Friday, September 22, 2017

One after another

Last weekend was the Festival of the Forks (because the two branches of the Kalamazoo River fork right here in Albion).
It included a car show! I saw the sign and was so tired I didn't want to go, but then my housemate was going so I got my clothes and shoes back on to take a gander.
We also went to Marshall to visit their very lovely farmers market, and to run errands. While walking downtown, we passed the American Museum of Magic.
I can't remember anymore when I did this but it's nice to have dirty and big studio space to be able to ink and drip and dry. What comes afterwards, not sure, but there's another big seamed sheet waiting.
This week I finally got to pick out a big enough table for my hanji vat!! After phones calls and emails and the wrong table delivered, it finally arrived on the day that they also sent the plumber to deal with the floor drain that was no longer working. After we looked at furniture in the old high school building, we looked at the office of one of the guys helping us and we were so impressed by his paint swatches! He said often people can't see the color from those tiny chips, so he painted all of these paint tray liners for bigger samples.
It's not easy to deal with an entire college that uses SO many different paint colors and finishes for their many, many properties (inside, outside, etc.). It's also very hard when you have students who don't understand (or maybe care) about how to properly paint. These are samples of what happens when you don't wash the paintbrush.
Meanwhile, tiny things going on in the studio. Slow slow slow but it's hard to be motivated in all of this heat. What is with this summer solstice weather on the autumn equinox? Well, we know what's going on but it's still distressing.
Yesterday the Nature Center director finally had time to take me around some trails to look for milkweed patches and we also visited the student farm. They grow and sell to the dining hall and also sell surplus at the student center on two afternoons a week.
I knew these would probably be bad but it's hard not to wish that we could make use of these awful invasives. The autumn olive is more promising (top) than the privet (bottom) but I'm not holding my breath. I did a little batch of milkweed but was dripping sweat and hid out in the cool studio until my radio interview in Korea, and then for a couple hours after that. Today I'll try to fill the vat (it's set up!) but also get to visit a local Valley beater!!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Slow going

Two weeks and finally got approval to get a table big enough to fit my hanji vat. Inching towards some progress! Here is some milkweed in the back garden of people who have become my fairy godparents here.
I got my Tasmanian oak dowel beating sticks adjusted so that there's a flat edge, which gives me two corners to help expedite beating.
Playing with knots while stuck. Not so much stuck as a bit overwhelmed by all the things I have to do versus what I want to do.
The cover is the only one done with pencil and ink. The rest are from a past session of onion skin fun. Thread is gold from Japan via Australia.

I kept thinking it had to be earth shattering but all that was necessary was to DO SOMETHING. Another long awaited book is bound, another waiting to be bound. A dress got started last night. A worm's progress is still progress. Meanwhile, LOVING Joanne's new work!!!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Relationships to time

Now I know which boards work better (the wood ones) and that I shouldn't press this hard (all gauges are so different!). I haven't made paper since the weekend because I'm hoarding the pulp for when I eventually get tables to set up the vat.
My first bit of milkweed from an unsanctioned harvest. Scraped the outer bits for the first time as an experiment as well as a lesson in process and patience.
I made tiny weavings while thinking that maybe all I'll do here is work on small ideas. Who really knows in the end, but I liked the idea of not putting insane pressure on myself to produce an enormous amount of finished large work.
Downtown gets creepy at night but is close to the river.
Part of the reason is the massive construction on the main drag, where they pulled up the brick-paved road and are doing all of the concrete over (and apparently were delayed by hitting water mains at least five times in the process because the maps were not accurate...or maybe people can't read maps anymore) before re-bricking.
Cooked this batch of scrap paper that I've collected for a couple of years. It's amazing how even after hours of boiling in soda ash, the paper is still pretty much intact (this is the soaking picture, before cooking). Will be interesting to see if it comes down any once I beat, but I can tell already that the bits twisted into cord are NOT coming undone.
I went in the wrong direction on the river walk trail thing; it was desolate and creepy with so many stray or locked up dogs howling at each other (I couldn't see them, only heard them). Big buildings like this in the middle of empty land right near the railroad tracks. The trains are certainly not as frequent as when the town was bustling with industry and people but it's still pretty frequent as someone who hears it go by the house every day and night.
Left: milkweed. Right: paper mulberry. Still not on a regular schedule at all but doing my best not to get crazy about what I do and don't get done daily. Listened to a deceased poet on a podcast say that stress comes from a perverted relationship to time. This makes so much sense!

Friday, September 08, 2017

First Friday

Slowly starting to move around: I spent an hour beating fiber this morning before the sculpture class started. I have to time my beats and do it in places that cause the least amount of noise. It travels pretty well in this building, so I think I'll have to be noisy in the mornings before classes start or in the evenings.
Even though I don't have tables yet for the big vat, I could definitely get started with smaller papermaking. I already mixed up some formation aid and the hose is working well. All of this feels like a luxury.
I took some pictures of my show, so you can see it here if you can't make it (and I imagine most people can't). After all that beating, I need a snack so I may go for a walk and get a better sense of campus. My housemate gave me a very lovely gift yesterday of woven shina, from the area of Japan where she lives (Yamagata prefecture). We watched a video of the linden tree being felled and the bark processed into thread and woven into cloth; so many similarities to preparing the paper mulberry bark for papermaking! This is a nice explanation in English, and of course Habu carries some yarn (as well as the bark).

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Back in Michigan

Getting ready to go gets harder each time.
Once I settle in at home, it's hard to leave. But they all came with me for now. I forgot so many things but that's what happens when you pout at the end and put off packing until the day you leave.
My first pecan pie, baked for a very special surprise occasion. We spent the long weekend celebrating, which made it even harder to leave.
But the people are incredibly nice here in Albion, and you can see the house where I get to live in the distance, so close to everything else on campus. I haven't even gotten to see much of campus but I will get to it once I feel more set up in the studio.
I already managed to forget my keys this morning so I had to walk back to the house and was very happy to see this bunch of milkweed greeting me on the way! Good friends, good omens.