Friday, August 10, 2018

a list, of sorts

 (rebecca goodale sent this image today, 
from the Arctic Museum at Bowdoin, and i love it)
some things on my mind...
my falling-down-barn

Catherine Michaelis is co-juror for a wonderful book arts show 
for all of us paper/cloth/stitching folks, and there's a whole chunk of months so you can plan and complete work for it. 
i envision the paper and the cloth worlds uniting inside the wonders of BOOKness.


traveling from the northern part of new york always takes time. 
and it's therefore expensive. 
i'm going to Maiwa early in September to take Charlotte Kwon's class 
The Natural Dye Studio. 
it's a big deal for me and i will have to miss teaching my class at st lawrence, 
which i regret. 
(do you hear me singing, "i'm teaching papermaking, i'm teaching papermaking!")
st lawrence found funds to support my professional development. 
this is really what it is, 
though i just knew it was more learning i needed, 
never thought of it in terms as professional development 
(that was what i did when i was teaching emotionally disturbed kids). 
i was offered support in several ways by friends who live in the area. 
friends i've met through the internet and then in the flesh. 
there are some wonderful things about technology. 
linda and jean, a special shout out!
i can be an unfortunately vague person, 
which annoys me (as well as other people).
it's a habit and an inclination, 
because words often seem too vague for me.
poems are better.
paper, too.
anyway a friend mentioned "rice paper" recently.
and what i want to say here is

 there isn't a thing that's "rice paper".

~ there isn't a thing that's "rice paper". 
if you google it you'll come up with a food item. 
but not paper. 
other plant fiber papermakers may have experience 
making paper with rice straw, 
but it's not what we think of when "rice paper" is referenced. 
then we are really thinking of beautiful asian papers,
often with visible sensuous fibers distributed throughout the sheet. 
probably japanese or korean papers, 
but certainly papers made from long-fibered plants like paper mulberry. 
paper that is made in asia by people living there, 
often poor artisans like some of us.
~ "rice paper" is a racist term. 
it indicates a thing made by people who are referenced by "rice", 
people who eat rice and are somehow rice, not asian.
(does anyone call western paper beef paper?)
~ it is inaccurate and racist and it makes me squirm
~ it makes me squirm because of my experience with unintentional but real racism.
 i'm a white american woman of european (and native american) descent. 
except for not being male, 
i have some power and privilege in this place.
a story: 
many years ago i was a smallholder, 
and had a little flock of what was then termed "colored sheep". 
 at a workshop once i was telling an african american woman about my flock of sheep, 
"colored sheep", 
and before i said the words aloud
(words which were wholly acceptable in 
the small farm-homesteader-handspinner journals i read and which 
i'd never questioned
i realized they were racist. 
in 1981 i didn't refer to other non-white-like-me-people as "colored". 
yet here i was using that racist term about my sheep. 
it was an embarrassingly thoughtless and privileged thing to say. 
i began to refer to my sheep as individuals 
(they did have names) 
or just sheep. 
just sheep. 
just people. 
just papermakers, shepherds, carpenters, farmers, professors, mechanics...mothers, brothers, a rainbow of people. 
i would gladly remove that incident from my life 
and from hers.
but it taught me to pay attention. 
so now when i read "rice paper" i think of generations of oppression 
and language intended to keep those oppressed lesser somehow. 
i say, think about your words. 
i try to.

many goldenrod species bloom hereabouts

recent mail contained a couple of lovely surprises,
on one day came notes from my children (from either coast), 
a student's piece from PBI that i loved and so she made me one! 
 on the flax paper we made in class
 a sampler
 wonderful huck lace shifu
thank you Dana Kull.

and some little presents-to-be from shanna leino.
and last week the mail brought me two books which i can't write about yet.
by a very special friend.
stay tuned!


  1. love the huck shifu

    jude |

  2. Maybe education is the key to things like misnaming "rice" paper. I had no idea that was racist. Thanks for the info

  3. taiqi, thanks for your comment, it's why i posted this. examining underlying assumptions can lead to some enlightenment. it's hard to see some things because of our own (my own) blindness. being aware and vulnerable is essential.

  4. ha. rice paper.that is when one doesn't know and also confuses needlepoint and weaving.ha.
    the first it paper?♥looks like silk organza.
    on the look out for goldenrod growing wild in the meadows. now that i finally have dyeing-note the spelling:) - capabilities.

  5. neki, the first photo is an Inuit gut parka,probably made from seal intestine, a water-proof garment.

  6. Your posts are always so full of life and living, I often read them several times. Thank you for how you teach here- about paper, your land, being human. There's an incident with a child, 20+ years ago that won't be erased, something said without thinking... (And thanks for the heads up about All Stitched Up.) ox

  7. oh, hazel, yes. i hear you. and i hope you will have work for All Stitched Up...

  8. I didn't realize that "rice paper" was viewed as a racist comment - thought it was due to ignorance. Like when I'm spinning in public and I tell someone I'm spinning silk and they ask "what sheep does that come from?" I'll email you about All Stitched Up.

  9. i know--i had been thinking about and about why so many say it (ignorance for sure) but it stems from somewhere, probably the merchants, who don't know what they're talking about except it's from asia but i checked with an expert and she also had it from another expert in the retail paper trade... i don't think most people saying it (in ignorance or not) even think about the deeper implications, which is why i wrote about it.


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