Thursday, October 30, 2014

Halloween's eve

More leaves have fallen but there are still lots of colors held aloft for now. Those windows look into my bedroom, where I've been hiding for days and days in between lessons and meals and communal time.
My teacher split all this wood and stacked it and made the straw cover.
For whatever reason, I've been told NOT to drink the water here, so we go through lots of bottled water. They only burn paper trash here; the rest of the garbage and recycling goes down with them when they go to town.
I had no idea what was going on with the pine needles over a container of honey (I think), and they were taking tape off of the sides of this and she told me to come with them up behind the house and then I said, what's that? And when they said, the beehive, I ran away.
One piece of my stress here has been brokering a big sale of woven paper objects from California to here.
Who knew that I'd end up repatriating all of this? My teacher hopes to open a museum here and has already picked up ideas and put them into his teapot (there was a little blue "point" woven into a basket that I thought was great—like an error, or signature, or little wave).
Meanwhile the acorn saga continued. This is after the gathered, dried, shelled, soaked acorns are ground. The mush is spread about to dry.
And be broken up into powder as it dries, for storage.
When you're ready to make muk (kind of like jello but also not at all), there's a process of adding water and heat (and a tiny bit of salt and oil), kind of like making paste, and then cooling.
Flipped over and out of the container that makes its shape.
He wants to point out that it just jiggles but doesn't fall apart, like the commercial stuff you can buy at the store. That's the only kind I've ever eaten, and this kind is SO much better.
Usually eaten with soy sauce to taste. We ate this almost in lieu of dinner. I learned today about a chili recipe where you have to poke a hole into the tip of each pepper with an needle to allow the flavoring to permeate! So much handwork in all the cooking here, too. No surprise.
My stealth piece growing
 and growing
Finally finished it tonight (the small one)! I emerged from my room and my teacher said, "What's that?!" And the secret was finally out. He was mostly ... well, it's hard to explain. He acted like I was a huge pain in the ass and a crazy person for doing it, but he was kind enough to put the rope onto it. I explained I wanted to practice more and also make a double-walled version, and he said it didn't turn out well (I agree). His wife tried to be nice and say, "Isn't it wonderful to have a student like Aimee who works so hard?" and I said, "No, it's distressing," and he agreed. He said, "Is this why you've been locked in your room all this time?! Don't your hands hurt? Agh!" I had a good series of laughs.
Meanwhile, this guy was ready for its handle.
Start the first loop
And then the rest of it has to be woven on the pot itself, which is annoying (and I was annoyed also with myself for not pulling cords to counteract the twist early on, so the handle is misshapen).
 getting there
The best news: Bum finally came back last night after running away twice to be with his lady friend. Now all's right with the world. I liked seeing him sleep out in the sun today. And now I can stop overdoing it by weaving double time. I get a bit of a break now, though I have to cut down and make at least 200 cords by Sunday night. But that seems like a huge break given how much I've been doing lately.

Also, more washi has been recognized by UNESCO!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


I knew it was a bad idea to avoid posting because I was weaving too much. Now there is too much to share. Like this 46cm pizza that comes with a ruler printed onto the box to prove it!
My teacher and his wife brought this back from Wonju last Friday (he teaches there twice a month and it takes at least 3 hours each way).
The neighbor from the house below came to help with some crop and came in for coffee. To show her that the lacquered teapot that my teacher made really works, we added water. This one is especially amazing because it has a tea leaf strainer inside!
Harvested and drying on the veranda.
 Just the tiny ones.
 Acorn harvest from the mountains.
They need to be dried, shelled, ground, and then soaked in water, with the water changed constantly to remove excess tannins, before the meal is heated with just the right amount of water, to cool to a jelly.
The chilis take forever to harvest, slice open, de-seed, and dry.
This batch was covered in flour and maybe some sugar and then steamed outside, but the pot was too full and not all of it got properly steamed. Now it's out to dry on the lawn.
On our walk this morning, my teacher's wife picked two red tomatoes for us. I'm pretending I just picked the one but I didn't.
Today's lunch. Beautiful and delicious. Broth made from dried anchovies and kelp.
This was a few days ago. I love the mist everywhere, always.

So many of these leaves have fallen! This is one of my favorite spots on the hike.
The gingko tree on the way home (the final incline is brutal!).
Meanwhile, the teapot, my nemesis.

All its leftover cords. But we're only a third done, as it needs a lid and handle. But those are not as hard as the body. I learned a LOT and am getting schooled in what I think in knitting is called short rows (and of course I can't knit those...yet, hopefully!). The spout, of course, is the hardest. There were times I wanted to kill something because the weaving gets very difficult in cramped spaces. But it looks not as bad as it did while I was working on it. The base of the spout is entirely too big, but that's because I was learning from making large mistakes.
Also, I was a little distracted (with weary hands) because I have been secretly working on another crooked gourd. My teacher had done a bunch of the other one for me, AND he said that it should be two layers, so I figured I would take offcuts and attempt a smaller version. This one is a little rounder (also something I wanted to practice) and though I'm worried that the second layer will make it too thick, still want to try.
I couldn't keep my secret from his wife because I am bad at keeping secrets, so when he left to go pick up Bum (he ran away to find a dog in heat—he had been howling for her at nights—and has been gone for almost two days. Turns out he went to a neighbor's place, so at least we know where he is), I ran outside to take a few pictures of the gourd before the first layer disappears.