Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Bright and sunny Tacoma

 Welcome to Tacoma!
My hotel room had a great view of all kinds of fun stuff, mostly Mt. Rainier.
I flew on Thursday and the flight was delayed by an hour but otherwise everything went smoothly in terms of getting there.
The whole hotel's theme is glass and it's so well done. I loved every last detail and was a huge fan of the glass lamp that had a setting where only the base is on for a low purple light.
I didn't sleep well the first night (as usual) but had to present for the first three hours of Friday morning. I left my computer at home (amazing how much weight that removes, as well as erasing the stress of working remotely all the time) so my typefaces didn't transfer over to this computer, but hopefully no one cared that everything was in Helvetica. GREAT group, super engaged, what a rare treat. Thank you thank you thank you to the Guild of Book Workers.
[Chihuly glass bridge] I was so happy to see SO many friends and colleagues and make new ones. I don't know why I forgot that going to a meeting of book folks meant that I'd get to see so many familiar faces. Going first is the best because then I was able to relax. I loved Suzanne Moore's presentation and afterwards was elated when Jessica invited me to a Korean spa to relax that evening.
I slept SO WELL the second night! Soaking and sweating with other fantastic ladies was the highlight of my trip. I treated myself to museum visits (like the glass museum here) and shopping and lots of delicious food so I could take in the glorious weather. Totally clear skies! Blinding sun!
Finnish glass sculpture of birds! Yes, there were ducks, but it's hard to shoot everything in glass cases.
At the Michael Taylor show, I liked the wood maquettes best.
More artifacts from his show. It was fun to see the hot shop as well.
If I hadn't been so tired from being in boots (and if I had more room to fit another pair of shoes! I was intent on fitting as many ducks and hanji pieces into my carry on that I could barely fit my clothes), I would have walked more. I did final shopping with Chandler and Jessica and got their beautiful new-ish book, Dead Feminists.
This hunk of meat was all gone by the end of the banquet on the final night. I got a Melody bag at the auction!
A printer, binder, and papermaker. We met in Chicago (well, I met Jessica in Tacoma, but we share an alma mater) and are still busy doing what we were doing there. I'm back in Michigan, where I was informed by my housemate that there are snow flurries. Reality returns as fall points decidedly to cold and dark. Two weeks left of precious studio time!

Monday, October 23, 2017


Two blobs of cleaned milkweed, and two more of uncleaned milkweed (the lower one was beaten better), after my flurry of night beating yesterday.
The two cleaned batches filled the vat nicely, though there was a pang when I realized I spent a LOT of time preparing the fiber, to only get one charge. That's okay. Those 22 sheets are precious.
I was so shocked that the very first sheet I couched of the clean milkweed went down perfectly: no bubbles, no tears, no stretching, no tears. I've never had that experience when starting a hanji post. So dreamy!
YES, there are some air bubbles, but they are really quite minor. It was a beautiful, beautiful post.
I charged with the uncleaned fiber after lunch. Allie and Jill came over to watch, and then they also watched me fall down from squatting (so more like sitting on my butt, rather than falling from a height) while trying to load the post into the press. It fell but it was already low to the ground and horizontal, so not disastrous. The disaster was believing the gauge, because it came out so overpressed that I panicked and poured water onto it, rather than spraying slowly. That was enough force to shift the pressed fibers into a weird pattern. I can see it in every sheet but it's not the end of the world. YOU LEARN SOMETHING NEW EVERY DAY.

This has been my dream for five years, if not more. Today it happened! I got to fill my hanji vat with 100% milkweed. Some has already dried and I love it 100%.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Local weekend

I knew this would happen, but it's always a surprise when my social life and life outside of the studio in a place that I've never lived starts to take over. Thursday night, I got to enjoy Kiki Smith's lecture in Ann Arbor with a bunch of new friends and colleagues. As she noted, the universe is so generous to us and it's often a matter of re-framing the way we see the gifts we are given.
Though I was exhausted, the next day I went back to Tim's and Pati's basement to beat my old duvet cover. It came down in 20 minutes (it took 20 minutes to clean up afterwards) and I ripped out a zipper the entire time while waiting. We shared lunch, chocolate, and then a beautiful walk that took us past related horses, milkweed patches, the woods, and their lovely garden. I got to go home with lettuce, peppers, beets, and basil, all gorgeous.
Finally, a chance to use the wove mould I had ordered from Germany so that I could pick it up in Vienna in February. It's great except that pulp gets under the deckle. Still happy with this in my collection.
I didn't bring sizing here, so these are all waterleaf. I was amazed by how the beater room (basement) and my studio smelled like me sleeping, but of course years of using bedding will embed a person into its fabric forever.
I finally started to beat milkweed yesterday, but only got a little over an hour in before I took a break to go downstairs for the artist reception for Angie Redmond's show (an Albion alumna) and enjoy the new faces that were converging on campus for homecoming. The extra treat was meeting Laura Beyer, another Albion alum who then went into the book arts world and now lives and works in the Detroit area—she vacations in Cleveland!
Then I enjoyed Walk the Beat with Kevin and Anne, somehow overcoming my afternoon naptime sleepiness and general lack of fitness to be on my feet all over town, hearing lots of music and running into lots of great people.
Transforming old spaces into new spaces has been on my mind for a while and now even more so, and it seems to be happening all over the place in this small town. This will be a new Albion Malleable Brewery, the name inherited from the old iron foundry that was in town. Once we used up all of our raffle tickets, we had dinner at the Dark Horse Brewery. I thought I'd catch up on work this morning, but instead got lots of goodies to eat in Battle Creek. But it's wonderful to have a fun weekend—the next stop is the library reference desk.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Milkweed mania

I never got past this much cleaned fiber (and will probably combine the left side with the cleaner right side, only to get enough to get the vat going).
I had even considered driving home last week with all of the stalks to process, but didn't. I felt the weight of them not stripped heavier each day, and started to strip as soon as I got back. Dry stripping felt endless, so I steamed and stripped in a rush before heading to a great ramen place last night in Battle Creek with friends.
But that was kind of ridiculous for the state the stalks were in, so I went back to dry stripping today and finished in just under three hours (after stabbing and scratching up my hands and fingers a bit in my haste).
This is the rest of it. After Velma shared a great nettle video with me last week and noted similarities with milkweed, I realized I've been approaching dry stripping all wrong for years. Once I stomped on each stalk with my foot and split them lengthwise, it went so much more easily. The survivalist folks do the same when splitting dogbane for cordage, as they are trying to preserve all the length of the fibers.
Two cooks done today: dry stripped and steam stripped of the uncleaned fibers. Tomorrow I'll cook the cleaned ones and hopefully start hand beating. I am REALLY itching to pull sheets, though I so appreciate all this fiber prep time. It's all a necessary part of the process and provides a lot of time to think and improve each step, plus appreciate all that it takes to do this work.
I had considered doing this for a while, and the trip home was the perfect chance to grab a worn duvet. In ripping and cutting it apart to soak (and beat on Friday), I was glad that I did it, because it's so threadbare! I'm happy to have used and worn it so well; it and the silk blanket inside served me admirably over many years and homes. I'm excited for it to enter its next life.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Quiet milestones

I originally thought that I should spend my decade turning birthday at a cemetery because I did that the last time. Then my tooth hurt enough to make me scared enough to rush home and see the dentist. A good excuse to take care of things, see the beau, sleep in my own bed, and relax (though really I was running errands every day—amazing how many things you end up having to do when you are no longer nestled in corn fields). I got one major surprise that will become real in the coming year or two, and will be the big work for this chapter in my life.
I did some jiseung and methylcellulose coating, as those are the easiest things to do on the road. Thought about the next steps for other pieces while putting in all kinds of maintenance orders (amazing how the natural direction for human-built structures is into decay and disarray. Sometimes I wonder why we ever bothered).
Made new tiny ducks. There are three other ones (bigger than these, on copper stands) that are now on sale starting today, running through Oct 22, at Still Point Gallery—meaning you can get a discount! Also, the Hand Papermaking art auction goes live today! Though I'm back in Michigan after yesterday's drive, it's already time to head next week to Tacoma for the Standards of Excellence meeting of the Guild of Book Workers. I shipped my hanji today for my demo.

Also, now that I've been reading and thinking more about tools and making, I so appreciate Jeff's post today about critical looking. This is something most people are NOT taught to do anymore. Thank goodness it's not completely lost.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Whizzing back and forth

I've only taken one solo walk on the trails since going out with the Nature Center director to look for milkweed. My bad, but hopefully I'll get back out again soon.
Tried to embed this in hanji, and technically everything went okay except that the watercolor used for the clothing bled into the rest of the post. Also, no one is convinced that the clothes should be trapped in paper.
A new one.
Instead of using water bottles filled part way, the scraps of pond liner from the vat work great to dry the bal with slight weights (evens it out).
Started this for the auction coming up at the end of Oct at the GBW Standards of Excellence meeting.
A very fun experiment!
The next experiment (something I've wanted to do for a while): start with a circular base but go slightly square.

Done this morning!
My social life this week was very very busy. Lots of driving to nearby cities (each about an hour away, either east or west). I did Ann Arbor mid-week and had a great time. Friday, Tim and Pati drove us to Kalamazoo to see Shawn's opening at the book arts center. We saw one of Tim's old moulds, in great shape! Made in 1995.
Shawn's show was fabulous and showed all different steps of making some of his books, especially the trade edition of Welcome to the Neighborwood.
Because I don't get to see him enough, I drove back on Sunday to take his fall blooms class. SO FUN.

Black eyed Susan! That was just the first of five.
I was really tired by the end but so pleased. Always take class with him if you can!
The pro: part of his show in Kalamazoo right now.
Learn more about Shawn here. Today in my paranoia about a tooth, I decided to rush home to see the dentist. Rush isn't quite right, as it's almost 4 hours to get home, but I trust my dentist and there's no other way to get there in time for an early morning appointment. Time to get back to the house and pack for a quick break from Michigan.