Tuesday, January 31, 2017

How to avoid packing

I could barely vacuum today because I had paper all over the floor and have had paper all over the floor for a week, maybe more.
I worked on this toddler-sized hoodie over the weekend, and had a nice break at the end when I had to walk outside to the store to find buttons (this took much longer than I expected).
I tried to do this in one night but needed another day to finish it because my eyes wear out so quickly at night now. I may be in denial about what is happening as my eyes age but they send pretty clear messages when they are done working.
I started this piece last night and my eyes were screaming at me to stop so I waited and pounced on it while doing laundry and pretending like I'm not leaving the country tomorrow. I've wanted for a while to do a Korean-style garment and this is a child's version, the skirt done in hanji dyed in a light wash of persimmon and then some onion over it that probably didn't do anything but it was a good way to feel like I was using up my dye.
The colors are ALL off in the photo because it was dusk by the time I finished it, but I am very happy with the whole thing. The jacket is mostly all milkweed papers. I would have liked to do a contrasting tie but it was easiest to use some hanji that I made under Velma's good graces, and that Korean bark gave me a color closer to the milkweed.

Now I have no excuse to not pack (aside from not wanting to) but am already tempted to cut pieces for the adult-sized version of this dress. I barely feel like Vienna is happening tomorrow because my layover in Newark is close to the length of my flight to Europe. Hello, February!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

It's a wrap

We made it! The cases are full of beautiful books and paper, and my students took to heart my lecture about how important thank you notes are by showering me with them in book form (I swear I was not fishing for them; I was trying to teach professional and personal development). Another fantastic way of starting the year: a month of teaching newbies how to make paper and books!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

One more day

There are books and paper all over the classroom, every inch of it. Tomorrow is the final day of class: one more morning to work, then we clean up and install the show! Meanwhile, I'm in a bit of paralysis as the rest of the year comes rushing up into my face, but found this booklet about making art during fascism helpful (visit this site and use the contact form to get the free pdf version). I have to remember that it's like a big wave crashing down and that bracing myself isn't as useful as swimming into it.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Grateful for solidarity

I woke up feeling like I couldn't be alone so I went downtown to the march in Cleveland and got emotional just seeing the throngs of people at the train platform (usually there are about 5 people there and the two cars are always nearly empty. Today, totally different story). The tears came and went all day but what a relief to see and feel how many people are part of this. Frank said that we need to remember today when the going gets hard later. It reaffirms my effort to move away from isolation of all types.

Also, I love this podcast about immigration in the U.S. by an immigrant to the U.S.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

On and off campus

The paper studio is packed and left in the van to head back to Cleveland. We shut down the studio and headed to the library to start making books.
Another class that is in the library (across from the letterpress studio) is the woodblock intensive that Claudio teaches. They started today and are already busy carving their blocks!
We swept through a bunch of folded and cut structures today, though the final one cheats a bit and uses 415, that magical double-sided tape. Cori has suminagashi sheets on the back of this book and the side you see here are all handmade paper sheets made with veil pulps and pulp painting.
I went to visit Betsy's weaving class afterwards, and was so impressed by all of the progress! She has taught this course for 16 years, bringing in a ton of floor looms and equipment, so that students can learn to choose, plan, order yarn, weave their cloth, and sew it into garments. I have always wished I could take this but it conflicts 100% with my course. And this is only a tiny sliver of what goes on in Oberlin on a given day—not even during the regular semesters. For all their flaws, humans do some remarkable things.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Honor justice

On Friday, my class visited the letterpress class, where Bob (in the apron) is guiding a big group of students through the process of designing and printing a book. This year, they have written about the election aftermath through the parable of the gingerbread man, and are in the midst of carving blocks and setting type.
I think my greatest challenge is not falling into despair, which happens mostly in solitude. I'm learning more and more about the dangers of isolation—whether letting your mind run off with its worst thoughts, or sequestering yourself only with people who provide echo chambers. Today is a good day to remember our resolve to do right even when inconvenient and difficult. Above: the latest paper adventures over the last two weeks.

And Joanne B Kaar, one of my very favorite artists, had a lovely interview come out yesterday. It's long but worth the read because it reviews lots of different projects she's been involved in over time. Her work is about place, time, labor, history, nature, and people. Important truths!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Beyond me

1. Hanji was certified in Italy as a material suitable for restoration and used in doing just that for valuable cultural treasures.

2. I'm not able to go to D.C. for the Women's March next weekend but have donated. Please do if you can to help the cause (to cover things like being able to use a restroom!).

3. Vamp & Tramp sent their yearly mailing and it was wonderful as always, so thoughtful and genuine. One of the many nuggets was their concern about saying "no problem" as opposed to "you're welcome" because it centers me (as in, "no problem FOR ME") rather than you (YOU are welcome). I don't know when I started to use the former and have tried to stop. Cultural forces that demand, "memememe" are so hard to counteract, but even the subtle changes, and language, make a difference.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

When students become teachers

I was really looking forward to today, set aside for paper decoration. It's a nice break from papermaking and a whole new way of approaching paper. But the biggest reason is that one of my students who took this class two years ago was returning to teach marbling!
Jones (appropriately lit like an angel here) took my class as a first year and was almost totally silent the entire month. It was clear, though, that he was incredibly gifted and I insisted that he continue making things after the class ended. He went on to take the library letterpress course, where he met Steve Pittelkow, a master marbler. He was so impressed by Steve's demo at Oberlin that he ended up taking his next January term class in Florida, learning everything that Steve could throw at him in a month (which was A LOT).
Now, Jones has his own setup to work on his own, the knowledge to learn on his own in self-directed ways, and impressive papers for sale not only through his shop but the Morgan's. You can see his papers on Instagram and see a video of him working online as well. He's a natural teacher and of course my students fell in love with the whole process. It's also incredibly powerful to be taught by a peer, and they were engaged and excited in a whole different way.
These were the papers they made yesterday, and it will be interesting to see what they end up making tomorrow after having all kinds of new ideas through paper decoration.
Cori completely loves marbling already

Even the most reserved students were all smiles today.
What I enjoyed most was how Jones threw them all into the deep end from the start, showing difficult patterns and offering to teach them whatever they wanted to learn based on his images online. That's the beauty of being open to everything and not afraid of challenges. Everything is possible at this time in their lives!
They also learned how to make paste papers, and that made the usual grand old mess, but plenty of fun papers and fun painting.
And we had suminagashi going as well so that everyone could keep busy since we only had two marbling tanks and a limited amount of carrageenan.
So many papers on the line! A particularly good day to receive visitors, of which we had a couple.

So proud of all of my students, and glad to play assistant for a while. One student has a family member in hospice and she made a marbled piece as a gift that looked like outer space because she said, "I want to give him the universe."

Monday, January 09, 2017

Hearty breakfasts

Now that I am on a M-F teaching schedule, I have to bone up in the morning with more food than I usually eat. We ended last week with a field trip to Cleveland, visiting two studios and dyeing papers. Today we begin western papermaking with cotton and abaca pulps, plus pulp painting. I can already tell this group is going to love it all.

Speaking of paper teaching, Helen Hiebert is launching a new on-line class on illuminated paper! I am always impressed by how active she is in testing and figuring out new ways to reach people and spread interest in paper arts, from writing to teaching out of her studio and on the road to collaborations with other artists and so on. I envy all of her energy, even as someone who works similarly (which reminds me that I probably would have more if I exercised more...)!

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

New year means new paper

It's that time of year! Oberlin students learn to make paper. They scraped the bark off of the kozo so quickly that I didn't even get to take a picture of it happening. Yesterday they beat Thai kozo and today beat the Cleveland kozo. A biology professor is participating and very kindly brought some ear muffs to help us cope with the Very Loud noises.
Yesterday, after unloading the van and setting up studio, scraping, and beating, they each made a sheet as an intro. Today they got into it full force and made a LOT of paper. And it's all socialist paper, so no name tags!
The Thai stuff is hopelessly stringy but they will enjoy the better material tomorrow.
Drying took a while and a good portion never made it into the dryboxes. Lots of cockling and speedy drying on boards in the overheated shower rooms, but a good lesson. More fun planned for tomorrow.