Wednesday, February 27, 2019

No sticks but definitely stones

For a while I was obsessed with turning every last sizeable scrap into cord. Funny how this work is seasonal because there are definitely times in my life that I do NOT want to be cording!
This was the final dye bath, more onion skins. These are orange-y because most of the cords had already been coated with a light wash of persimmon.
The young one is slowly getting learning. One more lesson (learning a rim finish) left before I leave town! Hopefully while I'm gone she can manage or at least experiment with what she knows.
The final set. Hard to tell, but it's over 100 cords in nine shades. Of course there are extras. Always extras in weird colors or not dyed.
Because teaching season is going to slam me very soon, I realized I was long overdue for drawing a handout of a particular structure that I teach a lot. I always tell students to pay attention and take good notes but they often don't (and I know they aren't because they're not right behind me; this is one you can't watch from afar). This kind of work is excruciating to me in certain ways and yet I always learn SO much. I had to draw it three times and certain sections waaaay more than that. But it's done!
I also put in an order to a master carpenter/toolmaker to make more bark beating implements for me. I only have two rocks (and rocks can get heavy to travel with) so the ones in progress now are going to be made out of dense wood.
I had written this earlier this year and uncovered it while cleaning up my worktable. It's a reminder (but then I forget...and then I remember...and so on).
Yesterday I finally figured out a temporary solution for masking this piece. I had a grand time turning the cords into knot drawings. Because I didn't want any dye residue to get onto my wall, nor did I want to drive nails into my plaster walls, I found an old big pad of newsprint that I tore into smaller pieces. I pinned each cord (sometimes two, sometimes four—bound together, of course) into a gesture on the newsprint and carried stacks upstairs to this one room that has a free wall. The room wasn't really big enough to spread out all of the options on the floor so I worked as best as I could while listening to a physicist talk about the nature of time online.
The final installation at the gallery will have the knots directly on the wall, no extra paper besides the paper that constitutes the cords! It's going to be a monster install but at least I can finally start to see it come together before I leave. In the process, I used up my roll of white artist tape that I've had for over a decade. I got into my green tape, too, and was sad that when it's gone, I won't have any more tape from Pearl Paint, the art supply store in NYC's Chinatown that has since disappeared. But now I know that time passes differently for people and I will still remember a time when that store existed.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Rainbow days

red (purple) onion skins
what remains after persimmon, brazilwood, onion
persimmon brushed hanji corners, for a different project
ground cochineal (the brazilwood was too weak, time to overdye)
this was the day when it looked like a murder scene
pre cochineal
after the 3rd extraction of bugs
All that remains: another batch of cochineal that is almost dry + a new batch of onion skin that is overdyeing persimmon that is drip drying. The question now is how this all transforms into an installation, and I only have two weeks to answer.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019


I'm now in the phase of being home where the panic has set in because there is suddenly so much less time. In less than a month, I will be in France. Before that, New York. In between, a brief change of bags in Brussels. The cold days of making string and cord will soon end.
These are rough, intentionally, and gleefully made from many of my broke hanji: the stuff I've kept for years that has all kinds of problems. They don't necessarily disappear in rope form, but are much less offensive and much more useful.
Yellow onion skins, check. Indigo vat, check (thanks to Pam!). On the stove right now: red onion skins. Waiting for tomorrow: brazilwood shavings (also thanks to Pam, from several years ago. Some gifts last a long time). What comes next will hopefully unravel some serious frustration and constipated ideas. There are lots of other things in the wings, but now, time to make some green cords!

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Another moon, another year

We had another lesson this weekend, upstairs in the room that has my jiseung garbage can. It's fun to have a student who is willing to grip the basket between her feet like I was first taught. Another reason to work with flexible, growing youth: it's much easier for them to sit this way than those of us who are slowly ossifying.
This vat was delayed a week through a mix of my inertia and unwillingness to do hard labor during the super cold temps last week.
But yesterday I was much better about agitating my vat (it's terrible that I get lazy about this step, of all steps, as it is one of the easiest in comparison and makes a big difference in the final sheet). That means that I was sore immediately and today. It uses a lot of muscles in a way that I usually never do.
My new camera makes it possible to get better action shots, though I still need to sort out compression because these look worse than my cell phone pics. I dislike spending so much precious time learning the device, but am grateful for my lesson from a pro friend so I understand the most important basics.
What's this? An experiment I have wanted to do for a while!
Powdered persimmon coating sprinkled between layers of hanji. I used a pepper shaker, but it dumps a bit too much so I want to find a better tool, maybe like a tiny sifter. Results are very promising as the color migrates through layers and layers to create almost photographic layers of blur and crisper points. Sadly, I have to put this aside while I work on another deadline, but glad to have another batch of fiber tested. Happy new year (though a friend warned me that the year of the pig may be a difficult one for me, a snake. That's not how I want to start out the year, though, so I won't)—this is my final month laying low before big travel.