Wednesday, March 31, 2010

dye book, 1984

eva, over at tinctory, got me thinking about dyebooks. my first dye book was a handmade blue jean paper sewn on linen tapes laced in a linen single sheet cover. 
i decided to use it since it was irreparably altered by an anonymous autumn festival goer who spilled coffee on my table while i slipped away.
here you can see the windows cut into the spine of the cover revealing the pink linen sewing over linen tapes made from an old cloth.
the coffee damage was extensive. i wrote about my making of the book with papermaker peggy prentice (one of the original twins of twinrocker).
i love lichens, they keep their secrets. one of them is incredible pigment. umbilicaria dye, month long fermentation in ammonia and water. the folded page opens to reveal information about the yarn and dyeing particulars.
this is one strong dyestuff! my friends butch and pat bramhall made me some earrings out of silver and dyed porcupine quills. here: quills, cotton and linen cloth, silk thread, wool, mohair.
on cotton paper, birch bark, and woven raw silk from henry's attic.
an odd little weaving playing with wool, silk and birch bark.
my experience in natural dyeing lead to oceans of yellows and sad orange woolens, even from grapes. rita buchanan changed my understanding of dyeing in one important way: do not over cook or boil dyebaths, especially the red pigments, which become fugitive when heated above (oh dear, well below boiling, anyway).
more yellows from bloodroot. however, on handspun silk top it is exquisite.
over the years the soft pink has faded, even out of direct sunlight. probably because i boiled the tiny red dots instead of processing at low heat.
another vat dye: copper penny dye on my ewe lily's lincoln x fleece. and raffia.
these are the yellows i got so tired of. calendula. should have been stronger.
they are once again lovely on lily's fleece.
and at the end of the book, some fiber treasures: silk handspun, my first spun paper for shifu, a lock of hannah's hair, and spider's nest silk found by ian.

when i look through this book i remember the blank feeling i got from my friend dreamer  telling me someone had spilled coffee on my table. the blue jean and linen papers have held up well for 25 or so years, despite the accident. and this book has gifts from both of my (then quite young) children.

queen maple

our students and staff traveled "down the road a piece" tuesday to the orebed sugar shack.
i think the taste for maple sugar is something not everyone has, but oh, for me walking into the sugar house was far better than an ice cream shop. or candy store. jeff was a superior host.
and this is his evaporator! i don't even know if it's called that because it's so high tech. the last sugar operation i visited was wood fired and rustic. this is an organic operation, even the filtering system containing diatomaceous earth and cotton paper is screened to insure it's organic. 

and afterwards we got samples... little cups of maple syrup, maple sugar candy, muffins and cookies made with maple, maple "chips" (little candy chips). our kids enjoyed jeff, asked lots of questions, and sampled the goodies. 
a huge thank you to jeff, for the visit, and the excellent sampling that we all enjoyed.

we traveled through amish country, and these are corn stooks, not very well photographed.
 and sunset, when the wind was blowing and the rain spat, this was the back meadow. a gift.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

morning moon

i saw the moon, not quite full, i think, but lovely this morning. i heard morning birds beginning, a rooster, a dog bark, briefly, a distant train (quite long, i think), the wind.
so i decided to play with the camera and this happened.
and then this. it happened by mistake, so then i pushed it some. etch-a-sketch in the sky.
robins are now singing. wishing you a very good day.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


i have been told that i'm humor impaired. in my defense i give you exhibit pig. the pig (actually a bank) is large enough for a three year old to ride. i've been urged to get rid of the pig. it's creepy, hannah says. 
exhibit black: this is a dyed raffia, bead, and fishing fly chrcheted miniature basket called trout fishing in america. holding it is potentially painful (all those little hooks). i think both of these are funny. reactions to pig, or people looking at the basket, refusing to touch the thing, amuse me. i don't think sarcasm is funny. or nicknaming. 

Saturday, March 27, 2010

light and shadow

feeling like myself today, after a looong nap. wendy and i went for a burdock adventure and i slipped into the old granary to shoot a couple of pics.
little news, except the sun shone most of today. fairly cold weather. though i see a wash of pale green here and there.
also found in the granary was a plethora of porcupine fewmets. and the remains of one.

Friday, March 26, 2010


tonight i heard the first woodcock of the season. my first north country bird, that is, the first one i learned after moving here. now i know for sure that spring is here. i've seen many ducks in pairs, and the punky ice heaved onto the shore is almost melted along the grasse river. feeling better. thanks for all of the kind wishes. 

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


i'm reminded of that word when i ask or expect too much, and today i admitted to my doctor that i am still not well, so i'm taking a third round of antibiotics. third. and i'm trying to stay positive. i'm only a bit sick, tired of low energy. what's cool though is that i email dave with symptom updates!

i have found local farmers to raise my indigo seedlings for me, so that, once things warm up, i can plant here. and once again, after all these years and two other unsuccessful tries, i will have my own little plot. brian and ann are organic farmers, making a living and also using their place as a teaching farm. and my students will visit and work there, learning new skills, becoming a part of something important, and lending some helpful teenage energy. last year we planted, cultivated, fed the animals, mucked, worked in the greenhouses among other things. we even helped build an outhouse!

not much creative energy in me. time to relax a little.
some tools i carved

Sunday, March 21, 2010

snow geese surprise

corn fields harvested in autumn, become places of plenty in late winter/early spring

i grew up loving the movie (and later on the book) the snow goose by paul gallico. i got a call this evening about a "layover" about 8 miles away, and i had to go and see. they are so beautiful. i know they are abundant, even nuisance birds in some places, but not here.

my front yard

big house little house back house barn

you must go here and see this. my son's first solo show in portland, oregon, at a wonderful restaurant called po'shine's. too far away for me to go on a thursday night. but, oh, my. 

more at several tin cans.

the buzz

in my house there is a plentitude of cluster flies. that's right flies. they are the bane of old houses. they were joined by ladybugs several years ago, and we spend way too much time dodging their wild flights and watching them land in morning tea. they are spring and fall visitors, preferring transitional times, like me. the visiting setters are mesmerized by them, perhaps they think they're tiny little birds. wendy hunts them sometimes.

the past week has been bird-full, and about mid week i heard my first morning robin singing. this morning turkeys, robins, red wing blackbirds, crows, starlings, cardinals, chickadees the list goes on. i even think i heard a white throated sparrow. i don't know many of the voices i hear. one i haven't heard yet is woodcock, though they've been seen.

finishing up my second round of antibiotics and am finally feeling like myself. my friend once said after taking a fall from her horse, "i think i'm back in my body again". that's how i feel.

three exciting paper events this week. one is that i'm going to pbi, the paper and book intensive, this year. i'm excited to be in three wonderful classes taught by tatiana ginsberg, frank brannon, and melissa jay craig. my head will be bursting with energy and ideas after that! the second is that i have a serious inquiry about teaching, that may be a long-term event rather than a workshop, here at my mill. and the third was this:

i was comissioned to make this:
wendy's book
as some of you know, and it arrived and is being used. with positive results. more, perhaps, about that later. also one of my books, 24 nests, purchased by a friend, was given to a loved one, passing along the joy of this little book. i am reminded of the healing possibilities of art, the material objects that touch hearts. and passing it on. 

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

wednesday walk

i started out on my regular along the road walk with wendy and turned around to instead explore out back on my farm instead. sometimes i find treasure.
it's still march, st patrick's day, and the weather is way too warm for today, but it's great fun to have a chunk of daylight after school. i looked for signs of spring here, but it's pretty dry and my little stream is only a trickle. mud season looks more like sand season. 
just look at that sky!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

artists' books; stationers bindings

spring walk
this time last year, i began weaving together many of the threads from my different loves: smallness, dyeing, spinning, weaving, simple looms, vellum, stitching, story. the first book i made was my exemplar.
vellum exemplar
peter verheyan at syracuse university and the brodskys bring an expert in the field of library, conservation, and book arts to syracuse university library for a weekend lecture and workshop. two novembers ago chela metzger came and presented a wonderful talk about the field of library and conservation science. the workshop was on medieval and early modern stationer's bindings. working with chela was eye opening, the simple, functional, and exceedingly elegant bindings were the equivalent of ring binders today-simple, cheap, easy to make, simple to store; but mostly they did the job well, unlike a three ring binder. chela took us through the process of making a secondary tacketed binding, using paper for textblocks, vellum for the binding, tacketing the sections into the binding, and making typical closures. this teaching stewed until a first book came along, actias luna, a book made using many of these techniques, but my own sensibility. the materials are linen case paper, my overbeaten daylily paper, a beaded moth, and waxed linen thread. the text, a poem, was written in ink on white gouache applied to the pages.
actias luna
then came three small shifu books, and there are a couple more in process. the thing that ties together all of these books, artists' books, is story. each one is a narrative of an event, or a time, or a learning, or even a poem. they are ways to frame the exquisite or mundane experiences in a mechanism that provides the reader a personal glimpse, a haptic adventure into book. for me this is when spinning, weaving, dyeing, textiles meet paper, words, and books. what more could be better? 
spring walk, sewing detail
i posted this on sunday, and some of you get a notification of that. i really don't understand how that works, but i withdrew the post. then, today, i reread it. i hope i haven't shifu-booked you to tears. feel free to skip this-

Friday, March 12, 2010


it's 50 degrees out there. of course, it could snow.
and snow

because it's march. 
one of my favorite months. 
the other?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

local practices

on my daily walk, i pass two sites that often contain a gruesome reminder that this area is the second to the last frontier (alaska being the last). both are "ditches", where natural drainages run under the road. for some reason, perhaps the same one that drove the former owners of my farm to have their dump on the stream on my land, people dump illegal deer carcasses in these sites. there is always an emptied plastic bag nearby.

there's nothing i can do about this. i will make art about it. i will, perhaps, collect a  bone to make some bone folders. or i will take these photos and use them in art. i have done so with photos i've taken of a coyote hunter's winter kill, boasting and hanging outside his home, or a road killed critter. it's not the death or even the hunting that disturbs me, it's the illegal killing. and last week i saw my neighbor dragging a deer carcass into his field. the edible bits were removed. it is not deer season.

for me, to live in this place i must be amicable. but i can make art that says: this is happening. this is how it is here. sometimes. perhaps a young hunter will see this and be reminded of their obligations to the animals they hunt.

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