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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!!!


  1. I can already tell that I am going to luv my Sunday blog strolls at Chad's ;>]]

    ...bout freakin' time DA was back on again. Pot o'soup on the simmer and just one hour, 45 minutes to go, wooot wooooot!!

  2. Love your new paper piece! I ask myself what it's like to sew on squash seeds ???? Must be a hard job ....
    I hope you will visit your friend Joke again (this year ?) for I would LOVE to take a workshop .... I'm in a felt-exchange with Joke now, ha and she's on my list for this month ;-)

    (I'm a Downton Abby fan too)

  3. Love the paper, Chad. The cracked leathery one is my favorite! Happy New Year to you!

  4. Welcome to the world of paper!!!! So happy to have you, we both know it is a fabric but not everyone knows that. Anyway, loved your blog.

  5. Hi Chad, many 'ta'-s for your post. Your reference of manipulating and softening the paper reminds me of the traditional Korean method of papermaking called Joomchi - and its applications by Jiyoung Chung. http://jiyoungchung.com/
    Anyway, love the courage for new directions

  6. No matter what medium you work in, you make exquisite designs that beg to be touched and enjoyed. Love this new direction you are going in, and it's a great excuse to buy all new fun goodies to go along with it LOL I'm also really enjoying that you are blogging again, I've missed your posts. Always a visual delight! Let us know when yo will have some of these new papers for sale :)