Thursday, April 29, 2010

silent woodcock, woo-ing snipe

no woodcock calling...but snipe were...

6 inches am, 57 degrees pm

snow: about 6:30 am the daffodils are hiding out under about six inches.
last night was the last class of my "magic spirit bag" tapestry weaving class.
 cathryn made a handle right on the tapestry loom next to the main bag. she experimented with simple patterning and adding beads into the body of her bag.
joellen worked in a weft stripe repeat. she found the large needle easiest to use.
terry pushed herself out of her comfort zone and tried something completely patternless and pre-planned. for a complex knitter (way out of MY comfort zone) this was great!
hilary liked using the shed sticks with these schacht tapestry looms, and found a way to keep it workable. a hair tie!
under the hair tie supported shed stick, this tapestry was growing. one student chose to leave the class, it wasn't her thing. but for those (pictured here) who stuck with it, they left knowing how to weave a tapestry; a knowledge of many techniques, and a plan to finish their weaving on their own. the looms will be returned to the arts council when they're done. i learned we needed at least one more class to finish even a fairly simple tapestry project. i wove along with them, and this is what i came up far...
the thing that is interesting for me is that i really included items of magic and spirit in here, some lokta, wool, handspun cotton, other cottons, and ripped strips of cotton muslin that a friend and i had printed on. i surprised myself with a rather quiet palate. it was a fun class for me--these women were wonderful students. we all spoke about how cool that was! magic spirit bag tapestry class. there is a race to see who finishes first...ok, so not a race, just an encouragement! i'll probably be last.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

sunny day, snowy day

mother nature is a joker...and beautiful, nonetheless. i have a sunburn from working outside all day yesterday with my students and fellow staff at bittersweet farm. a great day and then during the night the wind picked up. when i got up, the world was white. 

Monday, April 26, 2010

auction and action

handpapermaking magazine, a wonderful resource for anyone interested in handmade paper and books has their annual fundraiser auction here. go shopping for something special and hand-made-paper-related. this organization/journal is simply the best in the field, for years and years now. i think i own the first issue and all the others since!

and paper artist aimee lee is hoping to build the equipment needed for korean papermaking, or hanji at the morgan conservatory in cleveland. she is seeking help to support (room, board, travel)  in cleveland, while she brings her (considerable) brains (and brawn) to the project. please consider helping her out.

a little hanji present from aimee, "to play" with

Sunday, April 25, 2010

sleep and art

i wish i could sleep like tess and gwen. last night, i did, with close to ten hours in bed, reading a little, and sleeping. this is what infections do to me, or maybe it's the antibiotic. this year i seem to be in a battle against microbes...
i am a weaver. at least, that is my background, but these days i think of myself as a papermaker/book artist. i go back to weaver because there's a long connection, back to my mother, elva weaver, her father, john weaver... you see where this is going? west virginia. mountain people are intelligent problem solvers, used to eeking out a livelihood on a scrap of mountainside land. my mom could keep cars going, make a dress without a pattern, cook a meal for one or thirty, clean a cruddy floor so it would shine. with a kid on her hip. 

i once saw a book about families and their stuff. each family was photographed outside their home, with all the people and possessions outside in front of the house. western households had lots of toys, places more marginal had their foodstuffs displayed.

so what use or worth is what i make? i know i'm not good at weaving functional stuff, i tried it. i often make stacks and stacks of botanical or rag paper, but they are rather expensive (in every sense). the artists' books that capture my imagination nowadays are one of a kind or small editions. is it worth it? is art worth it? 

Saturday, April 24, 2010


that's me. another prescription. it's in my ears, mostly, again. lost meaning, lost words, but feeling happy, just sick. again. not complaining, just tired of my ornery sinuses.
i've been looking at surfaces because of melissa. looking at the surface itself, not what it will become or was once, but is now. this barrel has been the base of a lot of wrapped cloth for rust and compost dyeing. now, it's a weird blue and orangish. i will keep looking, since only my sinuses are (currently) impaired.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


keith recker at handeye asked me to write a bit about my work, including my relationship with jungian therapist wendy golden-levitt. you can see the article over at handeye. you can also subscribe to the online and the real-paper-in-your-hands journal there. working with keith was easy, he asks lots of questions and of course answering each one becomes a story. i seem to be long in telling as well as long in tooth. you will of course see the amazing work of my friend aimee lee, who is also featured this week.
milkweed fiber
for all of the kind words and messages, thank you. sometimes what you make becomes bigger and more important than anything you can imagine. what could be more important than helping a child to heal? in a way, that's why i teach special education. (i also need a day job...) amazing that my work in wendy's practice becomes a conduit for healing. 
a piece of paper, a loom warped with cotton woven with spun lokta color courtesy of rust.
samples of lokta shifu with other stuff happening: watercolor pencil, magic thread, indigo thread, walnut, rust, hollyhock dyes, letterpress.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

weird stew

cold liquid dyes: hollyhock, onion skin, rust; bloodroot; ecoprint, bloodroot 
i've got several things stewing away, none of them edible. anyone who knows me knows that's not surprising (i'm not particularly interested in cooking). but i am interested in the alchemy of making things. 
wood type, letterpress, and lokta shifu square.
been thinking of new books, shifu, healing, prayer flags. these kinds of musings sustain me, also challenge me to get myself moving to make something worthwhile. going back to school after a 12 day break means that i have to hold on to these thoughts. words from friends also sustain, my cadre of weirdos, thank you! some news a bit later in the week. prepping for magic spirit bag class #2 tomorrow.

Monday, April 19, 2010

highs and lows and ticks

yesterday i was carrying around a load of garbage, who knows why. it was annoying to my daughter, and to myself, but i kept it up. i asked her to photograph me spinning lokta for an article, and i hated the pics. hated them. i am too old, fat, stupid, odd, clumsy, weird. it was a hard thing to fight, and i lost the battle. today, i woke knowing i was in a better head space and that i would be ok. even when i found a tick crawling up my shirt (the first one since i lived in kentucky 30 years ago) i was fine. who knows where these demons come from? not me. i got some spinning, weaving, photos, a walk, yoga, lots done, but when i look at this thing i realize this: hannah will be leaving in a week or so for the summer. it's another change. wendy will be sad. i might be sad, too. 

Saturday, April 17, 2010

mystery solved

remember the sample of magenta lichen dyed mohair that eva over at tinctory found and i blogged about a while back? turns out that dominique cardon, the author of the book, had tried and tried to find me to ask permission to include the sample in her book. she credits me in her acknowledgements, and sent me a lovely email once i tracked her down and fired off an email this morning. she seems quite wonderful, and she is involved with an international natural dye symposium, scheduled for next year. more about this later. 
i didn't have fiddleheads for supper tonight. a burrito, instead. only supper green: leaf lettuce.
weaving shifu today. 

Friday, April 16, 2010


deer fuzz?
spider silk???
it's fern fuzz. not sure if these are the edible fiddleheads, that is ostrich ferns, but i was prepared to try. i steamed five of them, but then read more about the wrong fiddleheads. trying to figure out if they're edible without getting sick. i chickened out, but maybe tomorrow i'll try it again. i am such a wimp! thanks for the guesses, they were fun!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

slippery elm and saranac

i had a longing to go into the mountains today, so i drove to saranac lake. i passed this old guy at sevey corners. 
wendy the border collie and i visited lake flower, where i ate a deli lunch and she explored sticks and the water's edge. she loves this park, which was quiet until we met up with a llewellyn setter and a king charles spaniel. lovely dogs, and wendy behaved herself.
i thought about my slippery elm explorations as i drove. wendy occasionally put her nose in my right ear and grunted hello. she likes "going for a ride". alot. i wondered where the elm would go. at nori's village market i saw slippery elm lozenges for my sore throat. i figure, i'll just chew on some of my bark, instead of paying $3.00.
i was able to finally get a consistent braid from the inner elm bark.
i do need a thinner braid, however, about 1/3 to 1/2 the size here, if i want a more usable weaver. i am working toward something a bit more flexible and textile-ish.
basket detail, purchased in bar harbor, maine, 2009
this was woven by matthew dana, a maine native american basket maker, who asked the elders before he started if it was appropriate for him to use cedar, arbor vitae, to weave into baskets. he received their approval, before he began.
actually i had to buy this one. it is small, traditional, but very, very non-traditional.
sweetgrass, cedar, and black ash. sewing basket style. it smells heavenly.
this is a quiz! i harvested this from my yard. do you know what it is?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

slippery elm

so i got my sleepy self outside and sawed down a tree, a sapling slippery elm this afternoon, and this is the luscious bark that i stripped. inner slippery elm, the stuff is like vellum or thin leather. lovely. this makes great paper, baskets, and maybe twine. we'll see what i can do with it. if only my hands aren't too sleepy, too!
look at that fiber!

rough night=low daytime activity

i had one of those strange nights, slept maybe three hours. ugh. so i'm a bit of a zombie today, fit for little. so i took some pictures of the bloodroot experiments. i have more to go, but this was today's work.
this photo is oddly disturbing...
this one has a bit of that quality, but you can see the ecoprints i started yesterday. only yesterday. it will be a month!!! yikes.
and this jar just has some silk, some linen and bloodroot in water.
old sol doing his job. too cold outside for being still, which is what i want to do (a sun nap would make me very happy).

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

ethiopian board book

i sometimes spend a little time in the archives and special collections of the owen d young library at st. lawrence university. there's a small book in the collection that i visit. 
it smells of smoke and the desert and places far away, and i can't read the text. but i can look at the pictures. and touch the wonderful, thick thick vellum pages, 
the broken and mended front cover.
there is one mend in a text page: front
and back 
this wonderful book has details that keep me looking:
this is the back cover
an ingenious way to strengthen the sewing, also to retard the back cover from breaking.
the librarian, mark mcmurray, asked me to include this citation:  "Ethiopian Book Collection, Mss. No. 120, Special Collections, Owen D. Young Library, St Lawrence University, Canton, NY". mark also runs caliban press in his "spare" time. 
my second shifu book, this day, also lives in here. it, too, has an old style binding, and the cover, not the pages, is vellum, dyed a soft green.

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