Fabulously Industrious

Visual musical notation: some of the first day’s works hung to dry…

I’m back in Chicago now, doing a great deal of thinking about how absolutely fortunate I’ve been with my classes all summer.  It’s been SO rich!  The two-day workshop at the Morgan, which I had thought might be something of an anticlimax because of its short time span, was definitely no exception.  I had a fantastic time, and was amazed at what -and how much! – everyone accomplished in those two short days.

The dye table was a popular second-day spot.

There are beaucoup images of the workshop, all over the internet.  The Morgan’s are here, participant Erin’s are here, and participant Elizabeth has posted 7 pages of images here! This is a good thing, because, although I’m embellishing this post with some of my own shots, I was a bit busy and didn’t have time to take many.

Mike, Julie, and Tom’s (eventual) topper.

My old friend Joanne came by on Friday to help with prep on one of those kinds of days when the universe decided to mess around, which included having me setting off a truly obnoxious security alarm.  I really, really, really enjoyed the company of my 4th floor flatmates, Julie (who honored me by taking the class) and her husband Mike. Intern Abbey was a great help, as (as always!) was absolutley everyone at the Morgan: great help, great fun, and easygoing while being hardworking, industrious, and tremendously hospitable – Cleveland to the core!  The lovely Susan Kelly even packed me a little (biodegradable) sack of snacks and bottled water for the road, and Tom Balbo was, well: Tom…he is the heart of the Morgan, and the Morgan is unique.  All of you coming for the conference in October: you are in for a multitude of treats. See you then!

Abbey and The Colors…

I get to go back in just about two weeks for my summer treat: Aimee’s class. I am so happy about that.

Industrious Pulp Application meets Industrial Landscape

In the meantime there is unpacking, a show to see, artwork to finish (hooray), deferred taxes, two interviews (one to be completed, another begun), web site and MakerCentric updates, yard sale organizing and last but definitely not least, some serious reflecting about teaching to be done, along with not-too-bad gartden weeding (those last two are likely to happen at the same time). Right now, it’s predicted to reach 101 degrees out there today, and whatever I am allergic to in the Chicago high summer is out in full force, so itchy eyes, sneezing and benadryl hazes put it all on the back burner till I readjust. But rest assured, I am also basking in an extended glow.  Thank you, Arrowmont, Women’s Studio Workshop, and the Morgan!

Thus ends my 2012 summer teaching tour…

What A Week It Was!

 This just has to begin it: Lisa’s abaca-dipped bra.

And another piece by Lisa Cirando, who made a lot of great things, including all of our kozo shades in the previous post, and a glorious abaca-dipped book I loved.

Last week was jam-packed, and it didn’t stop this weekend, beginning with a Saturday morning flood in my bathroom, most likely caused by two of us having long showers while a third person did laundry, and going on to the excellent time I will end this post with a tiny glimpse of.

Barbara Landes’ fantastic use of the pattern on an old rusty heating grate, found in a gutted house next door that now belongs to WSW (for which there are exciting plans!) and below, an exploration of ongoing themes in dyed kozo and abaca, perhaps contributing to her upcoming thesis work (sorry for the bit of blurriness):

Today, Sunday, was up and out for  studio prep and fiber-beating and e-mail answering and the rather dismal local laundromat (in all but its name: Tiny Bubbles). And then, meeting almost all the next class at dinner – it all begins again tomorrow!

Ceci Cole McInturf’s cast back, done in very thin flax, and her big, lovely loose amate exploration – done with our kozo and some of the elusive bleached kozo that Carriage House sold out of before I got to Brooklyn to buy some a couple of years ago – Ceci gave me some to mess with!  (Thanks!)

This post contains two images of everyone’s work from the week, with big apologies to Laurie – I tossed out my class list in a cleaning-up frenzy and lost her last name! (Please e-mail me, Ms. Kosogompi, and I will correct this!) The images are  no indication of the volume and variety of the experiments, and I was really disappointed that a few photos I really wanted came out blurry, but this is a taste, anyways.

I loved Jackie May Hiller’s short-handled rake, one of seemingly hundreds of strong pieces she made; below is a hanging piece incorporating just about everything.

The week also seemed to begin Interview Season, which is fantastic; they’re for an oddly, pleasingly diverse medley of publications and purposes, and all surprised me hugely.  I did one in the evenings, another in person, and a third will happen in the evenings this week, while the in-person one will continue by e-mail. I’m feeling incredibly dang lucky, in spite of regurgitating showers, nut attacks, and washing machines that tear holes in favorite shirts. Those all have their part in whatever this story is, at any rate.

Above is a bad photo of one of Laurie’s curiously appealing winged figures; the other is a marionette.  This one had squishy rubber hands and feet, and intricate guts made from an incredible $4 haul at the local salvage store; below, her early experiments:

This was a most excellent group of folks to spend a week being pulpy with.  Or longer! I will hook up with Lisa again in August: we are both taking Aimee Lee‘s class at the Morgan! And, best of all: this won’t end here.  The work done in these quick classes is just the beginning, and these folks truly understood that.

Here are some intricate abaca insects by Stephanie Garmey, who teaches at MICA. I’m  eager to see how this all intersects with her current body of precisely cut 3D paper  objects and installations.  Below: big beautiful abaca water lily prototypes (and she left with three re-usable armatures and pulp,  ready to make many more).

I spent a delightful afternoon chez Richard Minsky on Saturday, complete with a big, delicious lunch and even tastier company and conversation. My thanks to Barbara, Richard and George; I so enjoyed time with you all.

My GPS said the address didn’t exist, so I had a bit of an odd time following Richard’s excellent directions on my phone while driving.  Then, I pulled into a curved drive; the house, which I had a photo of, was blocked from view but I saw these:

…and knew I was in the right place.  And I truly was. What a perfect way to end a wonderful week!

Stuff, and not enough Nonsense

Arrowmont sent a lovely (paper, non-electronic) postcard image of my class, with the URL of their Flickr site on the back.

Yesterday, we went way Beyond Busy into Total Exhaustion. Assisted by Paul The Brave, who went above and beyond the call of partnership, I finally freed myself of the major storage space albatross just ahead of yet another rent hike. (The old facility was more crowded than I have ever seen it, with a whole lot of others moving out).

It became apparent during the week, as the house began to fill, that I couldn’t entirely jettison external storage in this time frame, so we rented a van and took one large load to a recycling center and others to a much smaller, much cleaner, less than 1/3 the cost space at another facility even closer to home, and, yes, brought more stuff home, where we will just be a bit overcrowded until our Very Odd Yard sale at the end of the summer.  Earlier this week, stuff went out to two community arts organizations, and yesterday began with a pickup from a sweet curator (it was his birthday!) of stuff that went to a museum (which helped offset the angst of sending other parts of an installation I loved but will never exhibit again to recycling.)

I am mightily, mightily tired of stuff and yet still crave, above all else, time to make more stuff.

Today, deliver work to this show (I’m sad I will miss the opening), address a mile-long list of little wrap-up tasks, laundry, packing, loading the car in the evening when it’s cooler, a good sleep, and out the door early in the morning heading for Women’s Studio Workshop, then the Morgan. But first, I’m looking forward to tomorrow evening chilling with the Smiths!  It’ll be my first bit of actual relaxation (except for the time spent writing this report). And hopefully we will make some (at least) verbal nonsense together; it’s tradition.

I’m pleased to say that there’s a wee interview about (S)Edition coming out soon by  Akeem K. Duncan at Quiet Lunch Magazine, probably while I’m on the road.


My hat’s off to Karen Green for her lovely installation of 18 copies of (S)Edition!

After a follow-up session with 2/3 of the class (three folks were working as Studio Assistants at Arrowmont, and one had already left) and two margaritas with my fellow instructors and a lot of other Arrowmonters, I packed up my room, loaded the car, got a good night’s sleep, had one last Arrowmont breakfast, hit the road and drove all day with a couple of stops just to get the kinks out; and Paul had a late dinner waiting when I got home last night …perfect!

Two-thirds of us Friday evening – before margaritas!

I’m back in Chicago for 10 days, with lots and lots and lots on my plate to be accomplished during that time!  The Swiss Army Subaru is not even unloaded yet.  I do have to say (and I’m saying it over and over) that my experience at Arrowmont was: stellar.  Tonight or tomorrow, I’ll sort through all the photos and show you some of the fantastic work that was made in the class.

But first I want to introduce you to my new, photo-based blog (yes, I am insane): MakerCentric, where I’ve already posted some of the highlights from Arrowmont.  I’ll let the blog explain itself; subscribe if you think it’s something that interests you.

I’ll be back here very soon with the promised art images: you will be absolutely delighted.  I was!

Below: we had to be out of the studios by 6pm and we were.  I returned to photograph a few extra things for MakerCentric at 6:10, and this is what I found. Ha! (The next class in the studio begins tonight).


In the past few days I have, among other things:

  •             Been rejected.
  •             Received a wonderful, singular honor (on the same day).
  •             Estimated taxes and mailed forms.
  •             Gotten info, images, etc. out for two shows.
  •             Acquired three years’ space on the web.
  •             Registered a new domain.
  •             Built the tiresome text-based half of my new site.
  •             Begun reading a rather excellent manuscript.
  •             Made sketches and plans for three new pieces.

Today I walked away from everything and got my hair chopped, learned a few new, excellent tricks to tame it, and then spent time in the forest preserve, visiting spring.  The shy early wildflowers were out, pleasing me to no end. It made me recall a comment by one of those people who describe themselves as friends, but make me wonder: “Spring happens every year!  Get over it!” No. No matter how many years I spend on this planet, I hope I will never get over it. It’s an annual miracle, and there aren’t enough miracles, until you slow down enough to notice them. Noticing is celebrating.

Out there in another fantastic part of the world, the waiting list for my Women’s Studio Workshop class has grown into an already nearly full second session, to be held the week before the original: July 2-6. I can’t think of a better place to celebrate summer…and paper!

Leap day.

Happy February 29th!  I’m making some (quiet) leaps, and I hope you are too.

(There’s no reason for this photo except that it is decidedly a February image.)

As you can see in the side panel, a 2012 class at the Morgan Conservatory is now also open for registration…and many other exciting classes as well. Wish I had time to take some myself, at every place I’m teaching.

Thick Of It

Work, work, work, deadlines, deadlines, deadlines, write, write, write about me, me, me and my work, work, work. I’ll get a break tomorrow for a much-needed haircut, trying out a new, nearby place. At the moment I closely resemble Albert Einstein, probably from pulling on my hair in exasperation while I write, write, write.  Shawn and I got the Natural Cycles show down, got great feedback about it and stole time for a lovely long walk  in the woods, but other than that, the above is all there is, except:

Two lovely one-week summer 2012 classes are online and open for registration, so here are the links, as promised: Arrowmont, June 10-16 (Gatlinburg, TN) and Women’s Studio Workshop, July 9-13 (Rosendale, NY). Thanks for the searches and hope to see you there!  Sign up soon…

Ten More Days

I’ve been quite busy, but with things not interesting enough or too as-yet unformed to blog about (composing reference letters, researching several things, writing, preliminary curating with a dear friend, doing some work on the house and tons of somewhat surprising thinking and cautious planning, to name a few).

I am so much more aware of the approach of the solstice (and so, the holidays) this year; much earlier than ever before.  I think it’s because I’m working at home, where the waning of the light, the onset of each day’s earlier and earlier darkness, is so much more noticeable. I got our wee lights installed earlier than ever and they bring a snug comfort (and make me want to cook, too).

Yesterday I went to Ragdale’s warm lovely annual holiday party, arriving a bit early so I could enjoy a wee visit to the prairie before the light went.  It was wonderful to see Ragdale House looking like this, much like a friend recovering well from surgery, and also to see all the new copper trim lit up by the early sunset:

I had so much fun, and so many consecutive conversations that unfortunately I missed each and every tour of the interior!  But a friend and many-time resident of the house who did step inside said, with a huge grin: “It looks like…like…Ragdale House!” I also ran into a few folks who knew Barbara Metz, and we traded stories and toasted her. Of course, I had my annual tarot reading, which hinted that there is good reason to anticipate the sun’s return. I took the long, non-freeway route home, just to enjoy all the holiday lights along the way.

(For those still searching for ‘Melissa Jay Craig Classes 2012’, thank you again: here are .pdf links to two ‘summer sneak previews’:  Arrowmont (June 10 -16) and Women’s Studio Workshop (July 9 -13) !)

Search Response(s)


Video still circa 1990, just for fun.

I’m seeing an increasing number of searches for ‘Melissa Jay Craig classes / workshops 2012’ which is very nice: thank you!  I do have some excellent ones scheduled for summer, and am currently in talks about a couple more. I’ll post them here as soon as each goes live for registration! (My web site is still frozen in limbo, and likely to remain that way for awhile; I can’t add anything to it. So please check back here or on my Facebook page.) My final 2011 workshop is the new, extended two-day Portable Papermaking at Evanston Print and Paper on December 10 and 11, and I believe there are still spaces open.

I’ll be giving a workshop and critique sessions in conjunction with this solo show in January, but for St. Ambrose University students only.  However, the artist’s talk and reception are open to all, so if you are nearby, please come and say hi.

And, if you are in Miami tomorrow through Sunday, Zia Gallery will be representing my work at ArtNow.

There have also been searches for Natural Cycles: Sustainability in Book and Paper Arts.  My web site woes, the fact that the formatting options of Blahg leave much to be desired, and other projects are causing me some delay getting it online. I am experimenting with a few new ways to present the show, and I truly hope to publish one here soon!