What's new here?
5-1-04 I am a totally
frustrated papermaker, and today pointed up just how frustrated. But
perhaps I should back up and explain the source of the problem. Last year
I committed to writing and hand binding 100 copies of a swatch book based on
last year's papermaking. So during the 2003 season, I pulled between six
and seven thousand swatches from the plants I was working with; during the
winter I wrote, formatted, decided on a binding and printed galleys. After
these were edited (thank you MJ and Peter); I began binding. Now I'm
beginning to see the proverbial end-of-tunnel light. The binding part of
the process should be finished in the next few weeks. Don't misunderstand.
I've thoroughly enjoyed doing this. However...during the time that I have
been binding the book, the weather has warmed. The world of plants outside
has sprung to life and each and every one of them out there is calling, begging
to be made into paper and I can't go play until I finish this book. (If
confessing my frustration this way sounds corny, perhaps that attests to the
level of annoyance I feel at being forced to stay inside during the most
beautiful season of the year.) Today I both gave in...then came back to my
bookbinding senses. To explain... Every Saturday the Kentucky
Artisan Center hosts demonstrations by various artisans, and I have made it a
habit to go out and shoot digitals. As I was
leaving the Center this morning, I noticed the curly dock stalks alongside the
parking lot had shot up and were nearly four feet tall, just at their prime for
papermaking. Arrggghhh! I couldn't resist. I turned around,
went back in and asked permission, then came out and cut a huge armload of the
stalks. Oh, heaven! But between the Artisan Center and home, I came
back to my senses. I simply didn't have time to chop, cook and process the
stalks into pulp. I want to get this book out of the way before I get back
into papermaking. Given my set up for working, bookbinding and making
paper are more or less mutually exclusive hobbies. The water involved in
paper isn't compatible with the need for dry working conditions for books.
So, scratch the curly dock. I emailed a friend in Arizona, who doesn't
have access to these plants, and offered them to her.
5-10-04 I am mulling a
potential problem. I have counted the swatches I pulled last year for the
books that I am binding, and have culled any that I consider imperfect. In
theory, and we all know how theories go, I have enough plus a few for the 100
books...except for one swatch. Of that one, I have exactly enough.
What happens if, in the process of binding, I make a mistake with that
particular set of swatches? What if one blows away in the breeze?
What happens if I miscounted? (You realize after writing that last
sentence, I went back and recounted.) Can you tell I'm becoming paranoid?
5-13-04 I ran into a bad batch
of the commercial paper I am using for the book, so binding has ground to a
halt. Those sheets were scarred and dented by the mechanism that secured
them for cutting at the factory. Not a good thing for my purpose. I
called the source and they're more than willing to replace them, but the order
won't be here until Friday. Perhaps this is for the best. The Kentucky
Guild Spring Fair begins tomorrow and I'll be doing volunteer work there.
Too, I do need to take time to design a book webpage that I will post on this
site when the book is ready for release.
5-16-04 Yesterday (Saturday)
was interesting, especially for this particular craft fair, which is notorious
for of drawing rain. (Locally, only the foolhardy farmers plan on plowing
or cutting hay during the week of the Fair.) And yes, Saturday it did
rain...everywhere but at the Guild Fair. North, east, south,
west...torrential rains, but not a drop on the park full of exhibitors.
Weird. One of the features of this Spring Fair was the International tent
that featured a Japanese tea ceremony, origami, information on Berea's sister
city, Kiyosato, and a Japanese
lamp artist, Tommy Ejiri. He creates
various size lamps using strips of kozo. The
largest lamp was especially
7:15 PM....I just finished the binding on A Papermaker's Season.
(You may insert a very relieved and solid sigh at this point.) This
undertaking began 14 months ago as a handful of paper swatches. It has
culminated in one hundred 96-page handbound books. It was a huge project,
far larger than I anticipated, but there was so much learned along the way,
including much about myself. There were times, especially during the
winter's writing, that I wanted to turn my back and walk away from the whole
thing. I am an artisan. The end of a day's work has always been
tangible. I am accustomed to holding, touching, feeling, admiring the
results of the day's labor. With writing, this doesn't happen. No
matter how well composed, daily words on a computer screen do not give that
tangible pleasure...nothing to hold in my hand, the sum total of the day's work.
The appreciation never came until the end. Now I find myself overwhelmed,
not by any importance what has been accomplished, but by its beginning-to-end
scope. I will be releasing the book to the general public about June 1,
and there will be a webpage on this site then giving more information about it
at that time. Once I gain some distance from the writing and binding, I'll
share a few of the amusing behind-the-scenes things that occurred while creating
if to remind me that I really am a papermaker, a box of
willow skins arrived in the mail
today, a present from Judy Zugish, a basketmaker from Washington state.
Lovely, luscious looking stuff! The strips are both bark and bast.
I'll try it as is for paper first, then try it again with some of the bark
removed and discarded to see the difference in the papers.
Like everyone, I have plans, and like everyone else, my plans fall through at
times. This is one of them. I'd planned to be back into paper by
now, but playing catch-up with life after spending the last few months binding
books took precedence. There were windows to wash, hedge to trim and naps
to take. I cut myself slack this past week and probably will until the
first of June. I have been busy making plans for a plants-to-paper workshop I will be teaching here
in Berea August 2-4. It will be a start-to-finish -- going to the
fields to harvest various plants, then bringing them back for cooking,
processing and creating lovely sheets of paper. Along the way, I'll try to share
information about why some plants will work for paper, while others won't, and
ways of dealing with difficult plant material. The paper workshop will be
followed by a two bookbinding workshop. Those people who plan on taking
both can pull papers in the first workshop to bind in the second.
One of my neighbor's has a magnolia that bears huge white flowers, and on my
walk this evening I noticed yesterday's storms had blown the flower petals out.
The ground was littered. The white petals had turned
a lovely rust brown and felt like
leather. I gathered a five gallon bucket full and brought them back to
dry. There isn't any fiber in them, but they're so soft and sensuous that
there must be some use for them. I crumpled several and placed them in the
press to exchange dry and see what that does. **Between storms yesterday,
I did pull together a webpage on the book. You can read more about it by
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