Saturday, December 16, 2017

paper fiber/fiber paper

 antidote for a bad cold:
kitchen papermaking
i made the pulp over at Zone 4 (school)
and brought home a couple of quarts.
(below you can also see one of hannah's dish cloths, water, a split rock and some dyed fern spores in the jar.)
i'm using carriage house flax and it's delicious and beautiful pulp.
it takes such a short time to beat, less than an hour in the valley.
but the cold meant that my energy lasted only until i'd finished the beat,
so just like the times when i have some pulp left over from the big vat, i bring it home to make some little sheets in a little vat. it's a way to use it all up.
so having a tiny set up in the kitchen means i can make paper,
sneeze and cough, drink medicinal tinctures and teas, 
and nap between posts (wet sheets). i can even take it all out to the hydraulic press and leave it for a while, press slowly, and then retrieve, then put in blotters and press in the iron book press and change them every few hours. this is easy in my house, especially since my kitchen is not the kitchen of someone who loves to cook.
this wouldn't work for normal size paper, but for these tiny ones, it's a pleasure.
my beautiful moulds, one laid, one wove, were made by lee macdonald,
and i got them during one of handpapermaking's auctions.
i absolutely love them.
 i can't imagine that i'll ever be able to afford a larger size traditional mahogany and brass mould, but i have these sweet minis.
 i can fit 10 on a half felt, fold it over and make 10 more. i usually make about 100 at a time.
it's funny, this has been a constant for years, no matter what size sheets i'm pulling, i have about a hundred. not always 100 good sheets, mind you. 
 right now i have a bucket of flax left at Z4, and 5 quarts here, and i've started to experiment some with earth pigments again. i bought the maiwa set, three jars in melbourne, (trace willans sent me some, too, but those are for surface work)
 above is the sum total of the good part of a bad cold.
about 350 sheets.
i've placed them on a handwoven hemp cloth from mjolk.
 here you can see them with as much detail as i could tease out of the iphone
which admittedly is not much.
flax is beautiful,
and takes some getting used to after my years working with foraged plant fibers
and relearning rag processing this past year.
how many items from my closet are now editions of paper?
and one or two are now books in process.
this work is in preparation for two things on my horizon, PBI (paper and book intensive) in may, and a papermaking class for fall 2018 at SLU. imagine, an entire semester of papermaking with a sustainability theme!
aimee posted some books and birds in the works and newly completed. i love them.
and sarah challenges me to see life though comic eyes, a good thing. both of these women draw comics which i think frame life in a way that reminds me of funny medieval marginalia doodlers mixed with the sunday papers.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017


i'm tired of having a cold now.
please go away.
but we have lots of snow now and more coming.
i beat a pound of flax
and brought home 2 quarts
and made 93 sheets of little paper.
it's really nice stuff
and so i went to school yesterday, 
and melissa, my co-teacher
has the cold.
we left early, 
but not until we'd done our juxtaposition origami book exchange.
i'll take photos and post.
i love how these sheets look/sound/feel so very FLAX.
i haven't seen this one
since all the snow began to fall.
i've been pretty bored 
i wrote a silly poem, but the cold is still here. 

sleeping or not
with a head full of snot
a cold is a cold is a cold.

eyeballs are achy
and tummy is quaky
a cold is a cold is a cold.

head twice too big
it thinks of nothing
a cold is a cold is a cold.

tomorrow i know
it won’t be here, no!
a cold was a cold was a cold.

Velma Bolyard 12/10/17

Friday, December 8, 2017

semester winds down. or up.

i didn't see these until sometime mid-fall
small messages
surprises hidden in doorways.
activism in little ways.
the students are so beautiful in their inquisitiveness, interesting and unique.
for their response to writing piece their work was as varied as possible.
below is a hand felted vovelle book with a secret pocket that holds one word
from the assigned text.
little details like these really help this book shine
this was an ambitious project, 
that combined several skills she learned in the various projects we taught.
see the felted buttons for the closure? 
the delicacy of images and papercutting in this book surprises the reader.
and below, 
those fish swim connected.
 next to that is a box full of runes and spells with no easily understood key.
books in cases are very hard to present well
are even hard to see when you stand right in front of them.
books are meant to be held or at least touched when perused.

for those of you who asked for a soapstone creature,
thank you. 
i was surprised that so many people asked for one, 
i had to turn some folks down.
the selkie remains, if anyone needs her. 
she's sort of in the middle, with a long resting tail.
she has spots.
i participated in the indigo (ai) project
coordinated by rowland ricketts.
and sent off my sun-washed cloth yesterday.
it will go back to japan
and i'm not quite sure what's next, 
but then my head is fuzzy.
japanese envelopes feel very fragile to me.
got a little something from shanna leino
and some very interesting papers came from my dear friend carol
who sends me tidbits for my students.
she has thought several times of ways to inspire them.
my co-teacher melissa and i are continually surprised by them;
by hearing that they think the class needs to be two semesters long.
i've enjoyed being an adjunct professor this fall, 
and am eager to do this sort of thing again. 
it does look like i have a papermaking class scheduled for next fall,
and in between some workshops (including PBI).
i woke up with a cold wednesday morning and was worried 
that i wouldn't feel like teaching. 
i feel worse today, which means i'll be better by monday.
sadly i have to miss dancing tonight
to radio bob's band...
oh, and,
there's lots of snow, south and east of us. 
we have an inch or so.

Monday, December 4, 2017


so after i returned from toronto
 a little snow fell.
 in the woods at the place i call home
 the snow has been little and not long staying
so far this winter
i have heard owls, but no coyotes,
and a strange murmuring of bird voices, coming ever so slowly
waxing and waning and 
ever louder until
overhead i heard a honk, like a sneeze at a soft concert moment
then another but still the murmuring.
and then they were above me.
canada geese, locals, going over to trout lake
with no need to make much ruckus.
 we joined gracious friends for thanksgiving 
and ate delicious food, 
our ages from a college freshman to an elder of 99. 
hannah brought tyler home to see the north country and us.
despite headcolds, they requested to make paper,
hannah knows how, but tyler was new to the vat.
 above they are using square moulds made by britt quinlin the paperwright
from ottawa,
and below hannah uses a lee macdonald mould.
 hannah and elder dog gwen share some caring
gwen loves being with hannah.
 and after they left 
i felt so empty.
neki sent me her failed linen warp
(to make into paper)
 and carol sent me this beautiful card
for my birthday.
 here's the edition of blue jean paper 
(i couldn't get the color right, but it's very blue jeansy)
it's flying by means of jet plane
to bar harbor.
by the way, the little animals all,
except for the selkie, are spoken for.
perhaps selkie will find you?!

Friday, December 1, 2017

gratitude in a big city

Toronto is a city that feels as right as a city can feel.
i like it there.
the first thing that we did was have lunch
with the beautiful, brilliant Judy Martin.
this is a thing i found in the soil that was around a tree 
in a toronto sidewalk.
it feels like an african trade bead.
hannah says it looks like a hoof
anyway, my trip to toronto was rich, indeed.
i stayed with my dear heart friend wendy golden-levitt
and saw the grief book,
my shifu book that the children work with.
it holds many things,
many tears,
and, importantly, healing.
(i wrote about this in the summer edition of HandPapermaking)
we visited a wonderful tea shop,
where i purchased some lovely tea, 
and met a young woman learning wisdom.
and when we looked out the window
 these tall ones were spotted
at Mjolk i had a good talk with John Baker
my rock book #3 or #5*
 lives there now
*i am so number impaired that i forget which.
conversation about art and design and making and life
moved me deeply.
the top rock book,
sections now bound on vellum tapes, 
is in toronto.
we went to the textile museum
to see hiroko karuno's shifu
pictures, at least mine,
don't show the beauty as i wish they would.
there were some stones at home, too.
and this magic 
out in the city 
we found an
artists' book store.
i bought two.
above, stubborn objects 
below, no title
(but you can see me taking the photo)
and this for free
i had wanted to finish this book before i left
but i didn't.
i showed these skeins
lokta kami-ito, walnut dye, walnut dye long bath, and natural
to some john and cha cha.
once i reached home there was snow.
i had to scrape the car in brockville at via rail
so i could drive back home.
 a little boy went widdershins around my house
a welcome, perhaps.
he wasn't worried,
he browsed on some dried goldenrod.
 at home i cleaned off a shelf
and found these little ones that, while teaching my kids,
i carved from soapstone.
i did this often with my students,
especially while reading Barry Lopez'
Crow and Weasel.
a bear, a bird,
a squirrel-bird, a selkie,
a coyote and a little pflump.
these need homes,
and may appear in my shop soon.
photos 5-8 by Wendy Golden-Levitt

ADDENDUM: they are now in the shop. please email me if you're interested. i haven't yet figured out the PayPal thingie. i will, soon, i hope!

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