Thursday, June 29, 2017

Long anticipated

Miraculously, though I've been on the road and will be for every single month this year, my week-long stint at home coincided with the Cleveland Museum of Art's annual solstice party. Previously, I had never been in town, so this was a big treat.
It wasn't until after the party that I remembered that now the days get shorter. Aside from celebrating the longest day, I was happy to have finished opening my show at Heights Arts—it's up through the beginning of August, so visit if you can!
This year, I stayed in the dorm with the rest of the Korean school, which is an older building and much more charming and comfortable. It has been wonderful to stop in Oakland at the always gorgeous Mills campus to teach again for the Middlebury School of Korean.
I had worried about how we'd get all my bags and packages up the hills, so I was relieved to meet the bilingual student assistant in the school's dedicated golf cart.
Teaching for the Korean school is always a treat because they are so good with hospitality. This is the fruit spread prepared for us. All the fresh fruit here has been exactly what I needed.
I only had a little bit of time with these students but walked them through 1-sheet joomchi, multiple sheet joomchi, paper thread, and hanji cord. The director (Dr. Kang is pictured on the right in the foreground) and teachers create a safe and positive community where students are able to learn so much, so quickly. I was really impressed by the skills of students who had only studied for a couple weeks and worked hard to communicate with me in a language that they hadn't spoken before. Of course there are also higher level students, but it's always a special challenge to dialogue with newbies.
Everyone worked hard on their joomchi pieces. Here's the flag of South Carolina (I didn't know that's what he was doing until the very end when he held it up; it's made up of many separate pieces).
Pictures do no justice to the landscaping and variety of plant life on campus. I had given myself the full stay here instead of rushing to Australia, which allowed time to see some friends (still two more scheduled for today before the late night flight to Sydney). I've spent inordinate amounts of worry about the weight of my bags and even sent a local friend home with what I deemed excess baggage. As much as I wish I didn't do this, I always do this, like how some dogs always circle the spot before relieving themselves. Today I'll get one more visit to a paper mill, and then off to Western Australia, a trip well over a year in the making.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Another easy install

This is the nook where I'll teach an outdoor papermaking class for the Cleveland Museum of Art at the end of August. Fingers crossed for good weather! I've attempted to get as much prep done now so that when I get back into town and it's a steamy summer, most of the heavy lifting will be done (aside from the actual heavy lifting of transporting everything to the museum for the class).
My show opens tonight at Heights Arts and I went thinking that I had to hang the whole thing. I was wrong! All I had to do was deliver art, mask it, and leave the able curators to do it themselves. This is my favorite scenario. I'm done with a lot of packing but there's now the personal items to consider as I learn what winter in Australia actually feels like (I think it will feel great!).

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Airborne in a week

Priscilla was the set designer hired to hang and arrange all of the artwork I had shipped from D.C. to NYC for this CNN shoot. We had one morning in the studio in Bushwick to unpack, hang, and shoot before I had to get back to work.
The crew was trying to figure out if I could sit on a pedestal as well, so you see Patrick sitting on the shortest one. When I finally got placed, we found that the noise from planes, trucks, forklifts, etc. was so bad that we couldn't capture the interview/audio at this location so we just did a lot of visuals of me holding art and making cords and dunking hanji in water.
The next morning we shot in Fort Greene Park. My phone went into the bowels of the rig once I got my violin out so there are no more pictures from that day. I played violin for hours that morning, even a little after a park official came and said we weren't supposed to film without a permit. After that, there was a lot of walking up and down streets before we wrapped and headed into horrible traffic to the closest downtown Brooklyn FedEx.
The producer helped me fill out a bunch of shipping labels but I was kind of mortified by the packing job. Fingers still crossed that everything makes it back safely. I gave all kinds of written and in-person instructions on how everything had to be packed, which were almost all ignored. Let's hope there's no additional billing for damage once everything arrives.
Our final (early) day was in the paper studio. I had spent the week prepping kozo (soaking in lime, cooking in soda ash, rinsing, beating, and even bringing out a different type of fiber plus all of the raw materials—which we never even needed!). We had hoped it would be more quiet, but then all the noise started to kick in: loading dock, freight elevator, rolling dollies above, and the vibration of some powerful tool upstairs. The crew was so frustrated that they went from our floor (6) to look for the source and found a table saw on 10 being used to renovate the entire floor. They begged to turn it off for a bit so we had 30 minutes to wrap up the whole interview before it started up again.
The shoot for papermaking was really less work than I expected, and I made a dozen little sheets that dried by the time the day was over. The lime and soda ash combo really killed the crispness of the fiber but at the same time it was much more even and cleaner than prior batches of Thai kozo.
After the shoot, I had a few hours to finish up my work for Dieu Donné. This was the last package that I accepted and unpacked for them. Somehow I managed to get all my stuff packed, on my back, and to the street to get a car home to start the massive pack. In the end, I probably could have flown home with everything, but left a few things with my family to ship later because I got a strange wrist injury halfway through the month that makes it hard for me to do certain things (like heavy lifting).
I flew back Saturday and already saw three dear friends, including these happy kozo plants at Oberlin. I went yesterday for a couple of errands and my car was grateful for the highway miles. My suitcase is emptied and ready for the next journey: Western Australia via California!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Spot the squeegee

I haven't been taking pictures of anything but there are several things I did to help in this photo: measuring cups and spoons and funnels (in the shelving nearly at the top - the red and white behind it are cups), stainless work table with casters, four new big vats, and a new 24" broom to divert water to the drains (given the grit in the epoxy, the brooms work better than squeegees).
On this side, there's a new hose and nozzle, rust abatement and new coats of enamel paint on the black press, and a brand new hydraulic lift table! It has to get as high as that press, so it was tricky to find the double scissors in a somewhat affordable fashion. Now I just need to find strainers with holes as fine as the ones next to the drain.

Three days left! That includes video shoots each day and work each day and off-site work each day. Thankfully, the worst of the heatwave will hopefully be abating so I won't be a puddle of sweat the whole time. I haven't seen everyone, but I have seen more friends than I usually get to, including Jami! She had lots of wisdom for me, which will help steer my future. Very excited for that.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

One more week

The time has flown, of course, and by this time next week I will be back home, frantically unpacking and setting up for the next exhibit, my California teaching, and my Australian adventure. I'm not sure how this poor one ended up on the floor of the subway but I relate.
More cooked and bleached kozo, drying. The bits of making (or really, prep work) are scattered very sparsely between work and recovery but I did as much as possible that requires heat before the heatwave arrived.
Dyed with yellow onion skins
 Drying after the mordant/final dye rinse
My visit to the Big Reuse in Gowanus, which is very dusty. I was breaking out into hives but I imagine that is normal. Not convinced that this is the solution but I really think one used fridge is better than nothing, especially with the summer coming. Pulp gets stinky very quickly.
None of the sinks were right because we need industrial things but these are the adventures that help confirm that I did the right thing by ordering the sink that arrived last week. I did panic at 2:30am yesterday morning worried that I ordered one with no legs but of course I got one with legs. Then again, I will only rest assured once I see the legs tomorrow.
I had started pigmenting this giant batch of cotton for Amy because she has a zillion other things to do but I stepped back as soon as the thing started to foam (not as much as this, but close). I was worried the retention agent was just foaming and not actually staying in the slurry so I walked away and left it for her.
She did an amazing job the following day because she's the expert, and wasn't as afraid of the foam as I was. We were very glad that interns finally arrived for the summer because this was a BIG cleanup job. What's left for me next week is a workload unreasonable by any standards, but that's because it's many jobs rolled into one: orders, estimates, juggling bids, waterproofing, soundproofing, violin practice, fiber prep, video shoots in three different locations, and several in-person pickups of equipment during a heatwave. On the side of that: packing and shipping logistics, my regular workload, and a desperate attempt to finish reading ONE of the books I brought for research.

Trying to 1. breathe and 2. only think about one thing at a time.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

One tracked

I knew it would be ridiculous to even think I could do more than this job this month, but of course I brought two books for research (and ordered two more), a bunch of articles to read, and onion skins for dye. I did manage to make cords from the bundles of hanji strips I brought, though, so that feels like a small triumph. While I am only minutes away from David Reina, I wanted to follow up on my interview with him in the winter and take pictures at his shop. You can glimpse him through the window of his Land Rover.
Here are two beautiful machines all done and ready to be crated: a dry box, and a beater with a washer. He is so generous with his time and a wonderful host. I was taking pictures and later looked at them, thinking about how little I know. The shop is crammed full of tools, equipment, parts, cars, and so on, and it reminded me of how when I took pictures in Korea during my hanji research year, I knew some but not a ton. Later, as I learned more, each picture revealed more answers and questions hiding in plain sight.
I'm going to test Carriage House's cooked and bleached kozo, maybe in Australia. Though I've never liked the super bright whites from chemical bleaching, I am curious. To reduce weight, I'm drying it all out for easy transport. Of course I say I'm only doing this job, but this fiber test is also part of a bigger project I took on for the month as well, my first corporate exposure. This year continues to be full of surprises. Wed night is our big studio warming party—hope to see you there!