Tuesday, November 14, 2017

november for certain

there's no reason this job isn't done
completely stripped and seed fiber separated.
(that milkweed again)

 the whole pile should be this
 but i have been otherwise occupied.
i've bruised my forearms on the beater at zone 4
after a long disentangling with pliers and my aforementioned arms
and fingers that escaped in rather good shape.
hemp sliver
beautiful stuff, it was hard to cut,
so i cut it into too long bits
and they ground around beautifully until
didn't anymore.
it may have taken me an hour to unscrew the keeper plates,
pull out a ton of hemp
haul out more,
and using pliers, haul out the rest
bruising up those forearms meanwhile.
 solace was available
 and some experiments are happening at home with the woven books

 and a simply lovely large and flat sketchbook
sometimes things go the right way.
students are busy, finishing up three projects.
one of our students is making a felted vovelle for her interpretive book.
she told me she knits (evidence: her scarf), crochets, sews, and felts,
so i suggested she might be interested in fiberarts and she said,
and i love this,
"oh, (pause) i didn't know that was a thing".
our students are loving learning, exploring and strengthening hand skills
as they make beautiful books and enclosures. 
i'm off to toronto tomorrow morning and back on sunday
(as long as my car issues keep working themselves out)
then it's thanksgiving week.
i won't see the class for almost 2 weeks. one of them said yesterday
this class needs to be another semester long.
so many of them love what we're doing!

Friday, November 10, 2017

paper trials

i love it when art is on the walls
at school.
 my failed batch of 3 linen shirts.
i need to understand indigo better.
i used it from 2 sources, one more successful than the other
but still, 
i have much to learn.
 making sheets with the business card size moulds is a fun tedium
and makes nifty calling cards.
 i used all of my indigo.
every bit 
of blue dust. 
 we took our students to visit the archives and special collections.
they were entranced the entire time.

 melissa schulengurg looking at my book november song
 they particularly loved janus press books

 this morning, 18 degrees and a little crunchy snow
 the roofing waits until next week.
winter comes.

Monday, November 6, 2017

time was, is.

ian posted this old photo today on fb
and it all came back.
farm children
sheep & lambs
my papermill and house.
old manure spreader made into a wagon
and me photographing a living.
this was early spring.
 my living is different now
more quiet
but maybe, just maybe,
less loving frolicking. 
this is late autumn.
 time passes and your heart will break 
and heal
over and over
and you will,
if you're lucky
become real.
it's good work.

Friday, November 3, 2017

digging deeper

who can say why certain things...
shapes, colors, textures, 
animals, even,
who can say why they speak to you, 
to one, in a certain specific, peculiar way.
perhaps they appear in dreams or day dreams, 
maybe hormone driven, 
maybe longing
maybe something altogether 
unknown or unknowable
but for whatever reason this shield i found on facebook
a first nations thing
pleases me.

 i was looking for tiny beads to use with the loom books
(i accumulated an embarrassment of old beads)
i was looking for the greasy yellow ones.
 some live in type trays
which is ridiculous in too many ways.
these two strand sets are small and beautiful
and i see now 
that they are colors i used a long time ago in a tapestry.
 i lifted them out of the little wooden rectangle
that had become a cache.
field mice leave little stashes in my world,
and often i don't know the seeds. 
but here is, 
amongst others, 
 cottontail is large now
and doesn't show itself often.
 elsewhere in my back yard
november arrives
there is a wonderful type event happening when the morning sun 
bathes the studio table in light.
two loom books completed, one with drawing,
and soon a larger one.
today i'm pulping 3 linen shirts.
an edition is planned!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

talking with a coyote

yesterday was another weirdly warm day,
 too warm for jeans.
after supper while i was doing some fabric reclamation 
picking some really bad embroidery out of a piece of linen
to make paper with.
i heard them,
the coyote family i've been paying attention to all year.
i went out on my porch to listen, marveling at the warm evening
(and still pissed off about picking up a tick in it
in my YARD)
the family was spread out, some responding from pretty far off and then one howled
just across the road in the brush by my neighbors house, a young one!
then it barked. barked again. so i barked. quiet, then another bark. i barked.
and an exchange ensued, coyote kid and crone in training barking. 
i don't speak coyote, but i have been listening all year,
and i've never heard a single coyote bark for so long,
responding to my cadence and short barks,
so i know there was reciprocation. 
i finally stopped, afraid that that one's curiosity might tempt it across the road
which would not be good. 
my heart sang, or rather barked, all night long.
two books are brewing
a loom book and a landscape book.
loom book dummy:
it's blurry, but:

                                    and now to build a bigger and better loom book
                                              and see what my needle weaves.

Thursday, October 19, 2017


the phrase i woke up thinking of this morning
was this:
"it's not enough to physik a jay bird"
something my folks used to say.
they had many lovely mountain sayings that i've mostly forgotten.
i found several of the tiny things that were in the soil of this pot

shells, pebbles
knocked onto the porch one day.
and on another day i also found this one's
been in the poor old hibiscus.
my jaybird must be looking for a physik.
as i continue making paper from what's been given me,
small batches that keep me happy
and prompt book ideas,
from rag:
white-cotton/linen shirt
lavender-patagonia hemp skirt
green-cotton off cuts in many green tones from st armand 
and an accordion booklet beginning here is now complete.
flax paper
tow linen threads (20)
a few tiny greasy yellow beads
 how many times (at least 10) do i have to rinse
black walnut dyed cotton woven tape
before i can let it dry?

 and here it is on a lokta shifu square
 on the walk hunting season has begun
which makes me pay attention.
 this large doe isn't too worried. yet.
milkweed pods are splitting
after the first hard frost this week.
 red maples dance
but autumn color is late and subdued
in this strange long warm autumn.
the ticks became active after the frost.

the traffic on my walk 
 expells exhaust that doesn't make me choke.
 i need to get 
my milkweed harvest stripped and cooked
this is last years harvest
perfect for a mouse or a bird's nest.
that big bag of stalks that's waiting needs my attention
before it's so retted that 
only the birds will use it
though that is a noble use.
on this walk i was happily reminded to get to that chore soon.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017


it's milkweed harvest season.
the monarchs are all done
and in my 25 acre grown up meadow
amongst the head high and higher goldenrod and brambly blackraspberry
i strove for an hour and a half harvesting
asclepia, milkweed.
it's between green and field retting time,
the leaves are gold or gone,
and only a little milk left.
the bast fiber  in the stalks is what i'm after, 
and the few pods left 
will provide me with seed fiber
all this fiber is for making paper later this fall.
i can't even begin to describe how jungly that meadow is.
much grown up to baby trees or bushes
but the goldenrod! over my head!
and the warm october meant that the thankfully tick free toil
was some of the hardest work i've done in a long time.
the result was a huge heavy plastic bag of potential.

 i always make a little twine for fun
thankful that i don't have to make all the string i use in a year.
 on my stove is a big pot
full of the black walnut harvest from two trees in town
in dye form.
(i only took some, the squirrels got most).
i've already dyed paper and cotton and silk and maybe some wool in it.
but i put in woven cotton tape a couple weeks ago.
it's cooked, steeped, cooked, steeped, fermented a bit
and the tape isn't dark enough yet.
but it will get there.

skein of twill woven cotton tape, dried

the last reveal included a fruity growth
see those beady bubbles
looking like amber treasure. 
 and some spores...
this layer went right into the garden
before i removed the skein.
my friend told me this summer
that if i was born 200 years ago i'd have been 
accused of witchcraft.
perhaps he's right. 

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