Thursday, December 31, 2015

Closing down

Right before I left for NY, I got this in the mail from Edith, an under 10 book maker! I love it and am hoping that it serves as an able beacon through the coming year, a year that I have for some reason been looking forward to since this one started. I think it's going to be great.
After preparing for yesterday's flight to Hopkins, I still feel very ambivalent about where home is. This was a perfect day in Central Park, walking from the east side to the west side, and feeling deep peace on my right side (the side closest to the reservoir). The ducks were all very still, heads buried in their bodies. Hoping for more walks along the water with duck companions—not only for the new year, but for the rest of my years.

Monday, December 21, 2015


The Morgan has some paper at 188 Galerie in Manhattan. The plainest of the bunch with my shadow falling on it is our hanji. I saw them after taking a walk with Tatiana, after we had brunch with Lisa, last week. Rain, rain, rain, but the best catching up with friends that I have had in a while. I've been getting lots of acupuncture, really intense stuff—the kind that hurts the entire time, no napping at all. Fingers crossed that I'll get some relief from the ongoing back pain from the car accident (I really did not think it would go this long, but I also forget that thousands of pounds of metal and plastic ramming into you at a certain speed can't NOT do some damage).
To cheer me while I attempt to re-center and slow my pace, as 2016 is going to be another whirlwind, I bought this perfect straw shoe for myself! It was a couple of dollars at a library benefit sale and I had to have it. I am also reading light mystery for the first time, after three friends recommended the activity, and that has been wonderful. Today I go back for more treatment; the electric current is pretty strong and the needles are long. But I feel changes and see them, too.

Monday, December 07, 2015

Fresh katazome

Kristen and my show is now closed. We took down the line floats a few hours before it was officially over just to make the best use of my time and to avoid any potential damage (we all have PTSD around two of these being shattered). All packed! My four are now safely tucked into a closet at home after some serious re-arranging. Getting a big apt and then allowing myself to fill it feels dangerous, having been someone who moves so often. But then I think, why not use all this closet space?
Kata Kata, the wife and husband duo of Chie Takai and Matsunaga Takeshi, has been in town for a fabulous visit hosted by their gallery, the Verne Collection. Chie's father Nobuyuki Takai is a former student of the late great Keisuke Serizawa, a national treasure of stencil dyeing—katazome. The calendar above is by Serizawa.
This absolutely stunning linen noren is by Nobuyuki Takai, right in the entrance of the Verne Collection. Kata Kata's show (with pieces by the elder Takai and Serizawa as well) opened Saturday night to a packed crowd. I wanted it so badly but could not afford it. Instead, I bought two vertical tengui that I liked—these hand 'towels' are very affordable. I recommend a visit for anyone in the area because it's a beautiful show where you can actually consider buying the art.
Here is my newly installed faux noren! That made me very happy on Sunday morning before Kata Kata's big event at the Morgan where they were demonstrating their stencil technique on fabric and paper.
This is only one portion of the display at the Morgan.
A big crowd, as always: the Verne Collection has a loyal audience who is really engaged with how their art is produced. They have laid out a long piece of fabric on the table and will use rice paste to push through a stencil to create a resist. The one suspended taught was the sample they already prepared two days prior.
They had already prepared the dye powder with funori (a seaweed that will prevent the color from seeping out the back of the fabric), and applied it with a brush. In the meantime, Chie gave us a nice history of tengui and here she is showing how anyone working outdoors would cover their heads for some protection from the sun and to wipe sweat.
They had also prepared samples on washi and Morgan hanji of a big bear with a fish for people to color in themselves. Charity is working on hers before they all get soaked in water to dissolve the resist. In the case of paper, soybean milk is used as the resist.
Here is the actual stencil for the image. They are traditionally made with layers of strong handmade paper and persimmon juice, and waterproofed with natural lacquer. There is a mesh attached to the back to keep the bits on the same plane and aid in the process of laying down the resist. The cut out areas will all be white.
Here is the first layer of color on the fabric. They will take it back to Japan to finish applying the other colors, and then will mail it back to us as a gift! The bamboo supports have tiny needles at the ends to hold the fabric taut.
I love these tools. The needle points are very tiny but very sharp!
Each end of the fabric is held in place with a simple but effective nailed bar.
When everything was over, we helped pack up (it was basically a pop-up show that was up and down in less than a day). This tape from Japan is great for packing, because it's strong enough but will release easily off of plastic. We will scheme about how to get it because all of the Morgan staff was coveting it. After we finished that, Tom invited us to his warehouse for drinks and a tour, and then some of us headed to Miega for a Korean dinner. Kata Kata arrived this morning at the Morgan to buy more paper, which they will test in Japan, and pick up the last of their things before they fly back to Japan tomorrow. This has been a super packed and intense program fall for the Morgan (and there were two classes running the day of the demo, too: calligraphy and letterpress), so we are all happy to be done for the season.

In exactly a week, I'll be back in NY to regroup before 2016 begins with another Oberlin intensive. My ducks are going out into the world now that the show has come down, and I will, too.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015


This year's botanical yield was less varied than two years ago but I did learn a lot. I realized that I still was unwilling to make my whole stash available to myself to use, so tonight I pulled full sheets so I know that at least one exists for each test from 2013 and 2015. I still have some cordgrass in a pot that needs to be rinsed but haven't been able to get to it after my hip went out yesterday while vacuuming. I unloaded the rest of my paper from last week and some of it is loaded with residual carborundum from grinding the Valley beater knives, others big failures, but it was good to finally have done a bunch of papermaking after all the teaching, training, and programming.

I hate to cut back on papermaking with the plants I have remaining, but my body really needs a break. So maybe I'll do ONE last batch of the grass and cook some dogbane pods before calling it a year. Next year: Paper Book Intensive! The catalog is up and I am so excited.