Saturday, October 31, 2015

Annual abundance

Deep in the cattails at Oberlin's George Jones Memorial Farm.
The harvest of leaves and stalks (a few heads in the bucket just for seed variety).
Now I see papermaking fiber everywhere. Hostas outside a dorm at Oberlin. I know if they were landscaping with them when I was a student, I would never have noticed.
Autumn at my alma mater is so pretty! This was all on Monday. All sorts of other things happened during the week that I can't recall.
Then on Friday morning, I visited the field station at the University of Akron. Rainy but such a FUN visit. Except for being covered in tickseed (I spent a good part of today with tweezers trying to save my clothing. I saved two thirds). Pretty good, given that nature always wins.
Old tree species that were here when mammoths were.
A new walkway being constructed through what was once wetlands. Black, peat-y soil. Lara showed me lots of species so I could come back later when it wasn't so wet and harvest whatever I like.
Today I visited Jessica at Praxis and helped her start walnut dye and ink. It required many, many rounds of boiling water in the tiny electric kettles (and two big pots on the stovetop). She harvested from a farm an hour east and even with the mold it all smelled heavenly.
Back at the Morgan, Charity helped me trim cattail. Next week I get to visit an arboretum I haven't seen yet! And someone gave us probably 200 pounds of iris leaves, so busy busy busy is arriving alongside the start of some hanji fiber prep next week. Even though I feel compelled more than ever to only eat and sleep, this kind of work keeps me from sluggish inertia as we move into the dark days.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

On Sunday (I know today is not Sunday)

Rebecca Cross still has her beautiful show up at Praxis and it looks wonderful during the daytime. 
I stopped by on 'Sunday when they have open studio hours (it's so affordable! I highly recommend if you want space to dye, work, etc.) because Pam and Yuko were using the indigo vat. Always love to witness that.
I went to deliver Pam's iris paper that she made. Here is some of my paper from the week (L to R): 100% iris leaves, mixed iris with mostly Philippine "gampi", 100% Philippine "gampi", and 100% iris dried on the table, unrestrained. Yesterday I harvested cattail at Oberlin and promoted my class at their Winter Term fair. Today I have to lay down and go to bed early, but I just got an email from another field station in the area that has lots of invasives they'd be happy for me to harvest! So a little rest tonight = more energy to gather plant material = yay.

Also, my ducks are finally organized in one place online!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Float or stick

In a week when I would really have liked to hibernate fully, the plants instead insisted that I harvest. I did milkweed harvests on my own, and yesterday showed Kyle how. He has never done this kind of papermaking before, directly from plants, and he was the perfect pupil—climbing into the kozo garden, getting every last stalk he could find, carefully finding unburst pods and bagging them, making space in the freezer for them. It's pure joy and we were blessed with rain that kept holding off and weather that stayed warm when I kept thinking the next day would be too cold.
Some seeds have flown, some have stayed home, and others very close to home. I've been making iris paper this week from the bounty from a couple weeks ago. More pulp that I thought I'd get, so I invited Pam to join me and we made a bunch yesterday. I tried to finish the batch today but the dryers are full and my body is tired so it was just a mini batch (just under 30 sheets, letter size). I wrote a letter on one and enclosed it in an iris envelope and I was so satisfied. When Kyle said he's never done plant papermaking, I told him: it's the best kind of papermaking.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Pie, work, write

Yuko gave me this perfect gourd cloth from Japan for my birthday! There are more gourds but this detail shows how appropriate it is for me. This morning I rushed off to deliver leftover pie before helping with a car thing.
She also got me an air vase! It comes flat, as a circle, and then you shape it up to whatever shape you like. I was so rude to the waiter at dinner because he was telling us specials and I just kept playing with this.
Yesterday I harvested some milkweed stalks that were worrying me because they were just laying down and I wanted to get the ones that were furthest from the building. When I teach my milkweed class in late November, it will be really cold and no one will actually want to go outside to cut it down.
A few pods were still unburst so I also gathered them to freeze, and the rest I de-leafed and put into this tall bucket. It was still warm out and I wanted to have time outside before it gets cold tomorrow. And rainy.
This is mostly from the back fence line at the Morgan.
I was also rinsing the iris fiber that I had cooked on Tuesday, which turned out to be a pretty big haul.
I went behind Hough (Tom's warehouse) to harvest there, since I probably will be averse to doing it once it gets colder and I definitely won't make my students walk the few blocks there to do it when it's cold. I left a few little ones standing because I felt guilty for taking the habitat away from the milkweed bugs (but they won't even want to hang out on those, since there are no pods). Today, I beat gampi for a job and iris for fun. I pulled the former and tomorrow will pull the latter.

Tonight, I spent hours on a letter of support for the Mills Book Art Program. Alisa wrote about it succinctly here, so I won't go into detail except to say: express yourself in solidarity if you can!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Perfect garden day

I love the tenacity of our kozo. I know people worry about the invasive nature of it, but we are pretty well surrounded by concrete, and we only have male plants so there is no fruit or seed to run off to other parts of the city.
We propagate via cuttings and these babies that looked kind of yellow, forlorn, and dehydrated this summer now look fabulous.
I asked Charity to jump into the frame to try and give a sense of how big the plants are getting. But it's hard to see with the tree lines behind.
I'm in there admiring one of the biggest shoots of the year; this thickness is ideal for a good harvest. Not all of them are this big, but it's so much better than last year. A little fertilizer goes a long way. Thanks to all of the Korean and Japanese papermakers who insisted we do that!
This praying mantis was trapped in the metal tub adjacent so Charity got it out with a stick because it seemed to really not want to be in there.
Our madder is VERY happy. This is the first season and we'll let it grow for another year or two before harvesting for dye.
The indigo we left to go to seed is definitely flowering; we'll wait a bit before we harvest for seed.
Our tororo looks sad this year, likely overcrowded, in poor soil, and experiencing some leaf mildew. Hopefully the roots aren't tiny, but I panicked about getting seed before we lost it to the ground.
It was the ideal day to be outside. Here are the opened pods after Charity and Radha and I emptied them of seeds.

There are still a few left outside that weren't quite ready. We ate lunch outside, too, and the two of them had a great laugh when I was outside to wash buckets while my iris was cooking on the stove: I was squatting and scrubbing a bucket when I saw a dog approach me out of the corner of my eye and then start barking. I screamed very, very loudly and startled him, while sending the ladies into laughter. The small next door dog manages to wriggle out of the fencing from time to time but his best friend Tom wasn't around to say hi, and he was probably annoyed that I was interrupting his attempt to sunbathe (the Morgan blocks his southern exposure).
I also got a wonderful treat in the mail: excellent machine-made paper from the SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry Department of Paper and Bioprocess Engineering. I had met Bill Burry, who runs their lab, in Fredonia last month and we talked about his years of research on phragmites and their potential use in industrial papermaking. The paper is great; the only issue is the labor it takes to harvest these invasives.

Shifting now into fall/winter paper production and hopefully AWAY from all the drama and trauma of the last few months. I can't wait to get back to physical work to see how my body is holding up, and to remember why I do all this in the first place.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Done and down

Our show opened Thursday night after a long week of install with no dedicated gallery person. The night itself was a jumble of miscommunication that led to a huge group of ravenous (and drinking on empty stomachs) folks who I thought would be good around art but ended up doing a lot of touching the art. But I suppose that is what happens when materiality is a big part of the work.
The rope is the paper rope I was doing this summer and the line floats by Kristen, ceramic. We're really happy with how this collaborative piece made specifically for this 80-foot-long wall turned out.
Kristen's water wall install took a few days but it looks great (that's also one of her life jackets, printed paper sewn and stuffed).
Ducks, duck photos, and even some nests dipped into indigo.
Kristen's water wall is across from this glorious piece. I LOVE all this color in the middle of the gallery.
My duck books arrived from NY just in time (about NY) and they are so fun. They're in the small room with the star duck of the show, and also framed prints of the NYC trip that she took.
This corner in the front is the Cleveland (Wendy Park) duck prints.
And then, after one person bumped this float off the wall (but caught it before it fell), another man leaned up against it, and it was all over. He ran away (a friend got a blurry cell phone photo and tried to apprehend him, but he had already disappeared). I spent my birthday morning hashing out the aftermath before Kristen left town and then enjoyed the rest of the cold and rainy day with Pam, a visit to GBW's vendor room, and a duck dinner with my sweetie. There's a lot of work left to do to take care of the show, but I learned a lot through the entire process and am looking forward to slightly less crazy days: a whole 2+ weeks before the next event!

For any Korean readers, here is one pre-hanji seminar press piece, and a post-seminar one (there are pictures for non-Korean readers).

Monday, October 12, 2015

Home stretch, I hope

I have never had such a whirlwind time in NYC! Family, friends, work, errands, even things that completely dropped out of my head until the last minute. The hanji seminar went very well and I was heartened by the response.
Terttu captured this in the chilly shade after I picked up my work from a photo shoot.
Here they are waiting for installation. After my morning flight yesterday, I took a monster nap and then hastily framed 22 prints. This took many more hours than I would have liked, but that's life.
Waiting for Kristen to arrive (she is driving right now) so we can start installing today for our opening on Thursday. I hope to see lots of people there! It coincides with the National Standards meeting of the Guild of Book Workers, hooray! And for our friends like Velma who won't be there in person, make the wise investment in her new book.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Travel season begins again

This party was right before the Morgan benefit, which was very well attended despite the stormy weather. I was fighting off something, and still am, so I tried to lay low until being elbow deep in a cold vat to do papermaking demos. I managed to mat 22 prints on Sunday night but the framing remains undone, which means I have about 24 hours to do it as soon as I land in Cleveland this weekend.
I was also desperate to finish the surface treatments for my jiseung objects. This gourd's first round of marbling on Sunday was not adequate, so I baked it Monday morning (the double walls pick up way more carrageenan than a single wall vessel would) to dry it for another round of alum and marbling on Monday. The car was dropped off for more work and I went into last-minute packing mode before flying this morning. Going home is always nice because it means the only clothes I need to pack are for official things: press conference, VIP meals, and the hanji seminar.
Hopefully the double marbled one is dry by the time Stefan shoots these again in a few days. The right one is doused in indigo, walnut, and persimmon. The persimmon is still stinky, but at least the Morgan gallery is near a paper studio that has plenty of other smells to share. I have to design one more book for that show and then prep for my hanji lecture. I have to admit that I cannot wait for October 16 to roll around: not for another birthday, but for SLEEP.

I read this today and enjoyed it, about using tools and making things with the skills you have.