Hometown and Back Home

I’ve been home since Tuesday and quickly became thoroughly immersed in what I hurried home for: our shared not-blog-able situation which is just beginning to shift into high gear. It will rumble on, occupying much of our time for the next few months.


This really is a really good show, and the catalog is excellent, with brief essays by each artist.

Cleveland was grand, grand, grand: all of it, the class, the Morgan and Morganites, the friends!  Oh, the friends.  But still I have no words, just huge overflowing gratitude to everyone there in my hometown (friends who reside there and friends passing through) for a time that I can carry within as we go on with our extended odd and sometimes difficult tasks here.

I may not find many words for awhile, but I will try to have images and write a bit, captioning those.


This is where I asked to stay while teaching, on Tom’s second floor.  I love the light, the space, and waking up to the three koi who live in this fountain. Though they are friendly and stick their heads out to be fed when you whistle ‘Garry Owen’ they’re almost impossible to photograph, never still.  But I like their greeting each morning and evening, very much.

MorganTeach2Above photo courtesy of Lauren Sammon; pretty much the entire class on the first day (a few people were out of the frame).


The classes all seem to need to start the same way, even though I had several people who were repeating. I do lots of demos, talk, answer questions, and from the first day, odd amorphous shapes begin to appear. The magic is in watching these blobby things develop, get added to, and completely transform over the next few days.

(You can see the Morgan’s Facebook album here. Lauren shot photos almost daily; I didn’t have time for much).


When the kozo and the color come into play, things begin to get quite exciting. Several people made bark lace to be shaped later; some made bark lace to be cast then and there. I try not to be jealous of people whose knees still function properly!


At the dye table and in the paper studio; by day 3, people were spread out all over the Morgan.  We were lucky to be the only class running during our five days, so we had it all!

Morganclass3I truly enjoyed working with Radha, who came to develop part of her MFA thesis work; she got some viable prototypes and I will be eagerly looking forward to seeing what happens with them, how the whole fits together.

MorganOceanLike the WSW class, most people came to add something to already substantial practices or to develop specific projects; most left with prototypes and / or components for work to be completed later, which pleases me to no end.  This is Ammon’s main project, a bark lace sea and an abaca boat which will ultimately become an animation.  (On the very last day, a whale’s tail appeared, too). There were many, many colorful bark lace pieces, a series of red bark fists, collages that attained dimension, a series of large abaca-dipped mesh geometric shapes to become an installation, components for arrangements by an Ikebana master and oh, so very, very much more: riches.

MorganFlowahsSome people did finish things; on the last day, Susan left early, all spiffed up for an event, carrying a bouquet of big calla lilies made by re-shaping and dyeing air-dried sheets of abaca and flax.

JulieKiMoNoMorganJulieFriend Julie McLaughlin, whose big beautiful kimono was one of (several) personal favorites in the show, was in the studio making more from the big deckle box; Tom was making some work with it as well. I wanted to, too.

MorganKimono2MorganKimono1Ivey, Eastern Paper Studio apprentice extraordinaire, combined one of her kimonos from Julie’s class with bark lace and a subtle use of dyes, in addition to making several other great things.  This was just gorgeous, both with the light on it and showing through it.

MorganMilkweedThriving Morgan milkweed!


ASmithpstersThen, after class and leaving the Morgan, a lovely, restorative time at the SmithSanctuary, with message rocks, bee talk, poetry, a trip out for so much great ice cream that it became our dinners (“Our portions are…rather large”, said the waitperson after delivering the giant bowls), stretching, congenial quietness, homemade jam: touchstone time.

GahdenHomeHomePeppasHome, to mid-August gardens needing a lot of trimming back, and burgeoning harvests, some of which have already begun.

ChanceHomeAnd this one. He is HUGE, grew so much; the markings on his coat are changing, becoming more defined; his eyes appear to be changing from bright electric blue to a pale greenish-grayish-yellowish hue.  He is shedding a short, dense undercoat, and he was a total drama queen, yelping and yowling whenever I left his sight for a few days.  We’re back to much-needed training.

To WSW and (partway) Back


Women’s Studio Workshop is growing!

I am sorry to have neglected the blahg-o-sphere but it couldn’t be helped: busy busy busy!  But pretty much all good, and am having a great time seeing old friends and making new ones.


It’s much more extensive than either of these photos show; there’s lots more going on behind the second house. Hooray!

I worked pretty much up till the moment I left Chicago; drove straight to the Morgan and dropped off the work for Revive and Renew, which (as I saw yesterday) is a Really Good Show and had a lovely dinner with Aimee and Velma, and then a fine evening and early morning with the Smiths at their peaceful sanctuary.


The human press dance, performed enthusiastically by Teddy and Jean.

Then, the long long drive to a stellar week at Women’s Studio Workshop. I do so love it there at any time for any reason, and it was made even sweeter by a workshop that was sort of a dream class.  Everyone in it was a working artist with a considerable practice, who came to shake things up a bit. And everyone GOT it: that this five-day workshop was much less a place to focus on making Cool Stuff Right Now, but something to be used as a catalyst.  Everyone left with components for works to be completed, test pieces, the knowledge to be able to take things further, and best of all: ideas.  That all made me SO happy (in spite of the coughing cold that two of us developed early on that, for me, is still lingering, and the fact that one person had to leave to deal with a home situation after only one day: I hope you are OK). The collective spirit and tone of the class was happy, friendly with lots of exchange, industrious, and above all, one of discovery. I simply couldn’t have asked for more and I am eager to see what will come of things in the future. Many thanks to you all!


Here we all are on the last day, minus one who had to leave: Andrea, some weirdo, Teddy, Jim, Jean and Donna.

The non-class time, too, was filled with excellent activities: a delicious dinner with Ann, Tana and Susan (whose class in the front studio filled the walls with colorful innovative prints), a lovely long visit and dinner out with Amelia who drove over from Connecticut, an afternoon of walking and mushroom-foraging with Tana, getting to hang out with the fabulous Chris (who helped locate and install some WSW ear-fungi on Saturday) and Sara, and two interns, Alyssa who was a HUGE help in the workshop and Mary who cooked up some fantastic lunches (and kindly popped some very tasty vegan leftovers into my little fridge).


Up at the ArtFarm with Chris.

Early Saturday evening, after ears were installed and the car packed (with just what I needed for the night and morning left out), I did something I’ve wanted to do since I first came to WSW in 2009: walked the (expanded, but now restricted) rail trail past the eerie old mine shafts and then: out onto the tall, tall former railroad trestle that spans the little river valley over Rosendale. It’s been restored and is now open to the public.  I don’t really like heights, but have always wanted to get up there.  It’s gorgeous.


Gorgeous views from the trestle…

Then I got up at 5 am, drove all day and got to the Morgan just as Aimee and Velma’s joint class was wrapping up; I got installed over at Tom’s and had a nice visit with him, Aimee and Velma, and then Velma and I got an all-too-rare treat, a couple of hours just to talk.  She’s headed back to the North Country now (safe travels).


...but a long way down.

Even more good things happened:  Aimee’s article about the Morgan’s Eastern Paper Studio appeared in the Surface Design Journal, and one of my works was chosen to accompany it with a very lovely layout; the Revive and Renew exhibition opened at the Morgan on Friday, and it is fantastic, with a lovely catalog, and Ann Starr came to review the show but so enjoyed the Morgan that she wrote this, which perfectly captures the place (and I thank her for the shout-out as well). Now I’d better get over to the studio…


I couldn’t resist this “collaboration” with Tana (even though she didn’t know about it).

Watershed Week


Today’s photos are some of the ‘farm’ portions of my little Chicago yard gardens; here, tomatoes, hot little peppers, chives and marigolds to protect them all, and a primrose whose color echoes the (millions!) of little tomato blooms and makes me smile.

Finally, after two months of uncertainty, on Thursday we learned much more about what is in store for us regarding our home situation; we now have a solid plan A, B and C, all of which follow the same preliminary schedule.  One of the things we had been uncertain about was whether or not I’d be able to travel to teach the two summer classes. Fortunately, I can and will, and am really looking forward to that once again.


The back-porch, two-steps-outside-the-kitchen herbs: rosemary, stevia (which I didn’t like as a sweetener until Sandy Bernat gave me a fresh leaf to taste last year: delicious) with more basil just seeded after eating the spring rocket / aragula that grew in that pot, cilantro turning into coriander and some basil, and Greek oregano, tarragon and lemon thyme, with more basil, dill and summer savory seedlings just getting ready to be transferred).

So, now I’m out of limbo and facing a pretty packed schedule for the next three weeks, but: joy! Much of it involves the studio, after today’s (lengthy) other tasks (there will be more of those, but they’ll be interspersed with studio, accomplished during drying times).  I am off to make that happen.


Some herbs do better in the ground: smoky fennel, nigella (there’s tons more in several other locations), a new golden sage, and the lavender that was compromised by the polar vortex winter, but coming back, mixed with a few marigolds and cleome.

Out in the world: Mary Ellen Long has published a few photos from our show at Abecedarian Gallery: thanks!


The mint patch with a stray dill (and a kozo experi-mint, weathering). On the other side of this tree and in other locations, lots of lemon balm, aka Melissa.


It’s a watershed time for the gardens as well; except for a few transplants, the planting and seeding is done and it’s definitely time for the trimming back of the mulberry I’ll harvest and the dogwood in front; yesterday the City of Chicago beat me to it, chopping a big chunk of this maple away from the power lines.  (Look at that clematis-loaded trellis!)


There are other types of shedding going on: Lupe’s dropping her massive winter inner coat and Chance loves to chase the flying fur! The buckets in the background are full of soaking iris stems, harvested courtesy of my neighbors, ready for the cook…

Off the Radar

…that’s where I’ve been. We’ve been dealing with some stress-producing, un-blog-able stuff here at home and that may continue, but hopefully not. We are consciously trying to keep the stress levels at minimum, either way. Things that did happen:


In the less-than-two weeks I’ve ignored the internet, the clematis has already grown almost to the top of the eight-foot trellis!


Chance graduated from pup class with some good scores: 19 of 20 points on one test and 98 of 100 on the other. The points that he missed were social ones: he still is threatened by many other dogs and by most humans not in his pack. We’re keeping up the daily training sessions, and ever-longer walks to expose him to more unexpected situations. I’ve never been around quite such a fearful dog and am at a bit of a loss, looking for help, going by instinct in the meantime. With us, he’s a sweetie. The training club does not hold classes again till fall, but there are six weeks of open, all-level, outdoor sessions we’ll attend, and we’ll bring Lupe too. She’ll like being included, and she may also have a positive influence on Chance.


Out in the world: here’s an image from the Mesa Museum exhibition, Boundless, and they also posted an album on their Facebook site. Looks like an interesting show. Crate-building materials (way more than I need, below, but there will be uses for the excess) have been delivered and / or ordered for me to pick up for one of the Denver shows, and invitations are in the mail for the other, and the U of C show has been extended for a month and may morph into a second exhibit as well (both of which can easily be done; I have not shown the altered books body of work for a long, long time). We also talked about adding possible second class at WSW, to address the waiting list. Unfortunately, that can’t happen this year due to schedule conflicts, but there were some fine future ideas tossed out, things I had already been thinking about anyways. Excellent.


The triwall board – ten sheets instead of the four I need – is 4 x 8 feet, so you can see how much bubble wrap that is! Nice to know I won’t run out.

Most of this US holiday weekend will be for chilling / de-stressing, probably a lot of it in the gardens; it’s needed.

a good pace / in a good place


Rains still come almost daily,

Both summer classes are full again; the space at the Morgan was only open for 24 hours. Thank you, everyone! (I like this couple o’ classes schedule, and am thinking I might try to stick to something similar from now on).

The next two shows are coming up fast; they are simultaneous, but in different close-together venues in the same city, each with very different, but efficient administrative procedures.  There’s been lots of keyboard-type prep (mostly done over the past few days, but a bit more to go), then materials-ordering and crate-building and a great deal of packing and shipping are awaiting me – plus another quick trip to Cleveland at the end of the Morgan show to retrieve some of those works to ship back out.

One of the Morganite works has sold, a piece that I’ve particularly liked for many years. Its finding a home continues a trend I like very, very much: a car repair estimate came in, and caused a momentary sinking feeling, then the very next e-mail I opened contained the news of the sale, telling me I had it covered (and then some). That’s happened a few times so far this year. It feels a bit like a reward to get to that point, however long it lasts.


but they don’t stay.  The prairie winds blow them out to Lake Michigan; the Windy City does its thing.

There’s something else I like very much about this year: the fact that the invitational shows are happening, and the work goes out, is seen, and has conversations with its viewers, but I don’t. Even though I’m toying with the idea of a quick trip for these (it’s not often – if ever – I’ve had simultaneous shows in another city), the opening reception schmooze has never, ever been a favorite activity of mine, even well before my deafness dived to its current level. It may go back to my grad student days, when I worked in the school’s galleries.  We’d get everything ready, grab some food and drink for ourselves, then throw open the doors to a packed hallway and ravenous hoards of art students would rush in, head straight for and denude the food tables like locusts, then leave. It got a little better during the years I ran departmental exhibitions, and/ or had to attend everything in order to keep my job, but receptions are never about the work. If it’s a ‘good opening’ you can’t even see it. If I’m seeing a friend’s show, or another artist or artists I admire, I prefer to go a few days later when I can actually spend time seeing, experiencing.  If it’s my own opening, well: I believe the work is (and should be) very much more interesting than I am (or want to be).  So, this year suits me; suits me fine.

Tomorrow, time off to build a trellis in the garden. That suits me, too. And:



Poised at the studio door…with dogs.


Blessed Beltane! Spring rains moved in rather beautifully last week and stayed: persistent enough to get a whole ton of indoor spring cleaning AND *studio setup* done (though – have I ever said this before? There’s more to do). Though it kept things too wet and muddy for the gardens, the rain itself has been intermittent enough for Lupe’s long walk and two extended training sessions / walks per day for Chance.


With the new collar, as much as I was trepidatious about it, Chance has progressed rapidly.  We go on longer walks, exposing him to more things.  The contact this collar gives me tells me much more about what he is responding (and wanting to react) to. (The trainer said, “Just like power steering, isn’t it?”)

He sometimes reminds me of a sight hound.  Many years ago, before I began to seek artists’ residencies, my dog Face and I would spend a month each summer having an odd sort-of paid residency of our own, living in a lovely north suburban home (with use of a beautifully-equipped basement wood shop) and taking care of three champion Scottish Deerhounds while the owners were out of the country. They were sweet, affable, and totally independent dogs. I fed them and walked them twice a day and that was pretty much it; though they all liked me, and would express that by jumping up to delicately put their feet on my shoulders whenever I saw them during the year, they had a big dog door leading to their nice fenced run, and though they liked being petted, really didn’t ask for that, or for any attention outside their routine.  Chance is much, much more interactive, needing / craving human company and direction, but still the things that excite and distract him most are things he sees: Squirrels!  Cars!  Discarded plastic grocery bags blowing in the wind! He wants to give chase.  But he’s realizing his job is to work in concert with me, follow my pace, sit when I stop, ignore what I tell him to ignore.

The spring cleaning, and his maturing, has allowed me to expand Chance’s access to new parts of the house; he now has an area outside my upstairs studio where he can hang out, watch me while I work, or go nap in his open crate.  Today was his first exposure to that, and: he is now tall enough to see himself in the mirror in that space.  He thought he saw one scary dog; it was hilarious!


When the rains subside this weekend: back to the garden work, alone and with a friend, and: the first outdoor fiber cook of the season!  (Hello, mulberry.  I’ve got plans for you).

Here’s a nice little blurb about the Morganites show, too, and as of yesterday, there was a cancellation: one space has opened up in my Morgan workshop: grab it quickly!


…and not about Chance


Aimee kindly sent a quick report, saying last night’s opening of Morganites: Fiber in Flux was crowded and good, and also this photo. It shows her beautiful, persimmon-dyed jiseung lamp, Julie McLaughlin’s lovely kimono (you can learn to make one, too), and the start of my piece, It’s Academic, along with a wall work by Jared Ackerstrom.  Very nice; this is one opening reception I would have absolutely enjoyed.

And, I’ve forgotten to say, as of last week, both my summer classes are full; also very nice!  I’m grateful for, and am really going to like this year’s minimal one-trip, two-class schedule (and especially, ending and celebrating it by taking Aimee’s class: just what I need).



crawling out


I was quite wrong, thinking that I was finished with the flu after two days. That was just the end of the violent phase. It lingered on in a most uncomfortable form, and, alas, has been passed to Paul. During it, more snow and cold temperatures came. The snow’s gone now, and its arrival made a good thing out of the fact that I had not yet cleared the gardens, but still: an insult.  We missed Tuesday’s pup class, neither of us were well enough. Chance returned to the vet yesterday. The rest of his stitches came out and he is no longer drugged. Fortunately I do actually seem to be getting better; someone has to direct his considerable energy as it returns, and also to begin to deal with with the total wreck the house has become with both humans ill. That will be me.


I did some rather belated reading about aging during it all. Yes, I am hitting the time when the flu strikes harder (not that I really needed to confirm what I vividly experienced, I just wasn’t capable of much else). I guess that is why people retire to warm climates.  I won’t do that, but what I will try is a flu shot for the first time next fall.  It doesn’t prevent contracting it, but supposedly buffers: you get a milder case.  Paul had one, and that’s what ’s happened for him.  Today he has no voice, and my ears are somewhat worse from the assault on my sinuses.  We’re lucky that we have many years of alternative communication under our belts. (Gardens, very soon, please. And studio. And spring: true, headed-towards-summer, no-going-back spring?)


(Let’s try this again, and get it right, shall we?)

Oh, important SUMMER CLASS addendum / update: the Morgan class is now full; a waiting list is being created, but there are other 3D courses available, including Julie McLaughlin’s Big Ass Paper Kimono class, and Tom Balbo’s pulp casting extravaganza. There was one single space left open at Women’s Studio Workshop last time I checked, and I’m afraid that’s it for me this summer. Thanks for your understanding and interest!

Comforts of home and hometown

April came in fast: surgery for Chance on the first, and then constant mostly effective efforts to keep him quiet for a week, which had to include The Cone.  I attended training class without him, and it was very good for me to have time to observe the other pups working.


I resolved all but one last exhibition, cleared out my office (used as literal cold storage during what has been officially proclaimed the coldest winter that has ever been recorded in Chicago), got taxes ready, packed and loaded up work for the Morganite show, and had a sweet, fast trip to Cleveland, where my only regret was that I didn’t get to see Aimee’s solo show (and also check out its location).


It was a Morganite convergence weekend. Time there Saturday was short but rich: dropping the work, hanging a wee bit with Julie, Tom, Bruce, Mason as they all worked away, and seeing the working beater room, all the stuff happening with the Asian Paper Center, the latest fantastic donation of a superb collection of binding tools, a Kensol, brass type and a very sweet smaller working Washington hand press, and to take in the fallow garden, the winter-aged ears (I’ll write more about those soon). That evening there were twelve for a lovely dinner cooked by Mike and salad by Julie (massaged by Mason).  The Morgan is one place where I can always enjoy that sort of gathering: time to have side talks with everyone I want to see, and it absolutely doesn’t matter how much I do or don’t hear at the table: what I do hear is great, and when I don’t, I’m just plain pleased to be watching so many people I like so much relaxed and enjoying each other, and feeling the warmth that provides (even when everyone is a bit tired, including me).


The Morgan garden, waiting. I didn’t take many photos there and none during the party. At the Morgan, I’m often too busy talking and/or using my eyes to listen. With the Smiths, silences and images are a natural, easy part of the whole.


Two good portraits happened; Smith writing above, Lady at the Market below.


The rest of the time: my other warm hometown place to be, the gentle, sharp-witted, easygoing poetic energy of the Smiths and Mandikat. There, there are long, long friendships still unfolding, and this time the addition of Joanne and briefly, Wendy; and vicariously sharing in Lady’s full ongoing gathering of and intimacy with her environment and community energy. I so much like this chapter of the Smithstory: something long-deserved.  Saturday morning, a trip to the lifelong constant of the West Side Market.  Smith and I returned Sunday for a hometown farewell, viewing a mural of community by long ago colleague, cartoonist Gary Dumm, in excellent collaboration with spouse Laura Dumm.


In the middle of the drive between (western Ohio, eastern Indiana) there were still big crusty patches of dwindling icy snow on the northern sides of the freeway ditches.


At home, by Sunday, the cone was too full of duct tape repairs to be of any more use. The hind-leg bandage is frayed but still intact and will come off at the vet’s tomorrow, when Chance should be cleared to go for walks again and back to class in the evening. Today we began regular training again outdoors, Lupe had a long grand walk, and I planned my early garden work and pup-proofing for later this week. Spring.

And in the meantime, this show opened in Arizona, this class has only one space left, and this (larger) one has four spaces, and I am going to stick around after that for a gift to myself, and take this. Yes!


(Oh, I also bought and installed a new kitchen gate.)