Saturday, December 31, 2016

It's almost here

I made this box before I left for the holiday and am still pleased with using up paper I had laying around for a while. There are still many, many loose ends but I've done about as much as I can before I head out for the night.

What about next year? If you want to be in nature in a very solo kind of way, apply to Montello! The deadline is at the end of January. In the meantime, hold yourself and your loved ones close and stay healthy! We need to stay strong for everything that is to come.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Whoa like we're riding

I want the horse to slow down! This is Stefan's shot, much better than mine. I was supposed to be back home today (as of yesterday) but got so horrifically sick over the holiday that I had to change my flight. This has never happened: two different illnesses in the span of a month, over holidays, causing major travel/work disruption, and making me question why I'm so susceptible.

Then again, even the hardiest of us have moments. Our beloved Bridget of Cave Paper has suffered from a staph infection but is out of surgery and back home. As soon as the paper community got wind, they stepped up, and now the book community is in on the action. I am gratified to see how well we take care of each other. Some wonderful things never change about human nature!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016


Made this piece last night, part of a scale book inspired by a woven textile scale (meaning it was made entirely of woven fibers), and now am agonizing over trying to make a box for the whole thing. Normally I would not go to this trouble but here I am, going to the trouble. It's funny because I always have to re-teach myself box making when I get to it and often try to avoid doing it, but in the end, I'm always happy to have a custom box.

Flying tomorrow for family and holidays. Still so many tasks left undone, but boxes are good brain exercise.

Also! Until the end of the year, you can give a Hand Papermaking subscription to a student in your life for only $35—and you'll still get the calendar as a gift!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Ovens and burners

I've been cooking a lot this week, in the kitchen, new recipes. It's an easy way to pass the cold snow wind weather and also a good way to keep home toasty warm. I think all of the books are done and ready to shoot next week (another flight already?!). Yesterday I found out that I got a small grant to work on a new book project! This means a TON of research all over the place, but a good way to focus on the positive in the midst of the darkest dark days.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Hibernation resistance

Above: what I've been up to in studio work and musings. The admin load has shifted to being almost unbearable because it's so big but the impending snow and cold has helped motivate me to work as hard as possible during daylight hours. I admit that I've been doubling up on meals, though, and I say it must be animal instinct.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Another book

I keep forgetting to mention that Elizabeth compiled a beautiful book that celebrates a decade of her collaborative project that I was involved in for a few years called eyeseverywhere. Women artists from around the world submitted photos weekly according to themes set by each other, and the project has traveled the world in various incarnations. It includes essays by scholars and selected images from each artist. I'm proud to have been part of this!

Monday, December 05, 2016

Parallel time

I feel like I am still living in a separate time from everyone else, catching up, in disbelief about the speed of the year coming to a close. As I try to prepare for the known (lots of teaching starting immediately in the new year), new opportunities are arising. All good, but I'm not sure if this is the heart of my work or if it distracts me. For now, I'm saying yes because I like food on the table. The good thing is that a rush of books is coming out of my hands and I smell melted beeswax a lot these nights.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Support Arrowmont

So much was lost in the TN fires this week. Fortunately, Arrowmont did not lose any studio buildings and its staff and artists are safe and sound, but it did lose structures. Give what you can to help rebuild!

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Textiles in Korea

The 'table' in the corner is three walls of my hanji vat on top of two sawhorses. Yay! Yesterday I went to bed happy after marbling and waxing paper. Today I was happy to see that Youngmin and her colleagues are leading a textile tour through Korea next year! She makes beautiful bojagi and has been dreaming about doing this for a while. I like when dreams manifest.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Books on the ground

This one I really enjoyed and want to make more of, where the book is already done once the paper is dry.
I shot this in terrible night lighting but this is ready for a class demo next year, after finishing one bitty square of shifu for a future book.
This was #3
And this is #4. #5 is drying right now, along with a bunch of paper recently marbled with sumi ink. Lots of errands and caretaking today but still hoping I'll get a few things done tonight. Back to the basics, trying to get grounded in simple ways.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Double gifts for Hand Papermaking

Today is Giving Tuesday, and I am proud to support Hand Papermaking. The first 3K of donations will be matched by an anonymous donor, and there is a great bonus for gift subscriptions (I just got one for a friend this weekend and we are both excited—she will get the magazine, and I'll get the gift!). Learn more here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

North Country hanji

Foreground: Velma's old kozo. The stuff on the left was so much nicer than the Thai kozo now available to us. I'm convinced everything has changed in the many years since I started using this fiber. Behind is the kilo of Korean fiber I got with green bark still on.
And LOTS of black bark bits, too. More than Therese and I would like, but she was such a trooper and beat for HOURS the first day we went to really work. This was after soaking in Velma's tub and cooking on her stovetop for many hours as well.
Because the mallets at St. Lawrence University were so big and unwieldy, I ran out to the hardware store to get axe handles. The straight one was kind of useless but they didn't have more of the top one that is curved. All thanks to Frank's advice many years ago!
I got so tired thinking of how much we had to beat that I said we could just do 20-30 min on each bundle and then throw into the beater the next day.
Therese cleaned what was left of PBI hanji making off of the pond liner
before the vat got filled (and, yes, absolutely never throw it into a beater unless it's a naginata even if you are tired. I keep forgetting this and have done it every few years).
Though I was horribly ill with the worst cough/cold I've ever had (at least in my adult life), I pushed through almost 40 sheets.
Then I got carried away with every single floating mould that SLU had in storage. Rough, rough sheets, but an excellent way to dry and store and travel.
The tiny green figure on the top bar is an aardvark. The hanji just barely fit within the pressboards, making pressing easier than it has ever been, ever!
Of course, because I didn't believe the gauge, I overpressed. I did not tear/lose a single sheet, but they were really dry, so they pulled off of boards and were pretty funky.
But I still think it was a good outcome, given the unforeseen awful conditions dealt so unkindly. What would I have done without my friends? They kept me from going to the very worst places in mind and body.
After Therese left to beat the snowstorm, I played with kozo to make bark lace bits, and
remembered to do amate before it was too late—but not before already beginning to beat everything. So this would have worked a lot better if I had not attempted to beat another pound on my own, but it kept the theme of the day consistent: an hour of beating into a pulp, and another who knows how long beating with a rock given to me by a student.
Therese left two pomegranates for us, which I separated into food, compost, and dyestuff.
Velma had friends and talismans everywhere to hold space
and a Subaru that was totally undaunted by the very deep snow. I had to wait a few days and delay departure because my car needed a new alternator (everyone had to explain to me why it was better to burden my friend by staying longer than to risk losing power on the road). In the end I was very happy to have met a mechanic who listened to me, not rolling his eyes or ignoring my concerns, and then explained everything to me without being condescending. Velma's person in her corner also took good care to make sure I understood all the potential consequences of each action.

I made it to my folks yesterday after white knuckling it through the Adirondacks (snow or freezing rain or whatever it was created sheets of ice on my windshield so I could barely see) and dropping off my hanji bal teul to Bob for a fix. In less than a week, I'll do one more long drive to get back home, grateful for such generous and big-hearted friends.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Real dark days

 Bob's paper studio outdoors
 Bob's paper
St. Lawrence University paper studio hello

I'm still not really functioning well. The grieving was very intense and immediate during a 9-hour drive to Western Massachusetts, though I was fortunate to be traveling to visit an area full of people feeling the same despair and sadness. Jackie and Steve were superb hosts. I visited Smith and talked to Rie's paper class at Mt. Holyoke. I finally got to meet Carol and Liz and saw some handmade paper in a show at Historic Northampton before I met Eva, who showed me her studio full of beautiful work and also her entire studio building before treating me to a delicious dinner. My last day I went to Snow Farm (twice! The food is so good), drove around Holyoke and met Vitek, and then did a little too much meandering driving before I met Rebecca and Wesley (we overlapped at Oberlin but weren't in the same circles).

This was all to see if I'd like to move to this part of the country. I left on Sunday and took a brief detour to visit Bob and his beautiful home/studio before heading to Velma's. Therese arrived the next evening. What was supposed to be an amazingly productive hanji residency has been something else entirely—current events that have made me unable to work and think, a terrible cough that has made sleep impossible, and now a car that needs a new alternator. My friends have been amazingly kind as I hack through the night and trudge around in a stupor, and I've learned and re-learned a lot. The hanji vat went up and down in record time and I got through a kilo of Korean dak, lovely fiber. More on that later.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

End days

A vineyard in Chile. I am trying to write down directions for my long drive tomorrow to visit Pioneer Valley. Very, very tired from all the packing and planning and work and transitions. I wish I could stay put for a moment but it's not in the cards for a while.
Baby grapes! A couple of my newest artists' books, the kind without words, are now available via Vamp and Tramp. I'm very happy with this direction and hope to head more that way once I get my North Country residency started next week (after Western MA). Anxious tonight in a terrible way but hoping tomorrow the sun rises (though rain is forecast).

Monday, November 07, 2016

Chile: Valparaíso to the end

After Boco, we were lucky to get a ride to Viña del Mar, where we got a local bus to Valparaíso. I think it was my first (and only?) sighting of the sea from the land during my trip.

Carolina gave a me a lovely tour and we went up and down hills, either by foot or on funicular.
 Yes, public education!

Going down is fine,
 going up nearly killed me.

We rode the funicular (like an elevator) down from this particular hill. The city has lots of hills and so lots of stairs and funiculars.
I only looked at these steps with lovely tiles but had no intention of walking up them after the last set.
 The main square, on our way to lunch, before class.
The port, where we tried to figure out exactly how the cranes moved the huge containers in the background. There are stray dogs all over this town (actually, all over everywhere I went. One followed us immediately on the first day in Santiago after we left the hotel).
Somehow, we made it back to Santiago in time for me to take a quick shower and get dressed to teach a jiseung class that night. I loved this group of ladies, and some really did manage to finish tiny baskets either that evening or by the next.
The next day, I had lunch with departing guests from the conference who were on their way to Lima to visit Peru (if I had the time/funds, I would have done Machu Picchu, too). Then our indefatigable host Wonjung escorted me to another neighborhood to visit a printshop that has connections to Cleveland, Aguafuerte Taller.
Sanding an aluminum sheet for the litho press downstairs. This upstairs space will eventually turn into a gallery space.
This is the process of hand calandering paper. A LOT of muscle. 
When I arrived, at least three people were at work. The back presses and tables, and the middle flat files, were all built by owner Iván, whose grandfather was a furniture maker. When he got into trouble, he'd be sent to his grandfather's factory, which turned out to be much more of a blessing than a punishment.
Here, Iván works with a student. Tamarind trained, he is super ambitious and has lots of goals for this site. He spent 3 months in Cleveland as a Creative Fusion artist and learned more about how to run a printshop as a business since he already knew how to do the creative side of the work.
My apron was all tangled but I swear I know how to lace the ones that cross in the back and was very happy to meet a printer who agrees that aprons should not hang from the back of the neck!
I took an Uber early to campus (there was a LOT of confusion as to where to drop me off. I insisted that I NOT be dropped off at a cafe and kept on saying "school" and "university" to indicate that I needed to get to a campus, not a random street corner) and hung out outside and in a gallery space before my final class began.
It's always good to chase a jiseung class with a joomchi class because the success rate for the latter is much higher.
The next day was my last, which involved breakfast with Carolina, packing, lunch with Wonjung, and a quick trip to the pre-Columbian museum. I love these quipu, knots used to record.

After I left, I took the metro to another neighborhood to get final gifts and spend my remaining pesos, but then ended up on a train that ran semi-express (it wasn't rush hour, I swear!), so I got off at a new stop and walked in the wrong direction in very hot sun for a while before turning back. I hung out some more with Carolina before the taxi came to take me away to the airport. I slept for about 5 minutes on the first 9.5-hour flight, paid for an hour of sleep in a private room at the Atlanta airport, and was wiped out on the final leg back home.

I think I took monster naps for at least 3 days after I returned and finally got back to normal only to meet daylight savings alterations. And in less than 2 days, I drive east for another trip!