Monday, August 31, 2015

Trauma drama

A car drove into my car last week, so I have been a mess for days. My limbs are intact but my heart has been pumping harder than ever and my mind, oh, my mind! Velma, ever sensitive and sensible and wise, suggested that I go look for real ducks. I saw them but didn't have binoculars to really see them. But I got a pair this weekend AND the details on an iris eradication next month that will become a harvest for me.
This is the first of a new series of ducks that look behind in the marvelous way that they can. I wish I could do that with my head.
The morning of the accident, before I knew anything awful would happen, I finished this book. And my first indigo duck. Both of those gave me great pleasure—a culmination of years of figuring things out technically and so on. Trying to hold onto that feeling as I wade through the challenging parts.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Paddle away

Charity gave me this tiny pencil topper duck last week! So sweet.
This is the last dahlia duck (the paper thread is helping it sit up). Now I'll start using the indigo paper for the bodies themselves instead of just the bills. I'm hoping to get at least three wee ones. If I'm lucky, I'll squeeze out a fourth, but my stash of those cords are limited. I could dye some more cords at Praxis, but I want to see how this batch turns out first.
Here are the six dahlia-dyed ones plus a stray larger random one of leftover cords (from a batch of vintage washi courtesy of Paper Connection). Guess what else is multiplying? Fall and winter workshops at the Morgan! You can scroll down for the newest offerings here. Mine will be:

Milkweed papermaking in November

Miniature book and slipcase in February

Natural dyes on paper in February

And the rest of my schedule is here. 

I promised myself a weaving break today because I felt something go in my left hand yesterday while working on the last duck. But after rest and arnica, more ducks begin next week!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Delayed reactions

I have been spent lately, in the process of working hard yet sometimes looking back and wondering what I have to show for all of that work. Last week, we cleaned an old bathtub that Tom found and tested it out. It's the perfect size for small hanji making. Now we just need to build a stand and crossbar for it. Then we set up the big vat for the Korean film crew coming to see how hanji is flourishing at the Morgan. We ran a great free event (with pizza! The first time our guests had had American pizza) and everyone got to play at the vat.
After that, I stayed in bed all day last Sunday. This week, I was terrorized by a single huge roach at home, which threw me off entirely. But I did manage to read lots and lots of Korean history while hiding at cafes and the library, host a dinner for friends, and make a duck. After doing this one, I realized that my ducks all turn left!
So I made another one yesterday, to ease the frustration of other demons taking over my life. This one turns right, and now the newest two can be friends. I have to prepare a show in less than two months, plus way too many large applications and some serious writing, so there is some serious discipline I need to implement ... as soon as I finish the next duck!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

A paddling is growing

I made the Sunday paper this past weekend! Thanks to Cleveland's Plain Dealer.
More of Gus Chan's great photography. The hanji vat will be up and running this Saturday as well. If you're in Cleveland, come by for a special free event from 10am-4pm at the Morgan! A Korean film crew will be shooting footage of me teaching Americans to make hanji.
Melissa taught the most heavenly porch kozo class yesterday afternoon. Perfect weather, nice breeze, the best company (Pam and Yuko), good food, cookies, and some ducks. I wanted them to see the ones I had at home.
The first tiny one was disappointing to me in proportion, so I started a new one immediately. I stayed up until 2am on Monday night because of the weaving (and also to weave out frustrations about non-joyful things in my life).
The new one is better proportioned. Both have dahlia-dyed bodies. They fit in my hands and I am pleased. A new Japanese kozo duck began yesterday on the porch, and a new mini paper duck began last night at home. I still have lots to learn but it's going faster (well, now that they're smaller!).

Friday, August 07, 2015

Farewell to a best friend

Yesterday, I sold a book that I never thought I'd sell. Many, many people had asked to buy it and I either refused or quoted a very high price. Everyone has a number, they say. It has been almost a decade since I made this book, my very first knitted paper book. And it is perfect. I think it is by far my best knitted book in every way. It's not easy to say goodbye but easier knowing that it's going to a good home. A year after I made it, I met my 7th grade English teacher in Wyoming, who said that I should post not only pictures of my books, but the words that I write. He thought I was a very good writer in 7th grade. This particular sestina, written for this book, was about grieving for a friend; we had had a terrible falling out, much more painful than the unraveling of any romantic relationship. She and I both have common names but no one can spell them correctly.
Our names are spelled unexpectedly
A sestina

Remembering is often painful. I sit
too much, feeling my sciatic flare up when I wish
for memories to change over time.
I try to tie
my life together,
try to stitch and weave and knit and sew.

At the table, I keep knitting. When I stand every so
often, I knit. Again, sitting,
I knit. I think about when we lived together
and I don't wish
for that again. Tie
another knot. Think about a different time.

Think about harvesting the garden, hoping for thyme
but finding mint and sage instead. Your mother sewed
a costume for your son. Perhaps I could gather and tie
all the sage together to dry, and smudge this place where I sit.
You thought differently of me. I wished
you knew how I really felt. We ate together.

What you remember of me, I don't want to know. To gather
those thoughts would be a waste of time.
I wish,
I sew,
I sit,
I tie.

I do all that to remember, and forget. Tying
all those knots together,
I weave through our fights. I've been sitting
too long again. I check the time
on the big red clock above. I check myself, so
as not to store too much poison. Remedies, though, are wishful.

I will always wish
for you to understand me fully. Ties
between us were sewn
loosely, it seems. Ripping rows does not upset me anymore. Knitted together,
the paper I've twisted and now twist again around needles, I wait for time
to move faster to separate us so that it doesn't hurt when I sit.

I will never stop sewing, though I may stop wishing
for painless hours when I sit. Maybe then, my ties
to you will blend together with other knots of love. I will be patient. All in time.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Pressing work

Everything feels urgent these days, especially now that I get close to some very big events that have to be well planned, yet all I would like to do is make more ducks. The new one is on the left, talking to the one born in Maine in June. How is it already two months later?
This beak is dahlia dyed rather than persimmon. I had intended to do the entire head that color but then I couldn't resist trying to make a pair, finally. No promises, though, because the body may turn out to say it needs to swim solo.
I like to keep this one close to my bed because it gives me so much comfort.
But it did contemplate a swim soon after all the marbling fun. I'm up to my eyeballs in everything, but like to think I'm getting a grip on things again after completely losing my perspective last week. Tomorrow we get back into the meat of things: maybe a haircut for the indigo, and the beginning of lots of kozo picking.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Marbling magic

The last week has been very, very challenging. I was worried yesterday during the first day of a two-day class that I was so overwrought with work and personal crises that I wouldn't be able to get much out of the workshop. I paid to take this one not because I was gung ho about marbling paper, but because 1. Steve Pittelkow is a great teacher and a wonderful person, 2. I wanted to have the luxury of being a student with no teaching responsibilities whatsoever, and 3. I hoped this would help me in the practice of how I could do my own creative work at the Morgan (rather than being overwhelmed by how it feels like work, and not a studio where I can make art).
Not sure if it was a complete success on all those fronts, but I did learn a LOT. I also learned that I have finally matured enough to rest and break because standing on those floors in that heat is hard for me. Though of course I wished I could power on through like everyone else, I do have the luxury of coming back in tomorrow and playing, or another day if I like. And it was especially wonderful to be inept, making mistakes, and not having to be the one to be on top of myself: Steve would catch all of my errors and it was no big deal. Student luxuries!
The night before class, I decided I wanted to try and marble my last duck. It was going to be a big risk, but I asked Steve yesterday and he seemed to think it would work, so we sprayed it with alum.
Once it was dry today, we waited until the very end of class and used carrageenan that we drained from our tanks. I decided to do blue and green and dropped all the colors before Steve stabbed the bottom of the duck with two awls.
They worked as handles, and then he was careful to get the entire thing in and coated with paint.
This was THE MOST DELIGHTFUL and hilarious part of it all. It's meant to be a duck gourd, so at least now we know it can pour liquids beautifully.
Could it be more perfect?
I averaged under 20 sheets a day but learned MORE from watching everyone else work and seeing their results. I'm guessing everyone had a ton more than I did. I have probably an hour's worth of notes to transcribe, and now a huge stash of paper to play with. Most importantly, I have the ideal ending to another duck's color!