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!