Something Old and Something New

I found it! Packed in with basket “stuff” was this hand towel that I wove many, many years ago when I was learning to weave on the loom and make baskets. It occurred to me that when we dry our hands we only use the front half of the hanging towel. So why not conserve yarn and only weave half a towel, hem it and hang it on a cleverly woven rug beater knot? I remember how ingenious I thought this was. Only three were made after it was roundly put down by both my basket makers guild and weaving guild. A very nice friend bought one, I gave one to my mother and here is the one I kept hoping more than two would think it a good idea. I was sincerely ready to go into production. Late 70s thinking with yarns bought at a Ben Franklin dime store. Funny stuff.

But more success in the studio with those leather bits and smooth rocks.

A cane toad spined book with earth pigments embedded into covers.

The upper smooth one on the right is covered with Icelandic cod skin. One side tan and the other grey. Upper left is kangaroo straps woven together on the top over a pretty patterned rock. Bottom left is cane toad woven into kangaroo on square 2″ stone. And another cane toad strapped rock with a piece of white rawhide woven through.

Here are the under sides.

Here is the small cane toad stone that I started with after the parchment looking rawhide ones from a couple of weeks ago.

Using the parrot fish skins did not work. The skin was too fluffy and easily separated but here is the failure in red on one side and black on the other. It has since been taken off.

And then I wanted the one stone with one strap weaving through the other to show up the weaving and added the perfect bit of bamboo root.

All of these rocks feel good in the hand and will be put to service on my work table in the studio.

Here are all of them in their new home.

Keeping them company in the center is a gift from one of my favorite students, now deceased, Lin Parker. It was a tumbling rock placed into the paint mixing at a plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. It is like holding a piece of shiny glass and is a good weight to do duty with the others.

There are a few stones left to cover but I tucked them out of sight in the bottom of this box. The only other ones that could be used are already weighting down the fish outside the studio to prevent them from banging into each other.

And now all I need to do is sew the text block for this book and make end papers with the marbled paper I made from the soils here at home.

Then I need to get onto designing and printing those Christmas cards. Small etchings would be nice in a simple design is what I am aiming for.

Til next time.

A Final Workshop for the Folk School

Like this natural contact print on the ramp up to the Book Arts Studio, I have left my mark on the Folk School here in Brasstown. Yesterday I finished my final class and it was a lovely easy ending after thirty years and six months. Five students taking a class called, “Books All About The Stitch”. Here is some of the work done.

Pat’s shifu book about her losing dialogue with an ill husband.

Jenn’s coptic and toji binding lessons.

And her charming little family felt books.

Kent’s stitched books, fronts, insides, and backs. Plus a detail of a small sewing book he did.

And his work in progress.

Beverly’s small books outside view.

And inside views.

Sarah’s mother’s tapestry box, closed and open.

Here Sarah works on just one more during closing ceremonies.

Our little display of work.

I worked on this recycled idea that Kent showed me in a class a couple of years ago. He had peeled the cloth off old books and glued the pieces together. I stitched mine. The green one was a book written by Joan Biaz during her early days in our anti war period. The cover had this small design that I made into an attached book mark for the patched book. It will be my sketchbook for Australia.

It was a quiet class. Each one lost in their own work and not in need of my attention very often. So I read from my poetry book when not stitching on the book above or helping out, or cleaning up. It was such a pleasant experience to just be in the book arts studio with them.

It was a perfect good-bye to teaching there

Now I will donate some pieces to the archive center there….sculpture works and books about the community.

I might even be able to take a class there sometime…..but not now. Now I am simply letting go.

Cut myself loose you might say.

This next week I will get back to that pesky cane toad with rocks and other leathers.

A little time back in my own studio and showing Marla how to use my presses while she takes a break from looking after Lee and joining in a printmaking class at the folk school.

Til next week with something else.


In The Studio This Week

This morning at the dam….just missed getting a blue heron in this picture.

Still working on the Responsibility Hands. One finished and another about half way.

The reason those fingers on the right hand are a bit crooked is a lifetime of abuse. Another thing I did these past few days was cover rocks with rawhide and kangaroo hide.

My friend, Gian, is a brilliant book binder and when I showed him the two rocks I bought from Shanna Leino he told me if I had a smooth rock he had the rawhide and could show me how to do it.

Here is our first attempt.

I drilled the holes for stitching too close in and when trying to close up the end I could not make the two pieces meet. So this happened and a bit of PVA and clamps helped seal the seam before sanding.

It was a great experience and very hard on the hands. Since Gian is leaving this weekend to go home to Canada I thought I would try again with the scrap of leather he left here in the studio.

And the back.

And this one.

These last two are still wet. But the one above had puckers in the back, the slits I made did not open and it was way too lose on the rock. I was over-correcting for the mistakes on the first one done with Gian’s supervision.

I was just about ready to cut the parchment-type leather off when it occurred to me that I would lose nothing if I put it in a boiling water with more of the corn paste that it takes to make the leather pliable. It shrunk down in no time and my slits opened into the elongated holes.

Here are the three of the rawhide covered rocks.

The two on the left will dry out as white as the one on the right. They feel wonderful in the hand.

Then I had a larger flat rock from a stream near here. I used up a couple of dremel tools making the pattern and then decided to use my last scrap of kangaroo hide to do one like Shanna Leino’s etched stone.

Here it is after being put in the pot, trimmed, sanded, waxed and buffed.

And the back.

My hands are very sore from doing this. The leather needs to be massaged forever with corn paste until it stretches. Holes have to be drilled…luckily I have a drill press in my studio. Sewing the pieces together halfway and then shoving the rock into place and trying to stitch the rest of the seam together. All of this has to be back stitched and the needle sometimes just does not want to go through. All the time the rock and leather must be kept damp and stretched.

It takes more than overnight to dry completely and then the seam excess has to be trimmed with very sharp scissors and then those seams sanded on the small belt sander next to the drill press, being careful not to get too close to the stitches.

And it all makes a big mess in the studio which has yet to be cleaned up.

I can’t wait to show these to Gian later today when we go over for a farewell scotch.

But this is hard work. My advice is to buy Shanna’s. Hers are so beautiful, I had to buy both of the ones she had left on her site a few months ago.

Her rocks are from Lake Michigan and her cover parchment is much thinner than the one I had, but aren’t they just lovely?

Til next time.

Making Adjustments

Three years ago the crepe myrtles outside the studio looked like this….manageable and quite pretty.

But this year they really grew tall and floppy, so the woodsman was called in.

Now they look like this. Next spring they can start over.

We walked at the dam again this morning. It is getting chillier out there. For some reason this Canadian goose decided to leave his group and turned back to stay behind….complaining all the time.

Here is a picture of the river birch or paper birch in the yard two days ago when the late sun was doing its best to cheer things up.

There is more maintenance to do around the house and yard, more than Lee can do anymore. It is strange to come to grips with the idea that some of the most simple tasks that I took for granted he was doing or could do are just a bit out of reach. Since there is just the two of us living here, those tasks fall to me.

I can do them but it is the remembering to do them before heading off to bed early with my kindle so as to get up at four a.m. to prepare for the gym. While I am gone he takes his shower and starts his toast. He used to make the coffee every morning but forgot the sequence. Now I prepare it the day before so all he has to do is push the “on” button.

Anyway with the art group here last Sunday and everyone showing their work, I got to thinking, “What to work on now that the samples for the class, Books All About the Stitch is over?”

I need something that I can leave at a moments notice. Something I can control size-wise, and of course, something that has meaning.

So after taking apart this old sketchbook and removing the signature that had drawings from my now deceased brother’s home, (the fact that they were still there in the book prevented me from continuing to use it) I am working on a new idea.

The cover paper that covers the board is an egg tempera painting I did of a collected nest. The binding for the pigments was glaire and not egg yolk. Glaire is what is made from the egg white and used on more flexible surfaces. The size is about 9 inches by 11 inches.

Anyway back to what it is being used for now. I drew the outline of one of my hands and am filling in the space with all the things that are now falling into my hands to do. Here is the start of the first hand.

This will be easily filled in to the wrist which is just to the left of the deer. He still feeds the deer but sometimes needs reminding. It will all fill in like the index finger is.

I will continue to make pairs of hands in the sketchbook. One hand on each page. I might try different ways of holding my hands but not sure how good an outline that would be as far as seeing that it is a hand.

These should be not only therapeutic but a good reminder of what has been added to my list of things to do. And what else I like about this idea is that the images are all random which is so much like it is as he needs help or just stops doing something.

I think that if someone else was going through this and they could not draw or did not want to, they could fill the outlined hand with words of what needs attention. A hand full of written tasks going in all directions. It would be also very interesting visually.

Okay, enough. Til later.