The Processing Begins

Home! I got in Friday afternoon, and have been decompressing with happy Man and Dog: the Pack is together again (admittedly, one of the pack is not quite unpacked yet). This first summer trip has been (as Velma wished for me!) something of a watershed; wondrous.  Both my destinations far exceeded any good things I might have anticipated even in my broadest imaginings, and the road itself was rich, easy, calm and warm.


A short stop at Chataqua Lake.

There is so much to process, to write about and also to privately ponder and grow into, and a lot of portioning-parts-of-it-into-media, too: blogs are forthcoming here and at MakerCentric, plus website updates and a new page to be added as well. (I have just about a month’s break to do that in: foresight in planning, for once!)

Carota TBalbosis

Finished just before I left: industrial vegetable, species Carota TomBalbosis

But first and foremost, HUGE thanks are due to the warm and wonderful folks along the road, without whom this would not have been the amazingly all-round positive experience it was. All were at places and with people who are touchstones for me, places that also feel like coming home, and there was one wonderful gamble as well.


First, Tom Balbo and the Morgan. It’s always both comforting and exciting to walk into the Morgan, whether you’re going to be there for ten minutes or for weeks. When I e-mailed to say I was stopping by to pick up my beautiful new half-size bal (a gift from Paul, via Aimee’s work with her connections in Korea, shipped to the Morgan earlier) and wanting to get flax, Tom immediately asked if I wanted to stay overnight.  Oh, of course: yes please! That’s always a huge treat; just seeing what’s new in his ever-fluctuating museum / studio space on the fourth floor.  That would have been absolutely wonderful as it was, but Tom’s spontaneous kindness literally saved me from a faux pas of my own making, and allowed the entire trip to happen without what would  have been a major troubling glitch. I can’t (ever) thank him enough!  Here is a nice recent feature video about Tom and the Morgan.


New 5lb beater at Tom’s, made by the incomparable Helmut Becker.  There’s a window in the roll cover!


The soon-to-be WSW Compound is progressing nicely.  Kozo will be grown out front; beautiful.

The next day, I took six healthy young kozo plants to Ann Kalmbach and Tana Kellner at Women’s Studio Workshop; a gift between dedicated handmade paper producers and perpetuators, from the Morgan to the WSW ArtFarm. I was more than pleased to be the delivery person! I’d thought I’d simply be stopping for a night in one of WSW’s spare resident / intern rooms, but instead, I was surprised and very happy to be Ann and Tana’s guest: a delicious home-cooked (and much of it home-grown) dinner (with Anita Wetzel’s kind and witty company as well) and breakfast; with great, fun, wide-ranging conversation, and a long after-dinner talk about Scotland, looking people and places up online with Tana as they came up. Ann and Tana are there now, in a breathtaking, remote setting! I am so excited for them both (and I just received a gorgeous lichen photo from Tana, who’s already out hiking!)


Scottish lichen, uploaded fresh this morning: just…wow.


The 12 noon ferry heading towards Vineyard Haven, shot from the 10:45 ferry from Oak Bluff.

I made it to Haystack on time, had a glorious two weeks, drove down to catch the boat and had another fabulous four days at Seastone Papers on the Vineyard: those experiences definitely require their own blogs, ASAP!  On Tuesday, lovely Sandy Bernat shepherded me to the ferry back to my car, parked in Falmouth, MA. I drove till I was tired, then pulled off to find a motel. That happened to be in Corning, NY: I slept long and deeply, and then spent a nice few hours at the Corning Museum of Glass. It was much better than I anticipated, fascinating with live glassblowing and flameworking demos (they do these on cruise ships as well!) by articulate, precise craftspeople with nicely miked headsets and a good broadcast system: I could actually hear them! And featuring some rather amazing innovations in glass, as well as its history, chemistry and stories, and a huge collection all housed (of course) in a very glass-y building, below. It was a most interesting, relaxing stop before the final two legs of the trip.



The Church Entryway

The last but never, ever the least stop, was with Kathy and Steven Smith: they call their place (wherever they are) the Church Of Not Quite So Much Pain And Suffering; that is, actually, not a joke. The calm, relaxed and peaceful – yet always intellectually vibrant – energy of the home they’ve so willingly shared with me so many times let me do the final Cleveland-to-Chicago run carrying that peace they create within me.  Once again with their encouragement, I stopped for an extra night, stretched, relaxed, and renewed my body and brain. A thirty-year-plus friendship through wild and sometimes rough times and now this ripening: riches.

And through it all, behind it all, at however far the physical distance: Paul. Missing me but encouraging and supporting me, happy knowing that I am happy, having my discoveries and adventures.  When I arrived, there was even a welcome-home gift: these handmade fiber-beaters, beautifully balanced for my hands, turned from hard maple.


One thing I don’t need to process: I know that I am a fortunate, grateful and wealthy woman.


Receiving blessings at the Church Of Not Quite So Much Pan and Suffering 

Was in Wonderland (with Wonky Wireless)


Hello!  At last, we have contact!  I’ve missed you. A few hours ago, I arrived on Martha’s Vineyard, my second island of the summer, after a nine-plus hour drive and a boat ride, and am being treated extremely well by my lovely hostess and her daughter.  Haystack was Stupendously Good.  Unbelievably so!  It was an incomparable, unique, exciting residency – with just one tiny drawback: the wireless hated me.  I was not able to log in to the Blahg via laptop nor phone, and e-mail went totally haywire, too.

I have SO MUCH to tell and show you!  But the next few days will be packed with even more great things, so there is going to have to be a massive time-travel blog series when I get back to Chicago – or maybe even along the way. For now, I will just say hello again, and go sleep (and sleep, and sleep).  See you soon!



Doubly Honored

I’m going to be cutting my self-imposed six months at home short, but only by a few weeks, and for a very good reason: I’ll be attending the first Haystack summer residency. I’ve never been to Haystack, but had promised friend and mentor Marilyn Sward I would go there someday; this seemed like the perfect opportunity for a thorough introduction.  Not to mention the fact that it’s in Maine. On an island!

Book 2_2

The wonderful Nora Maynard has done an excellent interview with yours truly for the blog section of the literary magazine, Ploughshares.  She’s currently working on a series on book arts, and I loved her first entry, featuring a place (North Branch Projects) and person (Regin Igloria) I admire very much, so I am especially honored to be the second in the series. Just published this morning, the interview is already traveling around. Thank you, Nora, Ploughshares, Haystack!

1 Subaru, 3 days, 8 states

I am momentarily back in Chicago; during the long trip I alleviated road ennui with my camera.  But I took no photos of the places I spent the nights nor the friends I stayed with; the immediacy and pleasantness of their company, conversation and the comfort  they offered prevailed; even benign media intrusion simply seemed out of place.  Tana, Ann (and Zoe), Steve and Kathy (and Mandikat), and Tom: thank you, thank you, thank you.

Wednesday, final PBI day:

Listening to Katie MacGregor during the show & tell.  Some of the work from my class is on the table in the foreground (the auction is on the two long tables).  Some people from my class did not show their work; they went to see some of Maine (and humpback whales!) instead.  Who could blame them?

Since I have no money, I ducked out of the auction after awhile myself, and went to a different beach.  There I wandered, breathed that incomparable sea air, played with the Atlantic one last time, and watched fog glide into Machias Bay a few miles away, while where I was stayed sunny.  Then I went back for the banquet…

…and got my lobstah.  Sooo delicious! And then the music and noise started, and I slipped away again.

The last hurrah: the dorm hallway at 2 am.

Thursday, July 22:

Well, where else would I stop for breakfast, except a major downeast tourist institution?  The wild blueberry scones were lovely.  I wanted to buy a pie, but was afraid of my road appetite.  I bought home-made wild blueberry truffles for Tana and Ann and the Smiths, but they melted.  I put them in the freezer when I got home, and Paul and I are now eating strange misshapen puddles – and they are still delectable.

Frenchman’s Bay in Acadia.

Huge, swift-currented tidal river, that boasts a waterfall that changes direction with the tides, further away than I could drive to. Especially because I wanted to stop at the LL Bean outlet I had spotted on the way to Machias.  I now have a very cool summer rain jacket coated in teflon – half-price.

Where I sat for nearly 40 minutes on Rte 1, waiting till the oncoming traffic had to sit and wait for us.

Pretty much the rest of Maine, interstate view.  What I wanted to shoot for you and couldn’t: BEWARE!  Moose Crossing signs; huge – huge! – nests built on top of major power poles, and the impressive dark angry clouds all stacked up on the coast to the east.

Interesting New Hampshire marketing strategy: tax-free liquor and lottery tickets combined with an interstate rest-stop.  I guess if people are buying to drink on the road, they’ll be in Massachusetts or Maine before the alcohol takes effect. Canny.

Massachusetts traffic seemed to uphold that premise.  Sorry, Mass – you are beautiful, but you have some of THE most annoying traffic I’ve EVER encountered – not just near Boston, but across the entire… freakin’… state.  I lost two hours sitting in stopped traffic (sigh). To say nothing of people barreling down the shoulder in Porsches, jabbering away on cell phones.

Ahhhhhh, the serenity of driving New York’s Taconic Parkway after all that, stopping for the hazy early evening view of the Hudson Valley and beyond to Catskills.  12 hours on the road…

Friday, July 23:

A good long early-morning, slightly drizzly walk in the woods with Tana and Zoe to get the kinks out, too-short talks with Meghan and Chris, and then off again. It was raining hard before I got to Ellenville.  Near Loch Sheldrake (possibly my favourite Catskill place-name) I missed a turn.  The GPS took me on a 7-mile loop back to rte 52.  It was fascinating…a town where all the signs were in Hebrew, old wooden camps next to fancy gated communities, and a huge, ostentatious, self-proclaimed ashram, with collonades, fountains, and an enclosed walkway bridge over the road. (I always though ashrams were spare, meditative environments? This looked like a Vegas resort.) But it was raining too hard to shoot anything, and then, on route 17, the Catskills put on a spectacular Smoky Mountain -type show:

OK, OK, I pulled over:

One of these (above or below) is mid-New York, and one is a brief dip into western Pennsylvania, I can’t remember which…

Entering my favourite part of western New York.  But then:

WHAM! A massive, violent storm tore through.  I had to put on the flashers and pull over, couldn’t see a thing except that before the white-out of solid water, the trees were bent double in the wind.  (There is another car in front of me with its flashers on here – and you can’t even see it!) As I sat there, the car was buffeted back and forth, rocked wildly, while I tried to remember if they have tornadoes in western New York.  It lasted all of 10 minutes, and then just as suddenly, stopped completely – and I was sitting right across from the Seneca casino:

When I see it, it  means I only have about 2 1/2 hours to go to Cleveland.

On I-90 in eastern Pennsylvania.  Lake Erie is on my right, and its winds are blowing a solid curved line o’ bad weather into New York.

“Cleveland, city of light, city of magic”.  It was 93 degrees and sweltering.  But later that night, the same kind of storm blew through, followed by a gentler one, and cleared the air for a lovely night’s sleep. 10 hours on the road…

Saturday, July 24:

Up for a lovely breakfast of home-made tabbouleh, fresh berries and cherries, and Rosendale apple cider doughnuts with cowboy coffee and always-great conversation with the Smiths, a stop at the Morgan on Aimee’s one day off to talk over the upcoming class with Tom, a little adjustment to Listen, which was having a few a more issues than I’d like in the massive humidity Cleveland’s been experiencing. But I was quite pleased with how the 99 copies of (S)Edition have weathered it all.  And then, the final leg:

Ohio, up until the Lake Erie islands or so.

Just about all of western Ohio and the entire state of Indiana look like this, with some crop variation, a few cities, and the nice broad Maumee river near Toledo, Ohio – until you get to the stinky industrialization of Gary, Indiana, belching flames and fumes into the sky, which means I’m almost home.

Well, come on – baby don’tcha wanna go?

Back to that same old place,

Sweet Home Chicago.  Which always welcomes me with heinous traffic. 7.5 hours on the road (might have been 6.5, but Chicago had a point to make).

Sunday, July 25:

Nothing. No-thing. Paul is grilling us dinner tonight, and all is right in Lupe’s world: the pack is home. For three whole days…

Bettah blahg now…

…because I don’t know when I’ll next get the time and access.  My immediate next-few-days future is uncertain – more on that in a moment.

My class minus three people who went…somewhere?… at the end.

The PBI class finished tonight, and I can honestly say, it was a blast.  Crazily intense energy ruled over the whole shebang, not just in my class, but I went for a relatively self-motivated, individualized approach and so we were a wildly experimental, noisy, productive madhouse (which I admit is my favorite way to roll). I think everyone got something out of it, and that is good, and I know a number of people got a great deal, because they told me so.  And I knew way back in February and up until I got here that PBI would be kind of a trial by fire for me, because I had never been here before; indeed, there were some things that I didn’t learn about till today (that often, instructors can and will go back and teach at night, that I could pop into other classrooms if I wanted, things like that). Regardless, I enjoyed it immensely (in spite of a continuing, significantly lessened tolerance for sound; alas, it is decidedly time to visit the audiologist). I would be very pleased to do this again.  Paper and Book Intensive is indeed an appropriate title!

The classroom transformed from chaos to clean almost immediately at 4:30, and I had lots of volunteer help loading the car.  Tomorrow is a wrap-up day, with a show and tell session after breakfast (where I will properly document the work, I hope: the one drawback has been intense humidity which doesn’t aid the drying of paste. Many folks left with damp work,  to rig up drying weights in their rooms tonight).  Then, there’s an auction and a banquet in the evening, and beginning at 3 am on Thursday, everyone disperses to the four winds.

When I originally planned the trip, I had five days after the end of PBI plus two days driving time to get to Cleveland in time to prep for my next class at the Morgan (which Tom says is full).  I thought that would be the genuine vacation I’ve been craving, and I would wander around beautiful Maine a wee bit. Then a month ago I learned that I had to be back in Chicago for two days before I teach at the Morgan.  Fine:  I planned to drive from Maine to Cleveland, park my car, fly home for two days, fly back and then drive home after the class (and the Listening de-install).  After I got here, those dates became uncertain, and then they were re-confirmed yesterday morning…just enough frustrating waffling so that airfares are now prohibitively expensive. Grrr.  So now it looks like I’m driving back to Chicago…three days on the road. Even so, I thought at least I could have Thursday to wander by staying in the Machias motel that night, but now the weather report says rain all day.  Sigh.

Now I am triply glad that I snagged Velma and returned to the Jasper Beach with her on Sunday after dinner. It was a gorgeous day, she is lovely, fun, rich company…and I got a surprise, too: big islands in the bay that were completely hidden in fog during the last visit, even when the fog seemed to have lifted!  We got our feet caressed and toyed with by the Atlantic, collected smooth bindery weights and lovely small pieces of jasper, amassed lots of tiny sharp rocks in our shoes, laughed, talked, and watched a beautiful sunset.  Sadly, this may be all of Maine I get to have this time…I’m very glad I got to spend it with Velma!  And maybe I will go get lobstah for breakfast on Thursday…

Good, and Tired

One day of sizing, then

three days of traditional Japanese dyes:

I truly, truly enjoyed Tatiana Ginsberg’s class.  I am so glad I was in the morning session to be there when the dyes and mordants were prepared.  It was all so seductive, in color and in process, and Tatiana is the kind of excellent teacher who is fascinated with the processes herself, who passes that on.

PBI is half over now.  My class began this morning. I am, as always,  too-many-options Craig, and it was an incredibly productive day.  I took no photos (no time) and I am going to have to sit on the materials, we are already in danger of running out, even with the extra I have already added and am adding to the mix tomorrow from my own supplies. Total enthusiasm!  I’m lovin’ it.

This is a portion of what happened in the first session classes; so much that I couldn’t fit it into a single shot.

This is, again, only a portion of the attendance.  PBI is all rather amazing.

Yesterday was ‘excursion day’ and I slipped away with Nancy M (though the morning and evening were spent setting up the classroom, deciding how it could work best for all, and cramming in a wee bit of last-minute supply shopping).

This wide, long perfect quarter-moon slice of a ‘beach’ is made mostly of jasper, smooth, tumbled, beautifully variegated colorful stones thrown up and stacked by the tide, in big hills that were tricky to walk, like piles of ball bearings.  It’s the end of a rocky pine-clad cove opening wide, out into the Atlantic, and supposedly one of only two such beaches on the planet.

We filled our pockets, and once again I breathed along with the thrum of the sea, my heartbeat aligned with its pull.  Thick cool delicious fog rolled in, lifted, and was followed by more, blanketing us in its not-quite-liquid.

I am, I hope, done with my extra evening work now, and won’t be so continually exhausted after today (at least while I’m here).  I hope  for news tomorrow or the next day that might let me stay for a few days, even while knowing that it’s improbable.  Just in case, I also ate ‘the best blueberry pie in Maine’, delicious, not sweet.  I will stay over at least one day, and get me a lobster, too, and at least another whole day of ocean love.

We doubled back around and drove out to the point to see what this gathering of vessels was about; lobster being unloaded.  Below: just majestic, that fog waiting to come in.  It’s delicious and cool on the skin when it rolls in slow and gentle, and speaks to me of Scotland on the other side.

DownEast, FullSpeed

I got so excited when I saw this view after driving driving driving in Maine rain, four hours of it; and then the Atlantic, the mist!  I still had a few hours to drive, but I felt much better about it (and the rain stopped, finally, so the windshield wipers weren’t hypnotizing me. It was a loooooong drive: up thru NY, across Massachusetts almost to Boston, then on up north through New Hampshire and Maine, nearly to Canada).

I spoke too soon about rain in the last blog – it never did at WSW, until right at the very end of the class, when there was a 15 minute deluge. Then some good downpours on Saturday. Instead, we got the full brunt of the heat wave, consecutive days of 105 degrees.  This was an extremely intent group of women, and they worked relentlessly, days and nights. They voted not to stop on the last day for things like looking at each others work or group shots.  It was just five days of work work work work work then – bang – we cleaned up the studio, and it was done.  We used lots of fiber, too.

At the end of the second day, with the reports of the coming heat, WSW moved the big stack dryer out to the porch, and moved in more work tables. Still, one woman, Amy, chose to work out on the porch table the entire time (so she’s not in these snapshots). I don’t know how she survived it; I was steam- cooking kozo outside right next to her every day, too. But she got a lot done and really liked what she did. I had a bit of a difficult time; the heat hit me hard.  But I managed to make these odd things as demos; no idea where they’re headed, but I am intrigued, and thinking about pursuing them:

So I stayed over on Saturday, ran a million errands, packed and loaded into the night, hit the road early Sunday and now, Machias and PBI at long last, after years and years of hearing great things about it. I’m still working in my spare time and being as social as I can with my ridiculous overbooking and ears that seem to have reached a new low in sound tolerance during the past week. PBI is definitely about connecting, in a fine way, and it’s a very lovely group of folks, so I hope to get these my extra things finished quickly.  I’m loving meeting new folks, many of whom I’ve known about or have had electronic communications with for years. Right now, though, I’m out of words, so here’s an interesting feature of Machias; the name means Little Bad Falls, so titled by the original inhabitants.  There is a broad, swift-looking but relatively calm river, that’s suddenly broken by a rock island into three jagged waterfalls that cannot be captured in one photo, and then it calmly re-assembles into a lower broad river again, and heads out to Machias Bay and the ocean, about four miles away. A busy bridge carrying all the traffic into town spans the rocky island and the falls, but there’s a little park with observation decks, a gazebo and a footbridge  over one set of falls just below.  The air smells of the sea and I love that.

West side o’ the big bridge, with kayakers pulling over to portage.

East side, with the park’s footbridge.

Looking back at the bridge into town, from the park deck…

…and to the east, from the footbridge.  Nice.

I love the stairs.  Around that bend, the river goes on a wee bit to the bay and the sea. I haven’t been there yet. I can’t wait. Oh!  And I finally met Velma in person, hooray!  And she shot the giant blueberry that I didn’t stop for on the way here!


I am frantically finishing the packing for my six-weeks-on-the-road, four-classes-in-three-states-tour…I hit that road tomorrow.  It will be SO lovely to be back on the Binne at Women’s Studio Workshop, to see some of Maine, to reconnect with Aimee at the Morgan, and to meet new folks in my classes and Make Things together.  Still, I’m a tad conflicted at leaving, and was sad when I shut my wee studio down for the duration earlier this week.

But  no time, so few words today, but some links:

Jeff Chiplis Is Home!  And Smith has the scoop, along with links to his TV interviews. (I am still coughing badly, so hopefully will visit a stronger Jeff in August).

I meant to tell you about Tatana Kellner’s installation at the Kentler International Drawing Space in Brooklyn, but that got pushed out of my brain by the shock of Jeff’s shooting.  However, she’s just been featured in PS1’s Studio Visit.  I saw and was totally intrigued by some of her flax bread when I visited in March. Have a look!

Oh, and PS2: Gallery Shoal Creek has just put up a lovely series of web pages on Paper 2, its upcoming September exhibition.  I’m very pleased to be included, and to be heading back down to Austin at the end of the summer for the reception.