Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Wrapping up Oberlin: paper into books

Alissa made these paper dolls today, our last day of class, to depict her cohort. What follows: each student and a sampling of their work:









And a few of their thank you cards for the many on campus who make this entire endeavor possible. As I told them today, my students were working so hard transforming their handmade paper into handmade books that you could almost see steam coming off of their heads. What a deeply engaged, kind, and extremely game group of students, who offered very thoughtful feedback in a final debrief. So glad to know that we could create this space and art together even after lots of pandemic meltdown.

Most of my pictures from the entire course.

Oberlin's pictures of our paper decoration day. And a review of what else was going on while we were in the paper studio.

Tomorrow I'm offering an open studio day since we lost a day to snow a couple weeks back, and then I head home to prep for my solo show & teaching in the United Arab Emirates in early March.

Saturday, February 12, 2022

New team-taught class: Hanji and Washi

Here is Diana at the hanji vat several years at Ox-Bow, the first time we met (I had her assist me at Penland years later). I am very excited about a brand-new class that I will be teaching in August with Tatiana at Dieu Donné in NYC. Forever during my hanji life, people ask, "How is Korean paper different from Japanese?" Aside from the racist under/overtones of conflating the two, I have never been able to physically show the difference in the formation in one location. That changes this summer!

We'll prep tons of fiber and then split it into two vats, a Korean and a Japanese, and Tatiana and I will be able to show directly, in one studio, obvious and subtle differences. It's the kind of class that gets me eager to teach, and that kind of class that is very necessary but incredibly rare (and hopefully not a one-off). Geared towards papermakers who want to have a comparative experience with folks who have trained in the countries of origin of these techniques.

Diana Benavidez

Tatiana Ginsberg

Dieu Donné class (register now as I am guessing it will sell out very quickly)

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Overflowing or stuffed or both

When I found out about a biology major from Beijing who enjoys calligraphy, I invited him to our class to test some of the papers we had made. Haoyuan is one of those model students: eager, enthusiastic, punctual, proactive, cheerful, engaged. He's practicing first on his own practice paper before he gets to the sheets we made. I invited him to return the following week to see what else you can do with sumi ink. Now that we're not allowed to charge students a fee for on-campus classes, I feel less bad about open invites, since there's no feeling of 'taking' or using materials that students helped pay for. I mean, they all pay for it in one way or another.
Last Monday was our field trip to Cleveland, when Ed generously gets a school van and drives everyone around. It's always a messy day but fun as we play with colors.
I had cooked onion skins the night before to prepare dye and had also torn down lots of different washi for students to use that I got from Paper Connection.
The lines filled up quickly, always fun.
After lunch (I had stopped at both locations of Koko Bakery to get treats for the lunar new year), we went to visit Zygote Press and were in for a treat because Lisa was printing and showed us what she was up to, always a fantastic teacher and open to sharing.
Yuko was also printing, and it was great to see all of her pieces because she works so much work handmade paper, a lot of it from classes she's taken at the Morgan and with me. She is one of the most consistent and diligent working artists I know and has explored these materials and techniques in exquisite ways.
They got to see exhibits in both locations before loading up the van with beaten pulp and pulp paints from the Morgan to drop off at the studio.
The next day we started western papermaking, always a weird jump if you learn Asian style formation first.
They took to it really well but we lost a day because of the snow. I was relieved because I needed the time off so badly but unhappy about all the pulp we were not using.
This is a task that I noticed my last class was okay doing two years ago: cleaning interfacing of tiny bits of dried pulp before using them again, so that all the papers are clean. In the past students hate doing this and just skip it. But this group has been pretty adamant about doing this for hours each day. I can't tell if it's because they think they should (and they should) or because they want quiet dry seated work time.
Before the snow day, I felt like we were going to run out of pulp so we cut up a pair of old jeans and an old work shirt. That was a bit brutal because our rotary cutters barely worked and we only had three subpar sets of scissors. But they were again very calm and methodical about getting it done.
I walked one half of class to the science building with buckets and soaked rags to visit Taylor's lab, as he has the only beater in town (after taking this class with me years ago, he got funding to set up a tiny papermaking outfit in his research lab).
I had them paddle the pulp to circulate it faster because I didn't want them to spend hours here. It would have made better pulp but time was limited.
After this group got the shirt pulped, I sent them back with pulp in buckets to send the second group over to pulp the jeans. 
The shirt was so worn that it made more like lint paper but the denim here worked okay, still pretty soft.
The drybox was FULL for days.
I always love to unload early to see what the students have been up to with their wet experimentation.
How could anyone resist? This student strikes me so much as an artist because of her entire presentation, sensibility, and work ethic but there's no saying what happens in the future. I actually have a majority of students who have high tolerance for the slow, methodical, precision work, and it's a surprise to me but also a great gift.
Then we did a day of paper decoration, starting with paste papers after a snow day plus delayed start.
Suminagashi in mostly paint liner trays.
Ed always generously does the marbling prep and demo, but now that we have the wet studio, he can store all of the supplies here so that is a lot easier than previous years of schlepping that he had to do.
For whatever reason, they were really shy about marbling. Usually it's almost a fight to get to the vats, but this time I had to really push them to finish two sheets each.
With a few exceptions!
She was happy to do even more of this after the weekend. One tray leaked out so we could only work one at a time, but even the students who had prepped extra paper on Friday didn't want to marble anymore. I started to do quick use-up-the-paint work until someone stepped up to finish all the rest of the sheets. Friday after all the decoration, I stayed with two other students over two hours past the end of class to use up all the rest of the pulp. It was nice to just do a production run with the students who liked pulling the most.
After a big studio clean this week, we moved everything to the library to start bookmaking. While it's easier in a sense because they can sit and be dry, this group is really focused so I know they're burning a lot of fuel learning new skills and experimenting. It's nice to have a document camera overhead so that I don't have to set up a separate camera for the students on the far end of the classroom.
Mid-week we made our art library trip to see artists' books and almost get smashed in the stacks when someone started to close them.
The next day I had them look at a bunch of goodies in the main library special collections.
Then back to more structures! I can't tell if it's aging, pandemic, the weird temporary academic calendar, trying to fit in the other F/T work after/before class, or what, but I am completely wrung out. Living on the edge of this small campus and town is a double-edged sword: I get to overeat a mix of places that are just steps away. It is severe overeating but my excuse, aside from stress and proximity, is the enormous shoveling labor of snow. A few days and we'll wrap up!

Paper Connection

Zygote Press

Lisa Schonberg

Yuko Kimura

Thursday, February 03, 2022

Videos for a snow day

I have never been so primed for a day off, so when a student turned around on the walk back from the science building to the paper studio in the rain after beating a pair of jeans to pulp, and said that school was closed the next day (via email), I was relieved. Above is a biology student who has studied calligraphy; I invited him to test some of the paper we had made in class (to his right). First he wanted to practice!

Since last night, the wind has been raging and present. I had my first afternoon nap in a while, delicious! Pared down the inbox and walked across the street in the sideways snow to get some Korean food. I wish I could always have such close Korean food access. I assigned my students videos to watch while we are apart so I'll do the same here!

One, a lovely video about Jo Dae-yong, national treasure of bamboo blind making (not for hanji but many of the steps are similar). I can't believe it has been almost a year since I studied with him in Korea! It's kind of an ad, but he and his daughter are in it and I'm so glad she is inheriting the family tradition that has lasted over 100 years. It's all in Korean but the footage is still worth watching.

Two, a PBS video about me, shot in 2019 though I never saw the final cut until January. Most of it is shot in Oberlin, on their farm (they make it seem like I'm making hanji at home but it's on the George Jones Farm), and at Kendal where I had a solo show at the time. I had been mortified watching it at first, as I had spent days with this enthusiastic crew and so much footage never made it, but a wise friend said, "Interviews always do that - cut out the parts you like the best and keep what’s embarrassing. But we’re bad judges of our own interviews I’ve come to learn." Thanks to the Ohio Arts Council for funding the feature!