Sunday, March 03, 2024

OSGF part three: interstitial breathing

Last year I gave myself a lot of leeway to not blog as much and it was a great training to almost stop. The older I get, the more I would rather be, instead of documenting the being. January is always bananas as I teach every day for six hours, and somehow I survived. But the deep yearning I had was to return to Virginia for a three week residency at OSGF. As soon as I pulled into Bank House, I knew I was home.
Through an unfortunate fluke of bureaucracy, I was alone again. I immediately set up as usual, paper on one side,
books/dry work on the other.
Then I walked and saw the new oak planting experiments, fenced, in the near field.
A pollinator garden where there was once black tarp to kill weeds.
The old compost pile was growing veggies from old unturned scraps.
The new compost system on the other end of the airstrip.
Milkweed was even closer than ever, the field directly across the studio.
First I tried an experiment to cook stalks directly in soda ash, to bypass the steaming step. Meh, I still had to clean a lot later.
Then I steamed as usual and decided to extract only certain fibers.
I feel like what was happening in the studio was not so different from what was happening in the house.

This mess becomes...
pickles! I for sure made more pickles than paper this time around.
But nowhere near what our wonderful chef Jason had been up to.
I was so happy to be back when the alumni show was up, and honored to have my book included in this display.
As well as this one (Kandi does the MOST exquisite work, hers is the marvelous big book, standing).
She also did all the silverpoint drawings in this display. Tony the librarian did an amazing job composing my piece of milkweed paper at top between Kandi's nests. Henry's four thistle papers are below.
I finally got to make two different iterations of this book, which was one of two ways of handlin the honeycomb that I have been backburnering for YEARS.
When you get to work on art every day, all day, things happen that you wouldn't have expected because you are showing up and then more is revealed to you.
Nancy took this picture of one of the most glorious sunrises we had, in our first week. I had looked forward to this aspect of living here for a long time: watching the sun rise a LOT. I cried the first time I saw the sun peek over a red barnlike structure, while sitting at home. This morning that Nancy captured amazingly well, I was outside walking towards higher spots to get a better view and yelled a lot as the sky showed off. I also totally overdid it with walking and was in a lot of pain afterwards (the week between Oberlin and Virginia, I had four appts and got unhappy diagnoses but no clear route forward).
All the snow we had melted quickly but was still welcome.
I took old journals to make new comics.
My last two visits were during serious pandemic times, so I never got the regular chef dinners and treats. I didn't know Jason would make us so much gorgeous bread and that there was enough leftover for lunches.
Also, with a fully equipped kitchen, I made lots of things, mostly with CSA produce. Aside from quick pickled beets, turnips, and shallots, I made parsley pesto, skillet potatoes, seaweed salad, baked rice, and butter bean hummus (with pickling juice).
I was rarely paying attention to sundown, but when I could, loved the pinks of it as much as the pinks of dawn. Along with this wonderful tree with its lower branch almost like a bird in flight from afar.
My first batch of milkweed paper was lovely, small, and sweet. I had spent the first week cleaning it and then had to stop myself because there would be no fiber left if I cleaned it all.
I figured out a new couching system leaning in/on the sink. I always love to work in/on sinks.
I learned to really appreciate and savor tiny batches. Never made more than 11 sheets in a go! My body was grateful.
The paper, dried.
Another dawn.
Another unexpcted set of books born.
Yet another unexpected set of two books, a re-envisioning of a previous unique book I did many, many years ago.

I love revisiting old work, if it still holds up.
My studio presentation, in the afternoon after I had made 6 sheets of hemp waste paper. It had taken me two years to do it, but I finally did it! The final batch was a very hasty one of small milkweed sheets from the near field.
I was fascinated by the burn they did of one of the fields. If I hadn't been so glued to the studio, I would have watched it in action.
Once I got to the end, I realized I wouldn't have time to do much. It's hard to let go of the work time and start packing to leave.
But I noticed patterns even on the last day of studio and kitchen work.

My final morning, I walked up the ramp to the top level of the studio to watch the sun rise.
Behind me, the full moon was setting and a black horse hanging around on the neighbor's side. This was a watershed time, learning to sit with myself in the in between spaces, and thrive.

OSGF part two: pops

This is another long malingering project that has seen so many fits and starts over the years. I knew exactly what I wanted, but actually making and engineering it, that is another story. Let's see one version unfold:

Okay, in case you needed to see it again, but in a slightly taller honeycomb (truly, I had made these SO long ago. But once pandemic hit, I abandoned them):

Now I have four versions (one I "leafed" months ago, and the last is a tiny one), and have engineered two different ways of getting them into books (again, in my mind, this seemed so easy...). I couldn't finish them but three are housed in their differing book structures. Thank god for another stay at OSGF so that I could have the time and space to sort it out. 100% related to my first project I did that they supported.