Happy 2010-into-11!

The photos are my home office / library, the room I most often write to you from, though it is rarely, if ever, this clean.  Usually I’m writing amid piles of papers and coffee cups. (These were shot when I reassembled it after the falling bookshelf incident of 2010.  I have never managed -yet- to find the time to strip off the horrible wallpapers; I have, however, been justified in fearing what may lie underneath them).

I spent yesterday re-entering the health care system, a totally different one than I had before, and I was impressed in spite of myself.  Though I can’t ever help thinking about the vast difference between insured and uninsured treatment in this country, which is not only a referral to the level of care but also the general attitude towards those who are fortunate enough to be able to produce the magic wee plastic card. But that is a rant for another time. Verdict: bad sprain.  Other than that I appear to be rather healthy, and that is indeed something to be grateful for as a remarkable, busy year closes. So, folks, is this way of connecting with you. (Velma wrote that much more eloquently today; I feel the same way). Happy New Year to all, and thanks so much for stopping by .

Now it’s time for Blahg’s annual list of Odd Search Engine Terms, 2010 version.  The year’s tally showed an impressive, unprecedented number of searches for me by name, and also for specific pieces, events and shows.  There also were a great many searches for friends and people I’ve mentioned or who have commented on the blahg, and (of course) subjects I’ve written about.  Here’s the best of the rest:

  • handmade book + woman
  • Melissa Jay can feel it
  • Cold Day Hell
  • Melissa art craig shrooms
  • Melissa met art
  • Melissa met art mu
  • Melissa a metart
  • Listen, Melissa  JC
  • Craig and Melissa paper in Chicago
  • mjc photo studio
  • mjc press paper studio
  • mjc shooting
  • MJC Kapoor
  • mjc 2010 prom
  • Life remembering Marilyn yes
  • chan ann leis a’chiad bhuille thuiteas a’chraobh
  • Melissa Audrey Wisconsin
  • Things could be so much worse
  • How soon after December 1 did you hear from Ragdale
  • Snow Day Craig
  • Used bookbinding equipment myth
  • Saturnalia illustrations
  • Big fat red hard
  • Site que compra melissa mary queit
  • Do and does
  • bock artest melsssa crag
  • Melissa jay university of the art
  • Class Craig JayM makes Paper Making
  • Turn books into sculpture
  • Paper sculpture low live
  • sculpture by industrialization
  • Fucking racoons
  • Jayblahg and paper
  • Computer sculpture hears lawsuit
  • Womens studio center and Melissa Orange Blue
  • Holiday humanities, window
  • Limen pronunciation
  • melissa jay i can feel it in the air
  • craig’s packing house equipment
  • metal art + book sculpture
  • Art of warm Melissa
  • Betsy Palmer Shoes
  • chicago. Beauty.
  • Limn Lymen Liminal
  • WordPress met art
  • met art new stockings galleries
  • Art blahg who is
  • not with the first stroke that the tree falls
  • i can clean my class
  • Prototype Prototype Prototype
  • The Craig Tidal Reunion
  • ripped out of the wall bang
  • why do make alternate books?
  • Sidoes Si Does Doessi
  • Zip mouth on picture arts
  • Catepilla biding
  • How two sell my spawn figures in graig
  • Succelent petris
  • Frent.
  • Yard undocumentable method not
  • Medieval beat
  • Who is writing the blahg?
  • “I cant hear you”
  • Cricket in the wild ol pejeta, kenya mel craig
  • Jau tuhb
  • People reading books
  • Crosses mist
  • Classrooms with lots of book in them
  • “hair chop”
  • “nonacademic” life news
  • “my hearing aid stories”
  • beans exhibition
  • sammon bottles
  • book is a sculpture?
  • Sculpture booock paper
  • Tax free new Ham
  • who were the smiths who lived on west st
  • olive color walls
  • ninetennine.com
  • see ohio road tripes
  • paper studio summer bugs line
  • amazing book sculpture
  • he beater
  • art work with packing fpam
  • velam has captured been from the monster and they tied her up and zip in his room and mouth he put he…
  • ………aaaaand:
  • search engine terms wordpress

Warm Melissa is off to make low live industrialized sculpture bocks with packing fpam. I can feel that Medieval Beat in the air. Have a lovely evening.

Now & Ragdale Revisited, part 1

I’m increasingly frustrated with the bad foot, to the point of seeing an actual MD (this Thursday), not my preferred way to roll.  Bleah. But our family holiday was lovely, laid-back and contained lots of laughter, and I’ve been having further pleasantness in the studio recycling some old jeans.  Cotton denim is perhaps the most congenial pulp in the universe to work with, but I can only make very small batches of sheets before the foot shuts me down. Today I am prepping to tackle a more challenging commissioned series scheduled to be delivered soon, and have figured out a way to work on them off my feet (for the most part) just in case.

Backtracking to Ragdale in the Time of Functional Feet: well, it took all of the first two-week session, including tearing down the entire thing once, to finally finish this piece.  I began it last year and then put it on the back burner till the next time I had a large studio to work in, which turned out to be where it was begun as 176 sheets made with 44 custom deckles.  Though it’s only 7 feet wide, the dyeing process in particular exploded to utilize the entire space. The pattern is a very specific one, and, indeed, the entire project had to be tackled with a highly systematic approach (again, not my preferred way to roll), which contributed to the fact that it was fraught with obstacles. There is still a tiny amount of tweaking to be done to its mounting boards, but at last, I’m happy with it, and judge all that effort to have been worth it in the end.

Each piece numbered to correspond to the pattern.

First dye batch…90 some sheets, keeping each one numbered.

Second dye batch added.

Pattern reconstituted, and assembled (twice).

Working title: It’s Academic, followed by this: 



Happy Holly Daze

Time (aided by rather childish Frustration with The Foot) got away from me these past several days, though I am now totally technologically upgraded (at least for the next few months) and the lights are up in the windows and house, cheering us till early February.  I’ll get back to the blahg-ing soon. For now, I wish you the warmest and most heartening holiday season, whatever and however you celebrate.


Relief (of sorts)

Whew! Tuesday night, on the way back from the studio after packing up the artwork, I slipped on some unseen ice, and though I didn’t quite fall, I twisted my leg strangely while struggling to keep upright. Wednesday, I was limping, but with Jack and Dave’s excellent help, I got my Subaru loaded up and left Ragdale. Paul was at a conference, so I unloaded alone, verrrrry slowly and painfully.  Next morning, up and off to Rockford.  The semester is over, so there was no help to be had. Though I had little trouble de-installing or packing, I had a terrible time getting the car loaded; the stairs were my nemesis. My foot was throbbing.  I taped the foot up next morning while Paul brought the work inside, then I figured out how to pack 21 copies of (S)Edition to go to Delaware (which I couldn’t do without having them on hand, to see how they fit into various containers), then went out and got said containers, packing materials, and outer boxes to fit them all.  But there was a big snafu with FedEx, which wasn’t helped by the fact that I couldn’t find my hearing aids. Paul (literally) stepped in and we got them shipped out just in time…they’ll arrive the day before the show opens…I repeat: whew.  Taped the foot and headed out to Rockford again the next day; Carey had found a lovely, sharp young artist named Rebecca who helped immensely. I found I’d left my hearing aids on a pedestal in the gallery. The foot again began to throb badly as we loaded. But the takedown is done, and I drove directly to my ‘warehouse’ to drop off the work; fortunately, it’s on the ground floor. I suspect I’ve sprained the foot. One should keep off a sprain.  So, I’m about to do that: in a moment, I’m beginning a massive cleanup of my MacBook, then a huge upgrade, and then activating and getting to know an iPhone.  If nothing explodes, expect a couple of catchup blogs about the work I did at Ragdale, soon.  It was exciting. I’m home now till the end of March, and very happy about that. Though I still need to unpack from Ragdale…whew.

The last Ragdale snowfall. On my final evening, the fox came to say goodbye.

Here’s a nice mention of Cover Stories (I’m a fave, thanks) and (I think, a lovely) essay by the Jaffe collection. Though it was a tad disconcerting to read an excerpt from what I thought was a private e-mail from years ago, at least I didn’t say anything I don’t still agree with now…


It got quite cold out and my fridge worked too well!  This is is cooked kozo, frozen solid.  My abaca had ice in it also. Today and tomorrow are balmy and above freezing, but Monday and Tuesday it will be in the teens and below zero overnight.  So I’ve learned to regulate the airflow into the fridge with a towel and pushpins.

I’m having an early night.  I stayed in last night, too, but was up till nearly three; did laundry, looked things up online, and drew in the kitchen while that happened, giving the day’s studio experiments time to dry and removing myself from the temptation to mess with them while they did.  The results led to more experiments today, and then a massive necessary studio cleaning in preparation for tomorrow: today’s work will be dry in the morning, and it will give me the info I need to then put in a long day on an unusual project for me…a (relatively) flat piece!

Why I heart procion dyes: wet and dry.  But the dry photo isn’t good enough for you to see the amazing patterns, only the color change – it’s not photoshopped.

I decided to completely scrap one of the projects I’d begun a few days ago, but another is working out superbly.  It will not be ‘finished’ here (though a few of its components will be), but it’s something I can and will keep doing at home, thanks to having built the re-usable armatures and having had the time to work out the details. It will work in my wee studio, too. The pieces themselves are are immensely pleasing.  These and the flat thing I’m messing with and the thing I finished during the first two weeks are the ‘big’ works I’ll take home, but there are odd little experiments and sketches for later things going on concurrently as well.

And that’s that: I have the weekend and Monday to keep working, with readings Sunday and Monday evening, my open studio and documenting Tuesday afternoon, and packing in the evening; Wedensday, home, unload, then Thursday bright and early out to Rockford to pick up bookshrooms and get them shipped immediately to Delaware.  But that’s then, and this is now, and things are…singing. I’m feeling like music used to make me feel.  I don’t know how else to put it.

See you on the other side!


A full week since I last blogged and it feels like about three, so much has happened / is happening.  Tonight I got to a natural stopping point in the studio and am also feeling a bit tired and it’s cold (ten degrees) out, so I’ll encapsulate briefly and then get to bed. I’m making sheets tomorrow for a variety of odd experiments in progress.

Last session’s group of residents kind of faded away in little dribbles.  A young writer wanted time to visit NY before returning home to Seoul, another writer was on a ‘creative sabbatical’ which only lasted a week; a poet had to return to teaching a few days before the session ended. Then heavy snow was predicted up north, so a writer from Minnesota decided to leave a day early, and a Chicago friend-in-residence had opera tickets, reducing the grand total of residents at the final dinner on Tuesday to three, including me.  But we had a blast nonetheless, and I leaned something astonishing: I make musical instruments!

Remember this?  It was a casting demo from one of my Women’s Studio Workshop classes last summer.  I brought it and its partner along in anticipation of the free-from-agenda studio stage I’m enjoying right now.  Composer Christopher Preissing (scroll down to 60 x 60 for a recent bio) visited the studio on the last day, saw it, and immediately began tapping on it…he took it back to his studio and later that night, he played it for sculptor Naomi and me…and he made it produce an incredibly wide range of sounds! Miked loud enough for me to experience most of them, too.  He lives in Chicago, so stay tuned!  This definitely isn’t the end of it. (I’ve been telling people since I built these little things, “I have no idea what they are”… I never would have guessed this!)

On Wednesday (December 1st) I was the Lone Resident. I still wasn’t finished with the large piece, and after a lot of struggle I realized why – and it meant I needed to take the entire thing apart, almost completely. So I did that, and began rebuilding it late into the night.  It made me very, very grateful for what I know of book conservation; without that knowledge and my lifting knives, I would have been in major trouble. (Another good argument for a thorough book arts education – even though it’s not a book).

Each one of those wee pieces of tape corresponds to a specific sheet of paper…I stuck them on the pole when I finally finished with each sheet.

Thursday, I kept working on it till late afternoon, then got in the car and went home, changed clothes, and took the el in for the Cover Stories show preview at Printworks. It was lovely to be greeted by a little red dot next to my piece, and it’s an excellent, interesting show; I love participating in the gallery’s anniversary projects. It was pleasantly crowded; lots of friends are in the show as well, so I had a great time. The catalog will be put online at some point, and I’ll post a link, so you can see all 68 (!) of the works. Below is my piece; we were asked to design a cover for a specific ‘classic’ book.  I chose Walt Whitman…

Friday I returned to work on the piece and was once again very glad I had taken the time to begin it again…at last, it flowed. I cooked some kozo while I worked. At dinner I met the new group of residents (all writers! Now I am the Lone Visual Artist) then went back out and finally, finally finished the piece just before midnight. (It needs tweaking, and it’s on the wall so I can live with it awhile first…when I’m sure it is done, I’ll post it). Back to the Barnhouse and a good celebratory bit of wine.

Saturday: snow!  A lot of it, all day. Beautiful. I built an indoor fridge for my pulp, so it would stay cool without freezing…there’s a built-in exhaust fan that leaks cold air into the studio. I constructed a box around it (more book arts based skills), and for once the foam insulation that I use for 1000 other purposes was actually employed as insulation. The radiant heat comes from the floor, so three pieces of the foam are underneath the pulp (and the studio is evenly, comfortably warm with the draft blocked).  I spent the rest of the day drawing and dreaming, and sure enough, a few things asked to be made.  In the evening, more insulation became a temporary armature for one of the surprising ones.

Sunday, sewn armatures began, Jack plowed all the driveways, parking areas and pathways and then it was time for Ragdale’s annual holiday bash (which I try to attend every year).  Huge crowd, a nice number of friends in, cubic tons of delicious food (the dining porch is the ‘cookie room’ with three laden tables), wine, lots of new folks met, several visitors to the studio all afternoon and evening, some very, very interesting new plans discussed, and I also had my traditional tarot reading by Josie…and it was excellent. Yeah.

Today, another lovely visit from a good friend, and a lot more sewing…a number of  armatures now await their paper.  Many other good things have happened, from within Ragdale and also via my inbox from out there in the world…but this bit of skimming is all I’m capable of right now.  It’s a rich season. Goodnight!