new stuff

Ah, the new and highly anticipated quiet: beginning to pack for Ragdale, thinking about what I want to think about there, with easy time to see an old friend who was in town, and catching up at a sane pace on neglected everyday stuff (partially with a new washing machine; ours died just before St. Louis). Tomorrow a run to ZIA, more packing, and fiber prep, Saturday a quick trip to Kalamazoo and back, Sunday fiber beating and Monday: five weeks.

During the past weeks, there was a less-urgent but ever-present focus on fibers going on all through the rest of the activities. Here are some new samples, with big thanks to three lovely ladies:


L to R: Lush sheets of autumn equinox milkweed and milkweed seed fiber from Aimee; and elm, artichoke and yucca made by the late Paul Robberts, from Ros Robberts, whose company I greatly enjoyed in Michigan.


Finding this in a small pile of samples at the Robberts’ home was exciting! I’ve been wondering about bittersweet vine since two Ragdale residencies ago, in late fall. I picked a seedpod to take back to the studio to study its intriguing structure; a beautiful long strip of fiber insisted on coming with it. Open Lands told me bittersweet was an invader and to take all I wanted, but I was lost in work and didn’t. Last year’s residency was too early in the season. This year, the timing is perfect.


Cecile made these air-dried samples during her pre-conference visit: maple seed wings (from her gutters; beautiful but fragile, already accidentally torn) and water hyacinth roots (gorgeous, tough, high-shrinking, natural deep black).

In St. Louis, Cecile also handed me a big bag of milkweed seed fiber and some of the beaten water hyacinth, as well as samples of her own seed hair paper with a glossy, high sheen. I bought two sheets of bamboo half-stuff from Carriage House at the trade fair, too; Shannon recommended it for watermarks. The Ragdale milkweed yielded over a pound of dry fiber, and there’s a list of late-fall, back-at-home garden harvests to come, including mulberry and rose-of-sharon. I just learned that a winter show I’d agreed to is actually happening in 2015, so I’ll have a sweet long quiet season to try new fibers.


The new camera is here and seems pretty good; today’s shots are quick auto point & shoot tests, made to set up its accompanying software. I quickly figured out how to bypass that; it’s awful, except for one feature that I don’t already have and will want to use occasionally.


Just today, we became one of the newest and I think one of the final neighborhoods in Chicago to be inaugurated into the recycling program: these blue bins have been a long time coming.

Last but not least, I realized today that though I have a few projects that I might work on, for the first time in a very, very long time, there are no deadlines, no urgent agenda for the residency: I can and am dedicating it to exploration, to new. (While, of course, utilizing the Meadow Studio’s lovely heated floor).