Wednesday, February 20, 2019

the miles

learning milkweed

i call it putting in 
the miles.
or hours
or reading 
(you know, the research) 
what i mean is 
doing the work.
i like teaching and i like watching 
students of all ages
"getting it"

******

eureka!
and then it disappears.
and then it returns, more and more, till you know it.
a little.
i've had students a few times 
j u s t    n o t    g e t    i t.
usually those students have this:
s o m e t h i n g    i n    t h e    w a y.
and i've had students 
w o r k    t h r o u g h    i t.

case in point: 
long ago i had the great opportunity to teach beginning handspinning at
 pine mountain settlement school in kentucky. 
i was barely an intermediate spinner, despite having spun several pounds of fleece using spindles and wheels. i was told by a friend that i could teach beginners. 
i believed her, so tried it. 
well, it was amazing and all of them got it and i was so proud. 
except for one woman. 
her hands couldn't relax and allow the wheel to work. 
she fought the wool. 
backing up a bit: i learned to spin on my ashford traditional that i put together right out of the box...i spun in my ridiculously ugly apartment complete with green shag carpeting. 
and i pushed that three legged beast through the thick shag, that's how hard i treadled. 
but eventually i stopped chasing it across the floor and my hands began to learn the wheel, the wool, harmonize their particular tune. back to pine mountain: she failed, tried a few times, then refused to try, and left the class. i was mortified: i'd failed her. i knew i was young to be teaching and therefore couldn't figure it out. 
but,
again, the same thing happened. 

teaching shifu to a beginner group. this time i was older, a longtime teacher. 
she sat close to me, 
eventually disclosing some difficult personal issues, 
and could only work for a few hours each day. 
her issues, that baggage, clogged up the capacity to learn. 
those paths were being used by other demanding things. 
she tried, but she couldn't, her hands hard and stifled.
i wrote about how making shifu has helped some of my students 
with healing, processing their own personal stuff 
in Hand Papermaking (summer 2016).
 it's not always a big processing that's going on. 
sometimes it's just daily detritus in the way.
(the "you need to walk" or "do the dishes", or "ride your horse") 
which is why you put in the miles.
waiting for the bigger ideas that come along when they please.
meanwhile you

practice. practice. practice.

i talked about this with a friend sunday, at my table, drinking tea, 
sharing ideas and our lives. 

practice. practice. practice.

being present, too.
with practiced skilled hands head heart.

as i teach young students i mourn some of the things 
those in education have chosen to leave behind,
 things like sewing, measuring, drawing, choosing and understanding tools. 
hand skills. 
determination. focus.
empowering another person, 
teaching them how to approach problem solving, 
how to attempt, 
how to succeed, how to fail 
and try again
or adapt.

in the last two years i've made a lot of paper, 
much of it from raw flax, 
but some from linen rag (retired clothing). 
i went to pbi and took an amazing busy class 
with flax expert mary hark, 
and i continue to put that new learning into practice. 
in two years what i know is a bit about how raw flax becomes paper. 
by hand.
i know a bit. 
and that's the truth. 
i haven't hurt my body doing this or bankrupted myself, 
but i have worked hard and continually at it. 
and now i know something about flax papermaking 
(and a bit about using it, 
how it behaves)

this format, the internet, makes it easy to think that mastery, 
or even competency is easy. 
it could be. 
i say it isn't. 
not at all.
i belong to a few forums 
and the ridiculous questions people ask instead of 
trying things themselves or reading or practicing or understanding
 bother the heck out of me. 
because to be a maker, to be adept, to be skilled, 
you have to 
put 
in 
the 
miles.
and every single one is, may i propose, 
sacred. 
your own sacred.
and owned.
none of us have to be the best, the smartest, 
the whatever we were measured against.
we do have to do our work well.
and with a few other qualities that you already know
or will learn.


i'll be teaching North Country Shifu in Pocatello, Idaho 
at the end of march.
i'm looking forward to making string again.

my slu freshmen are keeping me busy
with a class called what is an image?
 together we'll find out 
a little bit about 
that very question.

still learning milkweed



Friday, February 15, 2019

all stitched up

All Stitched Up deadlines coming up:
Stitch + book = 

All Stitched Up 

An international juried book arts exhibition 
September 3rd – December 11th, 2019
Collins Memorial Library University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, WA
Call for Submissions
All Stitched Up is asking for submissions of artists’ books from around the globe where stitching is a featured element. They may be visible stitches for the binding, text, or images, or any technique that leaves evidence of stitches. Artists’ books may be from an edition or unique, and created from any medium. There is a $10 submission fee for up to 3 works.
To stitch is to join together, to mend, or fasten as with stitches – to sew. To stitch is to bring together fabric, paper, wounds of the body, or cultural divides. Stitching can be an act of healing, hope, practicality, creativity, and revolution. All Stitched Up recognizes and celebrates the work of book artists’ where stitching has become an integral part of the visual design. Curators Catherine Alice Michaelis, Jane A. Carlin, and Diana Weymar will jury the show and a print catalogue will be created.
We are particularly (but not solely) interested in works that showcase collaboration and focus on building a sense of shared community. That may include collaboration between two or more artists, two or more communities, or crowd-sourced projects. Sewing that joins people and ideas link us to historical social and political sewing circles from the abolitionist movement of the 1800s, to the corporate resistant DIY movement kindled by the Riots Grrrls in the 1990s, to the knitting collectives of today that focus on the anti-war, pro-science, and pro-choice movements. In addition, you may draw inspiration from the embroidered books of the Victorian period, the rise of needlecrafts during the Arts & Crafts period, and family traditions of sewing by machine or hand stitching.
This exhibition will include pages from Diana Weymar’s Interwoven Stories project. This includes Refashioning Identity, which was created by members of the Puget Sound community in 2016/17 as facilitated by Weymar.

here's the url: https://www.pugetsound.edu/academics/academic-resources/collins-memorial-library/all-stitched-up/

Thursday, February 14, 2019

heart

 I believe that the world was created and approved by love, 
that it subsists, 
coheres, 
and endures by love, 
and that, 
insofar as it is redeemable,
 it can be redeemed only by love.
Wendell Berry




Tuesday, February 12, 2019

post Codex

leaving for Codex in the window between storms was wise,
and staying overnight in Syracuse, also wise,
because the trip was almost seamless. 
only two hours late.
then, arrived and disoriented, 
i found my daughter hannah
and we made out way to the inn, 
on BART in very heavy rain.
 sunny and clear sunday we set up and then...
 into the chaos of the BIG EVENT.
 showing Daylilies and Songbirds was fun,
and it may have a new home 
(at least it was requested)
Anne, smiling 
 there were a few scarves, 
which i often bring along because they echo the contact printed papers,
and almost sold out.
i was glad that down jacket came along
and
 there were eucalyptus leaves
  being sometimes outside was a blessing, 
 zen moments 
as caliban mark promised
 inside the craneway it was like this:
just before they came, the big crowd took a while to filter to our end of things.
 to our right was anne covell
and left a table shared by jan owen and ellen knudsen
all rock stars.
anne's table
 the building itself was lovely to be in
 gigantic hagrid doors
we had weather all right,
heavy rain, 
sunshine, 
sunshine and cold, 
heavy hail and slippery underfoot
the ocean was a big presence, 
green and blue and gray and heavy
HUGE
industrial
i didn't ask 
but i wondered
 i came home and rested for a few days
this arrived 
from aimee 
and i was. 
 so many wonderful people:
thanks especially to 
Codex Dina, who made it happen
Hannah, who more than helped.
Alisa, who fed us, body and soul
Linda, the best of papermates
my tablemates, Anne, Ellen and Jan
Shanna and Andrea and Mary
and Mark who was astonished that i actually did it.
to my inspirations all
and M who kept the home fires burning.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

before Codex, briefly

the weather
 is all the news here, 
constant temp swings (60 degrees in a little over 24 hours!)
and today warning like crazy...
it's winter.
i   hope i can get to syracuse to catch the plane to get to san francisco for Codex
with no snow to deal with along rt. 81, the snow belt. 
maybe i should make a magic gut parka 
(and below wonderful needles 
pre-historic and beautiful.
from all over the world
we were stitching.)
shift back to now-- 
here's the stump loom with one of my own deer bone folders
doing double duty as shed stick.
this is the stump loom i wove the pages on.
for this book 
here is the interior of a one of my new shifu books.
 made from old kozo ledger pages from japan.
 this was a precious gift
and the final book, 
3 x 6 x 1/2 in
i'm in a rush, 
and hoping that if you're coming to Codex, 
you'll stop and visit me at table #190.Cod

Saturday, January 19, 2019

many books

in the making
while winter deepens.
out back
i make artists' books, 
but i'm most certainly not an edition binder, 
i don't have anything like the skills or the dedication. 
but i do like putting my work into a book. 
or my work being a book. 
or whatever.
a stack of indigo hemp papers sandwiched by shifu
which binding style suits best?
i'm prepping for Codex,
and happily my daughter hannah's generous boss jane gave her leave
to accompany me to san francisco.
a happy lively and springy wee book, flax and hemp
so there is paper everywhere, 
shifu, 
threads, 
even some pva and a huge piece of african bark cloth
as well as a couple of yards of black wool to sew into a tablecloth.
huge bark cloth sheet
covering cloth cut
 boards glued, covered, weighted, drying
bags have been ordered and arrived, and a receipt book still to be procured.
but this is what i've learned:
the more i make, the more i dive in,
the more ideas come and the bolder i become.
paper everywhere.
ideas everywhere.
books everywhere.
shifu, too.
 the silk slot and tab book came together, 
after years of gestation there's an edition of three
you can't rush some things.
almost 9K stitches.
 i was given a little miracle found growing on the woodpile.
colored like the bark cloth
 meanwhile outdoors the deep freeze has set in
and a snowstorm predicted today
 on the stove the pot of dye gets intermittent use
 and the left "ink spots" 
from the spoon resting on the stove
are nifty.

Friday, January 11, 2019

squeaky up the road, there*

mysterious canine prints going up my driveway
probably coyote
looking out the early morning kitchen window
seeing four new boulders
become
deer

yep, later on i found evidence:
feet
bed and there were other things...
using shanna weights to hold down the silk for my book
thousands of stitches
see the bottom leather, that turquoise?
colors on the back-of-the-house-fix.
hemlock board.
great soft color
the dummy 
and two more books in the works
have you ever tried to get colors to behave with a stupid camera?
the hemstitched borders are all taupe/grey. 
not lavender.
no matter how much i tweaked the color, hue, brightness, tone, value... 
i couldn't come close.
but this book is coming along.
there should and edition of three when I'm all done.
this is the original triple woven silk.
you can see where the three layers are snagged together.
see the pattern dimples?
keeping it all straight:
dye on the back burner,
'soupper' on the front. 
bookish came to my house.
 these little stitched images are judith's iconography

and todd brought me his wild grape (fox grape) ink in the world's best bottle.
since these photos we have had real winter settle in.
a foot of snow and deep cold, under zero, but not below minus 10.
it is pretty 'sharp', 
and breathing outside hurt this morning.
~~~
* a friend quoted, referring to one of my neighbors.

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