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8-6-04 The Berea Arts Council Paper from
Plants workshop that I taught August 2-4 was delight! The class was
composed of a diverse group of incredibly creative people, and we had a ball. .
8-10-04 Spent the day sorting
through pulps left from the workshop and pulling
cards from some of them.
I cut squares and rectangles from some scrap papers and laid them on the wet
sheets before putting them in the press so they would actually be embedded in
the card. I did the same with some of the
envelopes. It's strange...before I began papermaking, I never sent cards other than a few
sympathy cards. Now, I can't keep them around. Sometimes I send them
just for the pleasure of sharing a new design.
.8-12-04 Today I pulled
swatches for a swap I'm involved in (sorry, no pictures). I also fooled
around with pulling feathers from some of the left over cooked daylily leaves.
I only processed them in the blender for a few seconds, just barely breaking
them down and leaving some leaves almost whole. It ended up working well.
Because the plant material was pretty much whole and because of the variation in
the leave's colors, then feathers took on
a striped appearance, much like hawk's wing and tail feathers. I
exchanged dried these in a press, but took them out while there was still some
moisture inside the feather and left them sitting on the desk. I did this
intentionally, hoping they would curl slightly. They did so nicely and
look less like paper and more like feathers as a result.
8-13-04 It's mid August.
Mid August in Kentucky is hot and humid...usually. Today it is too cold to
pull paper. Never even got up to 70 and I've been running around in a
sweatshirt. This is ridiculous!
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8-16-04 Finally it has warmed
up enough in the afternoons to fool around with paper stuff. (Here in
Kentucky we're looking at the coolest August since the early 1900's. Whoof!
This weather does not agree with my bones!) I put some hickory bast on to
cook for a special project, a piece for the state Guild's fall exhibit.
What I have in mind is a basket with two compartments. Whether this will
work out or not will depend on how negotiations go with the basket.
Baskets have a mind of their own, no matter whether they're woven or formed.
I may have one thing in mind, but the basket may have quite another.
Dictating and demanding that the basket take the form I want simply doesn't
work. So, we have conversations. "I want you to....." "Nope,
forget it. I won't do that." "Well, will you instead...."
"Maybe...maybe not." "Please....?" In the end, the basket becomes a
collaboration between the two of us...partly my ideas, mainly the basket's.
Beat the hickory for four hours late this afternoon, but I ran out of daylight
and just left it in the tub.
8-17-04 I may have bitten off
more than I can chew with this basket, at least, the way I'm going about it.
I started with a double loop of heavy
honeysuckle secured by weavings of the finer vines. What I had in mind
was a central wall dividing the basket making two totally independent, yet
co-joined baskets. All went well
creating the divider, but after that
section dried and I tried to figure out how to build the rest of the basket,
I realized I had major problems. Actually, what I had was a structural
nightmare, mainly because I wanted that central dividing section to float about
an inch or so above the bottom of the baskets. Fine, but how the heck do
you float something until you can construct the bottoms?. I finally drug
out the sewing frame that I use for
bookbinding and clothespinned the central section to it so that the basket
was secured about an inch above the base. Don't laugh. It worked, at
least long enough for me to get one base
formed. (The coffee cup isn't an accidental inclusion in the picture.
I need a weight to hold the base in the exact position, and given that there's
always a coffee cup lying about in the workroom, that was the first thing that I
grabbed.) I have to wait for each section to dry before I do anything
else, so it was add something, wait, add something else and wait.
Putting it out in the sun helped.
Initially, I thought I would start the basket, get the base on, then put a
plastic bag filled with something inside of each section and form the remainder
of the basket over that, but the basket offered another suggestion. "Why
not freeform me without anything inside? Why not let the drapes and folds
fall where they may?" Baskets have been known to mislead, even lie to get
their way. I'm going to sleep on this.
8-18-04 I decided to attempt
the basket without any inside support, mainly because I'm curious about 1) how
the process will differ from doing it over a form and 2) how the form of the
finished basket will differ. If it isn't developing the way I want, it
should be possible to alter the shape somewhat as it dries by hand molding...I
think. I had a couple of interruptions today and was only able to get
the other bottom on it and do a little
around the top today. The basket has taken a slight drunken lurch to
one side, but that should be correctable by dampening the area just above the
base, weighting the base and pulling the basket to one side and allowing it to
dry that way. Should be no problem, she says with unwarranted confidence.
**The College called this morning to say a crew was cleaning out the flowerbed
on the square in front of Boone Tavern and volunteered any of the plants I
wanted to have for papermaking. Stopped long enough to run up there and
look through what they were chopping off and digging up. Given that I
already had a project going on, there really wasn't anything that I was
interested in hauling home and drying The other interruption was a
little more time consuming. Tourism called and said the woman who is
translating A Papermaker's Season into Japanese would like to have some
handmade paper on which to write the introduction. I'm assuming she is
planning on doing it with a calligrapher's brush, and I had no paper around here
that hadn't been sized. I did have some mulberry and butterflyweed pulps,
so I mixed those and pulled several thin 8.5"x11" sheets. Fortunately, the
pulps are beautiful together. The mulberry is finer and forms a lovely
base for the wisps of butterflyweed that swirl through it. I'm no sumi-e
artist, but I do have a brush set, stone and ink stick, so
I tried the paper to make sure it
would work with that type of calligraphy. I'll likely pull a few,
slightly heavier sheets of the mixed pulps tomorrow just to make sure I have the
thickness she needs.
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8-20-04 I have five
flowerbeds, three of which are rather large, and all but one require renovation
before next spring. I really thought I had the plantings worked out so
that no more than two would need this in any given year, but Mother Nature had
other ideas. So much for my careful scheduling. What does any of
this have to do with papermaking? Nothing...except digging up and dividing
plants has kept me away from it. **I did manage to catch some time today
to fill in a little more on the basket. One side is now
reduced to two holes. (That
shot, for some reason, reminds me ever so much of a pair of dirty, kids'
training pants.) The other side
is going to be a problem. The bottom is offset to the right of the
opening. If I fill in the opening in the way that seems most logical, the
basket will appear to be ill formed and top heavy when viewed from that side.
If a bulge is created to eliminate that appearance, it may look ill formed from
another direction. The whole thing is a structural nightmare. I'm
going with the second option, and hope for the best.
larger, more symmetrical side of the
basket is filled, as is the left side of the other. Now, I'm left with
creating a bulge to offset this lopsided
appearance. (FWIW, I've taken no care with the tint in any of these
jpgs. When the basket is finished, I'll do a better job.)
8-22-04 Yesterday I stopped by
the Artisan Center to visit with Jim Sams, a woodcarver from London, Kentucky.
I first met Jim maybe 25 years ago. He was a good woodcarver then.
He is incredible now. His attention to detail sets his work miles apart
from anyone else I know. I've uploaded two pictures of his work.
There are also compressed high resolution shots of those same pieces. Please believe me,
these are worth the short wait. The first is a native Kentucky plant,
trailing arbutus (Epigaea
repens) (click here for
high resolution - 153 KB). Yes, that is entirely
wood, honest. The second shot is a
tiger swallowtail resting on
the leaf of a crabapple (click here
for high resolution - 74 KB). Incredible work by a really neat fellow.
8-23-04 Back to the basket....
There is no way to take a decent picture of this thing. No one angle or
image captures it, and this would really bother me if I were shooting slides of
the basket for jurying or exhibition purposes, but I'm not. Here are three
shots - the display front,
from the top. It's basically
finished, though I intend to go back over the entire outside with another layer
of paper to smooth out the finish, which
is too rough in some places to
suit me. That next layer will smooth the minor roughness, yet leave the
more significant irregularities alone. Even after that, though, I have a
feeling the basket will lack something. It just doesn't feel "finished."
I don't normally like feathers as enhancements, but this time? I dunno.
We'll see....... I've learned several things from constructing the basket
in the manner that I did. The first, and most important, is that I'm never
doing it this way again. Nope, no way. However, I did learn other
things that may prove useful. If this basket had been made over a form and
the form removed, I know now that it would still have been possible to alter the
basket's shape. I know that if I design two separate bottom pieces, the
drying paper will shrink and tug until those two bottoms are not on a level.
I learned also that it's necessary to weight both bottoms every time that
shrinkage might even think about occurring. Learned several other
things, too, but I'm too ashamed that I made the mistakes in the first place to
share their solutions. Can you tell I'm not overly thrilled with this
particular basket? That's is one of the chances you take in creating
anything. Sometimes things work beautifully, sometimes they don't. I promised to share
both warts and beauty marks when I started this journal. This basket falls
somewhere between the two.
Back to the top
basket surface smoothed out
nicely after the last layer of paper, and I'm pleased with that part, but
there was something missing. As I said before, it just didn't seem
finished. In my own work, I'm not fond of embellishments, things simply
added to or tacked onto a finished piece. I prefer that everything be a
part of the work itself, but in this case, I did add an embellishment, and doing
that achieved the desired effect. I had the paper feathers made from
daylily leaves. Two of them
added just the right touch to flesh out a finished basket. I'm far
happier with it than I was. **Not wanting to tackle another piece without
using an inner form (I'm a quick study), I played around with
this one that was formed over a piece of
pottery done by Wyman Rice, an excellent clay artist from Lexington and a friend
for 20 years or so. This flattened urn shape is one of his signature
pieces, and I acknowledge that in the title -- "Wyman in Paper." (Some
time ago he did a carapace that I truly wish I had purchased. The piece
was somewhat disturbing, but very impressive.) Because of the form's
shape, the piece had to be created in halves, each dried, then the two halves
joined. (I became so involved in the process that I forgot to take
pictures along the way.) To make the first half, I cut a bottom from 1/4"
plywood, then formed the paper over the front of the urn and the plywood bottom.
After that was dry, I removed it and formed the back side of the piece and
covering the bottom of the urn, this time without the plywood bottom.
After this was dry, I removed it. The covering on the bottom of the second
half then fit nicely over the plywood that was attached to the first half
and helped to secure the two halves while I joined them along the seams.
.The base paper for the piece is hickory and there are two to three coats of
that. There is a rolled edging of hickory around the rim that was covered
with yet more hickory. Over the lower 3/4 of the piece I used
Boston fern "paper." Why is
that in quotes? Because the sheets are so fibrous, I really hesitate to
call them paper. Still, they do have a solid base of fine fibers carrying
the heavier ones. Dunno. Whether paper or non-paper, it is a lovely,
deep chocolate with a delicious shine. The yarns are natural dyed, hand
spun cotton. They are not sewn through the piece. Instead, the yarn
strip is formed apart from the piece, then attached. To create this, I
made a warp of the yarns, then wove torn pieces of the Boston fern through it,
leaving about a half inch of the paper outside the yarn. Then this strip
was attached to the form so that it actually becomes an integral part of the
piece. I thought I would have to patch over the end pieces to make them
melt into the piece, but it wasn't necessary. There were
absolutely no visible attachment
seams when I added it, something that, frankly, surprised me.
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