Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Chicks are chickens and chickens are chooks

At least that's what I learned in Australia! Languages are amazing, even when it seems like they are similar to each other. I am finally back home after a long trip. After getting advice to never fly Qantas again (I will avoid in the future—very disappointing service) by my driver to the airport, I had to wait until their employees decided to start working to actually check in, but was relieved to get aisle seats for both legs. I loved the Sydney airport signs that told me I could RELAX before getting on the long haul flight to San Francisco.
I have zero pictures from my trip to California but it was incredible. Youngmin took care of me the entire time and I learned so much about different ways to be and learn and live and be wonderful. Her bojagi artwork is fantastic, and she is an amazing person. I got to see Steph and Katherine with her, and visit Slow Fiber Studios, learn about felt in Japan, visit a wonderful fabric store, have dinner with a fabulous curator, and spend lots of time with someone who cares as deeply as I do about Korean art and culture. I love my Korean kimjang apron but since I can't find anything as well made in the US, got this laminated cotton to attempt a replica. This is really not how I should be spending my time but it was how I insisted I start my morning today.
My long flight back was interesting (I'm surprised by how not friendly Australians are on planes. I wonder if the behavior mimics the poor service, and hope it's not old fashioned racism, but it made for weird feelings for 5 to 14 hours at a time). I couldn't sleep, but I COULD work on my big duck because Di was so generous and gave me her scissors that I could get past airport security: see how tiny the blades are?! When I saw Steph in Cali, she said that those are the scissors she uses to cut the nails of her baby! This all makes sense and now I know where to find more if I need them.
Being away was, as always, such a gift. When I travel, I get to leave my connection to the internet for the most part. I love being away from my computer (and try to not make it possible in regular life to do that much work on my phone). Getting away from my home country, its drama and relentless media that brings out the worst in most cases, and also away from the media I consume voluntarily that seems to be innocuous but isn't, is like getting a magic pill that dissolves a lot of anxiety. All of this makes it possible to be present, which is already hard as it is to do, and savor all kinds of new experiences, sounds, birds, language, smells, and landscapes. I met the most generous and kind people, and had lovely students. Anne Sepkus was one, who made the skirt above. I got compliments from the moment I tried it on and had my first lecture where one of the questions during the Q&A was solely about my outfit. Now I get to wear and remember this trip forever.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Feels like home but almost time to go

I saw LOTS of kangaroos out in the wild during my trip down south to the Porongurups but was so busy playing staring games that I didn't take pictures of when there were easily 20 of them in the paddock next door to the inn.
Hard to see, but the tiny white specks far in the distance are sheep grazing. There are SO MANY SHEEP everywhere here. No wonder there are so many felters!
Trees during my evening walk the first night of three.
Terrible picture quality but there is one kookaburra in the left tree and two in the branches way to the right. I heard a bunch of them the next morning before we drove back to Perth.
Lemon trees on the property where I stayed. They grow a lot of their food, yum.
Class samples from the first 1-day workshop, lovely students.
Yesterday Di took me to Kalamunda to see the Stitched & Bound exhibit at the Zig Zag gallery. Fun to see work by people I had met in my first week here!
A big hazy yesterday but you can see Perth, the most isolated city in the world. I've been having a fabulous time and was happy to see people who felt already like old friends at my lecture last night. Tomorrow is my final workshop, for WAFTA, and then on the long journey to California begins in less than two days.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Perth holiday

I have had the most incredible host for the past week. I don't think even my good friends would be able to put up with me for this long, so she is a real saint. Sharon took me from Fibres West to Northam for tea, and then we looked at the painted grain silos nearby.
Then we stopped in York and found this beautiful gallery. When I walked into the shop, I immediately saw Bridget's tea towels and remembered that she was back in Australia! We had met in Belfast years ago and it was wonderful to see her work all around this shop. Of course I had to get her book on Australian birds.
Meanwhile, during the evenings, this winged one was being born.
The next day, we had breakfast with Sharon's brother and partner and saw SO MANY beautiful birds. I didn't even bother trying to photograph them, though here is the wetlands/lake we were walking about, with black swans and other birds.
She made me the most delicious and nourishing dinners, and then we'd sit in the evenings for more handwork and Australian programs.
Monday was a great treat: the zoo! I haven't been since I was a child, but this was the way I was going to get to see the classic animals of this continent.
After spotting this one, we saw a mother koala with a baby riding on her back as she scampered high up into the trees.
This one is an unusual sighting because his bill only turns this bright blue during mating season. He's a FAST swimmer and we followed him all around the waterways. There were a ton of other animals but I won't bore you here. Since it's school holidays, there were lots and lots of children about as well.
And suddenly, all done! Very special, and in its new home.
Jaslyn and her daughter took me on a lovely walk through Kings Park with stunning views of the city. That was my third visit to the park since landing! Di took me after I landed at the airport, Sharon took me so that we could have an impromptu gathering on Sunday of tutors who were still in Perth, and then this was the visit where I actually got to walk through bush and see more of the park.
After a fun lunch of yum cha and Italian pastries for dessert, I finally got to see and touch the Indian Ocean for the first time in my life. We were pelted a bit by the rain on the beach but it was worth it.
The next day Sharon took me to see the gorgeous new circular library. This is the kind of library all citizens deserve! We also visited a bunch of places in the city and I gleefully spent the money I earned on art sales on all kinds of treats like books, art, and decadent lotions. Then we went out for Japanese dinner and then gelato with Di before going to the movies, a lovely documentary about cats in Istanbul.
Today was tea with family, a special dance/meditation class, walking around Fremantle (which included more delightful food and a touch more shopping), and then the final drive up the coast.
This was close to where I was the other day, but this time we got to stay out longer in the better weather, mesmerized by the waves and ocean sounds and surfers that start to look like other creatures entirely.
After another perfect home-cooked dinner, Sharon kept me motivated to finish the next duck commission, the smallest I've done. It turned out perfectly. Now, some sleep before tomorrow's packing and pickup: a five hour drive down south for Teaching Round Two!

Wrapping up Fibres West

It's a bit late but my 'holiday' has been jam packed. Here are the last bits of photos from Fibres West. This was from the classroom next door to me, taught by
the amazing and wonderful Gabriella Hegyes.
They did EVERYTHING in this class, it seemed. Dyeing, sculpting, waxing, and so on and so forth. It was an outdoor installation course and I loved seeing and smelling everything coming from there.
Back into my classroom, an old print embedded in new paper by Pam.
A weaving being removed from its loom by Di.
Monica spinning paper on a bobbin winder while Jaslyn practices on the drop spindle with Jane.
Two thirds of class hard at work (the other third is on the right side but I didn't manage to get the whole thing into my viewfinder).
Paper drying on interfacing in the space outside our classroom, part of the laboratory, where we had delicious and nutritious morning and afternoon tea every day.
Liz did wonderful work and was so incredibly helpful (she brought a ton of yogurt containers with lids that were like mini pails with handles, and all kinds of other equipment and supplies that she shared generously).
Philomena's twined basket.
Jane's twined baskets.
Jenny used up her hanji in the center and then moved to yarn for her twining.
Margie's paper embedded with shavings.
I couldn't get enough of Gabriella's students' work.
Marianne Penberthy taught an incredible class and I felt so lucky to be able to meet her. This is student work with handmade tools, colors from the outdoors, and so on. They had wonderful exercises, like making something from nothing, and making something in 8 minutes.
More from her classroom.
Andrea Noeske-Porada taught this incredible felting class that incorporates geometry, tessellation, and hours of hard work. I visited them in the big classroom they had and every student was on her feet felting away late at night. Andrea has a wonderful life story as well, coming later to her artwork after a career as a lawyer, even though the art was always there. Hoping to visit her someday in Germany.
There were more tutors and so much student work but this post is already getting long. I loved meeting all the students and teachers and was so impressed by the entire event. It's the tightest ship that I've had the honor of riding and I even got to see a bunch of sheep on our final morning on a walk with three of my students through the fog. Gifts every day!

Thursday, July 06, 2017

So happy to be here

The jet lag has nearly worn off and we are in this delightful classroom, which is a wet lab that apparently takes care of animals, as seeing from these medicines (and the cages, etc.).
There's also a veranda, which makes for the best beating space.
Inside, we try to keep the papermaking close to the sinks. They've been so good about keeping the wet area controlled.
The veranda is also perfect for pressing. I suspect the bottle jack lost oil and isn't really working as well as it should, but we're making do.
The Fibres West folks have worked so hard to pull this together, including all kinds of outdoor friends!
Eucalypts high
and low
I feel so welcome, and am delighted to be here. We're on the campus of a former agricultural school and I feel like the air I'm breathing is safe. The climate changes constantly. This winter is a nice chance of pace from summer.
I think everything is going well. The students are wonderful, as are the other teachers, and I am so impressed by the whole affair. Yesterday was particularly wonderful with an afternoon off (time to do laundry!) and a massage. Martien is an amazing convener; I've never met someone so capable of the big picture and tiny details simultaneously while being so calm and reassuring. I've stocked up on goodies as I had hoped: beautiful dyed things to wear, books and tools, even a bit of shifu.