Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

I am still waiting for a decision which has the potential to cause me to make some large decisions; while I wait, I must delay making other decisions in deference to that decision.  This is causing some concerns for those waiting for my decisions. The only remedy would be to make a decision not to wait for that decision and then, perhaps, need to cancel earlier decisions.  It’s becoming decidedly vexing.

Meanwhile, I have made decisions on the refurbishing front: I have software and hosting for the new web site. I test-drove several allegedly idiot-proof software samples before deciding on one; it gave me less of some things I wanted, but more of other features I needed. I’ll miss the look of the iWeb site, as this is more template-y and less flexible in page formatting, but the end result will be cleaner and much easier to navigate, to maintain and to be viewed on mobile gizmos.  I’m building away, making decision after decision, and hoping when it’s finally launched, you’ll think my decisions were good ones. (Today’s photos will be part of the site; they were design-problem-solving decisions).

It’s lovely that there’s one sure thing I don’t have to think twice about: sending HUGE congratulations to Aimee Lee! Hooray!

Foggy, Soggy

…that’s how it is out there today. But at least it’s foggy and soggy and springlike, and things are poking up through the debris in my garden. (Like Velma said, that doesn’t mean we won’t have another snow.  I can think of multiple snowy Saint Patrick’s Day parades. But I get to ignore that possibility today).

I spent two days prying an amazing amount of pulp out of the wheels on the beater, then removed layers of rust with wire brushes and steel wool, then coated them with WD-40 and greased the ball bearings, so they’ll be protected, will roll properly and lock in place.  Then I cleaned lots more pulp off and assembled the base, and hit a brick wall; we need a third person for the next bit, to help hoist up the tub and hold it in place, while I scurry around underneath and jiggle the legs until they’re aligned enough to insert the bolts. (The beater’s a bit taller than the newer Reinas, and the bronze is heavy). Everyone is out of town or busy, so that will need to wait till tomorrow or Monday, when two friends return. All Monday, I need to be in a long meeting.

So, I got busy and planted seeds to start for the gardens and went grocery shopping and did other domestic things that we’re always a few weeks behind on; shipped out another piece to a group show, and this morning, decided to finish re-formatting the captions and publish the web site as it is now, reflecting all the work I’d done before the road trip.  I’ve been at it all day, and iWeb is just kicking my ass.  It’s refusing to include things I’ve added, and is completely ignoring some of the galleries; everything works and looks fine in the application, but just will not publish correctly.  Grrr.  I did enough fudging to make it acceptable, and am leaving it for a bit.  When I’m ready to do the scanning, I’ll go back to it, and re-build the galleries if need be.  Now, back to domesticity, and trying to not think about beating fiber!

These frustrations are minor compared to what some friends are going through; particularly someone whose partner is being deployed to Afghanistan. I’m thinking about you all.

(Next day addendum: I solved some, but not all of the problems by re-publishing the entire web site late last night).


So…here’s the new, highly improved studio, frighteningly clean and organized, shot yesterday. Happily, I know it will never, ever be quite this pristine again. My goal was to get everything up off the floor (with the exception of the big tables) that isn’t plastic or on wheels and to get the things like my huge drying rack, that had been stored in buckets and bins on the floor, tucked out of the way and yet easily accessible. Oh, yes, and to clear off the workspaces. I have only one small area under the wood shelving left to deal with, and this area, once the fridge is gone:

The cabinet that’s up on the worktable will go on the wall where the fridge is now, and I will build a small counter next to the sink.  Here’s where the beater will live:

My fabric cutter now lives on the cabinet to the right, which is on wheels; yesterday I borrowed some really good safety goggles from Paul and attacked the overhead heating duct with a jigsaw, and installed the vent that’s sitting there in this photo, so dust won’t blow into the beater. Paul came up with a great idea for fiber storage that can be implemented when the snow melts, and will free up even more space. (Fiber’s currently in 3 big bins under the largest worktable).

I’m happy – I made as much space as I could and it’s vastly more efficient; enough to work with another artist, perhaps two if we’re making small sheets. (And it is actually clean, as in mopped even in the corners and everything…a real rarity, except for the parts that regularly get wet).

Friday through Monday went like this: work on the web site till I couldn’t stand to look at the computer anymore, then work on the studio till I got tired or spackle or paint had to dry, then back to the site.  Monday also brought show contracts (and hopefully resolvable fall show conflicts) and other admin that was added in; I’ve spent all day today working on those and polishing up a detailed, sourced and priced materials list for a big July class. Tomorrow: massive mailing of said contracts, pack and ship out some artwork, polish off a few more admin details, and begin prep for the road trip; and more work on the site.  I doubt it will get published until I get back, though; a day of scanning still must happen.  But the slides are all sorted and waiting next to me as I write. Thursday or Friday, hit that road!

Whoo!  So this is unemployment, eh?


I’m still immersed in my studio-universe, but things have been moving along at a productive one-woman clip (with occasional assistance by large man). I’ve done a low-cost redesign of the space, and solved several problems.  Nothing will ever make it bigger, but it’s definitely going to be much better, and there will be room to work with a guest now and again! 

Somehow, my energy adapted and I’ve been able to work on the site in the evenings as well.  The first of the upgraded galleries is online: the Strays page seemed to be a good one to begin with.  Rather than scanning, it required shooting odd objects I decided to include because so many people ask, “do you make other kinds of books?”

The type has gone to two good homes, the pulp fridge is cleaned, empty and moved out of the way until it gets picked up in early March, Paul and a friend have a date set to run a beater-dedicated electrical line in, we’re moving the guillotine on Wednesday…and…I sold my old beater, a Mark Lander Critter.  I’ve had it for nearly seven years, and it’s a good little work horse.  I’ve processed all kinds of plant fiber in it, as well as half-stuff, and have done a whole lot of recycling with it.  It wouldn’t quite do the type of overbeating my work began to require a couple of years after I got it (or maybe the ready access I had to other machines kept me from taking the time to figure it out). In any case, it too went to a good person who will use it well, I know. I had a little pang or three when I packed it into its box.  I’m grateful to Mark for making these and very, very glad I had this one. Until he started the nearly not-for-profit Critter Project (by making a beater and donating it to a cottage industry for homeless women here in Chicago), papermakers had to be affiliated with an institution or someplace with equipment, or else rely on whiz mixers and blenders. Mark’s now made nearly 300 Critters that have gone out from his New Zealand shop all around the world, allowing people to experiment, use recycled materials in their work, and to be independent.  Read about Mark Lander here (and check out the giant Monster Critter on the back of his truck, beating away in the snow!  at the bottom of the critters page).

The Critter in 2003, working away at some abaca.

millimeter by millimeter

More progress on the web site; I reorganized the old galleries to implement the new site map, built a few more pages and I’m now at the point where the massive scanning and some re-photographing needs to take place, so I can make the new galleries. I also shot some amusing additions for the Strays page, because I am always asked if I make other kinds of books, though they’re not added yet.  I’ll be so happy when this is done; this, my dears, is work! Paul told me that when I’m in here dealing with it, I remind him of Lon Chaney at the organ in an old horror movie.  Um, thanks, Paul.

I have a date for beater retrieval! It had been receiving the benefit of even more conscientious restoration, but I’ll be heading east in just under two weeks, and am happily not renting a truck. After I learn the specifics of what is now a custom designed machine, we’ll remove the beater from its rolling stand, disassemble that, and it will all tuck quite nicely into my car. Between now and Road Trip Time, I hope to have the site squared away, as well as the studio.  That will involve cleaning out the disgusting ancient and infirm pulp fridge, disposing of it, getting a new mini-fridge, getting rid of some space-wasting things like drawers of type I’ll never use, building some shelves and –o boy – moving the 350 lb. guillotine.  I hope to be rewarded for all my efforts with decent weather, so that I can stop for some visits along the way.

Right now the CAA conference is and has been going on in the loop, but I’ve had no inclination to attend even the few things I thought I might want to make time for. (CAA = College Arts Association; it is to the content of academic art departments as the AMA is to the USA’s medical care, with every implication that comparison affords). Instead, I’m happily working away. And I have to admit that I’m very glad some of that work will now be physical, though I am not at all looking forward to moving the guillotine.


Though it doesn’t look like much, we had a bonafide snow day; Paul’s class was cancelled.  More snow all night and more tomorrow.  Since I did all my running around yesterday, I’m thinking: Nice.  It’s lovely coming down, though too fast and too fine to show up in photos.  But it’s there. Blizzards are much more agreeable than grey February gloom.

Something about a snow day lets me relax, buckle down and enjoy, no matter what I’m doing. I got tons done, including six class descriptions, laundry, more work on a long complilation document, several photo shoots, and I finally resolved the ‘your text is so hard to read’ problem on the web site, I think for good.  (Lots of the photos were of paper, so I could do this to improve the text). I tried this to try to respond to I-hate-video feedback, but I don’t like it, so I think there’ll be a compromise. And I added a page, and played around, too – though I’m not sure I like this, or at least not the fuzzy way it shows up on youtube:

Last but not least, I actually cooked dinner.  Snow days require good hot food. Now I’m working on a very fine bottle of red wine, blogging and not thinking about the fact that one thing snow days are not good for is retrieving beaters.

DIY: testing, testing

Today we have *SUN* – so this will be a quick post. Must…get…outdoors. But I am continuing on with the web site, and am about a quarter of the way there. Most of the galleries, though they’ll be consolidated into a single source page from which you can open each, will continue to look like this (but wider). I feel that some works, particularly the books, need a different presentation.  So I’m experimenting with this.  What do you think?* I’ve tested it with Safari and Firefox on my Mac and Internet Explorer on Paul’s PC (which screws up my new temporary home page mightily, but thankfully only that page.  I think I know how to fix it). In any case, I now know why having sites made costs so much.

If you’ve noticed the stack of empty wine boxes on out front porch in the Amaryllis photos, they are for these great things that Paul builds from recycled materials:

The second one has temporary strings at the moment; adding an empty three-dram bottle of Springbank Old Malt Cask as a support made the entire thing too long for regular guitar strings.  Somehow that reminds me of working on the site. I’m pleased that we are a D.I.Y. nation at this address; nothing goes to waste, as amply evidenced below.

In keeping with that, I found an on-sale shredder a few days ago, and brought it home to begin processing fifteen years worth of teaching materials into a new piece, after scanning the things worth keeping. Shredding is curiously satisfying.

* I’m soliciting all kinds of feedback these days.  Not only did I also post the web page test to both my Facebook pages, tomorrow, I’m excited about meeting with some trusted friends to pick their very fine brains about possible situations involving the bronze beater.  Which I am not even ready to pick up until the weather settles down in the east.  Stay warm, everyone.