Friday, October 28, 2016

Nature's suminigashi

We have been back 2 weeks now. Unfortunately I got caught up in the American version of Game of Thrones - our current political nightmare. If I have one hair on my head left it will be amazing.

I try hard to remember our adventure. We traveled 7,108 miles, visited 13 states and collected 8 capitols. We saw some beautiful parks and rocks and sights. Nature out did herself in Tahquamenon Fall in Michigan. I loved the falls....

But the designs created by the tannin foams were equally beautiful and delightful...

We rented a flat bottom boat. It was hard to contain my delight. 

We looked like a whirly gig twisting and turning to get each shot. 


And then it got thicker.... 


A bit like the foam on a mocha latte. 
It was amazing. 
Nature's version of suminagashi. 
And me without any paper to dip! Dang!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Playing with the wind

The whole month of August was dedicated to "house and home". With a fresh coat of paint on house, garage, trim, doors and repairs and new Victorian trim made along the way I can finally play!

The last two days I have played outside under a relocated tarp. It didn't matter if it rained as I was under cover.

The play was suminagashi, also known as spilled ink or floating ink. Most artists do this inside to avoid movement of the water. I embraced the wind's artistic ways.

The wind drawing pictures of clouds?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

By the glow of a strawberry moon

The world turns and it is suddenly a new season. 
I pause to take note. Spring is gone.



Yes, we did stop to smell the roses... in spite of a very busy spring season. Now that both of us are retired some things have been brought to our attention... the roof, gutters, windows, overgrown areas, dead trees. Staring at the old carpet and the lifetime of accumulation day in and out caused irritation. Spring, typically reserved only for gardening and mowing now needed to be more. I am happy to say we found a beautiful wood floor under the old carpet. We found the garage with tools inside! Imagine that! We opened up some space inside and out making Goodwill happy. Well, I don't care if they are happy or not, I am HAPPY! We had new windows and gutters installed and there is a roof in process should the lackadaisical roofers ever return to finish. Our 1900's"cottage' a been given a little more life. Sadly, it won't be long before our whole semi-rural community is completely gentrified into mega mansions.

Gentrification is a trend in urban neighborhoods, which results in increased property values and the displacing of lower-income families and small businesses. This is a common and widespread controversial topic in urban planning. It refers to shifts in an urban community lifestyle and an increasing share of wealthier residents and/or businesses and increasing property values.

Our property is becoming a "green" island amid a sea of concrete and pavement. Ours is an oasis for birds, creatures great and small and the poop site for the neighbor's dog. Meanwhile the other neighbor is spraying the beejeebees out of everything along the fence line. The distance of the spray is the length of his arm plus the wand onto our side. It is hard to stay balanced. My patience with white men (rich, mouthy and stupid) is nearly at an end. 

The only thing that has kept me grounded during this globally tumultuous time has my art practice and my associations with other creatives. I have enjoyed some wonderful Puget Sound Book Artist educational opportunities this spring. There was Deborah Greenwood's mono-print and stamp making session; Seeing What's There - writer's group; the Tim Ely Sketchbook Workshop;  a lecture on Washi Paper by Linda Marshall; and a Thermofax print class with Dorothy McQuistion. The paste paper making gathering, and sketchbook making meet up were definitely a bonus. I have also enjoyed being on the Puget Sound Book Artist curating team. Here's a link to the Puget Sound Book Artist site - check out the 2016 Member's Exhibition and upcoming classes.

Early this spring some of my books displayed at the local library which was good practice. Two of my books shown on the previous blog were accepted for this year's Member's exhibition and the last ta-dah and great luck ... was to have two books accepted into a exhibition at the Centre of Fine Print Research at the University of West England, Bristol, UK for a summer show.

Mostly the thing that seems to be the most important is the making and doing.

My first Tim Ely Sketchbook - oh, my goodness. It ticked off all my wants. It opens flat, the paper is perfect for most any medium. There are many steps that can be creative, not to mention the creativity of the contents of the pages themselves. The book looks professional (well hopefully mine will when I have finished making my 20th one). Tim says that it takes about 20 to master all the steps. While simple enough it must be done with care and patience. Two words that don't have anything in common with me!

Something else Tim Ely suggests - when making your own sketchbook you should mark up a few pages before binding. The scribbles on the right page... made it very easy to just throw some words and stamps and marks on the spread. Gone was the phobia of a fresh sketchbook.

  • Starting on the left sketchbook - rocks - that was my first. 
  • The second one, the short rusty color - I made that before the class was over. I obviously didn't hear some part of the instruction. 
  • Attempt number three - I tried to have single sheets of gel prints - gosh - I don't even want to attempt to say what I tried doing with that one. I am hard press to say what went right! 
  • The fourth - the blue polk a dot - my excuse - I wanted to use the materials I had. So they are construction paper and colored paper - so just shoot me. I know, quality in, quality out is what they say, right? You see the learning curve is quite high. 
  • Now, my 5th sketchbook - OMG! I am so happy - see me doing the happy dance. Proper materials and patience reduces the opportunity for failure. 
  • With that I think I got cocky.... the 6th book yet another failed attempt to use that damn blue paper! I guess I really don't understand paper grain! Still, yet! I may have to keep that little puppy in the press a little longer. Maybe things will improve? Time improves wine, right? Yet it wasn't a total waste, I can still use it but let's just say... no gift giving yet.  

Deborah's pearl of wisdom was to make a family of stamps. So I have been. I am recording our plant life here on hell's half acre - actually it is 6 acres, but unless you have Kevlar you will never really see it all. There's the good plants and those others have labeled as bad. It has been pretty fascinating. I don't know what will come of it all. Hopefully whatever comes will be suitable to enter into this next year's Puget Sound Book Artist show. The theme is Musings on the Northwest. Needless to say, I muse a lot, looking out the studio door watching the latest crop of babies creep farther from the nest.

Aint she sweet? And she eats weeds!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

On a sunny, still winter's day

Oh, the delight - a frosty morning with sunshine - a perfect morning for making willow charcoal sticks. I gathered my materials: copper fire pit, a box of scrap wood, newspaper, matches and a small metal can with a lid. First I punched a hole in the lid of the can. Next I gathered green willow wands the size of my thumb. My first tingle came when the bark peeled right off - in long strips. Such a treat - it's like carving wood but without all the effort. I next cut the sticks so they fit inside the can. I got the fire going real hot (It's a great way to use up those scraps laying around the farm) and then placed the can upright in the middle of the burn. I made 3 batches  before the fire died down.  I labeled them real hot fire, medium hot fire and just coals.  I am wondering if I will noticed a difference when I use them.
I am telling you - it was FUN and primal! (only one day past the full moon)


Talk about the little engine that could... or maybe it's the little artist who could. I know, it's a bit ridiculous to get so excited - I mean you can buy willow stick charcoal from Wal-Mart for pennies, but there's just something about doing things from scratch.
Meanwhile, back in the studio... I have been working like a crazy woman. It is almost time to enter books in the Puget Sound Book Artists member exhibition. It has taken a lot of effort because until recently it just wasn't happening. I don't know, I think it was the stars - they weren't in the right alignment or something. At least I wasn't the only one that noticed things were off.
Of course there is no explanation 
which would account for "comb-over's popularity.
We have been warned for a long time about
the coming of the anti-Christ. Well, he's here!
Not only have I digressed, but I also made my blood pressure go up!
The first set of books I am going to enter is called Weeds.
The envelope simply a sleeve which has been sumi inked.
The weed prints were made on the gel plate with Charbonnel Lamp Black ink.
I love the etching-like quality of this particular ink.
The cover is Mylar so that's why it looks dull and frosty.
Book one contains the story of my relationship with weeds. A drama!

Project 2 is quite a bit different.
It still pertains to my year long theme -Sense of Place
and desire to utilize the resources on our farm -
the plants, the weeds, the sticks, the stones, the soil and so on.
The box is painted with the earth pigments I collected last fall.
The books inside are called Leaf and Twig. They are plaster casts of blackberry
and hazel each with their own little story.

My last entry for the exhibition is called
"Playing with Earth Pigments."
The book is a record of my experiments with the earth pigments I collected on our last two trips. The purpose was to try all of the various binders I had read about from various sources. I also wanted to, once again, learn how to do it from scratch. It is so satisfying to work with the colored pigments in the mortar and pestle, the sieve and on my little flat rock and rock mortar. I used a Coptic binding on this book. I am slowly learning how to make books that look like "normal" books.

I am hoping there will be time to play with charcoal tomorrow.