Friday, July 31, 2020

Major minor


What I forgot to post just now was that I ordered Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong a while back but it arrived in the mail right before I found out I would be able to come here. I immediately put it in my pile of books to read and it was the first one I finished here. I am so glad she wrote it, and that I was able to read it here with all the space and time it deserves. The story she mentions about a white American surgeon in Korea serving in the Army who developed the eyelid surgery that has become all too common now made me crazy. I found this article that delved deeper into that pretty racist practice, which is now deeply internalized racism practiced in Korea and beyond.

Too much to think about and articulate clearly but I'm grateful to her for doing the hard work: just going back to the memories of childhood, immigrant parents, not being accepted here ever, all of that takes incredible energy and time. I avoid recalling a lot of my own memories because they suck. But a friend shared with me the story of a biracial opera singer who posted about his experiences of racism in the field and the history behind it. Again, grateful to all of these artists who do this work and remind me to keep doing my work.

Above, the first book I finished here. I'll start that structure all over again tomorrow, re-practice, re-learn.

Itchy milestones

This was a walk from the weekend, I think. I realized it wasn't as hard to walk to the other property as I feared, and that it's a nice walk if you take the mowed paths through the fields, which apparently are a newer phenomenon (the paths, not the fields).
I started this lid and finished it but now it has no bottom! I thought it would be easier to make a pot fit a lid than vice versa but that means I have to make a pot first and I'm only half in the mood.
For years I had big thick cords laying around and I've kind of wrangled them into baskets but they really just want to do what they want, which may not be this.
Years ago I tried to harvest and strip dogbane from the fall and it was a total fail, because I didn't read Winifred Lutz's research closely enough to see that you have to strip earlier than the fall! The fiber is gorgeous and the next batch I almost don't even want to turn it into paper, only strip it for the fiber to do other things with—spin, weave, twine, make string.
Yesterday (was it yesterday? Maybe the day before? I can't keep track of days) I did a small marigold harvest from the garden for a tiny dye batch.
I didn't have white papers so I dyed milkweed and slippery elm/mulberry ones. It's nice to do small batch everything, so manageable. For three days I've done tiny paper batches, very contained and low pressure but still with delightful results.
This morning's hodgepodge of a harvest. It was from the garden, then I biked to the side of the road where I had seen milkweed but didn't want to walk through the tall grass to get there, just one stalk to have a sample stalk. I stepped on tall grass that was laying down, thinking, is this grass laying down because deer were hanging out on it? I check when I come in every day from being in fields or gardens, but I wasn't being vigilant enough: usually I only check my bottom half. I found the first tick ever on my shoulder and freaked out of course but in the end it's a miracle I survived four decades without this experience.
Pictures never do justice but the sunsets (and sunrises, I've been told, but don't get up early enough to witness) are gorgeous here.
I made two versions of this book, and though I hate the prep work on these lovely bindings, I always love the results. I had intended to do this for a long time at home, but it never happened. This is why residencies are so helpful. I've been feeling more antsy this week in quarantine and am really excited to be done with it soon, but have made plenty of plans to finally be able to enjoy the insides of the buildings here and the library collection.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Reveling in quarantine

Guess who did not know for a while that there were trails RIGHT OUTSIDE the house and studio on the other side from the trails I saw on the first day? I was so glad to figure it out after walking down truck tracks and discerning a mowed path that went away from the path for vehicles. I also didn't know until I got on the other side of this that the building was not enclosed!
The hay was obvious when I first arrived but not the geese. They are trotting along in a line, gave me a show that morning.
What is this big weed? It's everywhere and handsome.
Oh, so many generous wild patches in these big meadows. Milkweed everywhere.
For the first time while scoping out a harvest, I saw a monarch caterpillar. It was feasting loudly on the leaf.
While I could use the thistles to make paper, I'm going to refrain. Thanks to Velma for the advice. I'll let their thorns do their job keeping me away, especially having already been stabbed in the hand by one at home while weeding.
Up close I realize these are lights for the now defunct runway. It was funny to see the real thing after playing with the Lego versions as a child.
When I first biked the runway I wondered what the words were and then I realized they spelled RESTRICTED. It was for private planes. Milkweed and thistles and other weeds now flank it.
My first batch of paper, gampi that I had leftover from a batch that was wholly unsatisfying at the time but now gorgeous after two days of peroxide/washing soda light cooks and a final blender whirl.
Finishing the teapot made me realize I wanted to make a duck teapot! The handle is too big but when you start at the handle/butt, you can't fix it later. Ergonomically it's not great because it would take so much to get the tea out of the bill but you could.
Last night I tried to finish the lid while the rest of staff and the one other artist were at movie night outside (I'm bad with that stuff b/c bugs eat me and I am paranoid, plus I am not good at sitting still watching a movie with nothing else to do). I kept trying and nothing looked right so I went to bed. This morning I did a tiny loop because it was too hot already in the morning to really walk the fields but the geese marched out again and I realized what I actually needed to do to finish the pot.
I went to the studio, whizzed up my next batch of chiri and made gorgeous fine paper. Both batches were from dried fiber I brought from home, BUT the formation aid yesterday was from hollyhocks that I got from the garden here, and today from okra from the garden. What a luxury to have those on hand rather than synthetic (which of course I made as a backup). Then I went into the house for food and stretches and finishing the pot. Overjoyed!

One more week of quarantine, then two weeks of residency with less restrictions. These definite timelines have been freeing albeit brief while being secluded here is a fabulous gift.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Mish mosh of days

This morning I got up early to try and catch the sun. Not quite sure I made it but it was cloudy. Another dawn I'll get a glorious sunrise.
Danielle was kind enough to meet me at 6am on the other side to show me the trails, as yesterday I tried to do it on my own and couldn't find them!
She showed me where things were that I was curious about and then I saw other curious things (like those glass bells in the last row to the right).
This is when I tried yesterday but wasn't sad to walk around the outside of the treasured building I can't go into until my quarantine ends: the library! At least, I think this is the library.
This is kind of how I feel.
I think this was a day before yesterday but I can't remember. So many beautiful stone walls, a sign of wealth on a certain type of land (full of rocks that were pulled up to cultivate the land for a certain thing).
This is part of the production farm from which my lovely veggies come from. This is a small bit of all of this, which used to be a plantation with 24 slaves. Of course before then it was a mix of different types of land that was settled by Native people. I still haven't sorted out how to benefit from this kind of wealth built on yikes.

 Night two? The first day and a half felt like a month and now already, almost a week in?
Only one hemp plant survived in the walled garden. They got permission to grow it and only the one made it.
Inside are plants for dye, paper, and cut/dried flowers. Some of the plants make more sense than others but it's a grand experiment, right next to the biodiversity part where they are growing everything for seed. The corn TOWERS.
I'm not sure I'll use any of this right away as I don't have a beater and I'm still in my ramping up mode. The studio is mostly set up but I've been hiding out in the house because my jiseung project feels like the most important thing to get to.
I got here with soooo many things I needed/wanted/expected to do. I arrived and wanted to throw it all away and burn it. Most of that involves the work to be done on the computer.
This nearly broke my hands but I'm...
 DONE!
This was yesterday morning, the horses who belong to the people on the other side. The heat and humidity is not my favorite climate but I do love the misty thick mornings.

Monday, July 20, 2020

A new place to ground

After being worried that my car would explode (mostly, that the tires would blow) as I drove to 100-degree weather, I arrived this afternoon to Oak Spring! I wish girls were taught more about cars from a young age so that I would not spend so much time worrying about things my car can and cannot do. I just make it all up, nothing is grounded in what cars really are.
The pictures mostly are blurry because I was so hot and tired and excited. This is the start of a trail that I see from the front door of the house.
This is both exciting and terrifying...the last time I had access to a bicycle at a residency, I fell off of it and messed up my foot. Yes, I'm not good at cycling, so it happened in a parking lot and I really didn't need to be cycling because the distance was not far (but it was hot in Santa Fe and I hate being outside when it's hot).
My welcome bouquet from the gardens!
And so that I wouldn't have to go food shopping immediately after the long drive (I'll have to quarantine for 2 weeks), they stocked me with food enough to get through tomorrow's breakfast. I almost cried having this dinner because it was all made HERE, with things that grow here (zucchini baba ghanoush and hibiscus tea).
Now I get why rich fancy people have so many plates. It protects the surfaces they're on. I think...whatever the answer is, the accommodations are extremely comfortable and because of the pandemic, I don't have to share as normally we would on this program.
The shared studios are downstairs but instead of one or the other side, I could use both. I already know which door sticks but have to see how the light works during the day first before I choose.
The studio on the other side, and I have no idea what that top space looks like but the grassy ramp going into it is fabulous.
After I showered and ate and settled in a little, I took a sunset walk just to sweat all over again but it was worth it. I am so grateful to get this month away, here.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Virtual opening tonight

Drywall is in! There is one more window that needs to be cut out of it but this is the main studio area.
This is what the roofing insulation looks like, only interesting to me because it looked like I was reading French up there.
The teapot might be a total bust but I have only been able to snatch moments at night here and there to try and massage it towards better.
The whole time I've lived here, I had no idea that I actually had daylilies!! Because 1. I don't look at this side of the house often and 2. the deer always eat all of the flowers before I even know that this is a plant that flowers. I happened to notice this on an evening walk this week and yelled and ran towards it.
This is not my garden but it's my neighborhood and this is definitely one family that eats all my plants. They are kind of cruel in that this year they ate all the daylilies but that one, and all the hostas but one. Taunting me!
Though I got a tree identification book, I am still no good at figuring out what is what. In my neighborhood on a tree lawn, and I have no idea. People tell me to get an app and that is not what I want. I want a nature walk with someone who knows all the names and then I want to learn the names so that I don't stay one of the majority of Americans, according to Dr. Kimmerer, who only knows six types of trees including "christmas trees." When I am back from adventure I may call the city to see if the arborist has a map of what is what, but more likely they'll think I'm the crazy lady who lives down the street who calls for really weird reasons.
Another inherited plant on the border that I love! But I don't know the name, please help! Tonight I'll be on the zoom virtual opening of a local textile show, starts at 6:30pm, and you can register here.