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. 

Sunday, October 8, 2017


i'm a northerner,
have lived next to the canadian border most of my life
and have had a longing to go north.
further up.
way north.
i like the artifacts of the north, the tools, the clothing, the elegance of making 
with very few resources.
yesterday my partner came by
with a surprise for me.
he said, 
"i bought you a kayak".
i couldn't see one, 
but thought maybe he'd left it and we'd go pick it up.
he opened the hatch and instead 
it was in the forester
this elegant model
made for tourists for sure,
and why not?
i love this long, slim boat
and all the details.
i was messing with photo correcting stuff 
(apologies for the poor first photo)
and this happened: 
also this busy, warm week
i've arranged to have a roof put on my house,
and gotten this in the mail.
the wonderful folks at Solva 
sent it
signed, no  less!
this is a book to cherish
and if you're lucky
to remember the rich
along with the golden 
even as a child,
i remember loving certain books.
almost unbearably.
this would have been one of them.
back on the ground,
here at zone 4
some of the last batch of paper i made finally dried.
white from Yoyo's Awagami kozo,
colored with earth pigments
including indigo from Maiwa
(and a little more kami-ito and shifu.)
i feel like i'm beginning to understand how these earth pigments
work with flax, hemp, kozo.

Monday, October 2, 2017

first of october

an email exchange with jane ploughman
resulted in a wonderful visit.
she and john vincent visited the peace paper exhibition
just down the hall from zone 4.
jane and john know drew and jana of peace paper, 
and of course the combat papermakers,
 john's vermont based Revolutionary Press 
helps support social activism and justice endeavors 
in the paper and book arts world. 
jane and john met me at slu 
and they viewed the three galleries celebrating the  
work of drew matott with combat, peace, and st pauli  paper.
jane made the little piece of garlic paper with suminagashi above,
and john printed this small broadside
and the card below. three special gifts i really like!
jane brought two of her fine artists' books to show me as well.
i told jane and john to find me by following the sound of the beater
which i had switched off by the time they came looking.
but find me they did, and we had a lovely long talk
as paper and book people can!
they know hannah from her work at northeast harbor library.
the woven web.
our book arts students displayed their first books,
nine students, 
working in concertina, tunnel, origami structures
and following their concept of line.
learning where a line will meander
and how.

i emailed stephen dairing in australia
in order to get a few more skeins of this lovely stuff
bark with which i'm making vessels for shifu books.

 saturday we went to paul smith's college VIC
to enjoy harvest/homestead demos.
i love seeing young women competing equally with their male student peers.

this competition, 
where two woodcutters split the log they are standing on
always unsettles me.
they hoist the axe high overhead
and gouge out wedges of wood between their feet
with precision and accuracy 
(or else!)
and the first one done wins.
they are so vigorous that often the whole 'structure' moves 
backwards with the force of their swings.
at home
this is the outlet of our pond
yesterday morning 
after the frost surprised us.
the weather has turned and now it's fall.
and then this:
found on my garage door.
how long has it been

Sunday, September 24, 2017

hot weather around autumnal equinox

having students who stay late after class
or who come to work in the studio 
on other days
makes me really happy.
 book arts does that.
 at home i've had a second pot of black walnut
on the stove for several days,
dyeing up some cotton tubular yarn
and deep ,dark, delicious silk.
 drying quickly in the heat

and then there's this silk
 i love making small sample sheets
 and i bought a copy of this catalog
which includes india's work.
 and all of the linen suit paper is pulled, pressed, dried,
some of it pigmented,
shown here in the last pile of blotters and books.
 and here are some lake superior agates
some have eyes
and lanscapes inside
 the flax suit, linen rag papers
natural, yellow ochre, st lawrence riverside woods earth
 here they all are
a big harvest from a blazer and pants
not counted, 
not my habit to count
 and here's a gift 
that i've taken apart in preparation for spinning
 details like glued on tiny notes
sort of post-it notes (two of them)
and a paper thread sewing up the signature

 one page rehabbed by gluing on a new paper.
a sort of white out.
 not throwing or xing out
 taking apart a book, even a simple account book, 
is extremely instructive.
it's a lovely gift from a friend
who understands my love of these old books
which i use for kami-ito making.
it was 85 degrees here, 
in town it was 87.
predicted to be hotter yet tomorrow.

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