Saturday, March 28, 2015

Yay for these

Moving along with making cords, though you can only tell from the disappearing pile of strips. The growing pile of cords looks mostly the same (I know, doesn't help my case if I shoot from above).

Good news lately:

1. Cold but sunny (despite yesterday's snow)!

2. Steph's MFA thesis is up through today in Iowa and it's gorgeous, sensitive, stunning. So proud of her! She's off to Korea this summer to study the language in preparation for further research on Korean books/paper/printing. I've loved watching her grow and how dedicated she is to the process.

3. I donated a little knitted print to the annual benefit for the Center for Book Arts in NYC. I can't make it to the party but hopefully lots of people will attend! Here's the FB page for it; share away.

Happy weekend!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Strange slump

Last night, I had a nightmare about thousands of starving people in loincloths sitting outside of my childhood home. Needless to say, I'm in a poor mood today. The grey and rain doesn't help, because now my new walking route is less attractive as an option for exercise. I know it's been a while since I've been here, but I honestly did not know until a few days ago the proximity and niceness of having water around. I've walked down streets I never knew existed that I drive past all the time. There are stunning houses (in the other direction, the sites of heinous crimes and a city in great distress). One day I saw a pair of geese slowly walking across a big road. The next day, a pair swimming. This is a little stream I've never noticed until I was on foot.
My other new obsession is learning to cook tastier vegetarian meals. I've always had a small mortar and pestle but never used it, so I was over the moon to choose new spices that I've eaten but never lived/cooked with. Also, I spun up and wove the rest of the logwood dyed Japanese paper from Tatiana's demo. Because of this sudden fixation on all that happens in my kitchen, I've also felt the urge to get things that I've always gotten by without, but while thrifting today, couldn't bring myself to buy a salad spinner. Still felt too decadent (and space hogging). But I've eaten marvelously well this week!
The entire zodiac was not available, but my sign is way below so I was happy. Last weekend, I went to visit the site that will become the marvelous new fiber studio in town: Praxis. Jessica is the ED and founder and incredible ball of energy behind it all, and I not only got to see the space under renovation but her new home in the neighborhood. She is really serious about investing in a place, and has done so with her personal and professional life with so much gusto and commitment that it makes me wish we could all be this way. But it's not in the cards for me, at least not yet.
The lighting is terrible, but here is the stage behind the front windows, where the looms are hanging out for now. They have a beautiful new sink, will have a dye garden out back, individual studios almost ready to paint, and so much space! It's going to be stunning.
I don't have a place to hang my hanji dress so it's just hanging out for now on the wall. Though I promised myself some calm time, I still feel there is too "quiet" stuff to do! If I want to cook something, I need to get a new knife. If I want to sew more paper, I have to buy a sewing machine. There are letters and reports to write, files to file, endless life minutiae. I have also been to the dentist three times in the last three weeks and the end is not in sight. And now it's snowing again. But last night I read a beautiful book that I heard about while in Korea and I am so glad I found it yesterday after yoga: Brown Girl Dreaming. So maybe I'll give up on everything else this afternoon and get back to reading a book on paper that is also brilliant. Let me lean on a book.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Slow goals

There are 288 pairs of strips of kon'nyaku-coated hanji left in this basket (I already corded the half that was in the rest of the basket). The booklet next to it is an amazing little publication from Paper Nao about hanji and washi in Korean and Japanese.
Now that I know I'll have two solid weeks in June to work (aka weave, though I know I might get distracted with other possibilities out there), I figure I should get as many cords ready to go as possible. This is the stash so far.
Though the literal housecleaning hasn't happened yet (but it will soon; I can't live with such dirty floors for long!), I continued my artwork upcycling and purging now that my solo show is over and everything is back. Tomorrow a few things go out in the mail. One piece that I suspected for years was upside down (I even had my photographer shoot it both ways) revealed its true nature today. It took a leak from a past apartment to ruin the top/bottom of it in such a way that when I tore off the damage, the real piece finally emerged. Then I reworked my blue wall so that I can stay calm while laying in bed. Someday when I'm not paying thousands of dollars for dental work, I can spend thousands of dollars on proper framing. For now, clips and dowels and monofilament are my best hanging buddies.

Nothing gets finished as fast as I'd like, but on a brief walk today in the sun, I thought impatiently about how I need to learn some patience.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Another road to equilibrium

[The way up to my alcove room at my Chicago b&b after I returned from Iowa City.] Still very behind on work but feeling a burden lifted now that I have clean laundry drying in the sun. In a couple of hours, I may be booking yet another appearance for a conference but at least it's not far. I am so very sick and tired of suitcase living, and even spent time on Monday morning composing some kind of game for people to guess how long I can actually stay in one place at one time. Turns out I didn't even have time to shape the reward for the winner, because I found out yesterday afternoon that I got the perfect residency, which begins in 10.5 weeks! It was really the only one I thought would fit in with my new attempt to work at home, and will take me to the ocean in Maine. My gift for forgoing winter vacations, I like to think!
Here is some of a huge piece of paper artwork by Julie in her stepson's fancy dental practice. This is on the hygienists' side of the office and spans at least four (maybe five?) chairs. This morning, I had a more difficult than expected visit to the dentist to re-cement my temporary crown. I wish the sounds could be muffled or that I could be sedated for all of these procedures. After shipping a defective phone and failing to find a bank in the area, I treated myself to a croissant and gave up on outside errands.
Right before my last lunch with a friend in Chicago, I roamed a part of town that I had previously only equated with feeling unsafe, crime, credit card problems, and general ickiness. It's not so gritty anymore and I needed a walk. Early on my walk I saw a nail salon and had a sudden desire to sit down for a manicure—unusual for me. I fought the urge for almost an hour while I walked and walked and circled back, until finally indulging. 100% worth it. My last dinner in Chicago was with Deborah and Shawn, so I was excited that I came home to his new trade book on top of my mailbox! Yesterday, I went to Oberlin to pick up my show, drop off paper from the workshop with Tatiana, lunch with old students, see the new printshop, and pop into Kristina's new studio.

I bumped into my old drawing professor, who said that there is no way I'm going to "settle down" unless I can draw people to me. He had told me a few years ago that my body was a library of knowledge about Korean paper traditions, and repeated this idea yesterday, that I can only share all of this embedded expertise if I am out in the world. I do love being out in the world, but I also love being at home. Here's to my 10-week attempt to be here before the next launch.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

All about Julie

Aside from me complaining about messing up my blog template irreparably by accidentally clicking the wrong button in a sleepless haze and having a temporary crown fall out, this is about my good friend and excellent artist Julie McLaughlin! Today, she drove us out to Waterloo Center for the Arts to see her stunning solo show that opened a few days ago. I don't have to say anything else but look:

Here are more pictures that I shot on my cell phone if you want to see the entire show. If you are in the vicinity, you must see the show in person. Must! I am so glad I made this trip solely to do so, and hope more people do that because it's totally worth it.

Friday, March 13, 2015

The good pics come tomorrow

The rest of my Chicago time was packed to the hilt with excellent visits with old and new friends. I walked past my old building (the one on the left), where I saw the construction across the street that makes me thankful not to live there anymore. I spent a lot of time dodging dog poop, marveling at how warm it kept getting, and talking to people. This included a visit to Andrew Bae Gallery and a treatment with a past bodyworker. We had a great crowd for my talk, and then I got to dine with Shawn and Melissa until the restaurant closed.
Sarah pulled apart her bal teul prototype before I could photograph it but she did a great job! Wow. Very close to the Korean original (which is not even being made anymore by the last remaining maker of bal and teul). After breakfast yesterday with an old friend, I went over to Union Station to wait for the Megabus to Iowa City. I napped briefly twice before unloading for my fun trip to see Julie and Mike! Today we lunched with Tim and his students before heading to UI for my talk, which was such a luxury: rarely do I get to talk paper to paper folks (this means getting to skip lots of explanation for basic things and delve into explanation for more advanced things).
Afterwards, we went to visit Steph Rue's workspace where she is in the home stretch of completing her MFA thesis (her show opens very soon but I'll miss it). I'm laying here in bed, full from an excellent dinner with Iowa folks, and excited to finally see Julie's show tomorrow—the whole reason for my visit here!

Also, my only summer workshops this year will be at the Morgan in Cleveland (this lady is very tired of being a roadshow). They are finally live!

Hanji: June 20-21

4-day extravaganza with Velma: June 25-28

Sample books: July 18-19

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


Yesterday was all day drum leafing with a hanji lecture before lunch at the museum and then walking too much to run too many errands afterwards. No pictures because I was so hot and tired and still adjusting. This morning, I walked through the park to get to school, and it was foggy.
After giving a talk about my artists' books and showing some live samples, I started the demo for making paper yarn/thread and everyone was off to the races. Thank goodness for the extra bobbin winders from the fibers department!
She got this really, really quickly. Zip, zip, zip!
They went to the wood shop for scraps of wood and we had some rusty finishing nails and a hammer for anyone who wanted to try a quick hand at a stump loom a la Velma.
After I had made a square of shifu to leave behind as a sample, I got to roam around the museum for a bit. I tested the layout and signage by going in blind and just following wall markers. I always feel so happy when I find the Korean art (though this section was just ceramics, but with some stunning pieces. I liked the contemporary vase with pairs of ducks indicated by fingertips swished through glaze). When I got back, everyone tried making one hanji cord. They were pretty good! And almost everyone immediately dropped to the floor to do it. Funny sight. I turned around and when I looked back, all the heads were gone because they were at table height. An industrious, skilled class.

Aside from busy students and very dedicated staff and teachers, I have to say that a great perk here has been fantastic food. Yu-um all around, and a nice variety. Helps that even though I am not getting enough sleep, I don't have to worry about eating.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Boom boom boom

I have heard for years that Tatiana is an excellent teacher (she also beats kozo more meticulously than anyone I know). I had never gotten a chance to see her at work until yesterday, and I can confirm that she is the most wonderful of teachers as well as an incredible co-teacher. I enjoyed myself immensely in a way you only can when you sincerely like, admire, and trust your partner.
After Friday's lecture, which was a funny precursor to the workshop because the auditorium was very, very cold (I had to use a lot of energy controlling my voice so it didn't shake with my shivering), we prepared a Saturday workshop of beating kozo, pulling sheets, and dyeing paper (not what we made, but a nice Okawara handmade that Tatiana uses for her dyeing classes).
It's always fun to see mordants in action. Tatiana's setup was meticulous and this was on top of her battling a cold, and having been delayed five hours on the previous day at the airport.
Kevin at left is the new Asian art curator at the art museum at Oberlin, and Katie is a chemistry professor there (she and I used to play violin in the orchestra when we were students! She still plays while my violin languishes). It was so great to have a chemist be able to explain hydrogen bonding in a way that I never could.
We had a paintings conservator as well, along with an art professor, Japanese professor, librarian, athletics director, assistant director of a non-profit that promotes understanding between Asians and Americans, and students who study East Asian studies, art, biology, and environmental studies.
We shared a delicious dinner at a nearby Chinese restaurant where we must have ordered something like 12-15 dishes. Hot plates just kept emerging from the kitchen and I was too tired to NOT eat. After dropping Tatiana at the hotel and saying goodbye, I had the hardest time packing because I was so sleepy that it was hard to sort everything without just falling over to nap. Thankfully, I had zero glitches in my travel to Chicago today and spent the afternoon running errands and eating two dinners. It's a trip to be back here after almost ten years; the adventure commences tomorrow morning, bright and early!

Oh, and my Iowa City lecture is online: Friday afternoon, right before spring break!

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Final prep day

Tomorrow, Tatiana flies to town and we will set up for our weekend workshop before heading west to Oberlin for our lecture and dinner. It's an amazing amount of prep for a 4-hour workshop, and I wondered today why we agreed to do it in the middle of the semester when everyone just wants to escape to the beach. BUT I'm excited nevertheless (mostly just to hang out with her).
Tom shows off the new store space at the Morgan. Construction has been going on since last year but there is an end in sight. This space used to be the sink-less kitchen and some office space. Now it's a high-ceilinged, carpeted, beautifully lit space with fancy glass French doors and huge windows (not the ones pictured here). By April, everything will be done and you will marvel at the changes!
After getting carried away at the Bolt & Spool stash party, I actually followed through on my tests with old sushi mats to see if any of these fabric samples would work as watermarks. The left one and the top brown one worked. The other one didn't. Charity was kind enough to pick up gorilla glue so that I could add weather stripping tape to our little student sugetas that accommodate sushi mat sus, so hopefully going forward (starting this weekend!), students will be less frustrated with sheets that previously were almost impossible to couch.

After all the Oberlin hoopla, I fly to Chicago on Sunday for a very intense schedule. The only good thing about the time change this weekend (aside from later daylight) is that it will be canceled out by the time zone change heading west. I won't need to change my watch!

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Sunday + snow = slowdown

My hanji dress made it back safely and I already showed pictures to the shop where I got the pattern (where I also got lots of fabric from the stash party that happened to be going alongside Christine's opening for her lovely exhibit).
One of my shopping trips in NJ was to the Korean bedding store that carries buckwheat hull pillows. I poured some out of one pillow, still trying to get the ideal loft for my head. Haven't figured it out, but the remaining hulls will go into a pillow (if I ever get around to getting a borrowed sewing machine into this space).
They were sitting around for a long time, but I finally bound bark lace into another book. Intentionally wonky.
Yet to be filled. I woke up to another white out, snow falling endlessly. So much for any plans to leave the house. I'll be lucky if I take out the trash and recycling. But glad for nature giving me an excuse to rest a bit more.