Saturday, April 21, 2018

all the things by hand

all the things.
the first time i heard this phrase
was in michelle moode's beautiful letterpress book
it was index item #1.
the first thing was all the things.
 i handle this book,
handle, the touch or the feel of something held in the hands
this book
haptic knowledge
anyway, it has delights and puzzles quietly presented.
The whole world is a series of miracles, 
but we’re so used to them we call them ordinary things.
Hans Christian Anderson

I've been thinking about the intelligence of 
our hands, how they become smarter with practice, like our brains do.
unmoored, by shanna leino
 i've read over and over.
it's a small poem, not many words,
but about big things.
the care she took as she stitched this exquisite spine 
 the monoprints on silk...
see her tiny stitches?
an exit in SLU's print studio
with my favorite cheesecloth drying after being washed out.
i'm not quite sure why it is
but for me the things that have meaning
are the things made by hands that have knowledge,
and also are my favorites
for (whatever/all the) reasons.
in last summer's seattle workshop
my students' hands all together could indeed have ruled the world,
with exquisite intelligence, grace, and love.
hazel and gabby
 an envelope came recently that held this rich 
 Banks of the Dogbane by sarah swett
a hand sized tapestry (3 x 3") rich in simple detail
and texture
 woven on handspun linen
 i love this thing.
 over on the next farm this structure
was never honored by finishing
or by use
 now it's failing
i believe it was intended for hay storage 
for these bovines.
why leave it undone, 
a public testament to failure of some kind?
i watched them build it, but then it was ignored.
these cows don't seem to care. 
the lovely little brown calf stands out in this black and white crowd.
a lilac burl
from my garden.
enhanced by me cleaning and oiling it,
rolling it around in my hands with pleasure and love
handling it into another use
(maybe an awl?)

 a beautiful handwoven hemp textile
hand spun hemp on a cotton warp
found by my dear friend who allowed me to buy it
at mjolk in toronto.
 tiny waxed linen crocheted basket by Nina Payne
a gift from a gifted friend.
 shanna's lake michigan rocks
beautiful and useful.
 a little natural history book nest i made
two feathers on a shifu page and a seaweed float/bladder
 milkweed bast becoming thread
 ginkgo message
from therese
and words from the wise.
i'm reading a new book: 
Craeft by alexander langlands
which may help me understand (or perhaps just frame)
my thoughts on hand work.
all the handwork.

Thursday, April 12, 2018


i have amazing children.
today i'm showing you ian's recent house drawing which
 appeared on facebook this morning. 
i see it as a wee bit different, 
and though we haven't discussed it yet,
there seems to be a change of some kind.
there is a wonderful flatness that is anything but flat
a volume or a geometry happening here.
and an amazing building.
another hoosie.
and here, again,
because i love my first-born
trees and barns and landscape for this now city-dwelling man
who eeks out a living doing
drawing and carpentry.
my children, 
ian stevens
hannah stevens
amazing human beans.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018


what a trip.
i left at 5:15 AM last thursday after having my power go out at home
and sleeping elsewhere and packing in a windstorm
and drove almost straight through to bar harbor.
i was early to the yellow schoolhouse.
mt desert island's historical association publishes 
Chebacco every year.
this year Hannah wrote an article for it. 
so i attended the launch, met nice people,
and saw my nephew Rich MacDonald, who co-authored a piece in this issue!
kudos to the family!
Hannah, archivist at College of the Atlantic, invited Yaniv Korman
who prompted her resurgence in interest
in COA's historic Sunken Garden.
hannah, her friend tyler piebes of low tide glass and i had a sidestreet cafe supper.
i stayed at hannah's place.
the floor was moving, or so I thought,
but it was internal vibration from 10 hours of driving.
(and maybe the wine?)
friday we drove down the coast to freeport where we shopped,
and then to portland and our nifty air B&B.
tyler cooked us chicken curry. 
saturday was fun and the kids met up with my great neice.
and then sunday arrived  and the book arts bazaar.
oh, my.
this wonderful young woman 
(i've lost her name) made this garment
on Black Friday.
hardwarestore drop cloth and silkscreen,
i didn't catch her name, but she had this radiant
happiness, and liked my work, too!
well, i liked hers.
and another young woman came by to tell me she likes my work.
this is amazing to me.
i caught up with friends, todd and nancy, becky, nancy, jill
had a terrific table mate on one side who made
incredible books,
no photos.
i have her permission to post these,
and please, if you happen to come by here,
send me your name!!!
and i have to say i get so tickled to read something like this:
I love it when someone wants to make paper.
and i am a professor, i guess,
melissa said so, but this student has said it, so it must be true.
adjunct is fine by me.
it's snowed on and off all day today.
i love april and it 

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

FLAX Notion finally for sale

many of you have been interested in this little edition. 
before i take it along with me to the Book Arts Bazaar
i would like to offer it to my online friends.
there are 7 only.
 some of you know the story already,
but here are the pages, the "text".

your copy will of course be signed.
i took the photos before i remembered to do that little chore. 

this is the separate colophon that accompanies the book.


Flax Notion is about a little love affair with flax.
These papers were pulled in the winter of 2017-18 by Velma Bolyard in her kitchen.
While most papermakers would snort at such foolishness, Velma found it easier to work at home, 
comfortably dressed and in Birkenstocks, than at the mill at SLU.
The cover is a heavy flax sheet, inner papers are a lighter weight.
This raw fiber flax was beaten in a Valley Beater for over an hour, 
and hauled home in yogurt quart jugs.
Papers were carefully pulled using Lee MacDonald moulds in a dishpan in the sink, 
pressed in my mill Wake Robin with the Aardvark Press,
 and carefully restraint dried utilizing old Newton Falls Paper Mill 
cotton letterhead paper for blotters, with lots more pressure from an old book press. 
Little papers were all stitched with beeswaxed linen thread which changed their ‘handle’, 
and stitched on pages so you can touch them.
The plain flax sheet was stitched with my handspun lokta kami-ito, 
the scarlet colored with a Japanese bengara ink stick and scarlet linen, 
the blue pigmented with Maiwa indigo and sewn with linen, 
and the gold with a mix of yellow and red ochers and gold linen. 
The three pigments used were obtained in Vancouver and Melbourne, 
and the changes in the flax paper from all that stitching is what this book is all about.
This tiny edition of 7 (and one for me) celebrates the wonderful snowy winter,
sensuous flax, 
and many, many stitches.

Velma Bolyard at Wake Robin Papers
North Russell NY

FLAX NOTION is available after the fair,
but I will reserve a few for readers who ask.
i'll invoice you, if you email me.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Flax Notion

coming soon 
Flax Notion
an artist's book 
a flax book, colored and stitched 
holding many hours of touch.
lokta kami-ito
bengara ink
yellow and red ochers
and stitches stitches stitches 
edition of 7
1 artists' copy 
 and flax *candies*

Thursday, March 29, 2018


i find things
some of them are totally unexpected.
papers-overlooked and left in the blotter sheets
money-dollars, but mostly change
jewelry-mostly my own, mostly earrings, mostly in weird places
like under the mailbox on the roadside
after the snow melted.
(see a pattern here?)
today i found both, an earring and a penny (tails)
i saw a glint of shiny in a dusty corner of my living room.
and when i touched the shiny it was a gold earring, next to a penny.
it looked staged.
i know what this is
found on a dried felt
i can't quite remember which alice, but alice
a little paper to identify alice's paper 
in a class.
flax kitchen papermaking continued this week.
my crazy drying set up on the counter
(which i was pleased to scrub off the indigo stain) 
and on top of the press?
the blotter sheets and a piece of flax i'd overlooked.
blotter sheets are old cotton letterhead 
Newton Falls Paper Mill.
 isn't it nicely dimpled from such strange drying?
 i found alice the same day i found two seed pods
that the thaw revealed.
my yard and the back meadow are still snow covered, 
a few spots of earth emerging.
 out walking 
i'm keyed into milkweed
 the stem has split and you can see how strong the bast is
as it holds the stem together
 soft gold inside the pod,
looking a bit like an abandoned wild silk cocoon,
 the snow retreating from edges on my neighbor's little barn,
 it was a beautiful sunny day
 and as snow melts i find other signs,
 and i found this photo over on facebook.
this is theTAFA group I taught shifu to last March.
their funding source required them to teach shifu to their community
which they just completed.
my wonderful host Wendy Warren (top, left,1st)
Sue Ferarri (top, 3rd from right), 
their teacher,
 this group was an amazing class.
I loved teaching in a small public school on a hill near the ocean,
these folks deserve a special shout out for their dedication to fiber art.
and no, 
the edition is not complete.

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