Midweek Equilibrium



A bit of that lovely ‘fat’ mulberry bark harvested last fall, to sculpt with…

Working away on the next show and loving it, loving the techniques and materials I’m using, loving being in the studio and knowing that it is My Primary Job to be in the studio right now. And still: that balance. Delicious!


…and I even got a good bit of this year’s crop trimmed, though my neighbor inadvertently cut down all the growth from one tree; I’d forgotten to tell him I wanted it.  Fortunately, it was a small one.

In between, during drying times or times I’ve simply needed to sit for a bit, I amazed myself by working on…web site updates. I am either re-developing some efficiency, or have been thoroughly re-trained to sit quietly and type, cut & paste by all the digital paperwork of the past few months. In any case, besides messing about with the home page, I now have the Project Journal for The Monitors up-to-date and published, and only three MakerCentric updates to go before the entire site is completely current. Shocking! However, finishing the journal made me want to make more ear-fungi too (I have plans for them), so we’ll see.


The new ‘no dogs’ cooking station (Chance does actually respect fences as boundaries, ever since knocking this former kitchen gate down and scaring himself mightily. He doesn’t even challenge the flimsy green plastic ones around the garden. This one is anchored more sturdily than it looks.

Out in the world, I am SO excited about this! HUGE congrats to the Eastern Paper Studio, and huge props to Aimee and the Morgan and David and the funders for pushing this through.  I so hope I get to use it this summer in Aimee’s class: fingers crossed!


A fantastic tail, still being written.

Last but not least: hooray for Chance, who went through his first fourth of July quite calmly (whew).  Now, if I could only elicit that stoicism from him in the presence of squirrels…

Seeding, Proceeding

I built and we installed a trellis just in time. The clematis is growing amazingly fast, about four inches per day. It will easily top its new eight feet this summer and spill over, but now it won’t be blocking our path, it will be hanging down looking gloriously abundant.


It was a busy but easily paced week with friends visiting (Chance barked and barked at everyone, but chilled eventually), a garden plant-removal session (now I can begin this year’s changes), a lovely gift of cooked, unbeaten water hyacinth roots, more double-show (plus a bout of unexpected) gallery-related admin, health care visit (routine, all fine, and a bonus: I’m getting more time with a physical therapist by request), three days of no-car (repairs and new tires), daily dog training, a lot of other stuff, and finally: web site updates finished. (Even with software crashes and one odd, relatively unimportant glitch I could not resolve.) There’s more to add, but contingent things.

So, here is this web page and that web page and some new-on-the-site books.

Here’s some info about an upcoming show; it looks interesting.  In Cleveland at the Morganites show, there was an event that taught me a new word. Many thanks to the poet who shared what he wrote about one of my pieces with me, the result of his “immersing myself into my feelings about what it would be like to BE the piece.” – also thought-provoking.


Today I spent on yard admin, fencing still more (Chance eats things I want). It is truly spring, and waves of the scent of neighborhood lilacs swell and recede, the first movement of background music to the growing season.


In the fast lane, out of sight

My new, favorite Teaching Photo, taken by Karen Hardy.  Not sure which I like best, the appropriation of her artwork, or the final-day Arrowmont class schedule on the board.

Busy busy busy again, making these few days at home count. Have upgraded everything on computer and phone -which took an entire day! – and am now Lion-ed and iClouded and software-updated, o my. I’ve found and documented a few more altered books, which necessitated a new gallery on the web site as well.

Dealing with the physical storage space in earnest (which reveals more soon-to-be dispersed, artwork-I-forgot-I-had daily), nailing down show details, details of other upcoming ventures (i.e., paperwork, electronic paperwork and paper work), not being social at all (sadly), missing shows I’d like to see, but cranking it all out. And so it will continue till I leave again in a week or less, for two full classes at WSW and a well-populated one at the Morgan, huzzah!

I’m honored to be part of this upcoming show at Woman Made Gallery, though slightly sad that I won’t be in town for the opening reception; read a bit about Woman Made’s mission, past and anniversary here.  It will make you feel good.

20th Anniversary Exhibition: Twenty Jurors

The invitational exhibition includes work by 20 jurors of past WMG group exhibitions. 

Laura Anderson Barbata, Karen Bondarchuk, Whitney Bradshaw, Cat Chow, Pritika Chowdhry, Melissa Jay Craig, Barbara Crane, Colette Gaiter, Fujiko Isomura, Indira Freitas Johnson, Julie Karabenick, Dorothy Simpson Krause, Yolanda Lopez, Leah Oates, Betsy Odom, Monica Ong, Catherine Blackwell Pena, Corinne D. Peterson, Mary Stoppert, Kathleen Waterloo

Exhibition Dates: July 13 – August 16, 2012

Detail of The Building Of Our Nation (altered book). I thought it was hilarious back when I made the piece, and still do, especially in relation to my current to-do list.

May coda

Oh. My. Oh. My. Oh. You don’t want to know what these past few days have been like.  But: the web site is finished! Finished!  Except for a lot of meta-tag tweaking; and then, in the fall, a lot more artwork to be photographed and added, oh, and a links page.  During the last three days, in particular, I kept thinking, “Ye gods, I have made somuchwork!” but the truly scary part is that only a percentage is on the site…

 Ironically, the thing I really want – no, need – to do now is to get into the studio and make more: get my hands dirty, make something tactile and tangible, work my body, smell the fiber, touch…yes, the site is a Good Thing, and artists have to live with virtual reality now, but I have just spent way, way, way too much time in it. Enough.

Now, except for oh, a day of more writing, my body will definitely be worked in the (yet again and always, frantic) run-up to the summer teaching road trip that begins in exactly one week. During the web building blitz, Arrowmont called to say my class was full, and did I want to find an assistant?  Serendipity brought the lovely Heather LG Bella to the rescue again; in fact, she was already headed that way.  So, we’ll get to repeat our Penland alliance at Arrowmont, woohoo!

Here’s the skinny on how I’ll spend a good part of tomorrow (which also brings the evening reception for Beaten and Bound) and especially Sunday: what’s happening and who’s doing it at the fabulous Ragdale Day. So many friends, and the weather is supposed to be great: another fine antidote for the past week.

Last but not least, in fact one of the best: I am giving myself a total, indulgent treat after the teaching road trip. I’m heading back to Cleveland in mid-August to take Aimee Lee’s class at the Morgan.  Friends! Hanji! Hands! Hooray!

Working with my hands, 1984. Found in the big box of photos I dug out of storage to scan some for the site.  Haven’t opened it in 15 years (ignore the cigarette):

Things, Images, Words

I am dealing with all of the above in rather huge quantities, relentlessly. My mail art archive from the 70’s to the mid-80s, along with a pile of ‘zines, went off to live at the Joan Flasch Collection at my alma mater today, and a DVD with the scanned images of a huge pile of slides arrived. I am quite pleased with the results, and on top of that, the folks at SlidesToDigital have been absolutely great to deal with. I definitely recommend them if your practice, like mine, has spanned the 35mm to digital eras (and oh, I do not miss slides, not one bit). Check out the results:

Old scan

New scan – as is, without color correction or any manipulation. 

So now it’s site-finishing in major earnest on top of the stuff-shifting, on top of the writing. But this afternoon, I threw it all to the winds, or rather to the pleasant breezes of a perfect day, and weeded the already outrageously overgown gardens.  21 tritoma blooms so far, peonies, roses, hollyhocks, volunteer marigolds and clematis are all playing at the moment, with the early daylilies and yucca just about to step onstage. Sweet.

Getting back to things, images and words, I keep forgetting to say that, like many, many friends and colleagues, I have a few books in this book: it’s out now. I haven’t gotten a copy yet, but sitting down and feasting my eyes when I do will be another sweet break. It’s a grand gathering.

(This is the Japanese edition; there’s one in English too!)


The onion family represents each May, not always where I expect them to be.

I am so, so, so busy, and I seriously doubt that things will slow down at all before I leave town. Much of what I’m currently doing involves words, so much so that I have none left over for this space. Hence, blahg neglect: I’m just plain boring at the moment. Maybe things will become at least visually interesting as the work shifts into the physical realm in a few days (though, alas, it won’t be the studio. Not yet. Sigh.)

The web site now has one gallery up in each category. I am somewhat relieved to have an enforced hiatus while 210 slides are being professionally scanned. The fantastic Jen Thomas yesterday alerted me to the fact that the images from the site have been excerpted on Tumblr: I just have to love the title of the originating blog. A fat bunch of Google alerts tells me it’s spreading around from there.  There’s something very satisfactory about the way it’s moving, as if the (S)Edition books had released digital spores. That and the garden have me trying hard to think of all this boring work I’m doing in the same way: these efforts will eventually sprout into unimpeded studio time and many other (perhaps unforeseen) good things.

The very best, tastiest chive patch, which appeared years ago in a crack in the concrete, thrives, and refuses to be moved.


Yikes, it’s May!  Me Dot Com has one gallery up, a wee sampling of work.  Now I have GOT to tackle some 900 backed-up real-world projects (and try to get more galleries up in the evenings). The number of things I need to finish in six weeks is staggering, and includes finally getting the fall schedule nailed down. To that end, another decision came in; this time I’m the one who will probably need to turn it down. There’s one more I’m trying to be patient about; it’s been in play since January, and is now reaching mayday proportions, as whether or not I’ll attempt to attend this hinges upon it. It’s the penultimate piece of my intricate fall puzzle.

The Beaten and Bound portion of this is something I’ve been working on in since January as well, in fluctuating capacities. Originally I was co-curator, but for various reasons, a while ago I made a difficult decision: to withdraw from that position and just continue to work behind the scenes. If you are in the area over the summer, it will be a Very Good Show, a gathering of a number of stellar artists working in paper or with books (the image on the left is a detail of Doug Beube‘s Fault Lines).  I’ll be involved in its installation as well, in (gulp) three short weeks. Now: back to work!

Eureka! Excelsior!

I cannot describe what the past few days have been like; I’ve been stuck in total CyberHell with the new site. First, I hit another major snag attributable to last summer’s hard drive crash.  Every single photo gallery now needs to be rebuilt from scratch, which means searching through horrid restored photo files yet again. Then, I spent two entire days trying to get my site host to recognize and register my software (or vice-versa), with no success and multiple crashes of said software after each of the host’s refusals. Then followed tons of e-mail exchanges with tech support from both host and software with lots of suggestions, all of which failed, then crashed. This morning, while trying yet another host-site suggestion that popped in overnight, once again I got the dreaded 404 refusal and the software did not crash but froze, so I force-quit it…and, inexplicably but miraculously, when I reopened it to try again, the host was registered! I published! Eureka!

So here is my new site: www.melissajaycraig.com! Granted, it is not much of a site yet – no artwork! – but I will be adding to it fast and furiously now. If you’ve got my old site bookmarked (or especially: linked on your site or blog), please change the URL,  with many thanks. (The old site now redirects, but it will go down soon). Whew!

Also under Eureka!: that long-awaited decision finally came in. It didn’t go in my favor; which is ok; I did have some ambivalence about it. So now: Excelsior!* I move ahead with a very satisfactory Plan B. Even if I had felt badly,  that would have been immediately alleviated by a rather stellar grad research paper that came in (I’ll share excerpts soon) and an anonymous nomination to apply for a lovely grant (a long shot, but it is an honor to be nominated). Maybe – just maybe – I’ll even be able to get back to my poor neglected studio soon, before I hit the summer class road. But today: I climb out of this computer.

*In the spirit of one of my favourite Kurt Vonnegut quotes: “Excelsior! We’re going to the moon! Excelsior!” Yes, I need to step away from the computer.