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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

50 Shades of Gray Clouds

I'm feeling a great deal of guilt after proclaiming a weekly blog post and now I'm two weeks behind. I just added this new apt and have given it permission to control everything in my life just so I can post this while in the airport on my second(delayed) leg of a centipede trip to holland.

Gray, gray skies...high,high winds ...I'm watching planes taking off waggling their wings like they're sending me messages..."go home. Put your head under your pillow. Put your journal on the porch ledge and drink your hot tea..." Just like the above photo I took this morning just before a massive blast of wind threatened to suck me up out of my cozy bed and send me to Europe sans plane.

Since poking at this iPhone with sticky fingers (dried ginger and pineapple treats) is proving as tedious as listening to the updated delay announcements, I'll leave you with this photo of the results of my advanced medieval book class with Dan Essig and try this apt on my iPad. Plus this part of the waiting area is getting as dark grey as those clouds...those planes...my mood. I see that the bar is much brighter and cheery.


- Posted in the middle of mucky weather using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Josh Birmingham Pkwy,Charlotte,United States

Monday, January 14, 2013

Down for the Count...

Sunday morning, 70 degrees and sunny on the porch! Look, a shadow!
It ain't the flu, 'cause ah ain't got the fever.  But it is a cold that whacks you on the side of your head and lays you down on a fluff of used kleenex and cough drop wrappers.  And you stay down for two weeks. Or more... So I'm late with this blog post, hell, I'm late with everything I promised for the last week and half, but I have mastered the fine art of coughing without breaking any ribs.

I really was worried about this cold as it started just after I got my flu shot, and although I could and did easily sink into the curing rhythm of bed rest and hot teas, I did have a class to teach last weekend here at my house and one dear student was already on her way flying in from Boston.  I drank gallons of hot herbal tea, stood under hot showers every 3 hours, and inhaled vitamin C.  I recovered enough to teach a a fun resist dyeing class to three fabulous students and welcomed in the beginning of the 2013 teaching season.     

Aha, I thought.  I have survived that dread virus.  And decided to celebrate by eating a fairly tasteless reuben sandwich and sleeping out on the porch on the last night of the unseasonally warm weekend weather.  It was a delightful evening, bundled up in wooly blankets, listening to intermittant rain showers.  But in the morning, groan...energy level - flat, below flat_________.  I just couldn't move except for short search and rescue missions for coffee, hot tea, another sweater and my journal. 
Kitty Leon burrowed in to provide warmth and a headrest for my journal
So I guess I have to resign myself to a few more days of bed rest and gallons of water based beverages. My sense of humor is gone.  I'm starting to research hermit themed home decor.  I'm sick of television except for PBS and Downton Abbey, but how many episodes of Victory Garden can I sit through? I looked in the mirror this morning and all my hair was sticking straight up...and I didn't care!  Soon, though, I know I will pop up once again like a demented toaster and get back to my beloved lists and piles of paper.  Next week is my class with Master Book Maker Dan Essig at John C Campbell folk school.  I need a brain by then.
Leon warming my porch bed.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Breeze at Dawn

There is a poem by Rumi that I love and which I have taped up on the lamp next to my computer:
The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you
don't go back to sleep
you must ask for what you really want
don't go back to sleep
people are going back and forth
across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch
the door is round and open
don't go back to sleep

I used to love this poem when I slept outside on the porch and stink bugs were just a scary shadow in my future.  It was so easy getting up at dawn because the sun was already brightening the sky and the birds would be making a frightful racket,  Now when that alarm goes off at 6 am, 7am, 7:30 am, and/or 8:25 am the sky is still dark.  My inside bedroom is dark and chilly and I hear the beginning rumbles of the furnace coming on.  What would be a good reason to jump up, find my tattered slippers and old pink fleece bathrobe and stumble towards the coffee fixins?  Certainly not to witness aliens passing through the crepuscular doorsill and frightening the cat!

But with the new year there are always reasons to pop out of that toasty bed like a super-sprung toaster.  I, of course, have a list of them!
Make more hours in the day
get coffee and work book and make more lists of things I need to do before the week is over
cook and eat breakfast before the clock hits noon
think, wonder and worry - and make lists of my new brilliant career move
Current state of first paper 'page'
Which is to learn to make, dye, process and stitch handmade paper as my new substrate instead of the resist dyed merino felt I have used for years.  Ah, beautiful paper with which I only want to paw and then carefully pack away in a drawer.  I am a certified papermaker now, and I have stocked my dye studio with every conceivable natural dye, tannin and mordant known to contemporary dyers.  I have bought expensive dye books and found links to papermaking dye books....it is a dark and endless rabbit hole when one starts researching on Goggle. I am ready...am I willing? 

Although some may argue that working with paper is not such a big deal and while certainly not career changing as my past decision to become a Navy Seal (didn't pan out due to fear of water), it is enough of a change to cause me to stop while walking through a room and stand there for - oh, fifteen minutes or so, thinking.  I wonder about adding exciting new media ideas like drawing, writing or sketching on the paper in addition to the usual stitching and beading.  I worry about the lack of exciting resist created color and surface design.  I wonder about resist dyeing the paper.  Then I worry about the paper falling apart.  Wonder about how to make the paper so it doesn't fall apart.  Worry about paper chemistry. Wonder where I stashed my copy of "Chemistry for Dummies" book.

Don't get me wrong.  I love this part of the creative process.  It pushes me beyond all those comfortable boundaries (which are now whizzing by me like I might be dead!) I have to learn new words, dig up new teachers and mentors, wander the aisles of AC Moore and Micheals in search for new tools to steal from the scrap-bookers.
This is a group of my current "working" papers.  Mostly cotton (linters and rag) with abaca.  The three brown ones are dyed with black walnut and are at this early point in discovery are "processed"- rolled, crush, ironed and starched and mashed again.  They are getting soft but I have many more tortures in mind for them including gelatin sizing. 

I am trying to create a heavy, soft as fabric paper that can be resist dyed with natural dyes and be utterly beautiful.  Because I am also somewhat of a control freak when it comes to my textiles, I want a certain feel...but as you know, the material informs the artist.  I think I know what these new objects will look like, but I can guarantee that by the end of this glorious year, photos of very different pieces of stitched artworks will be posted here.

So I stand poised, on that doorsill between felt and paper.  People go back and forth and don't bother themselves with my decisions.  The door is open and there is no reason not to pop out of bed in the wee hours like a demented toaster cooky and grab up that new love.

Must go - Downton Abby is on in 2 minutes!!!