! It really WAS a wonderful class. We were granted Ideal Student Karma and had an entire class of lovely students. 11 good eggs!! That's not easy to come by. They can tell you all about the class:

Liz blogged and photographed
Jennifer did the same
Velma always does
Lotta was on Instagram
Christine blogged, too

And I know there will be more (I didn't even break it down by days; some of our friends did multiple posts, day by day!).

NOW, after starting the rest of the cleanup, I have to get to saying goodbye to my apprentices. Charity talks about it, in conjunction with the fabulous exhibit we have up. It will be hard, but a good way for me as well to ease out of my own role here and attempt to have a September off. Before I leave for Korea in October!